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Greenwich P&Z OKs $22.5M Nursing Home Project

GREENWICH, Conn. – A $22.5 million renovation plan for Greenwich’s Nathaniel Witherell nursing home was approved unanimously by the town's Planning and Zoning Board. But two more town bodies still have to approve it before construction can begin.

The facility needs structural overhauls to meet health and building codes and the needs of residents, according to Nathaniel Witherell’s director Allen Brown.

“We’re very pleased with the decision. We were hoping for it and thought that a positive decision was consistent with the one they made last year, so in that respect we expected it, but nothing’s ever assured,” said Brown.

The Board of Estimate & Taxation plans to hold a public forum on the project Oct. 17 before voting on the issue in November. The Representative Town Meeting will hear a presentation on the project Oct. 24 and will likely vote on the project in December, according to Brown.

If those bodies approve the project, it will then have to undergo a bonding approval process. Brown said he hopes work will begin by fall 2012 at the earliest. He expects it to take 18 to 20 months for completion by early 2015.

Brown says the administration building, built in 1933, has no fire protection sprinklers, which does not meet state standards. That building will be the first to be renovated, because construction will not disrupt the residents, he said.

One residential building, built in 1961, has 10 rooms with four beds. Under the plan, the four-bed rooms would be eliminated and the number of private bedrooms would increase from 26 to 60. Double-occupancy rooms would increase from 136 to 142. Temporary housing would be constructed for residents and each floor would be completed in phases.

None of the three buildings has sufficient emergency generator capability. Public 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.

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.

To reach Anna Helhoski, email ahelhoski@thedailygreenwich.com and f ollow TheDailyGreenwich.com on Facebook and Twitter !

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