South Routt Medical Center faces challenges to expansion

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— The South Routt Medical Center has reached capacity. With the addition of dental services from the Northwest Dental Coalition earlier this year, its 1960s-era stone building on Main Street in Oak Creek is running out of space and thus running out of services it can offer the South Routt community.

In considering an expansion, the center commissioned a survey to see where it had space to grow. South Routt Medical Center officials then discovered that the center's existing building is about a foot-and-a-half into Oak Creek's right-of-way on the west side of the building in what was once planned to be a part of Lincoln Avenue.

On Wednesday night, the medical center officials brought the situation and the preapproval for its expansion to the Oak Creek Planning Commission and requested that the town vacate its 60-foot-wide right-of-way on the area currently used for parking.

The process for a town to vacate its right-of-way is determined by state statue and leaves the parties on the edges of the vacated area to negotiate their shares. Ken Rossi owns the parcel to the west of the right-of-way. In an email to Oak Creek Town Administrator Mary Alice Page-Allen, Rossi wrote that he would prefer the town vacate an even larger portion of the right-of-way, extending the area north to his property line.

The building's current encroachment onto the town's right-of-way could potentially hamper the medical center's ability to secure grant funding for its expansion. At Wednesday's meeting, Ann Trout, a South Routt Medical Center board member, said the center is seeking an Impact Energy grant that has a deadline of Dec. 3. Before the center could finalize plans to apply for the grant, the issue of the building's encroachment and ownership of the land in question needs to be resolved.

The center wants to expand its building to the east but also needs a support structure to ease the load on its current roof, furthering expanding its footprint and encroachment on the building's west side.

Other options, such as a license for the building's encroachment, which would be revokable at the town's discretion, were dismissed as likely unacceptable for the medical center to secure funding and because ownership would remain an issue for construction plans.

Planning Commission members also expressed concerns about how the Colorado Department of Transportation's interests would be affected — the stretch of Main Street on the northern border is its right-of-way — and how the division of the vacated land would affect the medical center's driveway and potential expansion if the land was vacated.

Planning Commission member Gerry Greenwood expressed skepticism about vacating the land.

"We could be opening up a can of worms here," he said.

Greenwood cautioned that without a prearranged agreement on how the vacated land would be split, the town wouldn't know if its interests were being served.

Gustafson said he would prefer the commission recommend vacating the land "and let the board and (the center) sort it out." Recommending the town vacate the land would bring the matter before the Town Board and give the medical center about a month to potentially modify its request or reach an agreement about how to split the area among interested parties.

"Figure out ownership, figure out what footprint is needed, figure out highway monumentation," Page-Allen said.

The commission approved recommending the area be vacated to the Town Board, 2-1, with Greenwood voting against.

To reach Michael Schrantz, call 970-871-4206 or email mschrantz@SteamboatToday.com

Comments

Bill Geserick 1 year, 8 months ago

The issue of who owns what land and where is only practically relevent if expansion of South Routt Medical Center [SRMC] takes place. It should not be a done deal that expansion should take place. In my opinion the South Routt Medical Center Health Service District [SRMCHSD] has yet to answer the question as to why the South Routt Medical Center needs to be expanded now. The SRMCHSD Board of Directors uses the addition of dental services by The Northwest Dental Coalition as the reason for needing more space. It would be far less expensive and simpler to rent space in town for the dental services and fix the roof. Then wait to see what happens over the next year or two with the medical services, physical therapy services and the new dental services. The cost for the roof fix would be around $20,000. Rental space in town might cost $500 a month. This would cost SRMCHSD about $32,000 over the next two years compared to the $750,000- $1,000,000 to rebuild or remodel. In uncertain financial times, with the tax levy revenues which support SRMC dropping with real estate values and with Obamacare on the horizon with the effect on medical care unknown, it would seem more prudent to take the conservative approach and save the South Routt taxpayer's dollars for now. Whether there is grant money available or not and who owns what is not the real question.The SRMC building is not falling down and decrepid and is just fine as it is for now.

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Scott Wedel 1 year, 7 months ago

Bill, You are right on the economics.

But grants like energy impact grants often want to create something nice and permanent including the jobs to build it instead of being most financially efficient. Though, for what property is selling for in Oak Creek, they could probably end up with more by buying another lot and building instead of trying to fix lot line issues and remodeling.

It would appear that this would be essentially free money via energy impact funds so it would not consume South Routt taxpayer money and thus would not threaten the future financial situation of the SRMC.

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