Delhi approves plan for new nursing home at Countryside Care site

Above: This artist's rendering shows what the proposed Delhi Nursing and Rehabilitation Center is expected to look like. The project includes a combination of renovation and new construction at the site of the former Delaware County Countryside Care Center. Photo by Robert Cairns.

Work could begin on a new nursing home in Delhi within weeks.

The town of Delhi Planning Board, at a meeting on Monday, Oct. 26, approved a special use permit for the Delhi Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, to be built on the site of the former Delaware County Countryside Care Center.

The approval followed a public hearing, at which architect David Schlosser gave details of the plan.

Schlosser said that his client, DNRC Operating LLC, a division of Personal Healthcare LLC, plans to operate a 176-bed skilled nursing facility on the site, utilizing the original 1962 building there, but demolishing a 1975 addition and replacing it with a new, two-story building of 71,720 square feet.

He said that the plan calls for residents to be divided into “households” of about 20 people, each with a dining area and lounge. All of the households would surround a core area where therapy services will be provided. Schlosser said there will also be “large meeting spaces where everybody can come together as a community.”

Above: Architect David Schlosser points out details of the proposed skilled nursing facility at a meeting of the town of Delhi Planning Board. Photo by Robert Cairns.

The appearance of the building and its entrance from Route 10 will change significantly, as a new cul-de-sac entrance will be built in front of the building to provide visitors with easy access to the various household units. A separate entrance, near the entry to the old facility, will provide access for short-term rehabilitation patients.

The exterior of the new addition will have “highlights” of brick to tie it in with the old building, Schlosser said, but will have a “residential appearance” rather than appear as a “brick monolith.”

Schlosser said the number of parking spots will increase to 206 from the current 187.

Above: A new driveway and cul-de-sac entrance are proposed for a new building, seen at left, on the nursing home site on Route 10 in Delhi. Photo by Robert Cairns.

A proposal to bring a water line from the village of Delhi, approximately two miles away, did not come together in time to aid construction, so potable water will come from a well and be chlorinated on-site, Schlosser said.

Water for fire suppression systems—sprinklers and hydrants—will come from an existing spring on the hillside above the building. The nearby village of Delhi Waste Water Treatment Plant will process sewage from the facility.

The interior of the 1962 building, which was flooded by a sprinkler system failure after it was abandoned by prior owners, will be completely renovated. 

“Pretty much everything in the building will be removed and gutted and replaced,” Schlosser said. In addition to water damage, he said, the building has mold and mildew damage and other signs of neglect by the former owners.

“They left the food in the coolers,” he said.

When work is done, the 1962 building will house 65 private rooms, including the short-term rehabilitation unit and a “training apartment” that will be used to help rehab patients to transition out of the facility and back into their own homes.

Schlosser said that all bathrooms and common areas in the facility will comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act and that the living space for each resident will exceed state requirements.

Above: The former Delaware County Countryside Care Center, seen here, has been vacant since it closed in 2012 for deficient care practices. Photo by Robert Cairns.

Schlosser told the board that the New York state departments of health, transportation and environmental conservation have given all the necessary approvals to the project, but that one regulatory agency is still standing in the way.

“The DEP [New York City Department of Environmental Protection], we have had a lot of fun with,” he said. He said that plans call for demolition of the 1975 building to begin on Nov. 15, but that “they [the DEP] seem to think that's a little unlikely.”

Delaware County Planning Director Nicole Franzese, a consultant to the board, questioned the DEP's authority to halt that phase of the project.

“I'm a little confused about why DEP thinks they can stop demolition,” she said. Schlosser replied that “a guy” at DEP told him “they have control and have to approve our demolition.” Delhi Town Supervisor Mark Tuthill, who attended the meeting, indicated that the “guy” in question may have exceeded his authority.

“It's been moved a little higher up the food chain,” Tuthill said. “I don't think it'll be a problem.”

Once started, demolition is expected to take three to four weeks to complete, Schlosser said. Construction on the new building is planned for spring 2016.

Schlosser said that there is a possibility that the state Department of Health will grant approval for residents to move into the refurbished old building while the new one is still under construction.

In response to a question, Schlosser said he estimates that the facility will employ 80 to 100 people per shift.

In addition to the special use permit, the planning board completed a required environmental quality review and issued a “negative declaration,” stating that the project will not create adverse environmental impacts which cannot be mitigated.

A site plan for the project was approved at an earlier meeting.

Delhi has been without a skilled nursing facility since the Countryside Care Center, then under the ownership of Leatherstocking Healthcare LLC, closed in October 2012 after the New York Department of Health cited it for deficiencies in care. Leatherstocking bought the facility from Delaware County in 2006.

The developers of the Delhi Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, Ephraim Zagelbaum, Alexander Barth, Yehudah J. Walden and other members of the Zagelbaum family, opened a similar nursing center in the Orange County town of Middletown in 2013.