The good fight has come to an end at Golden Acres Nursing Home.
All residents have been moved from the facility, and now Lorain County workers say they are waiting on the state of Ohio to approve its official close date.
The facility boasted nearly 90 beds a decade ago. The number had dwindled to about 40 in September when the closure was announced with Thanksgiving as the deadline.
Now local officials are left wondering what the future holds for the 84-year-old sandstone building, which started as the Pleasant View tuberculosis sanatorium in December 1931.
“There’s always a concern when a building’s shut down as to how it’s going to be used,” said Amherst Township trustee Neal Lynch. “The one thing we don’t want to see is a building that’s left and then deteriorates… We’ll have the expectation that the county keeps it up.”
County administrator James Cordes did not return phone calls seeking comment. Golden Acres administrator Jeri Dull declined to speak on the facility’s closure.
Golden Acres sits on a small part of the township that keys up against city territory.
Lynch said the nursing home’s closure will have no direct impact on finances since it is tax-exempt and Amherst Township has no income tax.
Yet there may be some indirect impacts.
Amherst mayor David Taylor objected in January 2013 to the rezoning and sale 5.65 acres of Golden Acres land close to Rt. 58.
This fall, he has on several occasions voiced worries that city residents living right next to the property will be affected by drainage and traffic issues that come with commercial development.
The Get Go gas has long been preparing for a move from Kresge Drive to the Golden Acres frontage though the project hasn’t seen much progress.
Lynch said the company still intends to move its station despite rumors the project is off and the persistence of for-sale signs on the land.
Get Go has encountered difficulty getting the Ohio Department of Transportation to sign off on plans for access to and from the property, he said. No real estate transfer has ever been finalized.
Amherst councilman Chuck Winiarski said neighbors have other concerns.
His Third Ward borders the nursing home land. Residents there are worried about maintenance of the aged building, whether the Golden Acres sledding hill will remain open, and about the fate of a bluebird habitat trail erected years ago.
North Ridge Road resident Marilyn Jenne, 93, remembers when Pleasant View was built in time of rampant tuberculosis.
Some sources have indicated that at the time, it cost the county $270,000 to build. But a Dec. 15, 1931 article in the Lorain Times-Herald said that cost was actually $425,000.
Figuring for inflation, that’s about $6.65 million in 2015 purchasing power, according to consumer price index-based calculations using a U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics tool.
Today Jenne lives across the street from Golden Acres but in 1931 she lived just minutes away on Cleveland Avenue. A friend’s mother worked at the sanatorium as a cook and walked there every morning.
“I can remember once in a while we’d go do there with her. I look down there and it makes me sick to know it’s empty,” she said.
Years later, the building was refitted to serve as the county nursing home, replacing the previous facility on Murray Ridge Road in Elyria Township where the Lorain County Jail stands today.
When a contest was launched to name the nursing home, Jenne said her husband’s grandmother won and chose Golden Acres.
It was certified in 1988 as a Medicaid intermediate care facility and a countywide levy to support the home’s costs was phased out.
Rumors that Golden Acres would close abounded in the 1990s. A non-profit firm called The South Shore Development Corp. was hired in 1997 to look into renovating it with a “condo concept.”
Closure rumors again surfaced in 1998. Among the most popular stated that Golden Acres would become the new Lorain County Visitors Bureau.
In the years that followed, Nord Middle School forged an important relationship with the county home.
Principal Bill Miller said students frequently visited Golden Acres to spend time with residents, learning about their pasts in a character education program.
“They had a great time. Number one, just working with the residents. The exposure they got there goes beyond what we could teach in a classroom,” he said.
This is the time of year Nord children would traditionally visit.
The past couple of years, the Golden Acres trip became a project of the Friends of Rachel Club, formed in memory of Rachel Scott, the first student killed in the 1999 Columbine High School massacre.
Adviser and paraprofessional Carol Daniels recalled last winter’s visit when students sang Christmas carols and did crafts with nursing home residents, making paper chains to decorate the facility’s lunch room.
“I think it was really good for them to see elderly people and people who weren’t able to do things easily and comfortably,” she said of the experience. “I think it builds kindness and compassion and helping other people, which is what the FOR club is based on.”
Still, the cost of running the building was simply too high.
Even after a 2013 deal cut union benefits to keep Golden Acres open, some projections put deficits at between $100,000 and $200,000 per year.
Jason Hawk can be reached at 440-988-2801 or @EditorHawk on Twitter.
Jason Hawk | Amherst News-Times Golden Acres has no remaining residents. The nursing home has been closed by Lorain County commissioners.