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Within walking distance

Convenience and camaraderie part of small-town living

Created date

April 23rd, 2014
(From right) Clerk Ruth DiSerafino shows neighbors Mary Ann Starkey, Marie Neugebauer, and Jeanne Young a new item stocked at Maris Grove’s pharmacy and convenience store.
(From right) Clerk Ruth DiSerafino shows neighbors

John Erickson was ahead of the curve in providing vibrant, amenity-rich, and maintenance-free retirement living when in 1983 he established his first retirement community in Maryland. 

Grove, the Erickson Living community in Delaware County, Pa., opened in 2006.

Like its sister campuses, it features the small-town friendliness and active lifestyle desired by today’s empty nesters who are departing the suburbs for less driving-intense locales. 

City planner Jeff Speck makes the case for such places in Walkable City. Well-designed downtowns let people walk to nearly everything they do: people work, sleep, shop, eat, drink, learn, recreate, convene, worship, heal, visit, and celebrate. 

“Why, that’s all at Maris Grove,” says Mary Ann Starkey. “And if it’s not, it’s just across the street.” An open-air mall with stores like Target, Home Depot, PetSmart, and Jo-Ann Fabric and Crafts sits within walking distance just beyond Maris Grove’s gated entrance.

Mary Ann and her husband Leonard have lived at Maris Grove since it opened. “We wanted to be able to walk out our door and do whatever we wanted to do,” says Mary Ann. And they do.

Convenient to everything

They walk to the campus fitness center, swimming pool, barbershop, library, and pharmacy/convenience store. They even walk to medical and dental appointments because Maris Grove’s full-service medical center is on-site. 

When they lived in Downingtown and had a doctor’s appointment, they often spent more than 90 minutes in travel and waiting room time. The actual appointment might last 15 minutes. 

“Now Leonard leaves a few minutes early and walks down the hall,” says Mary Ann. “And each appointment lasts a half hour.”

Three restaurants, a pub, bank, theater, woodshop, non-denominational chapel, and creative arts studios and clubrooms are also on-site. 

Former Media resident Jeanne Young appreciates the small-town camaraderie that results from Maris Grove’s layout. “I know the shopkeepers and they know me,” she says. “When I go to the bank, they know my name.”

In Media, Jeanne’s errands were five miles away, but she never ventured out in bad weather. Now weather doesn’t matter because interior hallways and climate-controlled, glass-enclosed bridges connect all of Maris Grove’s buildings. 

The Starkeys walk those hallways all the time because their activities are scattered everywhere. Their passion is volunteering at MGTV, the in-house TV studio where Mary Ann performs on- and off-camera responsibilities and Leonard is a seasoned cameraman. Whenever he heads to the studio, he jokingly announces, “I’m leaving for work.” 

 

‘Walk and talk’

Maris Grove has an official walking club 

“And anyone who shows up on Monday mornings is a member,” says Mary Ann Starkey. “It’s a walk and talk, and we’re flexible where we go.”

She launched the group during an extended bout of cabin fever seven winters ago.

Marie Neugebauer joined immediately. “I like camaraderie, and I like to walk,” she says.

“If new residents want to know where things are on campus, we’ll walk them there.”  

In bad weather, the group walks inside. In fair weather, they might ramble Maris Grove’s 87-acre grounds or head to the mall or nearby garden center. 

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