Warsaw Town Council Considering Large Aquisition

After a year of standing vacant, town officials and property managers have come up with a unique solution regarding the empty Warsaw Health Care building on Rte. 360: gift it to the town.

Nearly two months ago, Mayor Mark Milstead and town Manager John Slusser spoke with Bruce Hedrick of Medical Facilities of America (MFA), the corporation that owns the property.

According to Slusser and Milstead, Hedrick said that the facility was currently costing his company over $8,000 a month in taxes, maintenance and upkeep.

Although initially a non-profit had expressed interest in the property, hoping to renovate the building and offer high-end assisted living for the elderly, the request was withdrawn after Federal funding was denied.

He added that since it was put on the market, 18 documented parties expressed interest in the property. After discovering not only that areas in the facility had tested positive for asbestos but would also require upwards of  $1 million to renovate, all prospective buyers quickly lost interest.

It is a situation that has left MFA with only one option.

According to officials, the property would either be razed, or put up for public auction; a situation they say could potentially have negative implications if an underfunded or undesirable owner were to acquire the property.

“If someone buys it and it sits there and continues to deteriorate, or if someone buys it and doesn’t take care of it, you could have a situation where people are living there in poor conditions with a slumlord,” Milstead said in a Feb. 18 interview.  “With a limited police force, that could become a drain on the community. I think there are better opportunities for us and we have to do what is in the best interests of the town.”

Slusser agreed, adding that council was looking at all aspects of the situation in order to ensure any action benefits local taxpayers.

“What council is considering is not just the acquisition of the property but the impact of what might happen to the property if it goes up for public auction,” Slusser said.

Officials also noted similar buildings on the ‘Neck that had undergone the same process and were converted to inexpensive housing have poor appearances and high crime rates.

It is a consideration that has caused MFA to come up with a unique solution to, gift the property to the town with the understanding that Warsaw would pay for the building’s demolition.

Once razed, the town would have the option to sell the property to a developer or convert it for public use.

Officials are now asking citizens to weigh in on the issue.

“Before council does anything, they want to get feedback from the public to determine support of intervening in this situation,” Slusser said, adding that the entire council was not convinced about the measure.

It is scheduled to go to a public hearing March 6, at 7 p.m. where Milstead said he hopes to see a “large turnout” so that every citizen’s voice is heard on the matter.

Posted on Friday, February 22, 2013 at 10:13 am