CLINTON — After Community Care, Inc.’s announcement on Sept. 4 that the Charlotte Residential Care Facility would be closed, members from CCI’s board of directors informed the Clinton County Board of Supervisors on Sept. 11 of their intention to demolish the building.

The topic was then raised on whether the county would want to regain ownership of the property, as allowed by paragraph eight of the original agreement between CCI and the county. The board held a public hearing Monday evening to allow members of the county and the Charlotte community to voice opinions and concerns. About a dozen people attended the meeting.

“Due to the age of the building and the cost that we could be incurring, I’m not really so interested in taking it back unless the public has a strong opinion that it is something that they would like to see us do,” said Supervisor Jill Davisson.

She said she felt it important that the people had the opportunity to add their input.

Supervisors Chairman Dennis Starling had previously expressed a great interest in looking into whether anyone would be interested in using the facility. CCI’s attorney, Bob McGee, informed the board that local Realtor Steve Howes, of Howes and Jefferies, had looked at the facility to determine if he thought anyone would have an interest in the facility.

“My discussions from Steve (Howes) more or less indicated unless there’s someone that would come forth with some significant financial capability and an interest in converting that facility to some use, it’s marketability is going to be pretty limited,” said McGee. He said while people could be interested in the facility if the price was low enough, the individual would need to be capable of shouldering the many costs associated with the facility.

Howes said options for the facility would be rather limited, the primary alternative would be some form of housing structure. He said he looked at finding ways to make such a project more viable, but ultimately believed only a person with the financial capability to handle the many costs would have a chance to make it work.

“We were talking it was going to be a million dollars or more, several millions, to bring it up to a standard where you could feel comfortable to allow people to safely live there ...,” said Clinton County Attorney Mike Wolf. He said simply making the building meet life safety standards could cost several hundred thousand dollars.

Robin Reiling, of Calamus, toured the facility on Saturday. He said he believed the building was still in serviceable shape and would be interested in converting the facility into housing. However, Reiling said he would want approximately four weeks to have professionals look at the place so he could better decide if the undertaking would be viable. Starling asked CCI’s Chief Financial Officer Steven Meyer if any window existed before CCI had to commit to the demolition. Meyer said they would in fact have to make a commitment with their contractor today. McGee said he would work to advise the CCI board whether it could cancel their commitment with the contractor if an interested party approached them before demolition began.

Members of the public commented that the process appeared to be going too quickly. Starling agreed that the time constraints were putting extra pressure on the board for a decision. Starling said he was dissatisfied with the amount of time and information the board has been given.

“This board has only been given the alternative in demolishing it or taking it back. And this board knows that in the best interest of the taxpayers of the county, taking it back is not in the best interest of the county. That doesn’t mean, necessarily, that I believe that that facility is outdated to the extent that it can’t be renovated into some other use. But I don’t know,” said Starling.

Marty Jahn, mayor of Charlotte, raised the question of what would happen to CCI’s obligation to pay sewer fees to the city of Charlotte. The board assured him that the topic had already been discussed and CCI would fulfill the obligation.

“It’s going to be an emotional, if you will, separation. It’s been an icon in the community of Charlotte for years and years and years. And I think that’s why we felt we needed to listen to what people had to say. And I do think that the CCI people do recognize, I think their board members for sure, recognize that it is an institution within your city and has been just a part of your heritage out there,” said Davisson.

After further discussion, the hearing was closed. A resolution was then read that would decline ownership of the facility, which would allow CCI to demolish the facility. Davisson and Supervisor John Staszewski voted in favor of the resolution.

“My problem still is, as it (the resolution) says, on Sept. 11, today’s the 21st. This board has been given 10 days to make this decision. It’s not that I don’t necessarily believe that the best interest of county would be served in the removal of this. I am not convinced that there isn’t an alternative use for this facility, just from the lack of trying to market it. So I vote no,” said Starling.

The resolution was approved.

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