Summit Seniors still hope for assisted living in county |

Summit Seniors still hope for assisted living in county

summit daily news

SUMMIT COUNTY – To get the ball rolling on developing an assisted-living facility, Summit County Seniors organizers asked the Board of County Commissioners for help at a recent meeting.

“We’ve been at this thing for a long time now,” said Summit County Seniors representative Dennis Nemura. “We’ve got this dynamic happening where older people are staying here longer. We need to provide them the services to allow them to stay here. Seniors want to age in place.”

According to another Seniors volunteer Don Parsons, the group’s purpose of meeting with the Summit County commissioners was to present its research, and ask for three things: 1) For the commissioners to be excited and on board with building a senior community in Summit County; 2) To get some help to move the project forward; and 3) To have the county jump-start the project with a contribution of land.

“They said they’d take the request under consideration,” Parsons said. “We have a rapidly growing segment of our population with people over 60. It could make Summit County a better place to retire.”

County Commissioner Thomas Davidson said the government currently owns a 2-acre parcel of land next to the Summit County Community and Senior Center in Frisco, which is designated for an assisted-living facility. However that’s not enough land, so more must be purchased.

“The key message we delivered to the Seniors yesterday is that, at least in my opinion, we’re going to have to go to the voters for funding (and support) to pursue this,” Davidson said. “Over the last year and half, we’ve seen an approximate 18 percent decrease in sales tax revenue, or $1 million less in approximate revenue.”

Davidson also said he expects property tax collection to see a 25 percent decrease after the current valuation, or $5.75 million less. And from 2008-09, the county government saw a 14 percent decrease in revenues from fees and permits, or $635,000 less.

“You add all that up, there’s $7.4 million we could be down by 2012,” he said. “About 25 percent of the county’s funding would be down for general-operating funds. We haven’t seen a decrease in funding like this in 20-plus years.”

Davidson added that when county revenues are projected to go down, it can’t quickly return.

“I really do understand the demographic changes that are projected and the future need of this kind of facility, and – in addition – the need for better in-home care,” he noted. “We’re expecting meaningful aging of the population in Summit County. We do need to think about how we’re going to be able to care for and service that aging population.”

Davidson additionally suggested the project would need a private-public partnership to make it a reality.

For more than two years, Senior volunteers have been meeting regularly to study the need for senior housing and assisted-living development. They still hope the county will form a partnership with them to develop housing options for the elderly and disabled adults.

Andy Searls, another Seniors representative, said she’s visited up to seven assisted-living facilities in Colorado for ideas on what could be done locally.

“It would make the community more attractive to seniors and families who want to bring aging parents,” she added.

According to Nemura, creating an assisted-living facility also fits into the goals of the Seniors organization – to expand services which benefit the local senior population, to create ways to keep seniors in their own homes longer, and then to create an assisted-living option once they can no longer live at home.

“It’s a continuum of care,” he said.

A Summit Senior Survey conducted in 2009 said, “The most striking finding … was the vast majority of seniors already living in Summit County plan to retire here – 70 percent of those are age 65 to 74, and 87 percent of those are now age 75 or over. Respondents stated a strong demand for housing and care facilities to enable them to remain in Summit County as they age.”

Parsons also noted that having a senior community established in Summit County could be a benefit to the county and to health care providers in the area, especially the hospital.

SDN reporter Caitlin Row can be reached at (970) 668-4633 or at

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