BACKUS -- Sooner or later, most people decide they either are tired of lawn mowing and snow blowing or they simply can't do it anymore.
In central Cass County, there have not been a lot of options for people who make that decision.
The Backus City Council recognized the need for maintenance-free housing and will hold an open house Saturday and Sunday for the four-unit townhouse complex the city built.
The council formed an economic development authority in 1999 to issue bonds and oversee construction of the townhouse units. Construction is being completed this week.
Backus Mayor Mike Nethercutt stood in the front entry of one of the city's senior townhome units, showing a large front coat closet at right. The door to the left goes to the garage.
Anyone age 55 or older willing to pay the $650 per month rent for maintenance-free living is eligible to move to these single-level townhouses with attached garages.
For people who are still active, the building is located a block from Pine Mountain Lake and, in the other direction, the Paul Bunyan Trail.
It is connected to city sewer and water, and will have complete yard and driveway maintenance provided. Garbage service also is included.
Unlike many apartments and townhouses, these units have exceptionally wide hallways and all have three-foot doorways for easy access if people use a walker or wheelchair.
This townhome unit is handicapped accessible. The kitchen includes an opening under the sink where light switches are located for easier access from a wheelchair. Hallways in the townhomes are wide enough for two people to pass each other in wheelchairs. All doors are a full three feet wide, including walk-in or wheel-in closets.
In fact, the central hallway connecting living room and kitchen areas to two bedrooms and a bath is wide enough to permit two wheelchairs to pass each other.
Off that hallway in each townhouse is a washer and dryer area behind folding doors. Opposite that behind another door is a separate gas furnace boiler and water heater for each unit.
The boiler circulates heated water under floors, so there are no heat registers along interior walls to have to avoid when arranging furniture.
Fresh air returns in each unit have four different speed settings. Each kitchen includes a dishwasher.
Front access is from either an outside front door or from a door into the attached garage. Garage door openers are installed.
Patio doors open from each living room onto a small cement patio. Next year, exterior divider panels will be installed between patios.
All units are smoke free. Pets will be allowed only with permission from Backus Economic Development Authority or its designated property manager.
One townhouse has been built as totally handicapped accessible, with electric switches in the kitchen set below counter tops and a large roll-in shower stall with a bench installed in the bathroom.
Walls have been framed in other townhouse bathrooms to permit installing grab bars around the tubs if renters want them.
Backus EDA will repay the bonds issued to build the complex with rent receipts. Mayor Mike Nethercutt said if this project is successful, the city will consider building another four-unit building next to this one.
Hours for the open house are 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Saturday and 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday.
To find the townhouses from Highway 87 in Backus, go north on Wood Street along the west side of the Paul Bunyan Trail through a residential area to the north edge of the city.
Refreshments will be served at the open house. Anyone having questions about the townhouses can contact Backus City Hall at (218) 947-3221.
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