Comfort of residents, beauty of nature are focus at new Fredonia CBRF
It hasn’t been easy, but Forest Haven community-based residential facility in Fredonia is finally up and running.
The spacious, 24-unit assisted-living facility at 400 Martin Dr. opened this fall and is already approaching full occupancy.
“I think by January we will be full,” said Tracy Bardwell, who co-owns the facility with Craig Nichelson.
As a licensed elder-care facility, it provides assisted-living services to seniors needing assistance in their day-to-day living.
The building includes four suites that are intended to accommodate couples, a feature that is especially appealing to those who have spent their married lives together.
Bardwell and Nichelson run two other CBRFs in Ozaukee County — Port Haven in Port Washington and Stone Haven in Grafton.
Nichelson also operates Dekora Springs in Saukville.
“I am always in my car running from one place to another, but Craig and I are hands-on managers who like to spend time at each of our homes,” Bardwell said.
“We are about as far from being a corporate operation as possible. This is very much a family business because we are both actively involved in each home.”
The $1.4 million Forest Haven was built on a 4.6-acre outlot of the Village Green South subdivision, and capitalizes on its bucolic location.
“It is just a very soothing, natural setting. We overlook the woods and a pond, and from the dining room windows we often see deer and geese,” Bardwell said.
She said incorporating those natural features into the property made the project more challenging than anticipated.
Final site work and approval delayed the intended opening from July until mid-September.
“The approvals from the state for the facility came through pretty easily, but there were complications on getting the OK on the site because of things like drainage,” Bardwell said.
Ultimately, she said, everyone is pleased with the results.
“There is a real resort feeling to the building. It is the most gorgeous facility I have ever seen,” Bardwell said.
“Our intent is to create a real family atmosphere where our residents feel at home. It is not unusual to see the grandchildren of our residents passing in the halls.”
The lounge areas around two inviting fireplaces have become favorite places for residents to spend time during the winter.
Gaining approval from the Village of Fredonia also proved to be more challenging than expected. The process started more than a year ago.
A conditional-use permit was needed because more than the maximum number of residential units allowed by zoning were being sought.
Among the issues raised by neighbors was whether the village is over-saturated in the number of assisted-living units. Officials were quick to point out there is no state-imposed limit on the number of senior housing projects a community can host.
“At first, there was some strong resistance from neighbors who were concerned about having a CBRF in their neighborhood,” Bardwell said.
During a public hearing on the conditional-use permit, neighbors worried that the CBRF would subject them to a steady wail of ambulances and emergency vehicles.
Village officials noted that other CBRFs in the village average no more than one or two emergency calls a year.
Just as the senior project was eventually accepted by the community, Bardwell said, she has gained a great admiration for her new neighbors.
“The people in Fredonia are salt-of-the-earth people who have been very welcoming,” she said.
“We must have had 30 members of the Fredonia Fire Department come through the building during our open house, and they all said what a great addition we were to the community. They said there is a real need for a home like ours.”
Image information: FREDONIA’S FOREST HAVEN community-based residential facility has become an inviting setting for the holidays and beyond. Above, Christmas decorations add a festive touch to the dining room, which overlooks a pond and woods. Lower, facility co-owner Tracy Bardwell (right) chatted with former Grafton resident Francis “Baldy” Wollner, who was one of the first residents to move into Forest Haven. Photos by Mark Jaeger