Cumberland Times-News

Opinion

August 15, 2013

Here are the facts about Memorial Hospital

In the July 26, Times-News, an opinion from Colleen Burke was printed (“They could care less about us”), suggesting that local officials should do a better job of hearing citizen concerns.

To Mrs. Burke, who for decades demonstrated a commitment to youth in the classroom, and who still today exhibits a great love of community, I welcome your input.

However, on the many publicly announced occasions in which the City Council has met to discuss the demolition of Memorial Hospital, I recall only one citizen attending to speak on the issue.

Fewer than half a dozen letters or emails have been received. And only one citizen has asked to meet with me to discuss the demolition; that citizen was not Mrs. Burke.

Many opinions in Mrs. Burke’s letter are stated as facts that are inaccurate. On Sept. 12, 2012, Times-News article, “Could take $3.5M to level Memorial,” notes that the demolition costs would be in the vicinity of $3.5 million, not the $7 million cited by Mrs. Burke.

The article notes that the borrowing would do exactly as suggested, and include a focus on infrastructure, and would refinance other city debt, thereby saving money, as well as fund fire station roof repairs, water valve/main replacement, and street repairs.

Claims that the hospital should be repurposed, citing an article from 2007, ignore the history of the building between then and now.

The city listed the property for sale. Nobody bid. The city communicated with the Veterans Administration to locate a VA facility on the site. The VA has declined to do so.

The city offered the property to a company for lease. That company was unable to fill the space. In the end, as cited in the Sept. 12, article, “The hospital buildings, at 250,000 square feet, have cost taxpayers an estimated $2.5 million over the past 2 1/2 years.”

The city cannot continue to pour millions of taxpayer dollars into a property that is not drawing interest for sale, reuse, or redevelopment.

This reality is overlooked by pie-in-the-sky letter writers who fail to recognize the financial burden of the property, including in the Dec. 9, 2012, opinion piece printed, in which Thomas Marsh refers to the demolition of the hospital as “insane.”

Mrs. Burke does ask an important question about environmental impacts of the demolition. In fact, those questions are required components of the demolition and precautions are also required and will be fulfilled in the demolition contract.

Mrs. Burke suggests, however, that there is an ulterior motive and that a developer is behind the scenes. That is also inaccurate, as the city is not coordinating the demolition with any developers.

A Sept. 10, 2012, article spelled out the reality: “The city has received no offers on the hospital building property, which was vacated in November 2009 when WMHS moved into the new Willowbrook Road campus.”

That money is much better spent on city streets and the creation of a new plot of buildable land in the city of Cumberland, that could result in new residents and job creation. Responsible use of citizen tax dollars is the plain and simple reason for proceeding with demolition.

My door is always open. My home phone is publicly listed. I accept appointments at City Hall. I maintain open dialogue and access by social media including Facebook and Twitter. I am available by email. And, City Hall operates with a City Council dedicated to transparency.

Had Mrs. Burke utilized any of these means, she might have been better informed and her letter, riddled with inaccuracies and distortions would have been unnecessary.

Instead, she has chosen to hide behind the pen instead of participating in the many open forums she claims necessary.

Brian K. Grim

Mayor of Cumberland

1
Text Only
Opinion
  • Support Canal classrooms with tax-deductible gift

    While your April 17 article (“Park Service opens Canal classrooms,” Page 1A) described this exciting program accurately, your readers may be wondering how they can help support this new educational opportunity for school children in Allegany County.

    April 18, 2014

  • Ivan Hall story brings back memories of a unique man

    I enjoyed Mike Sawyers’ Ivan Hall story. It was well written and brought back some wonderful memories of my Cumberland days and especially, an unique man.

    April 18, 2014

  • It’s a secret It’s a secret

    Could someone enlighten us about why not even the names of the two entities bidding on development of the Footer Dye Works building can be divulged?
    A Times-News article about the bids included an explanation from a lawyer for the attorney general’s office about the need to keep the names and other information secret at this time. Despite that, the logic of not divulging at least a little more information escapes us.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • What do we do about those who weren’t criminals after all?

    Now that Maryland has become the 17th state to (finally) decriminalize possession of marijuana, one could say that the legislature and governor should be patted on the back for doing the right thing.

    April 17, 2014

  • The first step The first step

    If all goes as planned, Frostburg State University will one day offer a doctorate in nursing, a physician’s assistant program and a new health sciences building on campus.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Translations differ, but the message is eternal

    This letter is in response to a recent letter titled “One cannot compromise on God’s word” (April 13 Times-News). I had previously written a letter titled “Why are compromises so difficult to achieve” (April 7).

    April 15, 2014

  • Closing the loopholes will help clear the regulatory waters

    After a decade of uncertainty over Clean Water Act jurisdiction following Supreme Court challenges in 2001 and 2006, the Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers announced a forthcoming administrative rule to close enforcement loopholes, restoring protections to 20 million acres of wetlands, more than half the nation’s streams, and drinking water for 117 million Americans.

    April 15, 2014

  • The first step Remember where your freedom comes from before criticizing

    The deal at Fort Hood could have been avoided if it was caught in time.
    When you think a GI is not acting right, have him or her checked out before you put them back on duty and give them a weapon. Post-traumatic stress disorder is a serious and dangerous problem if it is not taken care of right away.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Where to look Where to look

    Drive anywhere in Maryland and it seems there is one highway construction project after another. While it is good to see our roads and bridges being upgraded, it can be nerve-wracking for anyone traveling a long distance.

    April 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • Midterm elections give chance to return to American values

    A movement has been started by veterans of our armed forces to get out the vote in 2014. That includes Coast Guard and Merchant Marine personnel for those not familiar with the history of both and their sacrifice. This is no small special interest  group, but many millions of Americans who can have an enormous impact on the  outcome of the November election if they all respond.

    April 14, 2014