Press-Republican

November 26, 2013

Reusing the old Nursing Home

By DENISE A. RAYMO
Press-Republican

---- — MALONE — Talks will begin soon on how to best reuse the Franklin County Nursing Home when the facility closes next fall.

That could even mean the Village of Malone sharing space with the county.

County Manager Thomas Leitz said he will soon be meeting with an architect, buildings-and-grounds staff and others to determine costs for repairs, renovations and reconfiguration at the Nursing Home on Finney Boulevard.

He mentioned the Department of Social Services could be among the agencies to move into the space once changes are made.

Leitz said patient rooms could be used for offices, the common areas and larger spaces could be partitioned, and walls built to fit the county’s needs.

VILLAGE POSSIBILITIES

But there may be other considerations if the village were to partner with the county to lease space, he said during a recent county-budget hearing.

Attempts to reach Mayor Todd Lepine were not successful Monday, but two Village Board members expressed interest in learning more.

“As a trustee, if there was an opportunity for the village to partner with the county, I’d be interested in taking it beyond casual conversation,” Village Board member Joe Riccio said.

There have been no formal talks, Trustee Hugh Hill said, but the mayor has mentioned it in passing.

“It’s a natural fit,” Hill said. “We’re selling our building where we hold our meetings, and it would be good to get out from under all of our obligations.”

Hill said the Nursing Home property has ample space inside and plenty of room for parking, but it would be unlikely that the Department of Public Works would move there since it would require building a new garage to house it.

FUNDING OPTION

A county account that earns money from mortgage tax on real-estate transactions filed in the County Clerk’s Office has between $700,000 and $800,000 in it.

Roughly $200,000 is earned in mortgage-tax fees each year, so by the time the Nursing Home closes, there would be $1 million.

The funds must be used for specific capital-improvement projects and improvements to the County Courthouse or County Jail.

But that fund could be used for renovations to the Nursing Home and the new roof it needs, since the facility would technically be used as an annex to the courthouse, County Treasurer Bryon Varin said.

LEASE EXPIRING

Converting the Nursing Home to office space could also mean saving rent at the former Wolverine World Wide/Tru-Stitch building on Catherine Street — now, the county leases the Catherine Street Annex for use by the Office for the Aging and Public Health Nursing Service.

Both those agencies could move to Finney Boulevard with Social Services, which is eligible to have a portion of its rent reimbursed, Leitz said.

The county’s lease on the annex expires in May 2015.  

$10 MILLION SHARE

The Nursing Home is being merged with the Alice Hyde Nursing Home into one with 135 beds for skilled-nursing care and 30 assisted-living spaces.

The three-story skilled-care center will feature a large courtyard, and the two-story assisted-living area will have space enough behind it to expand in the future.

Alice Hyde has 75 nursing-home beds, and the county facility has 80 beds; both were built in 1968.

The county will pay Alice Hyde $1 million a year for 10 years as its share of the merger expenses. But there are no details yet on how that money will be paid or whether County Nursing Home employees will be retained to work at the nonprofit corporation.

Email Denise A. Raymo:draymo@pressrepublican.com