By Debra Moore
There are two very different visions for what could become of the former Greenville hospital — a destination health and wellness spa featuring therapeutic waters or transitional housing and services for the homeless.
The options were presented to the Plumas District Hospital governing board during its Nov. 17 meeting.
“I’m reviving a project that I began in 2007-08 with my wife Judy Johnson before she died,” said Ken Donnell, of the proposed Healing Waters Wellness Center. Donnell, who lost his Greenville home and business to the Dixie Fire, is intent on rebuilding Greenville.
Plumas Crisis Intervention and Resource Center presented the alternative proposal for transitional housing and various services. “The site that you have in Greenville would allow us to house folks; get them started, provide 24-hour onsite care,” and more said Kathy Rahmeyer of PCIRC.
Donnell said the project was originally conceived back in 2007-2008, with the assistance of Plumas Corporation, and could bring 50 to 100 jobs to the area. “Before I pursue this, I want to ensure that there is some interest,” Donnell said.
Do you have enough resources to do this project at this time, or will you go after those resources?” Director John Kimmel asked Donnell.
Donnell said that while he has substantial resources, the amount probably wouldn’t be enough to complete the entire project. He said he is open to either a partnership or an outright sale.
Kimmel also asked how many individuals could be accommodated at the wellness center. Donell said that plans identified 20 potential rooms, but other housing could be added such as timeshares and condos. He said there might even be the potential for camping. He said there is plenty of water for growth and there’s a good footprint with the existing facility.
Donnell that in his experience, most facilities with therapeutic waters were mostly built out about late 1800s or early 1900s, and many don’t accommodate the disabled, but the Greenville site could do so.
The site could accommodate core people who stay there and others who visit for day use. “I would estimate 200 people per day going through the facility,” he said. He envisions the site as a destination facility for those in the county, as well as from out of county, even internationally. “This could be a very unique facility,” he said.
Kathy Rahmeyer, speaking on behalf of PCIRC, gave a brief summation of the crisis center’s work. “Roughly we average over 5,000 walk-ins a year,” she said. As part of its work, the center helps people find emergency shelter. “We are looking at providing more transitional housing,” she said. “We act as ongoing safety net for folks.”
Rahmeyer said that the county does have homeless individuals, “but we feel that we do such a good job of taking care of our homeless that they aren’t visible in the community.”
For years the crisis center has used emergency motel room, spending as much as $200,000 in one year to house people. However, she said that the process becomes more complicated when the rooms aren’t available.
She addressed other services that the center provides and said that the site would provide temporary housing, services, transportation to other facilities, and potentially provide room for additional, more long-term housing, such as a tiny house village.
PCIRC Director Scott McCallum said that PCIRC is “a $5 million company” and praised Rahmeyer’s grant writing abilities. There is currently a grant that would facilitate this project, but Rahmeyer said, “We are on a tight timeline.”
McCallum added that PCIRC has an offer on another building; but prefers the Greenville site. McCallum said he is very familiar with the building and town, having been a resident of the area.
“Many people are only one paycheck away from homeless,” Rahmeyer said. “They are people that we know; people that live here.” She said that she is aware “a lot of people say ‘not in my backyard,’ but it will create jobs as well.”
Board wants input
PDH Board Chairman Bill Wickman said the presentations were for information only; no decision was slated to be made during the meeting. However, toward the end of the meeting, while making their closing remarks, directors indicated that they would want to hear from the Indian Valley community before making any decision on the fate of the Greenville hospital building. “I think we need to see what the community wants when they come back,” Director Valerie Flanigan said. “It’s really about engaging the community.”
Supervisor Goss weighs in
When asked for his thoughts on the Greenville site options during an interview following the meeting, Supervisor Kevin Goss said that whatever is done “needs to be concrete and work for our community.”
Goss said he was sitting on the Indian Valley hospital board during the 2007-2008 discussions about the Greenville hospital and said there are copies of a very comprehensive study that was done at the time. He recalled that a lot of work would need to be done to the hospital building.
“Our main goal is to keep some health care in Indian Valley,” he said. That would mean keeping the clinic open (which is operated by Plumas District Hospital) as well as the ambulance service. He said that if a project were to proceed with the hospital, he would want the clinic to be separated from it.