Our view: No vacancy


Last week, officials and architects from The Memorial Hospital unveiled the first look at renderings and plans of a sparkling new facility in development west of town to largely positive reviews from the public.

The plans and conceptual drawings gave the public - which paved the way for a new hospital by approving an increased mill levy in November 2007 - a look at what lies in wait a year and a half from now, when construction of the facility is finished.

However, that 18-month timeframe is not only critical to the new hospital, but also to the current Russell Street facility. TMH and county officials have from now until the opening of the new facility to decide what will become of the Russell Street facility.

That's if they hope to avoid one of the pitfalls the Editorial Board wants to steer clear of - leaving the building vacant.

Built in 1950, the Russell Street building has admirably served TMH, its patients and, later, the Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association, which currently occupies the building's south end.

The Editorial Board agrees with TMH officials and voters who supported the new hospital project that the current hospital building is antiquated and has significant flaws - primary among them the lack of expansion capabilities and code/safety issues - and a new facility is needed.

But, the board believes the Russell Street building still has life left in it, and if there's a chance the 76,000-square-foot building can be salvaged and put to another use for the community's betterment, it's worth exploring.

It also should be pointed out that the building is an anchor of the neighborhood around it, and leaving it vacant or tearing it down could blight the area.

So far, publicly discussed options for the building have included using the building for assisted living, adult day care, senior wellness, community-based programs, allowing the VNA to expand into it and, in perhaps the least desirable of all options, demolition.

The Editorial Board believes these are worthwhile ideas, and it has a few of its own.

Namely, turning the building over to the Craig/Moffat Economic Development Partnership and letting the organization see what interest from outside business enterprises there is in the building, or simply the VNA.

A prolonged haggling about a sale price for the building runs the risk of taking too much time, turning off potential tenants and losing an opportunity to acquire new services, a new business and expanded tax base, and possibly leaving the building empty.

To their credit, hospital officials already have begun soliciting public feedback regarding potential new uses of the building, and the Editorial Board encourages the public to participate in the process.

In this situation, the only bad idea is having no ideas at all.

We hope the decision-makers involved consider the fate of the Russell Street building with the same care and deliberation that has gone into the new hospital.

At this point, there is little reason to believe both buildings can't be useful to the community.


50cal 8 years, 10 months ago

Alot of people want a community rec. facility why not turn it into one


grannyrett 8 years, 10 months ago

just what I was thinking when I read the article.


George Robertson 8 years, 10 months ago

Doze it! It's an OLD building and there is no point in throwing good money after bad. Sell the land to a developer and use the money to pay off some of the debt incurred in building a new hospital. It is in the center of a residential area so new houses built on the site would seem the most logical.


lonelyone 8 years, 10 months ago

Not me! And I just made comment to that fact in a different post.


lonelyone 8 years, 10 months ago

OK, after reading the article through to the very bottom, I can see where your coming from 50cal. I think it would be very costly to turn the old hospital into a rec center, but it might be something to think about.


AltitudeAdjustment 8 years, 10 months ago

Not a bad idea, but parking would be the biggest issue. Of course you would have to add on a gym, pool, raquet ball courts, and running track, but other than that you could pretty much use the entire buildign for arobic classes, weight rooms, etc. I think it would go along way toward keeping the down town area from being blighted. I am sure though that too many people would like to see it on the west side of town, even though the down town area is more centrally located for the entire population. More kids could bike to a rec center if it was at the current hospital location, whereas if you put it west of town everyone would have to drive a car. Something to thing about Mr. Pike.


grannyrett 8 years, 10 months ago

native-That's a good idea too. It would be a shame to lose that building. There are so many things it could be used for.


bigrred1576 8 years, 10 months ago

Native. We do have a V A clinic in Craig, and its doing a great job, and saving money and time on trips to Grand Junction. There has to be a better use for the old hospital than bulldozing it to start over. I though the rec center idea sounded good also, but it may take alot to fix it up, but would it take more than starting from scratch with a new building. maybe they could use the basement as the swimming pool, lol


taxslave 8 years, 10 months ago

Why not a medical training center, something associated with the education of nurses, interns, aids and volunteers, ER protocol, IV training, etc. Perhaps training of EMT's. How to master the control of staph infections, hospital protocol, use of equipment, etc.

The college might be able to unitilize it with their nursing program. Nurses are in very high demand across this nation.

Just a thought.


grannyrett 8 years, 10 months ago

taxslave-great idea! If the VNA is going to stay there, they could expand and this would fit in very well. They would have plenty of room to do it.


Globe 8 years, 10 months ago

How about the fire department use it as a training tool? They could stash a bunch of our elected officials in there, set it on fire and then try to rescue them. If they are successful then it would be a great training tool. If they fail to rescue them, its a success too.


taxslave 8 years, 9 months ago

The Physical Therapists in town might be able to use part of the building, water therapy room, like in a pro football locker room.

If we get enough programs taking part it could possibly turn a profit. Feel free to pass any of this on.

The more we consolidate the better off everyone will be. The increasing energy costs will effect everyone's budget.....oil is at $120.36/barrel right now, up .40 cents this morning already....up 4 bucks/barrel yesterday. This hasn't been reflected at the pump yet but is on it's way.


lonelyone 8 years, 9 months ago

You've all come up with some great ideas for the old hospital. However, I see the possibility of problems if you get to many people who want to use the building. Scheduling, who pays for what and just plain bickering over what it would be used for and how it'll be used. But I do think your ideas are great. It would be a great place to have the nursing program use and have things set up to look like an actual working hospital and use the different departments as part of their training (maybe the hospital would even concider leaving some of the old equipment for training use,if they can't sell it). Couse without live patients, that might not work the way I'm thinking it could, but there are possibilites for many things that have been mentioned. I hope the powers that be are paying attention to these ideas.


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