ELIZABETHTOWN - Essex County is taking steps to prepare for the potential sale or lease of its Horace Nye Nursing Home.
The county's Board of Supervisors last week gave approval to county Attorney Dan Manning to move forward with an environmental review of the facility and its grounds. Lawmakers also voted to solicit cost estimates on title work related to the nursing home.
"With respect to the prospective sale of the Horace Nye Nursing Home, whether it occurs or not, there are a couple of preliminary things that we need to have done right away so that we are prepared, and they are also good items that we should have anyway," Manning said.
Essex County Attorney Dan Manning, left, discusses the costs of an environmental review for the Horace Nye Nursing Home during a recent meeting in Elizabethtown. Personnel Committee Chairman Gerald Morrow, D-Chesterfield, listens on.
(Enterprise photo — Chris Morris)
Last year, Essex County hired the Chicago-based real estate investment firm Marcus & Millichap to list the nursing home nationally for $4.25 million. Some supervisors say the facility has become too big a drain on county coffers. It operates at an annual loss of about $3 million.
According to Manning, the first step is a "phase one" environmental evaluation of Horace Nye. That is expected to cost between $3,000 and $4,000, and the county will need to hire an outside firm to do it. Manning said the review is necessary because prospective buyers need to know if the building and the property are free of any environmental hazards like asbestos or fuel spills.
The title work is needed, Manning said, so the county has "a complete and current abstract of title to present to any buyers." The cost of that work would range from $600 to $1,200.
Manning said the title work must be prepared by a certified title examiner "so that any buyer who accepts it will feel comfortable accepting it." The work cannot be done in-house by the county.
Debate over the nursing home's future has raged for years. Board Chairman Randy Douglas, D-Jay, said he thinks taxpayers will see the issue resolved this year.
"We'll have some sort of firm decision in the next six months," he told the Enterprise.
Douglas said he thinks a buyer will come forward and that if the county gets the $4.25 million it's looking for, the board will vote to sell Horace Nye. The board hasn't had enough support in the past, but with four new members sworn in earlier this month, that could change.
"It's not something that pleases me to do," Douglas said of selling the home. "But we can't afford not to at this point.
"If a buyer doesn't come forward, maybe a lease would be better. If not that, then what do we need to change to make it better? But I'm hoping a sale will happen."
Douglas said Manning and county Manager Dan Palmer have discussed the listing with Marcus & Millichap and there are a couple of parties interested in the nursing home.
Marcus & Millichap will get a 3.25 percent commission from the listing price, regardless of whether supervisors opt to actually sell the nursing home. If the home sells for $4.25 million, that means $138,000 for Marcus & Millichap.
In December, lawmakers set terms and conditions for a potential sale of the nursing home. Chief among those requirements are that current residents be allowed to stay indefinitely and that unionized nursing home workers be offered jobs.
Contact Chris Morris at 518-891-2600 ext. 26 or firstname.lastname@example.org.