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Nathaniel Witherell, Byram Watershed Projects Get Approvals

Whether key projects proceed is up to town boards.

The Nathaniel Witherell nursing home has received the certificate of need from the state that will allow it to proceed with plans to renovate the town-owned facility.

A plan that has been on the drawing boards for at least a decade, means the town can proceed to procure financing for Project Renew which will include upgrades to the electrical, heating and ventilation systems and to increase the number of private rooms. By increasing the number of private rooms, the nursing home will be in a stronger position to market its facilities as a short-term rehabilitation operation for patients who need to transition from hospital care to independent home living.

At Thursday’s Board of Selectmen meeting, First Selectman Peter Tesei explained that the change in leadership in Hartford helped clear the path for approval.

Tesei lauded the efforts of Representative Town Meeting member Joseph Kaliko who worked as an intermediary between the town and the state. Last year, under the state’s burgeoning budget constraints, then Gov. M. Jodi Rell withdrew support for the project.

“His work certainly resulted in the outcome that we all wanted,” Tesei said.

The $22 million project will be funded by increased state Medicare reimbursements for Witherell patients. With that increase, the town will be able the money to repay bonds it will secure to pay for the renovation, officials said.

The Nathaniel Witherell, on Parsonage Road, is one of two municipally-operated facilities in Connecticut. It provides both short-term and long-term care for seniors at the facility situated on 24 acres.

But before a shovel can be turned on the project, it must be approved by the Board of Estimate and Taxation and the Representative Town Meeting.

The selectmen also acknowledged yesterday that it has reached an agreement with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to develop plans to mitigate flooding along the Byram River Watershed.

Tesei has included in his proposed Capital Improvement Program Projects proposal that the town pay $200,000 for the feasibility study – a matching grant of the corps’ contribution to the project.

For decades, the town has wrestled with how to stanch the flooding issues along the river that cuts through Byram and Pemberwick, south to Long Island Sound.

The underlying issue in trying to obtain cooperation with the Army Corps was the elimination of a federal stipulation that any recommendations made by the corps must be implemented.

The agreement – which was reached with intervention from U.S. Rep. Jim Himes of Cos Cob – “will provide Greenwich some federal funds for revision engineered solutions to the problems and it must have community involvement,” Tesei said. Unlike previous efforts, flooding mitigation proposals must have community involvement and consensus rather than be mandated by the corps.

Greenwich Resident February 05, 2011 at 12:39 AM
Let's not forget the elderly.......

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