Board OKs nursing home move

Plans to put a nursing home along Consaul Road in Niskayuna have cleared a key hurdle with the town's planning board offering its support for the high-profile project. In a concession to critics of the facility's new location, board members unanimously approved a series of conditions including a requirement that owners of the Ingersoll Home for the Aged install a walkway along the heavily traveled street.

The formal site plan approval gives the green light to the nursing home's relocation from a building at the intersection of State Street and Balltown Road, which has been in place for nearly two centuries. The Schenectady County Historical Society sought to rally support behind preserving that structure by going public with their concerns and writing a letter to the town board last year. But three months ago, Highbridge Commercial Development took a step that could seal the mansion's fate when they submitted plans to build a small shopping mall on that 12-acre property.

Controversy surrounding the Ingersoll Home's relocation heated up back in March when critics filled most of a two-hour public hearing with complaints about the impact a rezoning of the 4-acre Consaul Road property would have on nearby residents. Much of the criticism focused on the additional traffic a 74-bed nursing home could draw and the potential adverse effect on property values. A month after the hearing, a narrowly divided town board approved the rezoning by a 3-to-2 vote.

When you walk the property and look at the impact, you can see that this facility is just far too large for this kind of 4-acre site, veteran town board member Liz Kasper said at the time. "It is really just too big."

But supporters like Supervisor Luke Smith countered the claim saying steps would be taken to minimize the local impact. Ingersoll Home administrator Jim McPhee indicated that this was not the first time the nursing home had considered relocating. Much of the State Street building they are currently using is out of date, making it less cost-effective, said McPhee. The financial crunch has become so severe, that nursing home owners have been forced to subsidize the facility with income from other investments, he added.

The 4-acre Consaul Road site being eyed for the nursing home is near the Reist Bird Sanctuary. In 1998, the Niskayuna town board approved a similar use for the property only to see the project never come to completion after builders decided not to move forward. ""

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