Community embraces group home
STEVENSVILLE — Comments such as welcome, a good fit for the community and transparency were heard Wednesday, April 13, as Stevensville residents gave their resounding approval for a proposed new group home at 325 State Street. The discussion was held at the Percy Thomas Senior Center and about 40 people attended.
The county has been talking with Chesterwye Center Inc., a local nonprofit organization that aids adults with developmental disabilities, about creating a group home for clients on the site. This informational meeting was a chance for public input.
With the $670,781.12 available from the second Community Block Development Grant that Queen Anne’s County received from the Department of Housing and Community Development, plans are to demolish the existing house and construct a new, 3,210-square-foot home. The house would include four bedrooms, three baths, laundry, kitchen, storage and an office for a staff person. The facility would have 24-hour, seven days a week monitoring from a Chesterwye employee.
Chesterwye Executive Director Debra Langseth said the home would be designed for individuals with “pretty significant physical disabilities.” The home would have tracking throughout the ceilings to lift clients from their wheelchairs into their beds, shower, onto a toilet seat or anywhere else needed. As for the kitchen and bathroom, some counter tops will be lowered to aid people in wheelchairs. Langseth also said the house will have as many built in pieces as possible, such as dressers and beds, to allow maximum room for maneuverability.
Other expected expenditures will be a generator to provide heat as well as also to provide air flow through the hospital beds some residents use to prevent pressure sores, as well as installing a sprinkler. Despite a sprinkler being required by planning and zoning, Langseth said it is equally important because one of their nine homes caught fire in December. The new house would be the organization’s 10th home in the county.
The next steps needed to move the project forward include a public hearing, scheduled for 6:30 p.m. during the April 26 commission meeting, the signing a resolution naming Chesterwye the sub-recipient to the grant, and then signing a 99-year lease agreement between the county and Chesterwye.
Stevensville resident Mike Ranelli said the facility is going to be an asset to the community.
“I wanted to take a second to really thank the commissioners for not only listening to the community as far as finding an appropriate use for the property but also in their strong efforts to be transparent in the process going forward,” he said.
Ranelli welcomed Chesterwye on behalf of his neigh- bors to the community.
Other residents expressed similar sentiments. Dan Richardson and his wife said the move is a great idea.
“My wife and I were pretty vocal to the commissioners about other plans, and we just appreciate the openness for this to help our fellow county residents that need a helping hand,” Richardson said.
Stevensville resident Steve Pringle said he is excited for the potential move. “I’m thrilled to have you come to our community,” he said. “... We’d love if there’s anything we can do to continue to show our support, any volunteer stuff, let us know.”
A list of volunteer activities will be provided to the community, Langseth said. But for some people living in a Chesterwye home that don’t have a family, she said, recognizing people on their birthday or wishing someone a happy holiday are “very low effort” ways for the community to be involved.
Kathy Dubel, who has a sister living in a Chesterwye home, said the organization has been terrific. “The people there and families and all of the workers and all of the clients are wonderful,” she said.
Once the lease is signed on April 26, building plans will be finalized; bids for construction will go out by late summer or early fall, County Administrator Gregg Todd said.
“You will have a more enriched life looking, acting with, interfacing with these wonderful people because I did and you are like me,” Commissioner Mark Anderson said. “We have an opportunity to really make something work well for all of us and I’m glad this worked out.”
Follow Mike Davis on Twitter: @mike_kibaytimes.
Chesterwye Center Inc. Executive Director Debra Langseth, right, answers questions about a group home planned for State Street during an informational meeting at the Percy Thomas Senior Center on Wednesday, April 13. At left is County Commissioner Mark Anderson.
Paul Lombardo said the first house he bought in Queen Anne’s County was next to a Chesterwye home and will be again if plans go through for the organization to expand its services. Lombardo said, “Welcome.”
Dan Richardson of Stevensville said he was vocally opposed to previous plans for the State Street property but thanked the commission for its transparency and open-