Much needed senior assisted living facilities are soon to be added in the city of Kenai.
A conditional use permit was unanimously approved for a small senior assisted living facility on Baleen Avenue in the VIP Country Estates Subdivision. Following a 15-day appeal period, which ended Thursday, no appeals were received and the conditional use approval became official.
The facility will be only the second offering senior assisted living within the city. Kenai's Vintage Pointe senior housing complex on the Kenai River bluff, offers independent living apartments for seniors.
Until now, a small senior assisted living facility -- Nicholson's -- was the only senior assisted living facility available to Kenai seniors. Nicholson's can serve 10 people.
A number of senior assisted living facilities are available in Soldotna as well as Heritage Place, which actually provides round-the-clock nursing care.
For a number of years, Kenai's Senior Connections explored the possibility of building a large senior assisted living facility in Kenai, but the non-profit organization curtailed the costly project before starting.
The conditional use permit applied for by Nicole Balduf on Baleen Avenue, asks to be allowed to provide senior assisted living space to up to five occupants, as permitted by the state.
Although Jeff Twait, Kenai Planning and Zoning Commission chair, said he believes this to be the only private senior assisted living facility in Kenai, he thought the city-operated Vintage Pointe Manor offered such housing as well.
However, Kathy Romain, administrative assistant of the Kenai Senior Center, said that is a misconception people have.
Vintage Pointe offers senior independent living apartments, she said, not senior assisted living.
In addition to being required to be state licensed to provide housing for five occupants, the Baleen Avenue facility will need a satisfactory inspection by the city's fire marshal to assure compliance with the city fire code, prior to receiving final approval.
During the Planning and Zoning meeting, one Soldotna resident, Charles Obendorf, spoke in support of the permit, saying a family member was a resident of the Baleen facility and Obendorf and his wife were "very impressed with the care provided," according to commission records.
Other senior assisted living facilities operating in the Kenai area include Our House on the Lake on Interlake Drive in North Kenai, according to Rachael Craig, Kenai senior services director, and Irons Assisted Living between Soldotna and Kenai off the Kenai Spur Highway.
The Irons facility is operated by Frontier Community Services, which also is planning to open a senior assisted living facility on Green Street off Gaswell Road.
Frontier's Executive Director Ken Duff said the Irons facility and the one on Green will each serve four seniors, specifically those with Alzheimer's Disease or other forms of dementia.
Jan Fena, Soldotna Senior Center director, said, "We have several facilities in and around Soldotna, mostly in private homes. They all do a very fine job."
Among those inside Soldotna city limits are C.J. Assisted Living on Theresa Way, Keen Eye Care on Kobuk Street, Our House on the Lake No. 2, on Crest Drive, Snowflake operated by Frontier and Stonebrook, which was recently bought by Ready Care, according to Fena.
Outside Soldotna are Sunrise Mountain Assisted Living in Sterling, Pathways in Nikiski and The Willows on Funny River Road, she said.
A Nikiski couple, Cathryn and Scott Bumbaugh, owners of Northwest Development LLC, are planning to build and operate a 30-unit senior assisted living and 20-unit senior independent living facility on Island Lake Road in Nikiski.
Cathy Bumbaugh said the 500 square-foot assisted living apartments will be in three pods of 10 around a large common area. Built on 17.9 acres, the common area will include a nature path and places for seniors to have gardens if they wish.
She said the main building will have a living room, dining room, activity room and beauty shop, and the facility will be staffed with certified nurse assistants and a full-time registered nurse.
Known as "Nikishka Village, a Retirement Community," the complex also will have child day care for employees who work there.
The Bumbaughs hope to break ground this spring.
Phil Hermanek can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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