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Senior center moves ahead with assisted living facility

NORTH BEND - The Mount Si Senior Center could break ground next year on an assisted living facility for seniors in Snoqualmie if it gets sufficient funding to build the $5.7-million project approved in the next couple of months.

The 49-room assisted living facility would be located on the westside of 384th Avenue Southeast on property that also is home to the Snoqualmie Valley Hospital. The facility would be accessible by a road built where a gravel road is now located next to Kimball Creek, although the facility's property may expand to connect to the hospital property in the future.

Preliminary plans have a facility with two buildings. One would have three floors with living units as well as administrative, kitchen, dining and activity areas. The space also could serve those in the community who need only a day program, not housing. That building also would have a pool and age-appropriate exercise equipment. The second building would have nine of the center's 49 units and could house those with illnesses such as Alzheimer's disease and dementia.

"Sometimes those with dementia wonder," said Mount Si Senior Center Director Ruth Tolmasoff. "This would be a safe environment."

Tolmasoff said the center would like its Snoqualmie facility to have a residential look that would utilize the slope it would be built on and perhaps have a view of Mount Si.

The center recently finished a feasibility study for the project and Tolmasoff said an Aug. 2 public hearing, which was necessary to apply for federal funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), went well. Now the facility is trying to get its paperwork together to apply for public funding in the coming months. The center is hoping to pay for the center with a rural development loan given by the USDA, which can award 100-percent loan funding to certain projects. Tolmasoff said the center is also applying for grants from the state and county. If the funding is approved, the center will start specific design work this winter in hopes of breaking ground next year.

"We're really excited about it," Tolmasoff said. "Everything is coming along."

Once the center is built, Tolmasoff said the cost of care will vary according to the needs of the residents. She said the philosophy of assisted living is for people to move into an apartment of their own and remain there as long as possible. Services will be made available to residents as they require them.

Tolmasoff said it should take 8-10 months to build the acility and then another month or so to get it licensed. The facility will be run by an independent contractor called ElderHealth Northwest, a Seattle-based assisted living nonprofit organization. It is unclear how many jobs the facility would create, but Tolmasoff said the center would like to hire locally and will need people with various skill levels to fill positions.

"It's a good opportunity for the area, as well," Tolmasoff said.

Providing an opportunity for longtime residents to stay in the Valley and to provide a home for new seniors in the area is the primary reason the center would like to build the facility, Tolmasoff said.

"This is something that we need in our community," she said.

Ben Cape can be reached at (425) 888-2311 or by e-mail at ben.cape@valleyrecord.com.

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