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City ordinance introduced to pave way for Uniontown Hospital campus vision

02/13/2018
An architectural rendering of the proposed Campus Vision at Uniontown Hospital.

By Mike Tony

Herald-Standard

Uniontown council has introduced an ordinance that would vacate portions of several city streets to allow Uniontown Hospital to remodel itself and add new amenities, including a parking garage.

The hospital is proposing the construction of a parking garage for employees and the creation of a covered causeway to strengthen campus connectivity, according to Uniontown Hospital CEO Steve Handy.

City Engineer John Over reported to council at their monthly meeting that the hospital is aiming to consolidate properties it recently acquired around the facility to allow for what he called a “significant remodeling of the hospital.”

“Currently, the way the hospital is laid out, the majority of parking in the main entrance is on the left side of the hospital, and many patients have to travel a long distance to get to the service area within the hospital,” Over said.

If adopted by council, the introduced ordinance would consolidate multiple parcels of land separated by rights of way to allow for development, vacating a portion of Delaware Avenue, a portion of Woodlawn Street, Hospital Alley and two other nearby unnamed alleys.

“They’ve already acquired all the properties,” Over said. “They want these rights of way vacated so they can reorient the center of the hospital with the main entrance again, develop a parking garage and other amenities associated with the hospital.”

Mayor Ed Fike asked Over whether the hospital will compensate the city, and Over said that had been discussed due to the city’s loss of tax revenue resulting from the hospital’s property acquisitions. Over said an annual payment to the city has been discussed.

“That’s an important component of this because the hospital sees itself as an important part of the community,” hospital legal counsel Tim Witt said of possibly compensating the city through an annual payment.

“The city has to live too,” Fike said. “While I sure appreciate having a facility like we have up there, I still think that the city has to be compensated.”

“We are pleased that the city has embraced our request to allow the hospital the ability to integrate the city roads into the campus, as we continue to improve the campus for the convenience and safety of our patients, visitors and employees,” Handy said.

Handy said the hospital enjoys a positive relationship with the city and appreciates the services that it provides.

“In this regard, we are very willing to entertain a conversation to help offset lost tax revenues that might have been realized through the assimilation of taxable properties into the nonprofit structure of the hospital,” Handy said. “Uniontown Hospital is committed to being an asset for the community, not a liability.”

Over said that hospital administrators, including Handy, understand the city’s position and would be willing to discuss hospital compensation to the city as soon as council members want to schedule a meeting.

“The sooner, the better,” Fike said.

Handy noted that the hospital began campus improvements with overhauling patient parking two years ago, also constructing a new main entrance and acquiring properties along Berkeley Street.

“However, these continued expansions are contingent not only on things like the city ordinance, but on obtaining the necessary funding through grants, including a grant application for rural development through the USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture),” Handy said. “We are taking all the steps necessary to continue to connect our campus to the people of Fayette County and invest in our community, provided the funding is approved.”

The introduced ordinance now has to be sent to the city planning commission for its recommendation back to city council. The ordinance may be reviewed by the public at city hall or at K2 Engineering, Inc. at 234 Pittsburgh St.

Council approved introducing the ordinance by a 3-0 count, with members Blair Jones and Joe Czuchan absent from the meeting.

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