Traverse City Record-Eagle

October 9, 2010

Nursing home seeks new facility

BY SHERI McWHIRTER
smcwhirter@record-eagle.com

FRANKFORT — Marjorie Ingersoll is anxious for what's expected to be her new digs at The Maples in Frankfort.

"I just can't wait for it to happen," she said.

Ingersoll, 82, and her husband, Stanley, 87, have called the The Maples home for more than two years. The taxpayer-supported nursing facility was built in 1964, and Benzie County voters on Nov. 2 will decide two funding questions.

Supporters want voters to pay for construction of a new facility, as well as operational funding.

Neither request will raise the annual levy higher than a 1-mill rate voters approved three years ago, said Rose Coleman, The Maples' administrator.

Specifically, voters will be asked to continue an operational funding levy of 0.365 mills and to use the remaining 0.635 mills toward retiring bond debt needed to build a proposed $13 million facility for The Maples' roughly 60 residents.

Bond repayment would span 20 years, while voters can weigh in on the annual operational millage every five years.

"We will not collect more than 0.9904 mills for the first two years. In 2012, it will roll back up to 1 mill," Coleman said.

Headlee amendment rollbacks trimmed the facility's 1-mill levy to the current 0.9904 mills that's collected. County taxpayers have supported The Maples since the 1980s.

The facility has about $3.5 million to invest in a new building that is expected to take up to two years to complete, Coleman said.

"The quicker, the better," Marjorie Ingersoll said. "It will be so much nicer with more room."

Construction plans include a design change that will create "neighborhoods" for facility residents, intended to provide 15 or 16 private rooms — each with private toilet and bathing areas — all centered around a communal kitchen, dining and living area.

Neighborhoods will be built in stages and residents will be moved in before demolition begins on about 80 percent of the existing building, Coleman said.

A rehabilitation area built in 2004 will be maintained as part of the planned construction.

"We intend to do this within our means," Coleman said.

The plans come just before new nursing home infrastructure codes go into effect in 2013. The Maples must either re-build or continue to make repairs to maintain the aging structure, Coleman said.

The Maples resident Roland Roycraft, 92, a retired watercolor artist from Beulah, said he looks forward to a new building.

"I think there's room for more expansion. They are really squeezing us. It needs a little help," he said.

If approved by voters, the millage requests will raise an estimated $687,383 in the first year for debt repayment, along with approximately $395,110 for operational costs.