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Committee explores future uses for old Mountain View Nursing Home

May 05, 2011
OSSIPEE Will the UNH Cooperative Extension be moving to the county complex here? Will inmates be doing all laundry for the nursing home and jail instead of sending it out to a private laundry company? One thing is sure, though: the old home will be used to house the pellet furnace system that will heat the new nursing home.

A 16-member committee made up of current and former county delegates and commissioners and representatives from the county farm, jail, nursing home, and jail met April 25.

County Commissioner David Sorensen opened the meeting with some background information and input about how all these members came to be at the decision table. "This committee was not appointed. According to Webster's Dictionary when you appoint somebody it has to be officially voted on which was not done. Some volunteered to be on the committee. This is strictly advisory to the commissioners," said Sorensen. There had been questions at recent weekly commission meetings about how so many people were appointed to the commission and how they were chosen.

Sorensen said the old nursing home has been deemed unfit for living quarters by the NH Department of Health and Human Services. "They were going to close us down," he said. In 2009 the county delegation voted to move the UNH Cooperative Extension from their county-funded $43,000 rental space in Conway to the old nursing home. During that time, a group of architects designed a new "green" building that could be built across the street from the current home. The cost estimate for that was $800,000 to $1 million. It was NH Representative David Babson who suggested at the time that the Extension be moved to the old nursing home instead. The delegation agreed to spend $15,000 for a feasibility study to explore that option but only $7,000 was actually spent. From the beginning of the new nursing home construction project, it was included that the new home would be heated using a pellet fired furnace system with propane backup. The county received a $200,000 grant to pipe the heating system from the old home to the new home. The furnace system is expected to arrive in June.

A request for bids has gone out to hire a construction manager to oversee the renovation of the old home. Commissioner Sorensen said nine proposals have been received and two are being seriously considered.

At least two wings of the old home will be torn down. Now the committee is charged with deciding what to do with the core of the building and two wings. Sorensen said an estimate has been received that it will cost $53,000 to tear down the two wings or $64,000 if asbestos is found.

Currently, the county pays $70,000 to send out non-personal laundry items to a laundry company including sheets and towels. Inmate and nursing home resident personal laundry items and uniforms are cleaned at the county complex. The committee meeting brought out many more questions than answers, as typical for the first meeting of a new committee. Can the county septic system handle an expanded laundry facility? How about the 200,000 gallon water holding tank that is also used for fire suppression as necessary? Will onsite laundry save money or is it just a way to create job opportunities for the inmates?

Representatives Mark McConkey and Joe Fleck both cautioned that it seems premature to hire a construction manager when it is unclear what the actual plan is for the new home. Commissioner Dorothy Solomon pointed out that there is a need to move forward quickly to make decisions and keep the project moving forward so, at the very least the UNH Cooperative Extension can get moved to the county complex when their lease runs out in Conway in October 2012.

Several members cautioned against doing too much too quickly and just taking care of the installation of the pellet furnace system now and taking time to decide on the fate of the rest of the building.

The first meeting lasted about an hour and commissioners are seeking information from anyone who has suggestions regarding future best use of the old nursing home to best serve the needs of the country residents and county administration.

Video of the committee meeting as well as regular commission meetings can be found online at www.governmentoversite.com.

Garnet Hill
Penny Pitou
Martin Lord Osman
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