MOULTRIE -- A proposal from an Albany church group to purchase the old

Vereen Memorial Hospital for $50,000 was nixed Monday by Colquitt County

Hospital Authority.

The church group had plans of turning the facility into a foster home for

teen-age girls from all across the state.

For more than a year, a study panel has been doing due diligence on the

future of the old facility, and the only significant interest to keep it

from being demolished came from First Monumental Faith Baptist Church of

Albany.

Hospital board member Clarence Lowe, who chaired the study panel, said it

was his committee's recommendation not to sell it to this group.

He cited a number of concerns, including not having a clear picture of

the finances of this group and the compatibility of that kind of use in

that particular location on South Main Street. And, he said city

officials indicated there was little or no chance of the old hospital

being rezoned from R-1A (the strictest of city zoning) to a commercial

zoning.

Lowe said if this project began and the finances were not there to make

it successful and it was abandoned again, then the City of Moultrie

would have to red flag it.

"And we don't want another Swift building on South Main Street," said

Lowe.

The old Swift building stood snaggled and partially torn down on North

Main Street for several years before a combination of state, federal and

local resources finally took it down.

While the hospital authority has not officially voted to tear down the

building, Jim Lowry, administrator of Colquitt Regional Medical Center,

is researching those costs. That inquiry also includes whether it can be

imploded.

A year ago it was estimated that it would take at least $1 million to

clear the property. A disposition of the building was termed by the

panel as a community issue, not just one of the hospital authority. The

panel included members of City Council, County Commission, the hospital

authority and other civic leaders.

It has been suggested that if demolition is the recourse, that it be

shared between the authority and the two local governments.

For the past 30 years, the old hospital -- some 80,000 square feet -- has

served as a county government complex.

"Our last involvement will be this week when we auction off some

furniture and other items left in there," said Max Hancock, County

Commission chairman.

The sale of items will be from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 29.

County officials said those people buying items should come prepared to

take them away with them at that time.



To contact Dwain Walden, call 985-4545, ext. 214.

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