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Published: Wednesday, 10/29/2003

Defiance OKs sale of former hospital land

DEFIANCE - Without discussion or any public comment, City Council members unanimously agreed last night to sell a 13.7-acre piece of land to the Defiance County commissioners for $2.7 million.

Before council voted 6-0 on what has been a controversial matter, Councilman Ellen Upp said she believed it was time to finalize a deal with the commissioners.

“I think we've allowed sufficient time for someone to come forward if they have a better offer than the county has given us,” Ms. Upp said.

No other council members spoke on the matter, and no one from the public offered an opinion on the sale last night.

The land, home to the former Defiance Hospital and a medical office building, can be turned over to the county after a 30-day waiting period. It had been used by hospital officials for decades under a lease with the city.

The current, newly constructed hospital is on the city's northwest edge. It is called Defiance Regional Medical Center and is affiliated with ProMedica Health System.

In recent weeks, some residents had urged city council to consider putting the city land up for sale at auction on the chance of receiving more money for the property. Others had expressed concerns about the open, tree-lined land being destroyed by a new owner.

But Charles Beard, council president, said after the meeting the sale is the best for the city.

“This is the best deal possible for everyone,” he said.

He said the commissioners have indicated they will use the buildings as office space and not destroy trees along the land. Mr. Beard also said the sale marks an end to a history of negotiations between the city and ProMedica about the property.

The hospital and the city have been trying to reach agreement over the land and the lease since the mid-1990s.

In August, council narrowly approved a deal with ProMedica regarding the land. It allowed for ProMedica to be involved in marketing the city-owned land for future use.

ProMedica had feared the buildings could be used by a competitor. But the hospital system had approved of the sale to the commissioners and has signed off on the sale to them, Mr. Beard said.

According to the deal approved in August, ProMedica still will be responsible for razing the existing hospital, and the city will pay up to $500,000 of the cost. The hospital will donate $200,000 to the city, which the city will use to promote community health.

Mr. Beard said he expects demolition will begin as soon as possible.

In other matters, council:

w Approved an ordinance authorizing that water collected at the Garden Ridge Nursery in northern Defiance County can be disposed of - for a fee - at the city's wastewater treatment plant. The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency had asked the city to consider the arrangement, officials said.

w Passed a resolution supporting the application of the Defiance County commissioners to the state, seeking situational distress status for the county for the purpose of attracting grants and tax breaks.

The request comes partly in response to the fire earlier this year at one of the Johns Manville plants.



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