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Developers of senior facility seek church's aid

Developers in need of a financial boost for a proposed assisted living facility are looking to the church for help.

This month, a group of interested citizens led by Jim Lindus, the pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church in Freeland, started working with developer HMH Properties of Langley to find funding a senior living facility that was supposed to be completed last year.

At the moment the facility, which is planned to have 78-units and several levels of living and medical assistance for senior citizens living there, is still an empty field off Newman Road. Originally planned to be part of a senior housing complex that includes the already-completed Village at Maple Ridge condominiums, the project is a victim of a weak financial market. HMH's Jim Mock Sr. and Jim Mock Jr. said late last year that money for senior housing projects has been difficult to come by since the 9-11 terrorist attacks.

The Mocks and Lindus started putting their heads together on the project, along with some Trinity parishioners, early this year because both HMH and the church have a common goal. Lindus said Trinity purchased five extra acres of land when it started to build its new church in the late 1990s. That extra land was intended to be the site of an assisted living facility, but it proved to be the wrong location because the church had no way to hook into a sewer system -- an unavoidable requirement for such a development.

"We bought an additional five acres on Woodard Road behind the church with the idea, Trinity Lutheran would build an assisted care home," Lindus said. "But that is impossible until there are sewers."

The Newman Road site, which is already home to 41 Maple Ridge condominiums, has a small, on-site sewer system. The system was designed to handle flow from both the condos and an assisted living facility.

Lindus says his goal is to make sure the facility gets built. To do that, he said Trinity may put money toward the project and become a partner in its development.

"Whether it's built as a public project or as a non-profit with the church's help, we don't care. We just want to get one built," he said.

Getting into the senior care business would be nothing new for a church. Lindus listed off Lutheran congregations in Everett, Stanwood and Poulsbo as churches that own and operate assisted living facilities.

The Mocks are meeting with Lindus and his parishioners on a weekly basis. They will continue to do so as long as it takes to get the Newman Road facility built.

"There is a tremendous need on the southend for an assisted care facility," Lindus said. "We want to make sure it gets build. We are exporting too many of our senior citizens off island away from their family, friends and social ties.

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