Jack's Place finds home

Facility to house families whose children are being treated at nearby hospitals

By Lauren Stanforth
Times Union | Published 9:56 pm, Sunday, February 3, 2013

jacksplace270x133.jpgSCHENECTADY — A residence for parents and relatives of young patients at Sunnyview Rehabilitation and Ellis hospitals is about to become a reality.

Organizers for Jack's Place, whose original chosen location was rejected by city officials and members of the GE Realty Plot Association last year, are about to receive the final documents to purchase a large home that is steps away from Sunnyview off Rosa Road. It will be similar to the Ronald McDonald House, which provides lodging to families whose children are receiving treatment at nearby hospitals. Ronald McDonald Charities runs two houses on South Lake Avenue in Albany.

Schenectady Assistant Police Chief Jack Falvo Jr., who helped start the foundation in honor of his 21-year-old son, who died in a personal watercraft accident in 2005, said he and other organizers are near the end of an odyssey that's been "an experience and education" in trying to establish a medical home in a residential neighborhood.

Jack's Place initially selected the home of former city Corporation Counsel Michael Brockbank on the corner of Nott Street and Wendell Avenue. But members of the Realty Plot made clear that deed restrictions set forth for the plot's homes specifically forbid any use other than residential. The GE Realty Plot is a neighborhood that contains homes built around the turn of the century for General Electric Co. executives.

Jack's Place could have appealed to the city Zoning Board of Appeals, but City Council members didn't back the move either. The foundation decided to find another house about six months ago, and Brockbank's house is currently on the market.

Falvo did not want to give the specific address for the new residence, as the final documents are not yet in hand. But he said the home is on a double lot and will have enough room for eight bedrooms. Falvo said that while his house will be for families of children, if there is room, relatives of any age patient will not be turned away.

Although the home will be open to relatives of those receiving treatment at Ellis and other facilities, Jack's Place will no doubt cater to families of Sunnyview patients because people travel from all over the Northeast to receive care there for traumatic brain and other injuries. Staff at Ellis and St. Peter's Health Partners, which has taken over Sunnyview, have agreed to work closely in the creation of the house, Falvo said.

On Monday night, City Zoning Officer Steve Strichman will request that the "medical hospitality house" designation be placed in city codes. It would allow for such houses to be within 150 feet of a medical facility as long as it's not in a historic district, and would require special permit approval from the city's planning commission.

The Jack's Place foundation, technically called Jack Falvo III Foundation of Schenectady Inc., has been fundraising since summer 2006. In Jan. 2008, organizers guessed they would need $100,000 a year to run the facility. At the end of 2011, the foundation reported having $354,604.

Ronald McDonald House of Albany is currently fundraising to add a third home that would increase its bedroom capacity from 16 to 25 rooms.

lstanforth@timesunion.com • 518-454-5697