Valley News – Officials Set Date for Sullivan County Nursing Home Decision

Published: 04/14/2021 9:28:14 PM

Changed: 04/14/2021 9:28:12 PM

UNIT – The Sullivan County Delegation set a date later this month to make a decision on the fate of a proposed renovation of the county’s existing nursing home, which is expected to cost $ 54 million.

Delegates set April 26th to vote after a public hearing in Newport, NH, as well as on Zoom and Facebook Live on Tuesday evening.

Attendees at the hearing, which included some current and former staff at the 156-bed facility located next to the Unity County Jail, expressed their support for the project due to the aging infrastructure of the nursing home. Others pointed to the current low interest rate despite high construction costs.

“The facility is at the point where the renovation is really needed to truly meet the needs of the residents,” said Mike Petrin, a Claremont resident who serves as the rehabilitation director at the Unity facility, on a videotape of the meeting.

Petrin acknowledged the high price, but said further delays would only add to the cost.

“Now is the time,” he said.

The delegation rejected the project, which then had an estimated price of $ 49.5 million, by 11 to 1 in September, citing the uncertainties of the pandemic and the upcoming elections. They asked district officials to consider building a new nursing home in a different location, which is expected to cost between $ 75 million and $ 80 million in February, according to Mary Bourque, the district’s director of facilities and operations.

The project currently under consideration is unchanged from the delegate declined in September, except that costs are likely to have increased 10% to $ 54 million due to rising construction costs associated with both materials and labor, shared Bourque joined the delegation on Tuesday.

As suggested, the project would involve the demolition of the Sanders Building, constructed in 1931, one of three buildings that make up the nursing home. It would also renovate the Stearns Building, which was built in the 1970s and includes an 82,000 square foot extension.

In addition to upgrading the facility’s fault-prone plumbing and electrical systems, the renovation would also increase the privacy of residents’ rooms, give each resident a window, and reduce the number of residents sharing bathrooms from four to two while creating more Common areas for residents to meet with their families and for group activities, Bourque said.

Brian Sullivan State Representative, D-Grantham, asked district officials if the benefits of low interest rates would outweigh the high construction costs.

“It seems we should have some idea whether or not the time is right (now),” he said.

But county manager Derek Ferland said such a calculation is “firmly in the field of crystal balls” because he doesn’t know when interest rates might rise in the future or if construction costs will fall.

Rep. Skip Rollins, R-Newport, who works at LaValley Building Supply and was the only yes vote for the project in September, said that while he cannot predict the future either, he works with contractors that last nine to two months Plan work years into the future.

“People offer contractors anything they want,” said Rollins. “As long as we have the influx of people moving to the region, our prices will unfortunately remain extremely high.”

If the project goes ahead, the county plans to borrow between $ 35 million and $ 40 million from the New Hampshire Municipal Bond Bank for a period of 25 or 29 years, Ferland said. The county also expects $ 8 million from the American Rescue Plan Act to fund the project and another $ 5 million from its capital reserve fund, he said.

The meeting and voting of the delegation on April 26th will take place at 7.30 p. M

Nora Doyle-Burr can be reached at [email protected] or 603-727-3213.

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