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Exercise, therapy wing proposed for Frey Village



Press and Journal Photo by Dan Miller -- The owner of Frey Village on North Union Street wants to build a one-story wing at the facility for exercise and physical therapy services for the facility’s residents.


Frey Village Senior Living Community in Middletown hopes to add a wing to provide more space for exercise and physical therapy services for residents, according to a plan now before Middletown Borough Council.


Council’s planning committee on Wednesday, Sept. 17, voted to recommend that the full council approve the Frey Village plan when it comes before council on Monday, Oct. 6.


The 5,600-square-foot single-story wing would extend from the north side of the Frey Village complex, in the direction of Middletown Area High School as one is facing Frey Village from North Union Street.


Some of the land for the addition would come from what Frey Village now uses for parking, said Craig Venarchick of RGS Associates, the engineering firm that drew up plans for the project.


Frey Village currently has more parking than it needs because most of the residents do not have cars, Venarchick said.


He told the planning committee that Frey Village already has some exercise and physical therapy facilities. However, the current facilities are “outdated” and are not large enough to meet the needs of residents, Venarchick said.


Frey Village is owned by Allentown-based Diakon Senior Living Services. Frey Village has 51 apartments, 35 personal-care units and 136 skilled-nursing beds.


Deanna Ziemba, Diakon’s senior vice president for operations and business development, explained the concept behind the Frey Village addition in a statement e-mailed to The Press and Journal:


“Our goal is to focus on wellness and preventive measures to help residents and patients live as independently as possible for as long as possible,” Ziemba said. “As the health-care environment  continues to change, we want to enhance Frey Village’s offer to include a rehabilitation center to meet the needs of those we care for on both an inpatient and outpatient basis. Further, we will be adding physician offices to provide our residents and patients the ability to see their primary care physicians as well as specialists without needing to leave the Frey Village campus.”


Venarchick said Frey Village would not have to upgrade its current stormwater system to handle the drainage impact of the addition.


Instead, there would be a reduction of stormwater runoff as a result of the addition because the net result would be a decrease in the impervious parking area, he said.


An engineer with HRG, the borough’s consulting engineering firm, said that as a condition of approval the fire chiefs from Middletown and Lower Swatara should review the plan to see if they have any concerns.


Borough Manager Tim Konek said that Middletown Volunteer Fire Department Chief Ken Whitebread had already reviewed the plan and had no concerns.


Venarchick said the plan now before council has no relationship to a more ambitious $20 million proposal that Frey Village had presented in 2011 to add 56 apartments to the complex. That plan was nixed by the economy.


“The market just wasn’t there” at the time for adding apartments and residents, Venarchick said.


For now, the emphasis is on improving the current facility for residents, so that Frey Village can stay competitive in the senior living community market, he said.