The Star-Herald

City receives AARP Age-Friendly nod

The City of Presque Isle recently received recognition from the American Association of Retired Persons for being a member in good standing of the AARP Network of Age-Friendly States and Communities having successfully completed a cycle of improvement.  Presque Isle was officially recognized with a plaque for its “age-friendly leadership, achievements and continued commitment toward being a livable community for people of all ages.”

According to the US Census, 21.5 percent of the city’s population is aged 65 and older as compared to 16.8 percent nationwide.  As a result, in May 2018, the city applied to become an Age-Friendly Community.  AARP’s website indicates that “Membership in the AARP Network of Age-Friendly States and Communities means that a community’s elected leadership has made a commitment to actively work with residents and local advocates to make their town, city, county or state an age-friendly place to live.”  This is definitely a goal embraced by the City of Presque Isle.  

The mission of Age-Friendly Presque Isle is to promote healthy aging in our community and to keep city officials informed of the needs of older adults living and aging in the community.   The vision for Presque Isle is to be a healthy, livable community for residents of all ages.  

Shortly after being designated as an Age-Friendly community in 2018, a needs assessment survey was completed by the Presque Isle team based on AARP’s Age-Friendly criteria.   During the five years since being designated as an Age-Friendly community, the city has partnered with numerous organizations to make great strides in areas of need identified in the assessment.  

Under outdoor spaces and public buildings, numerous positive outcomes have been achieved.  The sidewalks along Main Street will be repaired as part of the new contract with Maine Department of Transportation. Through partnership with Presque Isle Historical Society and a grant from Leonard C. & Mildred F. Ferguson Foundation, a new pocket park was created within easy walking distance of Main Street. 

The Recreation & Parks Department has recently put up new, large and colorful directional signage to city parks. Mary’s Mile, an additional one-mile loop to the city’s paved and lit Bike & Walking Path, has been completed with two grants, one an AARP Challenge Grant. Lastly, City Hall renovations have provided a new handicapped ramp, better signage as well as new Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant restrooms.  

The COVID-19 pandemic halted forward progress to some extent in the social participation arena.  However, through a partnership with Presque Isle Historical Society, creation of over 40 virtual historical tours of downtown and sites around the city assisted in this category.  

Most recently, in collaboration with Northern Light AR Gould Hospital’s Healthy Aging and Total Health Teams, Age-Friendly Presque Isle held a luncheon for older adults at the Sargent Family Community Center, at which numerous tools and gadgets designed to make aging at home easier were given away at no cost and were demonstrated by an occupational therapy student interning at the hospital.  

Kimberly R. Smith is the resource development and public information officer for the city of Presque Isle. She can be reached at 760-2722 or via email at ksmith@presqueisleme.us.

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