City moves toward committing resources to get Gafney Home back helping seniors

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The Gafney Home is hoped to one again be a sanctuary for Rochester's seniors citizens. (Courtesy photo)

ROCHESTER - The city of Rochester is looking to partner with a local nonprofit to help finance the renovation of the former Gafney Home into a residential property for low- and middle-income seniors 62 or older.

Community Action Partnership of Strafford County now owns the buildings and is looking for up to around $5 million dollars to complete the renovation.

On Tuesday the City Council moved the matter to a public hearing scheduled for July 20 to be followed by a second reading on whether to approve or deny the partnership on the block grant, which could release up to $500,000 to help with the project, which would include renovating some 20 residences at the home.

Officials said the amount of city money is minimal, just paying for newspaper advertising and legal fees associated with the grant application.

The Gafney Home, located at 90 Wakefield St., comprises the 1897-circa Victorian mansion, a 1960s built annex and its detached Carriage House. The property served the greater Rochester community as a low (or no) cost assisted living facility for 115 years until the spring of 2019, when it closed. The property was transferred to Community Action Partnership of Strafford County (CAPSC) by the Gafney Board expressly so it could be used to benefit the CAPSC mission.

Owing to the buildings being in near constant use for the past 115 years, they are in fairly good repair, due to ongoing maintenance, according to city officials.

The bulk of the money will come from CDBG state COVID grants that address housing issues.

Also on Tuesday the City Council voted to elect longtime City Councilor Dave Walker as deputy mayor.

Meanwhile, with former Deputy Mayor Elaine Lauterborn taking on the duties of interim mayor with the recent retirement of former mayor Caroline McCarley, another resident is needed to fill her Ward 2 Seat A seat.

Lauterborn urged anyone interested in filling her former seat to apply by July 28. She said candidates will have a chance to speak to the council at the July 25 selectmen's workshop. A vote is scheduled for Aug. 3.

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