Citizens Care Transferred from City to County
Citizens Care and Rehabilitation Center was transferred to the county this week in a land deal that has been in the works for years.
A land-title transfer that has been up in the air for countless years finally came to settlement this week when the county took ownership of Citizens Care and Rehabilitation Center on Market Street.
County Executive David Craig, Mayor Wayne Dougherty, County Councilwoman Mary Ann Lisanti and Citizens Care Adminisrtator Peter Panos were all on hand during a "signing ceremony" at the facility Thursday afternoon.
However, Dougherty told the handful of people in attendance that the documents had previously been signed and the event was more of a press event to speak to the issue of the land transfer.
Craig gave a brief history of the land where Citizens Care resides, explaining it was home to an iron mill in the 1840s, before becoming part of the Log Pond. He said during World War II the government almost purchased the property for the construction of Higgins boats to be used in the Invasion of Normandy, but the plans were never finalized. Following that, the City of Havre de Grace considered the parcel as a location for the city's sewage treatment plant but it eventually became home to the Citizens Care and Rehabilitation Center.
"There was a little gap there where no one was sure who owned the land and who owned the building," Craig explained.
Panos said by the county taking ownership of the facility, it will now get upgrades and long-overdue remodeling.
"Some of the stuff is from when it was constructed in 1966, with metal lockers for wardrobes," he explained.
Citizens Care began a $1 million construction project in 2008 to modernize the facility, but because it is a nonprofit nursing home facility, it did not have authority to borrow money on its own, and sought assistance from county and state government.
Construction was halted due to lack of funding, since the facility was not included in the county's capital budget program at the time.
Lisanti, who also sits on the board of directors at Citizens, said many people were instrumental in assisting make the transfer happen, including city council members Randy Craig and Mitch Shank.
"This isn't about us, it's about the people who live here," Lisanti said, explaining her aunt was in the facility before she passed away.
Shank was in attendance Thursday, and said he is glad to see the deal finalized, saying the city had at one time considered taking on the facility but it actually employs more than 200 people and would more than double the number of city employees and create new liabilities.
Dougherty said he made several efforts over the years to get the 1.06-acre site transferred to the county, but was met with resistance along the way.
In exchange for the parcel and building, the county deeded a small parking area and space for a small park to be used for Citizen Care back to the City of Havre de Grace.
The transfer was approved last summer and it was stated during Thursday's press event that a press conference was originally scheduled for last fall but had been postponed for several reasons until this week.
"It only took us 31 years to get it right," Craig said jokingly.