Holcomb talks about senior living, fence

7/9/2014

By KELTON BROOKS

By KELTON BROOKS

kbrooks@gctelegram.com

The president of the Finney County Economic Development Corp. was at the Holcomb City Council Wednesday to tell them about a senior living project in Finney County.

Lona DuVall, president of FCEDC said the project has been approved by the board of zoning appeals as of Tuesday. They will build 71 independent units, 70 assisted living units and 80 skilled nursing beds on a 28-acre plot.

DuVall hopes construction begins late fall and added that developers anticipate it will take a year to build the facilities, which will be located on Campus Drive in Garden City. She said developers intend to get as many local contractors on the job as possible.

The FCEDC conducted a senior living study to determine if they could accommodate additional senior living in Finney County. DuVall said the results were "pretty astounding" as the county was 300 units short in that sector.

A study on the matter was done in December, and the results published in January. FCEDC spoke with developers in February and three of them made presentations in Garden City on April 1 about what each would bring to the potential project. The FCEDC hoped the results would spark private developers to build a retirement community or similar types of housing to address the variety of senior living needs.

A continuing care retirement community could offer components of all three types of housing — independent living, assisted living and skilled care — and may include recreational facilities, meal preparation and food services. The types of housing could include apartments, rooms or even free-standing structures such as duplexes or multi-plexes.

DuVall also said workforce is a big issue. That's what FCEDC is hearing from employers in the community. With more than 400 jobs coming soon in retail and service due to the construction of Schulman's Crossing, DuVall said the community is "woefully short of people."

"Fortunately that's because everybody here who wants to work is working, but unfortunately that means we are going to have to recruit additional folks in our community."

She said they have tapped out surrounding areas such as Scott City, Lakin, Tribune and Leoti because so many already drive to Holcomb for work. More recruitment is needed to aid the workforce.

A discussion of previous changes were raised again in the council meeting. J.D. Farr, and his daughter, Diane, took the podium about the dimensions of a chain link fence that needed adjustment to ensure enough space exists for maintenance of a pump, including installing a gate on the south side.

In a previous council meeting, the governing body discussed a request from J.D. Farr for a change in the required building materials for the fence around the grinder pumps at the Scotty Lane sewer project. Councilman Brian Rupp made a motion in the previous meeting to build the fence to its original specs, or modify the specs to allow for a chain link fence with a gate on the south side and slats to block the wind on the north side.

Two weeks ago the council split 2-2 on whether to allow the change. But at that time the council decided to allow chain link with the additional requirement that the fence is large enough to allow for pump maintenance.

On Wednesday, the council again split 2-2 on allowing the change, but Mayor Gary Newman broke the tie by voting against the change.

"We made exception to what we allowed builders to do in the past, and that's created nothing but heartache for the city," Newman said. "We need to send a consistent message that when we have an agreement with a developer, we have to stick with the things we agreed to."

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