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The former Cayuga County Nursing Home in Sennett has been closed since 2015.

Kevin Rivoli, The Citizen

An important hurdle has been cleared to allow for the sale of the former Cayuga County Nursing Home to Auburn Community Hospital. 

Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed legislation late Monday that authorizes the county to sell or lease the vacant property in Sennett. The bill was sponsored by state Sen. John DeFrancisco and Assemblyman Gary Finch, both of whom represent the city of Auburn and several Cayuga County towns. 

The nursing home on County House Road has been closed since 2015 after a merger with Mercy Health & Rehabilitation Center in Auburn, which is now known as The Commons on St. Anthony. 

Auburn Community Hospital expressed interest in buying the former county nursing home earlier this year. The hospital plans to move its nursing home, Finger Lakes Center for the Living, to the Sennett facility. 

"We've outgrown this building," Abby Bovie, director of nursing at Finger Lakes Center for the Living, told legislators in April. "We are very limited with our private bed ability."

Moving to the county nursing home would allow Finger Lakes Center for the Living to expand its private bed capacity, Bovie added. It would also give the center more space for future projects. 

The current home of Finger Lakes Center for the Living at 20 Park Ave. would be used to house more of the hospital's doctors and establish a drug rehabilitation center. 

Matt Chadderdon, a spokesperson for Auburn Community Hospital, said the legislation signed by Cuomo was necessary because without it, the hospital couldn't advance its plan to buy the nursing home. 

He praised DeFrancisco, R-Syracuse, and Finch, R-Springport, for their support. The lawmakers helped usher the bill through the state Legislature. 

Now that the bill has been approved by Cuomo, the hospital can begin negotiations with the county. 

"The county has been great in working with us," Chadderdon said. "Our plan now is to look at all the different plans and work with the county and see where it goes from here." 

Online producer Robert Harding can be reached at (315) 282-2220 or Follow him on Twitter @robertharding.