ORANGE COUNTY SHOULD CREATE A CONTINUUM OF CARE NEIGHBOR AROUND VALLEY VIEW WHITE TAKING CARE TO KEEP FARMLANDS AND VISTAS IN PLACE
The County must now develop an initiative to keep Valley View Nursing Home and Rehabilitation Center County-owned and County-run, and to become proactive in the cause by using its own lands in The Town of Goshen surrounding Valley View to create a feeder pattern continuum of care neighborhood around Valley View that will provide services not in competition with the services that Valley View offers. The County’s lands would provide revenue to the County as well.
Orange County Local Law #1 of 2016 got off to a rocky start. Its implementation plan immediately slid into old ways instead of looking realistically at new ideas and its municipalities as allies for in-put and support. I am a member of the Review Committee formed. Its duties were put in place. But, the project area lacked a Master Plan. Without considering the whole landscape, designating specific parcels in it would segment the initiative and cripple the overall project. Insufficient information was exchanged between Orange County and the Town of Goshen Planning Board in the creation and evolution of the project. There was debate over leasing or selling land parcels. I argued for long-term leasing with double or triple net options, which would mean a constant stream of revenue to the county while protecting the property. Selling is a one-shot deal and giving away all control.
Marked “draft” the tone of the County’s first property presentation to the Review Committee signaled it was already set to put out its routine RFP. Irritating, since the continuum of care neighborhood around Valley View initiative was to be a humanitarian and economic enhancement priority, a landmark undertaking by the County.
I have had years of expertise in developing initiatives and programs for school districts, often working with world-class corporations and foundations.
The success of the County’s innovative concept hinges on inter-municipal conversations resulting in strong and robust support, a required element in a quality proposal seeking development partners in a world-class marketplace. Conferencing, fact-finding and adjusting for stability and cohesion in depth of idea were not planned for before aiming to launch an RFP.
I will push for the County to interface with the Town of Goshen’s Planning Board to consider its Comprehensive Plan, zoning laws within the project area, and issues of water, sewer, conservation of farmland and vistas, traffic patterns and volume, building appearance, and possibly a helicopter pad.
I will push for a Special Interest RFP to be developed by County Legal and Real Property Departments for a probable audience of good neighbors for Valley View. I will work to initiate a logical procedure to find that audience.
Board of Directors listed in the leading and specialty hospitals in NYC are a primary audience and should be researched for “Development Officers.”
There is no more land in Manhattan for hospitals to grow, they are buying into residential areas at sky high prices with an eye to future expansion.
Doctors specializing in Geriatric Medicine must have a specialty license. Groups of them may want a specialty building. Medical schools want a satellite teaching campus. Research leads to specific people. Goshen is close to Manhattan, where information about and many of the component parts of our project are.
ENHANCING VALLEY VIEW NURSING HOME AND REHABIOLITATION CENTER: COUNTY-OWNED AND COUNTY-RUN BY ORANGE COUNTY, NEW YORK
A Position Paper Discussing the Responsibilities, Personnel, Activities and Special Considerations in Developing Orange County’s Initiative to keep Valley View Nursing Home and Rehabilitation Center County-owned and County-run, and to become proactive in the cause by selling or leasing its own lands in The Town of Goshen surrounding Valley View to create a feeder pattern continuum of care neighborhood around Valley View that will provide services not in competition with the services that Valley View offers.
Orange County Local Law #1 of 2016 was deficient in its first “Draft.” Immediately apparent was that it faulted in its created Review Committee by charging it to review proposals received in answer to the County’s RFP, then voting within itself to decide which proposal to recommend to the full Legislature. Five members of that committee were to be appointed commissioners and others from the County Executives Branch. Only four members were to be elected legislators. Since the Legislative Branch of government oversees the County’s land sales for the people of the County who own it, at the Legislature’s “Round Table” I brought attention to this problematic Executive Branch majority vote and suggested the Chairman of the Legislature choose two more legislators, a Democrat and a Republican, to add to the committee, thereby giving the majority to the elected legislators to choose the proposal to move to the Legislature. I also recommended that the Review Committee first present its suggestions to specific oversight committees for input discussion, then to the full Legislature.
At the following joint, three statutory committee meeting, the Local Law was amended to have the Majority Party Leader and the Minority Party Leader each select a party member to add to the Review Committee. The joint committee’s discussion raised other weaknesses in the Local Law as presented: 1) it fails to look at the entire project area in a Master Plan scenario, 2) by already designating three specific parcels it segments and possibly cripples the whole area’s development prospects, 3) it demonstrates a lacking to inform or involve the Town of Goshen’s Planning Board in the creation and evolution of the project, and, 4) although it was marked “draft” the tone of the presentation said the County was ready to go directly to a RFP (Request for Proposals).
