The Rome-Floyd County Development Authority wants the local legislative delegation to lead an effort to have the state forgive the debt on the 132-acre Northwest Georgia Regional Hospital property and transfer ownership to the development authority.

The resolution approved during the first meeting of the authority under new chairman Pete McDonald, indicates the debt on the property amounts to approximately $3.5 million.

The resolution also asks for the state to agree to continue to maintain the property for at least three years, possibly longer, until the property is spun off for redevelopment purposes. It also asks the state to provide any initial funding for the demolition of buildings on the property, if necessary.

Development Authority Attorney Andy Davis said the local development authority is essentially asking the state to do for Rome and Floyd County what is has previously done for Milledgeville and Baldwin County, home of the massive Central State Hospital.

Ownership of the property has been an issue that has certainly slowed efforts to redevelop the property.

“In the prospects’ minds that we are still working with, it is not owned locally. So they say, ‘Well if you don’t own it, who are you to sell it?’” said Rome Floyd Chamber Economic Development Director Heather Seckman.

McDonald said it is important for people to remember that even if the state does turn over the property, the process of redeveloping it is likely to be a long term proposition.

“It may be five, 10, 15 years out, but if we can arrange this agreement, it gives us local control over it and we’ll be able to negotiate with people,” McDonald said.

Seckman said she has prospects who are interested in portions of the property and a couple of prospects that want the entire 132 acres.

“One that we’re working with — they actually said this is perfect and they would reuse most of the buildings,” Seckman said.

In other business, McDonald, the incoming chairman of the Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, took his oath of office as chairman of the development authority. Ben McElrath of Marglen Industries, who is the current chairman of the Greater Rome Existing Industries Association, was also sworn in along with Rome Mayor Jamie Doss and Floyd County Commission Chairwoman Rhonda Wallace.