As Phase II of New Canaan's senior citizen initiative approaches completion, residents discussed the need for a continuing care retirement community in town at a public hearing Oct. 19.

Members of the New Canaan Senior Health Care & Housing Development Team listened as more than 10 seniors, some of whom left New Canaan to move to Meadow Ridge in Redding, discussed their desire to remain in New Canaan as they get older.

About 50 people attended the hearing, held at Lapham Community Center.

As stated in their project objective, "the overall project of the New Canaan Senior Health Care & Housing Policy Development Team was to identify and address the needs of the senior segment of the community for the next 15 years."

The research is meant to address the needs of current seniors 65 and older, as well as current Baby Boomers between the ages of 45 and 64.

Before the residents were given the floor, Development Team Chairman Jim Lisher said the hearing was necessary so that team members could hear residents' concerns and suggestions. The team will consider the comments as members complete Phase II, which is expected to be presented to the Board of Selectmen by Nov. 16.

Jack Muller, a Darien resident for more than 45 years who moved to New Canaan six years ago, said he's "loved every minute" of living in town.

"It is the best decision I may have made in my whole life," said Muller, who moved to New Canaan to be closer to his wife, who suffers from Alzheimer's disease and lives in the Waveny Care Center.

His issue with New Canaan stems from the lack of a CCRC in town.

"A CCRC does everything for you. It's not just to take care of older people," he said.

He mentioned the economic benefits of having one in New Canaan as well.

"It keeps people in town. It keeps people buying things in town, eating in town and paying taxes," he said.

The rest of the speakers were in line with Muller's suggestions.

Bill Sessions suggested some specifics on possibly having a CCRC in Waveny Park. He proposed building a CCRC in the park in a way that would be unobtrusive and take up about a quarter of the land. He also suggested a "restoration of the nearly 60 acres of scrub forest" to add to the park. Sessions admitted that it "would take a long time for this to gel with the community," but also urged that it "should be faced head on."

Fred Chang, a 24-year resident of New Canaan, went a step further and suggested merging two of the Town's three elementary schools to free up space and make room for a CCRC.

Harlan Anderson, a former New Canaan resident, said "CCRC's are not new and risky experimental community endeavors."

Anderson said he was forced to leave New Canaan and move Meadow Ridge, a CCRC in Redding. He also mentioned that more than 70 former New Canaan residents reside at Meadow Ridge. Anderson ended his comments with a feeling of regret, "My doctor tells me I have a life expectancy of seven years. I wish I could have spent those in New Canaan."