Property owners hold out – Eminent domain likely



March 3, 2011 - 12:00 AM

Four of eight landowners have said they will accept the county’s offer for their land as the site for a new Allen County Hospital.
That’s not the majority that hospital trustees had hoped for, but good enough.
Trustees voted Tuesday night to recommend Allen County commissioners pursue eminent domain against the other four landowners — who happen to own the bulk of the almost 17 acres wanted for a hospital campus.
Trustees remain hopeful another “two or three” will hop on board before Tuesday morning’s meeting of commissioners, said Alan Weber, county counselor and adviser to the trustees. It’s at that meeting that Weber will request commissioners condemn the remaining parcels so that plans to build the hospital along East Street may proceed.
Conversations with the holdouts have been “ongoing,” Weber said, before and after the official appraisals by Aul and Hatfield of Lawrence were released. The sticking point is “price,” Weber said.
Offers on the parcels average $35,600 an acre.
“Trustees have looked at other possible tracts of land,” Weber said Wednesday afternoon, which at the outset may appear cheaper, but become more expensive when utilities and adequate roads need to be extended to the sites.
The appeal of “Main Street,” also holds sway, Weber said, of the East Street location that is near the intersection of U.S. Highways 54 and 169.
Architects of the Hospital Facilities Group have proceeded to develop plans for the East Street location, Weber said. “But it’ll be hard to move on much further without something settled.”

TRUSTEES heard presentations from three accounting firms at their meeting Tuesday night. Certified public accountants with BKD, Kansas City, Mo., McGladrey, Kansas City, Mo., and Wendling, Noe, Nelson and Johnson, Topeka, each gave 45-minute testaments of their abilities to handle the hospital’s finances, including the complicated reimbursements from the federal programs of Medicaid and Medicare.
Trustees put off a decision on a firm until next week.
In executive session, trustees discussed the offer from Hospital Corporation of America to continue in the roll as manager of the hospital. Several of the trustees are working as a committee on the issue and have as yet to recommend that trustees make a counter-offer or go with another hospital management company, Weber said.

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