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What to do with an old hospital

October 15, 2010
The Daily Freeman Journal

Now that patients and staff have settled into the new hospital, the question that remains is "What do we do with the old building?" We've heard several proposals being discussed, including tearing it down and expanding the cemetery or remodeling the building for another use. Of the two, we believe that reusing the building has a great deal to recommend it, though we believe more discussion is required.

The uses we've heard suggested have included housing various community services and public health offices, as well as to function as a business incubation center. Serious challenges would face either choice. First, one of the reasons the building was vacated was the cost of heating and cooling the building and maintaining the structure itself. Second, because the building contains asbestos, substantial effort has to be made for asbestos abatement anytime there is work done of this sort. This would mean additional costs for whoever owns or rents the site, which may make remodeling the building not cost effective.

Money may be available for renovating the building to be more energy efficient and to provide the facilities needed. That is one thing that needs to be researched by the appropriate people in the community.

A better choice may be to raise the building and build a more purpose-specific, energy-efficient building that is better suited to however the community decides to use the location. While this would also require asbestos abatement, it would be a one-time cost, rather than a recurring expense.

In any case, the old hospital is a centralized location that could be used for many different things. We believe it's in the community's best interest to research all the options and move forward.



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