As presented, the County’s innovative concept evidenced no inter-municipal conversation or unity of purpose, two positive qualities which are the signatures of a strong and robust proposal of the quality demanded in a competitive world-class marketplace. Conferencing, fact-finding and adjusting for stability and cohesion in depth of thought were not planned for before trying to pass a local law of this magnitude, and moving towards issuing an RFP.
The initiative requires a closer look at both elected and appointed County personnel roles and their responsibilities in the project. Specific responsibilities fall to Orange County’s Legal Department and Orange County’s Department of Real Property. Oversight rests in three statutory committees of the County Legislature: Rules, Enactments and Intergovernmental Relations; Physical Services; and Health and Mental Health. Equally, the County’s Initiative requires a realistic concern and plan to interface with the Town of Goshen, particularly its Planning Board, in consideration of the Town’s Comprehensive Plan and existing zoning within the projected area of special development.
Likely area development planning issues would include water, a new packaged sewer plant, conservation of farmland and vistas, traffic patterns and volume, a helicopter pad, and more. Long-term leasing rather than selling them would eliminate the possibility of a land “flip.” The desired neighborhood would remain appropriate to the vision, and the County would collect a stream of rent. The quality of leadership of the Initiative is strengthened by combining County and Town in purpose, and together planning a timeline of benchmark activities moving toward its goal.
Based on the County’s Initiative to enhance Valley View with the support and input of the Town of Goshen, with that arrived-at Plan in hand, an initiative-specific RFP and telephone script should be developed.
“Targeted marketing” to probable interested institutions is researched. Board of Directors lists are examined to identify “Development” officers and other board members with special interests congruent to the County’s Initiative. Initial contacts are made with personal, informational telephone calls leading to an RFP connection.
Developing a neighborhood on County-owned lands in the Town of Goshen for a continuum of care and enhancement of Valley View will be a challenge, an investment of time in deep thought problem-solving by County and Town on emerging bumps along the road. Start-up activities and implementation stages will be captured by the press. However, the final words will describe our successful product of good government.
Myrna K. Kemnitz,
County Legislator, District #7
Representing Monroe Village and
Unincorporated Areas of the Town of Monroe
My View: Put Valley View’s potential into our own hands:
• MY VIEW
Streams of revenue possible for nursing care center
By Myrna K. Kemnitz
Posted Oct. 24, 2014 at 12:37 PM
Let it be clear that the Orange County Valley View Development Corporation came into being solely to sell our Valley View Center for Nursing Care and Rehabilitation. A deviation from that course, or offering an opinion on why Valley View was such a prize investment value to other nursing home owners in their expansion ideas and expected resulting profits, could not be forthcoming. Suggestion that keeping Valley View could be a prudent move, even after hearing others’ revitalizing plans, was impossible. Taking productive pointers from positive thinking buyers, combining them with Valley View’s improving financials, was not the job of the LDC.
Our legislative chairman created summary questions for the final bidders, then shared their responses with the Legislature for understanding the differing plans and reasons behind the entrepreneurs desire to purchase Valley View. Respondents agreed that Valley View’s location and size was worth investments of $20-$30 million. Their meshed menu of expanded programs included: short-term rehabilitation, renal dialysis, oral hygiene, cardiac therapy, disease management in heart, lungs and neuromuscular movement, a vent dependent unit, joint ventures with senior housing with medical daycare and assisted living apartments, stroke rehab, bariatric care, and a traumatic brain injury unit. Valley View could be expanded. Building new facilities was possible: children’s long-term care, dialysis center, assisted-living complex. A new health care partner could be Touro College.
Valley View hadn’t used its resources or charted its potential that others saw, that the Berger Commission forecast. Berger told Valley View to downsize from 520 beds to 360 beds, introducing the realigned bed count with the addition of a cardio unit and a vent unit. Berger advised using an empty building for non-institutional services. A $7.8 million grant was approved for the realignment. We did downsize. But, the realignment units and grant did not happen. Our Parry Building went empty. With the Government Center closed, the Orange County clerk’s office and records department moved into Parry, along with the passport department and pistol permits department. These departments have remained Valley View’s non-paying guests since then.
Valley View should have been using the Parry Building as rental space for non-institutional medical providers, a revenue source. Valley View owns and operates the sewer plant for the area, and the 150+acres around Valley View in addition to the 29 acres in the Valley View purchase. The Valley View purchaser will own the sewer plant, with service extendable beyond the campus to homes, specialized housing, medical offices, acute care facilities and more.
