Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Croy Canyon Ranch plan stays on track

Fundraising effort continues in tough economy

Express Staff Writer

In preliminary designs, the Croy Canyon Ranch Foundationís planned senior-care facility would be reminiscent of mountain homes found throughout the Wood River Valley. The facility is estimated to cost about $30 million, with $13 million coming from community donations. Courtesy graphic

Since the economic downturn, the highly publicized plight of businesses has been matched by that of nonprofit organizations, dependent on donations for survival.

However, members of the Croy Canyon Ranch Foundation are optimistic that the need for a senior-care facility in the Wood River Valley will trump a troubled economy and that construction can be completed by 2012.

Of the $30.8 million cost of the 75,000-square-foot facility, at least $13 million is slated to come from community contributions, with the remainder coming from the sale of the Blaine Manor care facility in Hailey and a construction loan.

"Our job is a big one," acknowledged Jed Gray, a member of the foundation's board of directors. "We're looking to raise $13 million and are doing well considering the economic environment. We're close to being on schedule for our target goals."

While Gray declined to say how much the foundation has raised to date, he did say the board is still expecting to complete its fundraising campaign by the end of 2010.

The new facility is planned for a site one mile west of Hailey in Croy Canyon, on vacant land directly across the road from the Animal Shelter of the Wood River Valley.

The facility is designed to accommodate about 80 residents in three types of accommodations—skilled nursing, independent living and assisted living.

As part of its service agreement with Blaine County, the foundation committed to providing 16 Medicaid beds in the skilled-nursing portion of the facility.

The demand for skilled nursing services is currently filled by Blaine Manor on Main Street in Hailey, which is subsidized by the county at more than $600,000 annually. In 2007, county voters overwhelmingly approved a ballot measure authorizing the county to sell the existing facility and direct the proceeds to help pay for Croy Canyon Ranch.

Gray explained that by only providing one level of care, Blaine Manor is not self-sustaining and will continue to operate at a loss. He said that at Croy Canyon Ranch, the independent and assisted living will provide the income to cover the deficit from skilled nursing.

Kathleen Eder, the new executive director of the foundation, said this income would also help pay for the expansion of any of the three sections of the facility should the demand increase. She said that given the demographics of the county, demand for the facility's units would likely outstrip supply, at least at the beginning.

Eder said census statistics show that about 1,300 residents aged 70 or older live within 20 miles of the facility. She said the senior population is growing at 6.2 percent locally compared to a mere 1.8 percent nationally.

Gray said the facility would also be available to patients in need of continuing care, such as victims of traumatic injuries or strokes. He said current options for such patients is to move to larger cities, such as Twin Falls or Boise, thus forcing families to spend more time apart.

"This area has done a great job with so many things—we have been able to build up a school system, a hospital, art galleries and recreational amenities—but we're missing this one component, care for our seniors," Gray said. "This is one link missing in a true community. I've spend 60 years here and would like to be able to spend the rest of it here as well."

While a design for the facility has yet to be finalized, preliminary renderings show three separate wings for the different levels of residency, all joined by a common area. The facility would also be surrounded by gardens and walking paths to access the natural features that surround the property.

"We don't want to operate or look like a big institution," Gray said.

Beyond providing a service, Eder noted, the project would create about 100 jobs, including those necessary for construction. Once completed, the facility would require about 50 full-time employees.

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