To the Editor:

What are you doing this Friday night?

The Housing Commission needs support to forward the prospect of affordable senior housing in Sherman. Can Sherman residents give about an hour of time for the future of housing for Sherman seniors?

A public vote is on the town meeting agenda to fund a survey of 65 acres of public land.

The funding will also provide land record searches and detailed surveying and land testing, including percs and deeps, on approximately 10 acres of land in the woods behind the post office.

The same way raw land is tested before building a house, the land characteristics will rule it in -- or out -- as a potential site for senior housing.

The survey would dramatically update the town records, protect the existing walking trails, fields and public spaces known as Colonial Fields, and seek to define a 35-acre "floating easement" of open space.

The work would cost up to $20,000.

A "yes" vote will fund the survey(s), the land testing, and will enable the Housing Commission to initiate several processes including access to funding sources beyond town taxpayers and, ultimately, to create a proposal for the town of Sherman.

A "yes" vote does not commit the town or the land to an affordable senior housing project; this vote is non-binding on the town to take further action.

A "no" vote leaves the town with improperly identified town-owned land and ends the prospect of affordable senior housing in Sherman for the foreseeable future.

What can you do?

Come to the meeting and vote "yes." The outcome will be determined by a hand count of those present at the town meeting.

Unfortunately, there seems to be contingent of people determined to vote "no" based on the opinions that Friday night's vote will commit the land to the Housing Commission, destroy Colonial Fields, introduce substandard housing or a "HUD housing project," or the public would have no further input or control, none of which are true.

There are others who feel the town can't afford $20,000 at this time.

If not now, when?

Robust funding at the state level specifically for affordable senior housing is available now. Funds spent to test land for senior housing are eligible for reimbursement.

The town needs the property surveyed. Affordable senior housing enables this growing segment of our population to continue to live in and contribute to Sherman.

It is more than a decision about $20,000; it is a referendum on who we are as a compassionate community.

Please come to Sherman's annual town meeting this Friday at 7 p.m., Oct 19 at the Sherman School.

Kate McConaghy

Former selectman

Sherman