HOLLIDAYSBURG - The soccer fields on county-owned grounds next to Valley View Home may be excluded from the potential sale of the nursing facility, commissioners said Tuesday.
With best offers due Monday, commissioners agreed during their weekly meeting to redefine the property boundaries as a way to keep the potential sale moving forward and because of information gathered Thursday when meeting independently with the bidding finalists.
Given the option of not including the soccer fields, bidders indicated that was "not a significant issue," Commissioners Chairman Terry Tomassetti said.
Commissioner Diane Meling said in her meetings with the bidders, only one was unhappy with the idea of excluding the soccer grounds.
Commissioners said they would reserve the right to include the soccer grounds if they're not satisfied with the forthcoming offers.
"I'm not looking for a lower price," Tomassetti said.
Of the nine parties that offered negotiable bids for the home, commissioners named five finalists: TL Management LLC, Brooklyn, N.Y., $16.1 million; Reliant Senior Care Management Inc., Philadelphia, $14.2 million; Altitude Health Services Inc., Evanston, Ill., $14.2 million; Nationwide HC Services LLC, Brick, N.J., $13.5 million; and Complete HC Resources, Dresher, Pa., $12.55 million.
Commissioner Ted Beam Jr., who opposes the sale and did not meet last week with the bidders, said he welcomed the decision, calling it good news for the Altoona division of the American Youth Soccer Organization and the youth who play there.
AYSO Regional Commissioner Faber Moyer said he was happy with the reprieve.
"We look upon this with guarded optimism," Moyer said.
An AYSO representative contacted the state Attorney General's Office about the proposed sale and the inclusion of the soccer grounds. While the soccer grounds were not part of the court-ordered development of Valley View County Park, they were developed during the same time frame, about 20 years ago, and were part of a zoning controversy that led to a Blair County court ruling in favor of the county.
The potential for state intervention prompted the question of excluding the soccer grounds, commissioners said. After the meetings with bidders, Tomassetti said he learned that the Attorney General's office decided against intervention.
Former AYSO leader Judy Roberts said she was happy to hear of the commissioners' change of mind.
"There was absolutely no valid reason to sacrifice that public park," Roberts said.
Meling and Tomassetti have been visiting facilities within Pennsylvania that are owned by the bidders.
"The two I visited were clean, open, airy," Meling said. "And when I'm there, I'm comparing them to what I've seen at Valley View."
In the request for information, commissioners asked the bidders to provide potential plans for the home's future. Meling said all seem focused on increasing revenue by keeping the beds filled as opposed to cutting expenses. They're also pledging to be a good partner in the community, she said.
Beam said he has no plans to visit any of the bidders' properties.
"I think the home operates well now, and I'm satisfied with Affinity's management," he said.
Affinity Healthcare Services Inc. of Indiana has been managing the home since January 2008.