City lets annexation process go forwardAlthough the City Council’s Building, Planning and Zoning Committee gave the go ahead to the annexation process for the new hospital site, its members emphasized the process included a public hearing, allowing the community to comment.
By: Toni Pirkl, The Jamestown Sun
Although the City Council’s Building, Planning and Zoning Committee gave the go ahead to the annexation process for the new hospital site, its members emphasized the process included a public hearing, allowing the community to comment.
“Whatever the committee decides today will take a couple of months,” said City Administrator Jeff Fuchs. He added there were two readings and a public hearing for the annexation. The public hearing will occur despite the landowners’ agreement to the annexation.
Mayor Clarice Liechty started the discussion by questioning the benefit to the city in annexing the property. Marty Richman, Jamestown Hospital president and chief executive officer, said once the hospital is out there with city utilities, it will attract other individuals and companies to the area west of Wal-Mart.
The acreage the city would be annexing connects with a smaller parcel already annexed on the other side of the township road that will serve the new hospital.
The mayor said Richman had not answered her question. The hospital does not pay property tax and still the city “will have to provide services that will be a cost to the taxpayers.”
Richman said the hospital will be paying the special assessment for city water and sewer. And the move is good for further economic development.
“No one will go out there if they have to pay the specials,” he said.
The mayor and Councilman Charlie Kourajian said they had received calls from residents who don’t want the hospital to move out of the downtown.
“We don’t have a choice. We can’t do anything with the building,” Richman said.
He said the hospital had hired an architect to figure out how they could stay where they are. The architect couldn’t come up with way to do it. The present building can not be changed structurally. It can’t be retrofitted with higher ceilings and larger rooms. Because the hospital is primarily outpatient, patients now must deal with a sloping, often slippery trek to the front doors, inadequate parking and crossing a trafficked street.
The present hospital area covers about two acres, which includes minimal parking. Expansion in the past has meant razing homes in the surrounding area to provide more parking. That would have to occur again, but this time, he said, it would also mean millions of dollars in parking ramps. Plus, Jamestown Public Schools wants $2.5 million for the hospital to purchase the Lincoln Elementary School property.
“We figured it would be $9.5 million just to stay in town and we still haven’t done anything about a new facility,” Richman said.
The mayor wanted to table the annexation request until the hospital officials provided more information about their plans and funding. There was no second to her motion to table.
Kourajian said the hospital had had a public meeting with contractors, construction people, engineers and architects on the hospital project. Fewer than 35 residents attended.
Councilwoman Kelani Parisien asked “What is the negative, if the city annexes the property and the hospital project falls through?”
“All I can think is we’d have maintenance of a city street out there,” Fuchs said. He added half the road is already the responsibility of the city, although the county usually maintains it.
Parisien then asked Richman if hospital officials would go through with the project if they did not get annexation. He said yes.
“We’ve been working on other plans for that,” he said. He added after the meeting there were other choices for providing utilities. “But we want to be part of the city and pay our fees to the city.”
In other business the Finance and Legal Committee:
* approved moving a building to the Fort Seward site as a veteran’s museum, pending written permission from the State Historical Society. It will be located west of the parking lot.
* OK’d writing off the outstanding balance of a loan for Kensal Community Grocery by the Jamestown/Stutsman Development Corp.
The Kensal grocery had failed.
Sun reporter Toni Pirkl can be reached at (701) 952-8453 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org