Trinity Health declines Montague’s request for Farren building assessment

  • The vacant Farren Care Center on Montague City Road in Montague. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • The vacant Farren Care Center on Montague City Road in Montague. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • The vacant Farren Care Center on Montague City Road in Montague. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 1/11/2022 5:12:46 PM
Modified: 1/11/2022 5:11:53 PM

MONTAGUE — Trinity Health of New England declined to release the condition assessment it conducted on the Farren Care Center that the town had requested.

Eric Dana, regional operations director for Trinity Health, the Farren’s parent company, emailed a statement to Town Administrator Steve Ellis late last week. The message came in response to Ellis’ request to have access to the assessment, as town officials and residents expressed a desire for improved transparency following Trinity Health’s controversial Nov. 8 decision to recommend the building’s demolition.

Instead of releasing the assessment, however, the company gave a brief overview of highlights in its message, including the scope of work and critical findings.

Selectboard Chair Rich Kuklewicz said the next steps will likely include reaching out to Trinity Health’s management to pursue better dialogue and to explain the town had expected a more comprehensive review.

The long-term care facility was closed early last year, having merged with a similar facility in Holyoke called Mount Saint Vincent Care Center. All of the Farren’s 105 residents were reportedly offered space at the Holyoke facility. Trinity Health has maintained that the Montague City Road building was too old for its purposes and would be too expensive to update to modern standards.

Toward the beginning of his statement, Dana acknowledged how Montague residents might feel about Trinity Health withholding the assessment.

“We can understand that some community members may feel that a different approach should be taken given Farren Care Center’s long history in Turners Falls and townspeople’s emotional connection to it,” he wrote.

Although Dana wrote in his statement that he and his company “have strived to be good citizens and to partner with the town and (feel they) are honoring (their) commitment,” Ellis argued at Monday’s Selectboard meeting that the amount of transparency shown is not what the two parties agreed to have.

“Clearly,” Ellis said, “this continues to be a walk-back of some of the original agreements that we understood would be a more transparent and engaged kind of collaborative effort in the context of what a development study would look like.”

The summary of assessment highlights that Dana sent to Ellis includes a list of “big-ticket priority items.” The list includes improvement costs for severely eroded mortar joints and water infiltration damage estimated at $1.5 million, exterior window replacement estimated at $500,000, roof replacement estimated at $2 million, flooring replacement expected to cost $3 million, mechanical upgrades estimated at $4 million, electrical work estimated at $3.9 million and plumbing upgrades expected to cost $1.7 million.

“I was expecting, honestly, a bit more from Trinity,” Kuklewicz added.

Efforts to reach a representative with Trinity Health for additional comment were unsuccessful on Tuesday.

Lilith Wolinsky, a Town Meeting member, Montague City Improvement Association founder and Montague City resident, suggested that Trinity Health might have legally broken a contract.

“I do feel like perhaps Trinity Health engaged with the town of Montague in a less-than-earnest way. ... I’m not an attorney, but it does seem to me that they may, in fact, be in breach of a contract that they made with the town,” Wolinsky commented.

Ellis gave the benefit of the doubt to Trinity Health’s President of Senior Communities Janice Hamilton-Crawford and Vice President of Advocacy and Government Relations Dan Keenan, who originally presented the recommendation to the town, in terms of them potentially not knowing how restrictive the company would be with the assessment’s accessibility.

“Were they poorly informed of what the larger organization would roll out once it started happening?” Ellis wondered. “I don’t know the answer to that question, and to be honest with you, as corporate officials, I doubt that they could give us answers to that question in a public forum.”

Town officials agreed to hold a public Zoom meeting Feb. 7 to gain community perspective prior to reaching out to Trinity Health again. Ellis said Montague’s Planning and Conservation Department will head a coinciding “community planning forum” that will collate topics of public interest that he and Town Planner Walter Ramsey will in turn present to Trinity Health. Kuklewicz said he hopes that, in the meantime, Trinity Health will have representation present at the Zoom meeting.

“I have no idea whether Trinity will have any interest in participating and we can’t obligate them to,” Ellis said, “but I really do think we need to understand what the ask is.”

Reach Julian Mendoza at 413-772-0261, ext. 261 or


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