The New Canaan Seniors' Health Care & Housing Policy Development Team had its inaugural meeting last Wednesday afternoon in the Town Hall Board room.

Jim Lisher, chairman of both the team and the Health and Human services Commission, introduced a two-phase plan geared at evaluating and solving the needs of New Canaan's senior community.

"Seniors," as defined for the project, includes current seniors over 65 and residents ages 50 and older who will turn 65 over the next 15 years. The project will consider about two-thirds of adults in town.

"It's a town responsibility to address that there are low-income people that are aging in place and we need to find out how to deal with that," Lisher said. "From my standpoint, those who are at the very high end of the bell curve who have unlimited resources, they will go their own way and I'm not sure we need to spend a lot of time thinking about that. I'm looking at the people in the middle and low income [range]."

The team encompasses two sub-groups: one group, headed by HHSC member Tom Ferguson, will study the value of seniors to the community, organize demographic data and begin to define seniors' needs. The other group, headed by Kathleen Corbet, will explore current options for senior health care and housing in the region and brainstorm new alternatives.

Phase one of the project tasks committee members with describing why seniors are important to the community, qualifying their needs and analyzing their options.

Phase one will be completed by July 15, after which the group will break for a summer recess and reconvene in September, Lisher said.

In phase two, committee members will analyze the implications of each possible solution and recommend one or a series of actions to the Board of Selectmen. The entire project is scheduled for completion by Nov. 9, Lisher said.

Team meetings in phase one will be held at 4:30 p.m. on every other Tuesday in the Town Hall board room, beginning May 18. All meetings are open to the public, and a short opportunity for attendees to make public comments will be set aside at the end of each meeting.