“A grand opportunity,” Allen County Commissioner Tom Williams called a plan to bring a G&W Grocery and apartments to the site of the old Allen County Hospital.
“It would be great for the community,” Williams said at Tuesday’s commission meeting.
While vocally supportive, commissioners — including Jerry Daniels and Jim Talkington — did not commit themselves to any binding agreement on the project, in part because they have given a group headed by Arlyn Briggs, Kincaid farmer, until June 1 to submit detailed plans for converting the structure to a care facility.
A part of that is for Briggs to purchase the old hospital for $157,000, which County Counselor Alan Weber said was its appraised value.
Briggs told the Register Tuesday afternoon he anticipated having a firm plan in place for commissioners’ review by June 1.
“We’re going forward and will have an architect walk through the hospital Monday,” he said, with other components of his project in concluding stages. “We’re working our butts off” to get it all done.
In addition to handing commissioners a letter of intent from G&W — reported in Tuesday’s Register — David Toland, in his economic development role, said another housing developer was due to visit Allen County later this week to scope out development on another site.
Also pointed out, in regard to development on the old hospital site, was new construction would qualify for property tax rebates through Iola’s Community Revitalization Program. The advantage is 95 percent of taxes, once paid, are rebated for six years and then payments return to 100 percent in 20 percent increments over the next four years.
Commissioners have determined that hazardous materials, such as asbestos, are not of consequence in demolition of the old hospital. They expect to seek bids for its razing, if a deal with Briggs and his group doesn’t materialize.
Weber has said demolition may be expensive, given the building’s structure and complexity, but did not venture a guess.
IN OTHER BUSINESS, commissioners:
— Discussed with Ryan Sell, ambulance service director, purchase of a new ambulance. Bids eventually will be sought.
Sell also mentioned purchase of a fourth defibrillator to be carried in an ambulance on duty each day. Three now have the devices, which means one each is in Humboldt, Moran and Iola. The fourth ambulance is stationed in Iola and could be dispatched to outlying stations when one or both ambulances are otherwise occupied.
Sell envisioned the purchase — about $20,000 — as a capital acquisition and responsibility of the county, which was challenged by Talkington. Later, Weber sided with Talkington, saying when run revenue transferred to Iola for general operation increased from $750,000 to $1 million a year, he thought county was responsible only for purchase of ambulances, leaving other purchases Iola’s responsibility.
— Commissioners agreed to employ H.W. Lochner, Inc., a Salina engineering firm, to do design services for lighting and signage to support Allen County Regional Hospital. For $10,750, the company will shepherd a project to put lights along Oregon Road from the hospital to U.S. 169, as well as at the intersection. Signage will direct motorists to the hospital, Allen Community College and the Ray Pershall Industrial Site.
Iola Administrator Carl Slaugh said he had no authorization from city council members to look into lights along Kentucky Street, which is the north-south access route to the hospital. Reason, he added, was the road may be expanded relatively soon to better accommodate traffic.
— Approved use of the courthouse lawn for the Haunt for Hirschsprung’s Second Annual Hot Rod Run. Supporters said several events would start at 9 a.m. on Aug. 22. Included with be filming of a segment for the television series “Street Rodding American Style.” The first car show drew better than 30 entries; double that number or more are expected this year.