Letter: About Wesley Gardens article

To the editor:
First, I want to thank you for the publicity you gave Wesley Homes in the above referenced article that appeared July 29th.  I appreciate that you included our plans for redevelopment in a factual way and that you shared some of what I told you regarding our communication with residents. 
This article has created some anxiety at Wesley Homes and I’d like to provide some additional information for you regarding of Mr. Carmignani’s claims.
First, he states that he only heard about the redevelopment in November 2015, after he moved in (his move in date was April 16, 2015).  I’ve attached some of the monthly updates that were provided to residents and those considering residency around the time that the Carmignani’s moved in.  Upon reading the article, his realtor, Kathy Kleber, wrote to me the following:
“For all concerned, please be aware that Mr. and Mrs. Carmignani were aware of the future changes at Wesley Homes when they moved here and that the renovation is not the surprise he said it was in this article.  We were already on a monthly rental admission in the Garden's Building and they were aware that I served on the renovation task force when they hired me to sell their home.”
Mrs. Kleber, Mr. Candalla, myself and others have spoken with the Carmignani’s about helping them to find a more long-term home but they have refused. Instead, he has blown up copies of the article and continues to post them on light poles around the city of Des Moines with the words, “Shame on Wesley Homes” and “We don’t want it!”  I have not heard of any other residents who feel the way Mr. Carmignani does.
Residents are angry and frustrated with the actions of Mr. Carmignani.  I received an email from one resident stating, “On re-reading your email you stated what needs to be said - that Don knew the conditions - that he should never have come if he didn't agree. As long as these thoughts are conveyed to Robinson from Wesley officials like you, that's all that needs to be done. Nobody here at the Gardens likes him - nobody will even sit with him.”
Mr. Carmignani is quoted in the article as saying “Their feeling is this is private property and so they can do whatever they want to it.” We serve just under 500 residents on our campus in Des Moines with over 450 employees.  These constituents, their families and the greater community hold us accountable to our mission of providing quality housing and care services for older adults.  Our volunteer board of trustees holds us accountable for the financial, ethical and quality standards that have been set.  Mr. Carmignani’s claim will be disputed by the many residents who sit on our resident councils, advisory committees and fundraising teams. I am happy to give you a long list of residents with a different perspective and invite you to talk with them about how management has addressed the redevelopment.
The article states, “The current building keeps up with regulations provided by the Americans with Disabilities Act – it has sliding doors, parking, accessible housing units, elevators and amenities for people with limited hearing or sight.”  While we have made some upgrades to accommodate those with special needs, the infrastructure of the building limits what we can do. The typical bathrooms in the apartments are too small for a walker or a wheelchair to maneuver. The electrical system is at capacity and won’t be able to keep up with technological advances.  Residents today can live safely in The Gardens building but it isn’t suitable for retrofitting to bring in the amenities and basic systems that people want. The redevelopment is necessary in order for Wesley Homes to continue to serve older adults and their families. 
Clara, you and I spoke briefly about a follow up article.  Wesley Homes would appreciate the opportunity to present another side of the resident perspective, perhaps from residents who sit on our redevelopment team. Our next meeting is Friday, August 12th at 2pm in the Board Room at Wesley Homes.  You would be welcome to attend.
Thank you for your consideration of my request. And, again, thank you for the positive and factual inclusions in your article.

Christine Tremain
VP Marketing & Development
 Wesley Homes

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