Our View: She’s a bit of a fixer-upper…

FOR SALE: Old hospital in pretty good shape for being over 60 years old. Abandoned by previous owners and left to the taxpayers of Crittenden County to deal with. Comes with multi-story physicians’ offices as well as an auditorium that was donated by the family of one of the hospital’s former physicians. Could be yours for pennies on the dollar. Contact your “agent in charge” Crittenden County Judge Woody Wheeless. Seems now that that white elephant resting smack dab in the center of Crittenden County’s largest municipality – West Memphis, is on the market at a real bargain price. Come one, come all. Submit your bid on this monstrosity that apparently as of now nobody seems to be interested in. Since Crittenden Regional Hospital was abandoned in September 2014, sending hundreds of nurses, staff and other employees to the unemployment line, Crittenden County taxpayers have been shelling out hundreds of thousands of dollars to simply keep the lights on, provide maintenance and security. A $15 million deal to reopen the hospital with Nashville-based Ameris Health Systems fell apart months ago leaving Judge Wheeless struggling to come up with an alternative. And, he did with the recent deal made with Baptist Memorial Hospital Systems agreeing to locate here in a brand new hospital to be built off Seventh Street on the north side of Interstate system between West Memphis and Marion. Sadly, as of March 1 the electricity will be shut off at the old hospital and there will be no additional tax dollars spent on maintenance or security. The go-head was given to Judge Wheeless to sell the building, even below the appraised value, based on the opinion from County Attorney Joe Rogers who told county justices that he has researched the law and is of his opinion it can be disposed of if it is in the best interest of the county. This will be a tremendous eyesore to the City of West Memphis if this massive facility is just left abandoned and neglected. As we have pointed out before, it behooves city officials to take serious notice as to what is occurring and take an active role in dealing with this situation. To completely abandon this facility is definitely not in the best interest of West Memphis because, as we all know, it will reflect very poorly on the image of this city. Every effort on the part of this city’s economic development director, its elected officials, city planner, and concerned business leaders should be made to ensure that this problem doesn’t worsen. If city leaders are interested in investing in this property then they should offer any and all expertise in assuring a positive outcome. Let’s face the fact that leaving this property, located just across the street from West Memphis City Hall, to rot away, to become a victim of vandals and illegal activities would have very serious negative implications.

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