New Our Island Home Nursing Facility Price Tag Comes In At $105 Million

JohnCarl McGrady •

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The town’s new Our Island Home (OIH) nursing facility planned for South Shore Road is estimated to cost almost $105 million, according to figures presented Wednesday to the Select Board. Nearly all of those funds - approximately $96 million - still need to be appropriated at future town meetings.

If approved by island voters, the money will fund a more than 60,000-square-foot nursing facility at the Sherburne Commons campus off South Shore Road complete with enclosed courtyards and photovoltaic solar arrays. Some rooms would be large enough to allow for the addition of a second bed should OIH need to increase capacity. The new building would allow Nantucket to remain the only municipality in Massachusetts that owns and operates its own nursing home.

Designers highlighted the building’s sustainability features at a Select Board review Wednesday, suggesting the new campus could slash energy use by as much as 94 percent, drastically decreasing both emissions and operating costs. Our Island Home is aiming for a so-called Passive House certification, which is only awarded to buildings that meet a rigorous performance-based standard for energy use. Though the numbers change each year, under Massachusetts’ current standards, the new OIH building could be eligible for almost $860,000 in rebates.

Select Board comments were limited at the meeting but members had expressed concerns about the cost in the past, before the official estimate was provided on Wednesday. Previously, the new campus was expected to cost over $50 million. Now, it seems the price tag will be more than double that.

The estimate will likely change before it goes to a vote, which is expected to happen at the annual town meeting in 2025 after a lengthy bidding and review process. If voters approve the expenditure, the preliminary timeline for the project would have construction begin in June of 2025 and likely finish by December of 2027.

If that timeline holds, construction would finish over a decade after the Town first asked voters to back a new facility at the Sherburne Commons site in 2017. At the time, the proposal was defeated, and the town spent several years investigating the possibility of a new facility at the current OIH location on East Creek Road, overlooking the harbor. But in 2021, the Select Board voted to pursue a new OIH building by Sherburne Commons, and Town Meeting approved $8.5 million in preliminary funding for the design in 2022.

Nantucket’s geography and the cost of land make it difficult for a private organization to operate a nursing home on the island, meaning that without a town-run facility, it is likely that those in need of advanced, specialized nursing care would have to move to the mainland for support.

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