By Justin Swanson, Special to the Independent
After years in development, the Glennwood Housing Foundation turned over its first shovel full of dirt on Saturday, Aug. 18, at last beginning refurbishment of the property at 2130 S. Coast Highway.
On hand were the co-founder and president Randy Larson, Executive Director Shauna Bogert, Assistant Director Stacey Enmeier, and Mayor Jane Egly, along with other board members, donors, prospective residents and their family members.
Bogert and Enmeier teamed with the mayor for the ceremonial excavation of earth, playfully tossing the dirt in Larson’s direction.
Formerly targeted for completion by this coming January, the project envisioned as a housing community for young adults with developmental disabilities is now expected to wrap up by March or April of next year.
Simultaneously, the foundation has benefitted greatly by a gift from Linda and Mike Mussallem, who pledged to match funds raised up to $150,000 until the end of August. The foundation did indeed accrue $75,000 on its own, enabling the commencement of construction.
As the building is already in place, having formerly been an assisted living facility, much of the work will be cosmetic, adding fresh coats of paint and replacing rotted wood. Along with ensuring the building to be sound structurally, David Bailey, the project’s lead design architect, says that the chief construction objective will be the refurbishment of all the downstairs rooms. Such improvements include enlarging the bathroom sizes to be more accommodating. Likewise, wheelchair ramps will be furnished throughout the downstairs area, coupled with a reworking of the courtyard. Additionally, a glass wall will be installed to the southern balcony, which overlooks Coast Highway, to cancel traffic noise. Contractor Rick Wahler will lead his team at Trivest Builders, Inc. in the erection, construction, and reformation of the facility.
The next bureaucratic hurdle for the foundation will be the acquisition of a state license to operate as an adult residency facility. On that path, a community care licensing number has been obtained from the state and an application submitted. The organization must follow particular Health and Safety codes regarding adult residential facilities, as outlined by the state. This means everything from food and laundry services, activities and transportation, to the actual care residents must follow state code.
As for future residents of the Glennwood House, administrators now have the unenviable task of filtering applicants. “We have more than enough on the waiting list,” said Larson.
Bogert explains that the process is as much about deciding who would be right for the community as it is about whether the community is right for the applicant. She adds that for parents too, “this is a big step in letting go,” that is, allowing adult children a more independent life. So far there are 80 applicants vying for 50 residency spots.
Bogert is enthusiastic in describing the future of the housing foundation. She envisions a kind of “community within the community,” alluding to Laguna’s own communal offerings and inclusive nature.
In the future, Bogert explains, Transition Laguna will assist with the installation of a garden that residents will be able to cultivate with the help of Bluebird Farms. Beyond that, interns from the Laguna Culinary Arts will help in the kitchen and teach residents how to cook the produce they have harvested. “Our residents will develop their own community here, but they will also certainly become members of the Laguna community,” said Bogert.