Castle Peak grand opening draws hundreds
October 28, 2016
EAGLE — A crowd numbering in the hundreds witnessed an event that has been decades in the making when the grand opening ribbon fell to the ground in front of the new Castle Peak, a senior care facility.
Fittingly, longtime local physician Tom Steinberg was called into service for this bit of surgery. The health center part of the new facility bears his name.
As she enjoyed appetizers prepared by Castle Peak chef Marty Topor, former Eagle County Commissioner Johnnette Phillips recalled how back in 1972, she participated in the first committee formed by the county to study the possibility of bringing senior care to the valley. She served on several other committees that shared that mission through the years.
Former Commissioner Don Welch was also in attendance at Thursday's event. He served on the board when the county worked on the Golden Eagle Apartments project.
"We didn't have this vision back then, but it's great that someone did," said Welch.
Another former commissioner, Jon Stavney, recalled how the county stepped up in 2009-'10 to purchase the Eagle Ranch site where the center is located, and also formed the partnership with Augustana Care to actually build the facility.
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"The project kind of went cold for awhile and it took some heavy lifting to get it going again," Stavney said.
The Castle Peak facility sits at the T-intersection of Capitol Street and Sylvan Lake Road. There are seniors now residing in the assisted living wing as the facility prepares to amp up its skilled nursing and rehabilitation services.
Augustana Care, a Minnesota-based nonprofit organization that owns and manages 23 senior care projects, brought Eagle County its first residential project dedicated to senior care. The facility's five-acre site is located immediately north of Brush Creek Elementary School. The 62,000-square-foot building includes 22 skilled nursing beds, 20 assisted living apartments, 12 memory care beds and 10 transitional care units.
This week's grand opening was a celebration of years of talking, followed by years of planning. And with the exception of a single drive-by heckler, the evening was a festive affair where locals toured the center, spoke with the staff and expressed how impressed they were with the final product.
Tim Tucker, president and CEO of Augustana Care, welcomed the crowd during the presentation part of the evening.
"I don't think there exists a finer example of a public/private partnership than this facility," said Tucker.
From financing from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Office of Rural Development to the involvement of Alpine Bank, Tucker said many interests pulled together to make the project a reality.
Noah Koerper, of Sen. Michael Bennet's staff, read a note from the senator emphasizing that point. Bennet's statement called the Castle Peak project "collaborative, problem-solving at its best."
David Carter, of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is the former housing director for Eagle County. He noted that in his new role, he oversees many rural development projects, but he felt a personal investment in Castle Peak so he enjoyed dropping by to check on the progress of the facility.
Merv Lapin, of Vail, chaired the private fundraising effort for Castle Peak.
"Don't we have a lot to be proud of," said Lapin during the grand opening remarks. "I have never had such an easy time raising $5 million. The committee did it in just nine months."
Lapin said it took some 30 years to get the facility off the ground, but he predicted its success will happen much sooner than expected.
"The original prediction is it will take three years to fill this. I don't think we will have to wait three years," Lapin said.
Familiar faces are already popping up at Castle Peak. Lapin noted the first CPA he employed when he moved to Eagle County was Chuck Taylor. Taylor and his wife Pearl are the facility's first residents.
Chuck Taylor noted he moved to the valley in 1966 and he and Pearl didn't want to leave when retirement loomed.
"Why look for someplace else to retire when we live in the best place in the world," he said.
Until recently the couple maintained their Wildridge home, but as they hit their 90s, living independently was becoming a challenge. Castle Peak was a perfect solution for the Taylors.
"It's great here at 92," said Chuck Taylor. "Pearl doesn't have to cook any more or do the dishes."
"All I can say is thank goodness they built this place. We are so happy to be here," Chuck Taylor added.