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LOCKPORT – A Niagara County Legislature committee approved the sale of the county’s former nursing home to a Youngstown businessman Tuesday.

David M. Tosetto, who is paying $196,000 for the five-story, 74-year-old building, told the Administration Committee that work on his planned 150-bed assisted living facility will start soon.

Tosetto said he will “start the project roughly Aug. 15, and we’d be open Valentine’s Day.”

The full Legislature will have the sale on its agenda for final action next week, but if the unanimous committee vote and the comments of Legislature Chairman William L. Ross are any indication, that approval won’t be in doubt.

“I thought it was a pretty good deal. They’re taking responsibility for all the problems that could have fallen back on our shoulders,” said Ross, C-Wheatfield.

He was referring to the removal of asbestos and two underground fuel tanks from the property. The Legislature had approved a tentative $550,000 sale a year ago, but the results of the environmental investigation showed a lot of work needed to be done.

Tosetto will do it, in exchange for a reduction of the purchase price. “The county would also be relieved of any liability,” said Majority Leader Richard E. Updegrove, R-Lockport.

Tosetto told the panel that all 150 beds will be in private rooms, “which is very exciting … nearly unheard of in the world of assisted living.”

He promised other amenities for residents, such as a diner, a movie theater, a workout room and a large hair salon.

Tosetto, the former director of development at Elderwood Senior Care, said he has some approvals from the state Health Department.

“Obviously, there’s more approvals that would come along, but we’re comfortable buying the building,” he said.

Earlier, the state’s Berger Commission on health care restructuring had recommended that the county convert Mount View from a nursing home into an assisted living facility.

The county didn’t want to spend the money and instead got out of the senior care business. After an effort to sell the property as a nursing home fell through, the county closed Mount View at the end of 2007.

“It’s just come back five or six years later to what the Berger Commission wanted,” Ross observed.

The county retains the other buildings on the Mount View campus, including the Shaw Building, which is home to its Health and Mental Health departments. The county will maintain the main driveway on the campus.

Tosetto, who is buying the building under the name of Mount View Properties LLC, said the assisted living facility will employ about 50 people and have an annual payroll of about $2 million.

email: tprohaska@buffnews.com