Current hospital site doesn't make cut

Consultants recommendation aims to ax two potential properties

The consultants for the construction of a new hospital in Craig is recommending that two potential sites for the project be axed, including the facility's current location.

Hammes Company of Lakewood suggests that the current hospital site and the Kawcak property across the street from the Public Safety Center in south Craig be taken off the table for consideration.

These two sites were targeted from a list of five that The Memorial Hospital board is considering.

The sites that Hammes said should be investigated further include:

  • The Kloos property located just south of Highway 40 off of County Road 7.
  • The Wilson property located on Highway 40 going west out of Craig just east of Wickes Avenue.
  • The Colorado Northwestern Community College site in west Craig just off of County Road 7.

The recommendations by Hammes came after an extensive investigation of the potential sites in the community that started in December after a group of local residents demanded in a public meeting that the hospital board investigate other potential sites in the community.

Before December, hospital administrators and board members had been making plans to build a new hospital at the same site as the current hospital.

But in the investigation, several issues arose regarding the current site that concerned the project manager.

Hammes identified three "show stoppers" that led to its recommendation not to further pursue the current location including:

  • Zoning issues.
  • The fact that the property is located in a 500-year flood plain.
  • Lack of space for future expansion.

In it's report, Hammes stated, "While this site was a viable option in the past, the HUD 242 financing will likely not be approved since the hospital is located in a 500-year flood plain, and other non-flood plain sites are available, according to Innovative Capital and Office of Engineering Systems. Moreover, strong political opposition has risen since the site does not have adequate room for future expansion. Therefore, it is Hammes Company's recommendation to discontinue this site for consideration."

The "show stoppers" for the Kawcak property listed in the report include:

  • The property's location on a hazardous material transportation route.
  • Fuel storage tanks located to the south of the property.
  • Grain silos located to the north of the property.
  • Potential vibration concerns from a nearby railroad.

The Kawcak property, which is about 25 acres, would have cost $760,000.

According to the report, the size and price of the property were appealing, but the other factors were too concerning.

The report states, "The site possesses enough land for Phase I, future hospital expansions and a reasonable asking price. The surrounding uses are likely not conducive to a hospital and according to Alan Richmond of Innovative Capital and Office of Engineering Services, these conditions will be a disqualifier by HUD in their experience. Therefore, it is Hammes Company's recommendation that this site be eliminated from consideration."

Several issues still need to be investigated at the three other sites Hammes has recommended be further pursued.

Steps that still must be taken in investigating the CNCC property, which the college is donating, include a traffic study, environmental study, soils investigation and funding potential with the city of Craig and Department of Local Affairs.

At the 22-acre Kloos property, which the owners propose to sell for $2.7 million, managers still want to conduct a traffic study, an environmental study and soils investigation.

At the $400,000, 13-acre Wilson property, managers still want to conduct a traffic study, environmental study and soils investigation.

Owner O'Shane Wilson has offered to donate $80,000 to the value of the land, bringing the cost of the property down to $320,000.

Board member Jack Bonaker said "theoretically" none of the sites are off the table for consideration in the minds of the board members.

But the fact that choosing the current site or Kawcak property could hurt the hospital's potential to receive financing for the project from the Housing and Urban Development committee (HUD) definitely hurts the chances of those two locations being selected, he said.

While none of the sites are off the table for consideration, Hammes' recommendations will carry much weight in the board's decision on what site to build, he said.

Right now there are no front runners in possible building sites.

"It's still up in the air," he said.

But that could change soon.

"A big missing piece right now is cost of development," he said. "We're supposed to have that in a couple of weeks."

What it will cost to develop each of the properties will be an important factor in the board's decision, he said.

While hospital administrators and board members have a goal of when they would like to build, making sure to select the best site is of more importance than working within a timeline right now, said TMH Community Relations Director Pam Thompson.

"We would like to break ground next spring, but the most important thing is selecting the best site not only for now but for future growth," Thompson said.

Josh Nichols can be reached at 824-7031 or jnichols@craigdailypress.com.

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