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BALLSTON SPA — The Saratoga County Mental Health Center will soon have a new home, but not without an increase to the monthly rent initially agreed upon in December of last year.
At the May 21 Saratoga County Board of Supervisors meeting, the board agreed to add $501 a month to the base lease with Frank Parillo’s Saratoga Prime Properties LLC, the owner of the property. The increase was to cover the additional cost of installing two additional bathrooms and two secured office areas at the new location, the old Topper Pontiac building at 135 South Broadway in Saratoga Springs.
The move comes after Saratoga Hospital notified Cramer House, the main county mental health facility which operates in the hospital, of the need to leave. The Cramer House lease expired in March.
The eviction notice was not a surprise to county supervisors. Both the Buildings and Grounds Committee and the Public Health Committee have been aware for the past two years of the possibility that the lease would not be renewed because Saratoga Hospital needs the space, according to Ballston Supervisor Patti Southworth.
A search by Saratoga Supervisors Joanne Dittes Yepsen and Matthew Veitch for a new location for the facility began following news of the eviction. The only stipulation was the location should be within the city limits of Saratoga Springs.
The committee initially looked at three locations, but the Topper Pontiac building was deemed the best because of timeline and price.
Cramer House, which is licensed by the NYS Office of Mental Health, will move to the Topper building first. Eventually all three facilities operated by Saratoga County Mental Health will be located under one roof.
Saratoga County initially agreed to lease the building from Parillo for $28,151 a month, plus taxes, water and sewer charges and all other maintenance costs. In comparison, the county currently pays about $350,000 in rent annually for the three facilities it runs.
The county is now going to pay $28,652 in base monthly rent during the first three years. The amount will then rise incrementally beginning in the fourth year of a 10-year lease.
Cramer House mainly treats people with more severe mental illnesses who are unable to pay at other clinics because of insurance or lack thereof. The faciltiy handles around 1,000 Saratoga County patients a year.
“Our clinic focuses on people with more severe mental illnesses,” said Hans Lehr, director of the Saratoga County Mental Health Center. “We deal with those who are unable to access care otherwise, primarily due to insurance. We treat patients who have Medicare, Medicaid or no money at all.”
Besides Cramer House, there are two other facilities: a drug and alcohol program across the street from Cramer House, and Friendship House, a mental health day treatment program on Geyser Road in the town of Milton.
The Friendship House lease expires in 2014. It is anticipated they will move to the new facility at that time.
Also at the May 21 meeting came the announcement that the Saratoga County Maplewood Manor Residents Association is donating $23,900 for a new canopy at Maplewood Manor nursing home.
“This will be great for the residents,” said Diane Brown, the director of the facility. “The old one was canvas and had been damaged by a storm.”
Regina Rasera, whose mother was a resident at Maplewood Manor before she passed away, noticed that the canopy was damaged and started fundraising last year, Brown said. In order to have a place to put the money while she was raising it, the association agreed she could save it in their account.
Brown said the money was raised though basket raffles, last year’s village-wide garage sales, hot dog sales and bake sales.
“Some of the businesses were very generous on making donations,” she said. “When residents passed away family members asked that donations be made toward the canopy. She really did a lot of work in publicizing and promoting the canopy.”
The residents will really enjoy the new awning, Brown said.
“It will be great because it will be in the front, so it will cover the front walkway during inclement weather,” she said. “Some of the residents just enjoy going out there and it will be a covered area for them to sit.”
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