Friday, January 21, 2005

Care facility planners seek new partner

Blaine Manor replacement goals remain elusive

Express Staff Writer

Dan Drackett, left, and Steve Pauley with the Croy Cayon Ranch Foundation address county commissioners on the state of foundation efforts to plan a replacement facility for Blaine Manor, an extended care facility in Hailey the county helps to subsidize. Photo by David N. Seelig

On top of expected challenges, rising healthcare costs and Medicare shortfalls, the Croy Canyon Ranch Foundation is facing yet another setback. Its planning partner, The Goodman Group, a Minneapolis, Minn.-based retirement and continuing care facilities management and consulting group, last month dropped out of the non-profit's planning process to develop a "Continuing Care Retirement Community" in Croy Canyon, said foundation President Dan Drackett, speaking to county commissioners, Wednesday.

Drackett said successful development of a 100-unit Croy Canyon replacement for the 25 bed Blaine Manor facility in Hailey would require private and public fundraising. The setback is a blow to the county because, under the current arrangement, the county subsidies the older facility annually to the tune of about $600,000. A new facility managed by a private sector partner is viewed as the best solution to freeing the county of its financial obligations while still providing a public service.

Drackett said a preliminary proposal from The Goodman Group would be too expensive, a "candy shop dream." The foundation hopes to spend between $15 and 20 million. The Goodman plan would have tripled the cost, Drackett, said.

Also, the proposal, which included separate facilities spread throughout the valley, did not reflect the board's vision for a single facility in Croy Canyon, Drackett said.

"I thought it was a little bit naïve. Somebody had to say the Emperor had no clothes," Drackett said, describing his reaction to the proposal and his hope that a scaled down version can be developed. "When I scolded them ... they said they quit."

Drackett said the foundation hopes to build an attractive facility using green building techniques derived "from architecture and design rather than trophy home materials."

The setback was not too costly for the foundation, Drackett said, because the arrangement involved committing management work for the completed project to The Goodman Group in exchange for planning services.

The foundation operates in part on a $500,000 advance from the county to be repaid through the eventual sale of the Blaine Manor facility. Board members have also helped to match a Deer Creek Foundation grant to help the planning process.

Pauley said he was confident that the group would soon get the project back on track.

The foundation is under contract to buy 25 acres adjacent to the Democrat Ranch for the project that could include 40 independent living bungalows, 40 assisted living units and 20 units dedicated to immediate assistance.

"The employees would be under medical contract," Drackett said, adding that the foundation is considering expanding the project to include employee housing. The amenity is something Drackett said he believes would be enticing to managers of St. Luke's Wood River Medical Center and could possibly help bring the organization in as a partner, one of some 15 potential replacements for The Goodman Group.

Another planning partner is the Blaine County School District, which is working together with the foundation to share planning costs. The school district is considering construction of a new school on an adjoining property.

Commissioner Dennis Wright counseled Drackett and Pauley that if they are thinking of going to the City of Hailey for extension of sewer services without requesting annexation, they should try to get something in writing. He also asked if the group had a time frame for when a site plan for the project would be submitted.

"I think we're 90 days away from a timeline," Drackett said. "There are so many gears in this machine that have to be perfectly meshed to get it done."

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