By LeAnn R. Ralph
COLFAX — The Colfax Village Board has decided not to accept the offer of the former nursing home building on High Street from the Colfax Health and Rehabilitation Center.
The village board met in closed session January 25 to discuss the recommendation of the Colfax Plan Commission to stop any further research on the costs associated with accepting the offer from CHRC and to decline the offer.
The Colfax Plan Commission met in closed session January 17 to discuss the former nursing home building.
[emember_protected] Colfax Health and Rehab offered to give the old nursing home building to the village last summer.
Following the offer, village officials and department heads toured the building to consider whether it would be plausible to remodel the old nursing home to house the village clerk’s office, the Colfax Police Department, the Colfax Public Library and the Colfax Rescue Squad.
All together, the former nursing home facility is 40,000 square feet and sits on a four-acre lot. The lot includes a house currently being rented out.
To put the size of the building into perspective, Kyle’s Market in Colfax is 10,000 square feet.
The Colfax Village Board has not discussed in open session any cost estimates on the amount of money that might be needed to remodel the former nursing home building for village use.
During the plan commission’s discussion of the offer last September, plan commission member Dave Hovre said he feared the building was a “white elephant,” and while the village might obtain the building for free, it could cost $1 million to remodel it.
Prior to building the new nursing home facility on the south side of town, Area Nursing Home became a 501.c(3) non-profit.
Colfax Health and Rehab had plans to open an Alzheimer’s and dementia unit at the old facility, but those plans never came together.
The Colfax Plan Commission recommended in June of 2016 that the village board approve plans for CHRC’s proposal for the Minneblom Assisted Living & Memory Care facility at the old nursing home.
CHRC had hoped to have the new Minneblom open by January of 2017.
At the January 25 village board meeting, which had been rescheduled from January 21 because of a snowstorm that dumped up to 14 inches across the area, the Colfax Village Board voted unanimously to stop further research on the costs associated with accepting the offer of the old nursing home building and to decline the offer.
Village President Gary Stene was absent from the meeting. Village Trustees Annie Jenson and Casey Rihn also were absent from the meeting.
Mark Halpin, village trustee, chaired the meeting in Stene’s absence and voted in favor of the motion. Village Trustees Carey Davis, David Wolff and Keith Burcham also voted in favor of the motion.
The Mayo Health System clinic previously located in the former nursing home building closed July 1, 2016.
Village officials have been searching for another health care provider to operate a clinic in Colfax but have not yet been successful.
At one point, Marshfield Clinic had indicated an interest in opening a clinic in Colfax but then eventually backed away from the idea.
During the closed session of the Colfax Village Board January 25, board members also discussed purchasing more land in the East View residential development.
As part of the public comments portion at the beginning of the open session, Colfax resident Rick Johnson, who formerly served as a village trustee, read a statement indicating he objected to the village board discussing the purchase of land for East View in closed session.
Johnson said he would appreciate being able to speak about the issue during a public hearing before the village board makes a decision about purchasing more land.
The agenda for the village board meeting was the first time he had heard about the village board taking action on obtaining additional land for East View “other than rumors,” Johnson said.
Lynn Niggemann, village administrator-clerk-treasurer, assured Johnson the village board would “not be spending money tonight.”
During the closed session, the village board will be discussing negotiating options, she said.
Johnson insisted the village board is not in a position to discuss purchasing property.
At a meeting a week earlier, plan commission members had recommended bringing information to the village board so trustees could consider options that are negotiable, Niggemann said.
The plan commission meeting also was in closed session, Johnson noted.
The village board has not reached the point of spending money, Niggemann reiterated.
The history of the village board suggests when it comes time to spend money, “it goes fast,” Johnson said.
Halpin noted he had not attended the plan commission meeting, so this “is the first I’ve heard about it too.”
Following the closed session, the Colfax Village Board recommended sending the issue of purchasing land for the East View residential development be sent back to the plan commission. [/emember_protected]