MOULTRIE -- Unless another economically viable alternative is put forth, the Colquitt County Governmental Building will most likely be razed to make room for a city park.

Jim Lowry, president of Colquitt Regional Medical Center, said Friday he's heard no overwhelming support to spend additional money on the building -- something that would have to be done if another agency were to move in.

At this preliminary stage, city and county governments seem to share a vision for what to do with the site, no small factor in getting the project done to the satisfaction of Colquitt Countians, said Lowry.

"I think if the city and county work together, they could come up with something the community could be really proud of," he said.

According to Lowry, the county commission likes the park idea, and he said Moultrie Mayor Bill McIntosh has said he originally envisioned using the space as a park.

If a park is indeed built, all traces of the building where many Colquitt Countians were born won't be completely erased. Lowry said the huge columns gracing the building's entrance may stay as a kind of "Arc de Triomphe."

Taking a cue from downtown Moultrie's streetscape project, some of the building's bricks could be salvaged and used as paving stones. Lowry said he believes people who worked in the building or were born in the old hospital would be eager to pay to have their names etched in the bricks.

Serving as a help in cleanup and additional financing for the project, Lowry said some people would probably be willing to pay for some of the items from the 65-year-old building. The roof is made of slate, a material Lowry is confident someone will want to salvage.

Before anything is done, though, the city and county will meet with the hospital authority to officially lay out a plan for the project. McIntosh said the meeting could take place soon. County commission Chairman Max Hancock agreed, but said officials are waiting to hear from anyone who might want to do something with the building. No one has stepped forward yet.

"People are telling me, 'We'd hate to see the building go, but we'd understand,'" said Hancock. "It's served its purpose well."

An impetus to get the project started is the fear that stalling will create a situation similar to the one the city and county found themselves in regarding the Swift building. The Swift building on North Main eroded until it became an eyesore because the owner couldn't handle the cost to rid the building of asbestos.

To be more time-effective, Hancock said the county would be willing to loan equipment to the city to help tear down the building and create the park because while the park would be in the city limits, the building "served the whole county and it's the whole county's problem."

For now, the old hospital-turned-governmental building sits almost empty. But, says Lowry, he sees only two options:

"A dilapidated old building or a city park."

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