Bidders’ responses were eye-openers showing we do not have to sell Valley View. Valley View must take control of what it has and activate streams of revenue that we should be collecting:
1) Rent the Parry building space either to Orange County or medical businesses providing non-institutional services;
2) Work with Orange County to market its nearby land parcels for development by privately owned health care providers of assisted living and adult day care housing, long-term pediatric care, medical offices and acute care facilities, who will build and offer special services that Valley View does not provide (and would send appropriate referrals to Valley View);
3) Develop a business collecting sewer usage fees for the acreage the Valley View Sewer District services;
4) Put newly purchased, privately owned parcels back on the tax roles;
5) Create local building jobs.
When we remove our blinders from past years, see Valley View as those high bidders do, understand the opportunities waiting to be developed, and admit that we have documented very substantial reductions in our cost of running Valley View, than we will brilliantly understand that we would be fools to sell it.
Myrna Kemnitz is the Orange County legislator for District 7 in Monroe.
Brief of Auditors Report on Vally View: 2013 and 2014:
The auditors took the Health & mental Health Statutory Committed through their official Report line item by line item focusing us on Expenditures and Revenues, and added commentary about how 2015 looked so far.
They said, “Opportunities became results… .This is a model for success.”
They were”very impressed.” They added that 2014 was
“wonderful,” and “2015 is better than 2014.”
Occupancy was up.
Medicare Pay Days increased.
Expenses went down.
Kemnitz: Statement on NO vote for an LDC for Valley View:
I will not abdicate my vote on this legislature of 21 elected officials to 7 legislators on a selected LDC.
I will not abandon the more than 5,220 people who voted for me knowing my long standing position on Valley View…giving it a chance to show positive change in its financials.
More than most legislators in this new legislature, I know the history of Valley View, because I delved into it to write a substantial book about it.
When it was up for sale I travelled with Roxanne Donnery to facilities of those bidders who wanted to purchase it…to observe their plants, personnel and patient mix and programs…
I know what we have here in Valley View…and in comparison. And I know what the bidders were intending to do to make it financially viable for themselves.
I will not abdicate my vote to a LDC committee so as not to be “BURDENED” by doing the job of government I was elected to do for the 17,300 people living in my legislative district, according to the 2010 Census.
I will not vote for the LDC.
Statement to Caucus about an LDC to sell Valley View:
Roxanne Donnery and I went together to several nursing homes as far away as Pennsylvania to see how VV compared to the bidders’ already operating facilities. Distance was not a factor in our research. One place and only one place would we consider, likewise for their administration. We did our homework, if Valley View had to be sold.
With an LDC legislators have no say.
We 21 legislators would not be upholding the County Charter, which expressly does not give the right of selling property to the County Executive. That is OUR given right.
With an LDC the CE is directly involved in the Board of Directors selection and he acts “for”us. No way!
Check the County Charter. Did you pledge to uphold it when you were sworn in? You are giving away the rights of the people who voted for you; giving the responsibility they vested in you to other Legislators, those selected to be on the 7 member Board of Directors of the LDC.
Check out the Resolution, particularly the paragraph about how the 7 on the Board of Directors of the LDC is selected. Jeff selects 1, Melissa selects 1, Steve B selects 1, and the rest of us choose 1. Where do the other 3 come from?
Finally, the sales pitch for an LDC is that we have trouble agreeing as a body, and a buyer would rather work with an LDC, where there is no turning back— no matter what the whole Legislature wants to do!
Truth be told, we did agree as a body and sued the last CE, and we won. He was not allowed to sell VV. And again we agreed as a body to give VV a chance to show fiscal turnaround in a year… AND IT HAS!
This is the time when we must stand up. We ran on this issue. Now it is time for us to show the voters we meant what we said when we pledged to keep Valley View open.
Throughout many of our lifetimes, since 1831, a sanctuary for the poor, the elderly and the infirm has been nestled in the fertile hills of Goshen, New York. Currently known as Valley View, over the years, this place of caring was home to thousands of men and women who helped to homestead Orange County and build the foundation of what it is today, and home to those who fought in foreign wars to protect the American freedoms and principles that we all hold dear.
This very year the story of Valley View will change. A page in our history will be turned and the heart of a people will be saddened to lose a reliable friend always there before in times of need; for our elderly a home and medical help, for people of any age a place for caring, expert physical rehabilitation.
