Commission makes offer for lots adjacent to ES hospital

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

There’s no easy fix when it comes to renovating a medical facility, but the Eureka Springs Hospital Commission is embracing the process.

At a special called meeting Monday afternoon, the commission agreed to offer $141,400 for three lots adjacent to the hospital. Owning the lots would make the renovation process easier, chairman Michael Merry said, especially if the commission chooses to expand the hospital. The commission voted on Jan. 18 to offer $136,000 for the land, treasurer Barbara Dicks said, and has been working with local realtor Ken Riley to negotiate the purchase.

“They got back to us and they wanted us to pay the closing costs, so apparently with closing costs it is now $141,342,” Dicks said.

Dicks moved to offer $141,400 for the property. Merry asked why she wanted to spend $58 more than required, and Dicks said it would help cover extra costs. The commission voted unanimously to approve the motion. Riley said he’d get back to the commissioners as soon as he heard from the property owner.

The commission heard from Dennis Markey, the project’s architect, at its regular meeting Jan. 18. Markey said the commission needs to have a meeting with his team and those who have vested interest in the hospital before moving forward with the renovations. There could be as many as 20 people at the first meeting, Markey said, which would last around two hours.

“For these first couple of meetings, I really wanted to step back and think about what the hospital means to the community and what types of functions the hospital should be doing now and in the future,” Markey said. “What do people want to go to this building to do?”

He’s aware of the financial side of the project, Markey said, and that should be a talking point at the meetings.

“It’s going to be us working together to figure it out,” Markey said. “The first meeting is to step back and think about the building itself, to get a lot of opinions about what the building wants to be.”

The commission should be looking at the different opportunities around the building, Markey said. If the commission chooses a plan expanding the hospital, he said, that becomes especially important.

“We want to start looking at … what we can add to the building and where we would subtract,” Markey said. “It all depends on how things progress and how many people are speaking up. In meeting one, we’re going to come up with a set of goals for the building and the services the building will serve to the public.”

At the end of the meetings, Markey said, he will come up with three different site plans for the renovations. Those plans will be developed enough to present to a contractor, Markey said, who will come up with a timeline and overview of cost for construction. That’s why it’s especially important to have knowledgeable people at the meeting, Markey said.

“The people we want to be in the room for that meeting should be in the room to make the decisions as to what the building should be,” Markey said. “That’s what we’re geared up for.”

Commissioner John House suggested that department heads at the hospital get together before the meeting, and Markey said that would be a good idea. Commissioner Leva Murphey asked if the commission could get a survey out to the community, saying it would help the commission have an idea of what the community wants. Mayor Butch Berry supported that idea and said it’s important to encourage community input.

“We’re asking for citizens’ input,” Berry said. “They can direct it to city hall and we can forward it to the commission.”

The commission agreed to have the meeting at 6 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 1, at the ECHO community room.

The commission’s next regular meeting is scheduled for 12:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 19, at the ECHO community room.

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