Efforts to establish a group home for adults with special needs remain strong despite voters last week declining to allow such a project at the former Sacred Heart School for Boys.
The residents who have formed Cornerstone Community Inc. now will continue promoting community awareness, and find team leaders for such tasks as helping to find funding, Cornerstone President Eli Hauser said Monday.
"The Sharon discussion was excelerated, from our perspective," he said.
Last Monday, Sharon voters Monday night declined to allow educational projects with or without a housing component at part of the town-owned Sacred Heart site, in Deborah Sampson Park, off East Foxboro Street. An annual town meeting citizen petition to add this use option failed to get the two-thirds' support required for approval. The vote in the Sharon High School auditorium was 198 for and 242 against.
Several residents who voted against the petition said they supported the idea of housing for adults with special needs, but not the location.
In October, Cornerstone Community Inc., proposed leasing the site for an "interfaith life-educational community" for about 64 adults, "primarily with autism, Down syndrome and other developmental disabilities."
At town meeting, Daniel Rosen, whom Hauser called Cornerstone's "emotional leader," told voters that if they passed the request and Sharon issued a new request for proposals, the group would "submit a revised proposal for an educational, recreational group home for adults with special needs" and would likely be "on a smaller scale" and "serving as a home for perhaps eight to 16 individuals."
"A slew of things came out of town meeting," said Hauser, who also is a planning board member.
"We have awareness."
The next steps include "extending that discussion in a more structured manner," he said.
Cornerstone will find team leaders to do that, as well as to discuss the project with the state Department of Developmental Services as "a progressive problem for families," he said.
Also, Cornerstone will look for endowments, part of a greater capital campaign for funding for scholarships and capital costs, Hauser said.
Leasing town land is preferable to buying land, to save up front costs, he said.
Proponents also "want it to be in a central location, where the residents can walk to the amenities," Hauser said.