Senior housing plan revisited
The plan to build a senior housing unit apartment at the new Morgan County Senior Life Services location at 106 Sand Mine Road will have to be revisited.
The original plan for the $190,000 Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) grant money was to build a transitional apartment that could be used for a senior who lost their home in a fire or who was evicted, said Senior Life Services executive director Joel Tuttle.
They had hoped to use the remaining grant money to construct their new commercial kitchen and a couple of bathrooms at their Sand Mine Road location.
They just found out last Friday that using the rest of the funds for the planned kitchen and two rest rooms would not be possible.
Tuttle said their building committee would meet on Monday, August 27 to look at other possible ways to use the remainder of the grant money. He estimated constructing one apartment would cost around $80,000.
The original $190,000 congressional earmark was requested by U.S. Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito in March, 2009 for site acquisition and site improvements for a proposed senior housing complex to be built on vacant CSX land beside the Berkeley Springs train depot.
The county later withdrew its plans to construct a senior housing facility and senior center with developer Judd Roth at the site.
The earmarked housing appropriation has been held since. Its use can be only for senior housing, said Morgan County Administrator Jody McClintock. The decision for its use is up to the Senior Life Center building committee and board.
Morgan County Commissioner Brenda Hutchinson, Senior Life Services board member, and commission grant writer Carol York have also been working on the project, Tuttle said.
York said they had thought that some of the funds could be used for the kitchen and rest rooms, but it wasn’t in the original scope of the funding.
Hutchinson, who is also on the Senior Life Center’s building committee, said they are brainstorming other possibilities that could make use of the funding.
One idea was to create more than one apartment that could be a rental unit to help pay off the building’s mortgage or commercial kitchen, but that would place the agency in a tenant-landlord situation, she said.
Hutchinson also mentioned the possibility of some assisted living units for which the commercial kitchen could be used.
The third option if neither of those possibilities was amenable to the board was looking at senior
housing in another location, but that was the least desirable option, Hutchinson said.
They preferred to use the money at the new Senior Life Services location.
The county didn’t want to lose the grant. They would have to think out of the box and be more creative with ideas, she said.
The building committee will bring their ideas and suggestions to the full board, which will meet on Wednesday, September 12.
Moving the other half of their employees and operations to the Sand Mine Road location will have to wait until the commercial kitchen is built, Tuttle said.
Until they can complete their move, the Boys & Girls Club’s move into the Senior Life Center’s space in the South Green Street community building will also have to wait.
Also on hold is the Morgan County Starting Points move to the Boys & Girls Club’s space in the building.
They are considering the possibility of having meals brought down from the new hospital’s kitchen so the moves can occur more quickly without the commercial kitchen, Hutchinson said.
Tuttle said the commercial kitchen could be built with local funds. The cost could range from $50,000 to $80,000, depending on whether they used some pieces from their kitchen or build everything new.
He said they were taking the refrigerator and freezer since they were fairly new, but were leaving the dishwasher, sinks, serving unit and stove for the Boys & Girls Club.
In an August 15 Morgan Messenger public notice, the Morgan County Commission requested the release of the HUD grant funding to plan, design and construct a senior housing apartment unit at the Sand Mine Road senior center site.
The notice had to be run before the budget and narrative were submitted, Tuttle said.
The public notice also noted that the commission had determined the project would have no significant impact on the human environment.
Individuals, groups or agencies may submit written comments on the request for release of funds to the Morgan County Commission by August 30 to be considered before the request is submitted.