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Greenwich Nursing Home Work Passes Another Hurdle

GREENWICH, Conn. – The likelihood that residents of the town's Nathaniel Witherell nursing home will see a major upgrade to their facilities became more real Monday night when the $22.5 million project received a conditional green light from the Board of Estimate and Taxation.

The Board of Estimate and Taxation approved the project pending a review of updated construction documents, environmental reports and final construction bids and cost estimates, according to a report in The Greenwich Time .

The facility needs to be structurally overhauled to meet health and building codes and the needs of its residents, Nathaniel Witherell’s director Allen Brown said. The Board of Selectmen and the Planning and Zoning Board have okayed the project, but it still has to pass muster with the Representative Town Meeting. Brown said he hopes work will begin by fall 2012 and be completed by 2015.

Renovations have been requested for Nathaniel Witherell since 2002, when a $45.5 million project to replace each building was rejected. Another $37 million plan was rejected by the state because of its cost. The state has agreed to pay for 55 percent of the new project.

The town would have to loan Witherell about $600,000 a year for the first three years of construction, after which the nursing home would reimburse the town and pay back any remaining costs of the project over the next 20 years.

The administration building, built in 1933, has no fire protection sprinklers, which does not meet state standards, Brown said. One residential building, built in 1961, has 10 rooms with four beds. “It’s not a contemporary environment and people don’t like being in there, so it’s more difficult to keep these rooms occupied and satisfy people with those accommodations,” said Brown. The four-bed rooms would be eliminated, and the total number of private bedrooms would increase from 26 to 60. Double-occupancy rooms would increase from 136 to 142.

None of the three buildings has sufficient emergency generator capability. Health codes require the facility to be able to replace 80 percent of its electricity. Now it can replace only 25 percent. Other issues addressed in the plan include heating and hot water system improvements, bathroom and nursing station revamps and an expanded rehabilitation area.

The RTM heard a presentation on the project Oct. 24 and will likely vote in December.

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