Editorial

It’s been over a decade since the Northwest Georgia Regional Hospital was closed and we’ve seen many proposals for the best use of that property.

It’s time to get a move on.

The former state mental hospital off North Division Street closed in 2011 after a settlement agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice that affected hundreds of patients and employees.

The city has put together proposals, marketing — you name it — for the site, but the amount of debt tied to the facility has made every effort nearly impractical.

That was then, this is now. As we’re looking around for developable property to entice manufacturers or homebuilders, we should be looking at that 132-plus-acre property.

One, it’s centrally located.

Two, again, it’s upwards of 130-acres.

Three, it already has utility connections.

Four, it’s already flat.

Five, it has access to rail service.

What’s more to ask? Well a lot, but we’re convinced there are smart people here who can work out the details.

Of course, there are issues.

With anything worth doing there are always issues to work out. There are existing buildings, many or most of which would likely need to be demolished. There is the indebtedness to the state — somewhere around $2 million at this point.

While it would be nice for the state to donate that property to the city, they’ve repeatedly indicated that’s not going to happen, and that’s reasonable.

So now what?

Well, we’re hoping one of our economic development groups takes up the reins and moves this journey forward.

We’d had hopes pinned on a proposal by Global Impact International CEO Jeff Mauer and his wife, Mary Margaret Mauer, and really thought that was an inspired idea.

Look at what Restoration Rome, an affiliate of Global Impact, has done with the Southeast Elementary School property — it’s amazing and they’re continuing to do great work there.

The Hope Village concept is something that we want to see continue forward, but is the full campus really needed to accomplish that vision?

On a lesser scale, there looks like there will be several pieces of school properties available soon in the Armuchee and Cave Spring areas. Just a thought.

Growing jobs

The city has said they need property to draw jobs; the county said we need property to draw jobs. The chamber and development authority have said ... well you get it.

It’s here already, we just have to figure 1.) How to purchase it and 2.) How best to develop it to benefit this community.

West Rome has needed an economic shot in the arm for quite a while. It’s been sad to see neighborhoods — and main thoroughfares — in decline from what were thriving neighborhoods 20-30 years ago.

A fairly expensive study commissioned in 2015 suggested some of the possible uses included an educational campus, medical offices, open spaces and parks, manufacturing, office or residential areas.

A need for housing and manufacturing jobs ... hmmmm, that sounds like something we’ve talked about as a community recently.

In its immediate area, we’ve seen some activity with The Spires at Berry development as well as the Coosa Valley Credit Union. It’s not out in the boondocks either. It’s located near Redmond Regional Medical Center and the Harbin Clinic headquarters.

Also in the area is another 12 acres the city has put on the market between the GE plant and Redmond Circle.

Aside from the cost from acquiring that property there will be the cost of demolishing any or all of the buildings on that site to make it attractive for prospects when coming to town.

That’s not going to be cheap. That’s not even to mention the potential of environmental issues related to demolition — or the mitigation costs thereof.

But we think it’s worth the expense.

For a decade, that property has lain dormant and it’s time to get that property back on the tax rolls.

Thank you for reading.

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