Town hears new hospital update
The move makes possible the first stages of construction of Appalachian Place at Chestnut Ridge, the health-care facility that will replace Blowing Rock Hospital.
ARHS hopes to open the new facility in the fall or winter of 2014.
“Appalachian Regional Healthcare System has received $3 million in public grants thus far toward this project,” said ARHS spokesman Rob Hudspeth in a presentation to the Blowing Rock Town Council Tuesday evening. “Vannoy is the general contractor and RPA Design out of Asheville is the architectural firm we are using.”
Hudspeth said that the approval of the temporary access road will enable water and sewer work to begin on the project. When finished, the main entrance to the health-care facility will be located on U.S. 321, north of downtown Blowing Rock, across from Edmiston Road.
After Appalachian Place at Chestnut Ridge is completed, it will be augmented by a retirement community, run by, as-of-now, an undetermined company.
The retirement community will feature two “lodges,” or community facilities, and a group of cottages for individuals or couples.
ARHS was originally in negotiations with WellSpring, a retirement community out of Greensboro, but is now working with several other companies to find the right partnership.
“Our retirement community task force has 11 members,” Hudspeth said. “Our group has identified 14 people in the industry. Some have numerous retirement facilities in the Southeast. We consider the retirement community to be phase II and will move forward with that after the health-care facility is complete.”
According to Hudspeth, when the new facility is complete, it will absorb all 110 jobs now at Blowing Rock Hospital and add an additional 59 jobs.
“It will include a retail pharmacy and a clinic with extended hours,” he said.
ARHS is constructing the new facility on a 68-acre site near the Blue Ridge Parkway. Construction is due to start this summer.
The estimated cost of the facility is $20 million.
When completed, the facility will provide skilled nursing care, post-acute rehabilitation care, Alzheimer’s disease and memory support care, palliative care, primary care by on-site physicians, speech and communications disorders care, hearing disorders care and specialized nutrition.
In other town council news, the commissioners voted:
• Unanimously to table a consideration to establish an ordinance enacting standards in the Town Code for walking tours. Currently there are no regulations for businesses wanting to provide historic or themed tours in Blowing Rock.
• Unanimously to support consideration of a resolution to support the 2013-2015 State Funding for Clean Water Management Trust Fund.
• Three to two in favor of a consideration of adjustments to the fees paid for various town services. They included a 50 percent increase in charges for off-street parking spaces and increases in the prices for summer day camp and admission to the Robbins Swimming Pool. Summer day camp prices will increase to $60 per week for Blowing Rock taxpayers and $120 per week for nontaxpayers. Pool prices will increase by $1 for nontaxpayers, with a new $2 entry fee for people wishing to come in but not use the pool.
• Unanimously to approve a consideration for a change order for the construction now going on at the town’s wastewater treatment plant. The changes total $8,414. According to Town Manager Scott Hildebran, the project will still come in under budget.
• Unanimously to approve the acceptance of the Blowing Rock tax collector’s 2012-13 Delinquent Report and to authorize the advertisement of tax liens.
The next regularly scheduled public meeting of the Blowing Rock Town Council will take place at Town Hall at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, March 12.