By Timothy Cox
Celina city officials expressed some concern Monday that if they authorize the relocation of a local manufacturer to the Grand Lake Industrial Park, it might scuttle the chance of a new hospital being built there.
Some city officials noted the proposal by Mercer Health to build a new medical facility in Celina remains preliminary. Because of that there is no guarantee any medical facility would ever be built in the industrial park. Others noted that if a hospital is built, it likely would create more jobs than the small manufacturer city officials are considering relocating to the site.
Mercer Health CEO T.J. Padden told The Daily Standard in April that hospital officials would expand their land search after it became apparent a local company planned to relocate to the industrial park along Staeger Road. The company is now know to be Alumacast, which has tentative plans to relocate from its current site at 300 N. Brandon Ave.
"When that was revealed, it became difficult to visualize a site plan for our facility," Padden said in an April report to the hospital's board of governors.
Padden was out of town this morning and unavailable for comment. Hospital officials reportedly were hoping to gain control of all available land at the industrial park to make its project work. Since April, hospital officials have expanded their search to other areas east, northeast and south of Celina. The hospital also has hired a consultant to perform a needs assessment before any firm plans are laid. Any land acquisition likely is on hold at least until then, hospital officials have said.
Celina Councilman Ed Jeffries questioned the logic in making room for a company that would have 15 jobs while shutting out a project that could spawn hundreds of jobs.
Councilman Christopher Mohler also wondered about the hospital issue.
"If we give up these five acres (to Alumacast), it could affect (Mercer Health's) potential decision to locate there," Mohler said.
Mayor Sharon LaRue, who serves on the hospital's board of governors, said Alumacast's relocation would not automatically kill the hospital's plans. A 15-acre parcel still would remain on the east end of the industrial park and is abutted by 20 more acres of land not currently controlled by the city, she said. Therefore, the hospital still could pursue its plans, but would have to deal with two landowners, she said.
Council President Bill Sell questioned why a hospital would want to locate in an industrial park.
Community development consultant Kent Bryan said he was somewhat surprised that hospital officials were interested in the industrial park. Hospital officials were pushed in that direction when they were unable to come to terms on some other nearby land, Bryan said.
The hospital's project probably would gain more focus after an ongoing study by Charis Health Care is completed, he said.
As originally pitched, hospital officials were pursuing a smaller version of the existing hospital in Coldwater, with a full range of services, including laboratory and radiology services available on-site. That plan could change based on the findings of the Charis assessment.