I write What Valley View Has Meant to Orange County with a profound sense of gratitude to those who came before, and to the current residents and staff at the Valley View Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation, to their loved ones and to the many, many caring people from all corners of Orange County, New York, who shared their thoughts, feelings and experiences in words and photographs by mail, email and interview sessions with me.
It has been a privilege to examine Valley View’s history in the archives of The Goshen Public Library, to hold in my hands the actual ledgers of the 1830s chronicling the beginnings from the days of the “Poorhouse.” Reading the unfolding story of how it came to be—the basic premise, costs, information about the origin of the people who lived there and why they came—engaged my mind in visualizing our current county back in the time of immigrants, land covered by farming, the beginnings of towns and villages dealing with issues of poverty even then. This was a time not even a lifetime away from the year when our country became the United States. (Segregation, I was surprised to learn, was practiced even in The Poorhouse, to the extent of separate quarters.) The ledgers document our early villages’ and towns’ humanitarian commitment to their people in need. The County Poorhouse came into being when individual towns and villages saw the merge and the resulting single facility as cost effective.
A personal interview with the granddaughter of Mr. Simon, the first Administrator of Orange Farm, 1949-1961, and for whom the Simon Building is named, revealed history as she lived it as a youngster while visiting her grandfather at his home in “The White House.” Newspaper clippings and a personal family treasure of home photographs brought that period of Valley View’s history to the present, and I am thankful to have permission to share the pictures and the stories and the personal insights.
Many of Valley View’s current residents are like family now. From interviews with them come stories and remembrances of a Valley View of not so long ago, the changes that occurred in the more recent past, the turbulence of the present and their fears for the future. From them come the “scoop” and the back-stories, loaded with vivid details and emotion. To be physically frail does not diminish their intellectual wealth, nor does mobility impairment diminish their clarity of thought, power of expression, and determination to be heard, understood and to champion what is right.
The Health and Mental Health Committee of the Orange County, New York, Legislature is the statutory committee charged with oversight of Valley View. It meets monthly to hear and ask questions about reports given by the Valley View Administrator of Record, Mr. William Pascocello, employee of Orange Administrative Services, which is owned by John Chobar, Esq. and Ms. Dona Strecker, Finance, who is an employee of Orange County. Reports detail monthly revenues and expenses and discuss what is going on in campus activities, government regulations, physical plant needs and more. Minutes of the meeting are taken and posted on the county’s website. It is from these Minutes that the financial information and conversation in open committee is taken. The thread of numbers and issues through the years 2009-2012 shows an amazing smorgasbord for a novelist to feed off. Information in What Valley View Has Meant to Orange County is also taken from the CGR (Center for Governmental Research) Study, copies of contracts between Orange County and Orange Administrative Services, open public forums on Valley View, and newspaper articles and reports.
What Valley View Has Meant to Orange County is divided into six sections: The People; The Money Talk; The Union Is Willing; The Politics; The History; The RFP. I have tried to present the facts as they flowed through history, anticipating that each reader will dwell on different aspects of the history. For me, the most compelling to write was “The People.” Their stories and photos made Valley View vibrant and come alive. Valley View may be a story of numbers for some, but it is the heartbeat of the folks who have lived there, as well as their loved ones. Today hundreds still live there. Over the years there have been thousands, including failed farmers, decorated war veterans, musicians, even a Welterweight Champion of Europe. It is the fabric of these people’s lives that came together here that drives this story to be told.
Events unfolding today appear callous, abrupt and drama-filled. By funding Valley View for only half of 2012, the Orange County Executive has forced either the closure of the venerable facility or its sale. His argument is that rising costs and falling revenues forecast an ever-deepening debt for the facility. This is a burden that the county cannot afford, one that the taxpayers in the county should not have to bear. Others argue that his decision is a breeched promise to the people, a shirking of responsibility by our county government, which exists to help the people of the county that it represents. Although the Legislature offered four plans and settled on one to fund Valley View for a year with 19 votes for the plan and only 2 votes against it, the County Executive vetoed the funding plan. His veto could be overridden only by a two-thirds majority. But six legislators who had previously voted to fund Valley View for a year changed their minds. Those six disabled the override. The County Executive’s budget as proposed prevailed.
The only path to keeping Valley View open now is to sell it. An RFP was written, a sales agent with an exclusive right has been chosen, and 87 interested purchasing parties have responded. May 7, 2012, was the closing day for receiving responses.
The title of this book is What Valley View Has Meant to Orange County. The verb “has meant” in the title is in the past conditional tense. It shows a condition in a time that began in the past and continues still. It is my fervent hope that this is the case for Valley View Nursing Home and Center for Rehabilitation.
Myrna Kemnitz May 12, 2012