MALONE - Franklin County took the next step on the path to transferring its nursing home into private ownership by taking ownership of a road.
The county had already signed a long-term service agreement last year that would give the county nursing home operations to Alice Hyde Medical Center, but county officials had been waiting for Alice Hyde to move forward.
County Attorney Jonathan Miller said last week that Alice Hyde officials signed the agreement at the end of February.
"It appears that things are moving forward in a positive direction with regard to the construction of the new facility," Miller said.
As part of that agreement, county legislators agreed last week to accept ownership of a 1,500-foot stretch of road between Park and Constable streets, where the new facility would be built.
About 800 feet of the road was already constructed some years ago off Park Street, and the county is agreeing to complete the rest of the road through to Constable Street.
"This is something we've been pushing for, and we had extensive discussions with our highway superintendent," said board Chairman Gordon Crossman. "The road is half-built now, so we would just be completing it."
Coincidentally, county Highway Superintendent Jon Hutchins built the first half of the road in his private practice before he went to work for the county, Miller said.
"He's very familiar with the area," Miller said. "It wouldn't pose a difficulty with his office."
The road will help the county as well, because it will give the highway department a shortcut so they can use back roads rather than go through town, Miller said.
Alice Hyde's nursing home now has 75 beds and the county nursing home has 80. The new facility would have 135 regular beds plus space for 30 assisted-living residents, who don't need as much care as residents of a regular nursing home.
The project was awarded two state Health Care Efficiency and Affordability Law grants, one for $2.9 million and one for $6.4 million, plus the county will contribute $1 million a year for the first 10 years.
Miller said Alice Hyde officials were waiting for the state grants to come through, and now they're going through banking channels to get the rest of the funding for the project in line.
"They're in the process of moving forward on this, and everything is looking very positive," Miller said.
"Definitely it is a pleasure to see this move forward," Crossman said. "It's something that we've been working for, and to finally see it moving in the right direction is very beneficial to us and to the whole county."