Pros, cons of sites



March 31, 2011 - 12:00 AM

What some term as a “no-brainer” has become a brain-teaser for Allen County Hospital trustees regarding what would be the best site for a new hospital.
And time, more than money, may be the deciding factor.
Two options exist: Both present strong positives and negatives.
The newest site is at the intersection of Oregon Road and U.S. 169.
Positives for the site:
* 20 acres are readily available for $100,000.
* The hospital would be at a higher elevation and be visible to highway motorists.
* Architects and engineers would have flexibility with the hospital’s design because it would be built on virgin farmland with nary a neighbor or any other kind of obstacle in sight.
* Building there might lead to other development. Some envision a gas station, hotel and restaurant setting up shop near the new hospital.
* Both Heartland Rural Electric and Rural Water District No. 5 have said they would connect utilities to the new site at no charge, if it were to remain a county property.

Possible disadvantages to Oregon Road:
* The land is currently in the county and thus rural, not city, services provide gas, water and electricity. Currently Kansas Gas Service, Rural Water District No. 5, and Heartland Rural Electric, provide those utilities to customers in the area. If the city were to annex the land, it would need to purchase the territorial rights from the utitlity providers, compensating them for the loss of potential business. As of Wednesday, that’s an unknown amount, according to Judy Brigham, city administrator. “Annexation doesn’t grant the right to provide the services,” she said.
But annexation would be part of the deal, Brigham said, if the city were to obligate $350,000 in sales tax revenue to the new hospital.
* The cost of bringing city services to the site is an unknown. The most recent figure is $510,000, according to Phil Schultze of Murray Company, the construction management firm overseeing the project. That doesn’t include the cost of a lift station for sewer service.
* Brigham said maintenance of Oregon Road also would become a city responsibility.
* Concerns about the air quality from Strickler Dairy remain for some trustees. Patti Boyd, a hospital trustee, wondered if an air analysis could be done to see how frequently a malodorous breeze blows in the direction of the new hospital site.
Iolan Bob Hawk, a former meteorologist, studied the wind direction of the site. A graphic presented at Tuesday night’s hospital board meeting showed prevailing winds come from the southeast.
* Whether a turning lane off of Highway 169 would be necessary for northbound traffic needs to be decided. The Kansas Department of Transportation will likely require a study of the traffic at the intersection, said Chuck Wells, an adviser to trustees.
If deemed necessary, the cost would be significant, said Schultze. “Upwards of $100,000.”
Total costs: $510,000-$610,000, perhaps more depending on negotiations with rural utility providers.

The site trustees first approached was on East Street between Citizens Bank and The Family Physicians.
Its positives include:
* Easy accessibility to pedestrians and motorists alike.
* Reclamation of a derelict site at the entrance to Iola.
* Building there might lead to further development in the area as proven over the past 10 years.
* Good visibility from both Highway 54 and Highway 169.
* Ready accessibility to city utilities.

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