Hospital and college land exchange creates partnership for growth in Craig, officials say
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to correct an editing error. The donation of land from the Moffat County Junior Affiliated District College Board to Memorial Regional Health involved a 4.179-acre parcel from lot 2 and a 3.897-acre parcel from lot 5.
CRAIG — Officials believe a donation of land from college to hospital will ultimately benefit both entities and the community, despite some concerns about the transaction.
A letter signed by Memorial Regional Health Vice President of Operations Jennifer Riley and presented to the Colorado Northwestern Community College Board asked for an additional donation of land to “support our future plans for the development of an assisted living, nursing home facility.”
The plans are long term.
“We are not actively pursuing near-term options to build additional space at MRH. However, as we look into the future, building additional senior facilities likely makes sense,” Riley said.
The specific request made and approved by the Moffat County Junior Affiliated District College Board, or MCJADCB, was for:
• 4.179 acres from lot 2 to build an assisted living/long-term care facility.
• 3.897 acres from lot 5 to “square” the existing hospital parcel.
• A request to remove dirt from lot 2 to level the area during the upcoming construction of a new medical office building.
“It is a smart partnership that provides a win-win for both organizations and, ultimately, the communities we both serve,” Riley said.
Even so, concerns have been raised about the donation.
“There is a question about whether the college can actually give land to another taxing entity. We are obtaining legal advice,” said Mike Anson, MCJADCB chair.
While the legal process of giving the land may require additional provisions, the spirit of the decision seems to align with the original vision for the land.
“From the beginning, there was a conversation about being a community partner and having a partnership with the hospital to allow them to build on part of the property,” said former Vice President of CNCC Craig campus, Gene Bilodeau.
Bilodeau was involved when the MCJADCB originally spent $275,000 to purchase 99.9 acres of land (easements for roads cover 0.1 acre of the 100-acre lot) from Marvin “Red” Cortner, of Craig.
And he recalls, that first transaction deeded 15 acres of land to the county for the purpose of building the hospital with “no strings attached.”
However, the college did receive a tangible benefit when the hospital board built and paid for shared infrastructure.
Educational opportunities were also created for CNCC students, and any growth by MRH is expected to also increase educational opportunities — one of the reasons college district board members Lois Wymore and Zach Allen both voted to support the land donation.
“It is also important for CNCC as we grow our nursing and medical field. It provides opportunities for our students to gain the experience they need,” Allen said.
The community at large should also benefit.
“They presented a good need that makes sense to me. We need a future nursing home. It’s one public entity swapping to another public entity,” Wymore said.
The existing partnership gives the MRH Board of Trustees a say in determining future development by other entities.
This played out when the fire department requested and was denied land to build a practice facility.
Concerns about impacts to air quality raised by the hospital were one of the reasons that facility was built elsewhere, Bilodeau said.
Other public entities interested in creating a partnership leading to development, such as a recreation facility, would likely need the approval of both the hospital and college district boards.
Deeding roughly 11 more acres of land to the hospital means the college retains ownership of about 74 acres.
Wymore and Allen said they feel that offers plenty of space for expansion.
And, while they may need to wait for lawyers to work out the details, MRH is already thanking CNCC for its continued support.
“Together, we are working to strengthen our community,” Riley said.
Contact Sasha Nelson at 970-875-1794 or snelson@CraigDailyPress.com.
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