The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

December 4, 2013

Clinic options examined

By Katie Dahlstrom Herald Assistant Editor
The Clinton Herald

---- — CLINTON — A few options are off the table and a few more are on for the new health care clinic community leaders are trying to bring to Clinton.

A group of 13 people met at The Canticle on Monday to discuss the options that still seem viable for Community Health Care Inc.'s new site.

After the meeting, the group left with some options to further investigate: the lower section of Chancy Park, green space and parking lots south of the Roosevelt building and what appears to be less likely than the others, the area next to Hy-Vee.

None of the areas are a sure thing and with the backlash from the last location officials eyed, the group is taking a number of precautions before getting swept away with an idea.

"You don't want to get on a roll and then you get a pie in the face," At-large Councilwoman Jennifer Graf said.

CHC, a Quad-Cities based affordable health and dental clinic, has made several attempts to locate in Clinton, but has yet to find a location that will work and not spark consternation in the community.

The last location in particular, the parking lot adjacent to Clinton Park, caused several groups to come forward in opposition for various reasons, including preservation of park land and parking spaces for downtown.

The opposition sent a group consisting of standing, incoming and outgoing council members to brainstorm other options with city staff and the Sisters of St. Francis, who are helping to put together financing for the clinic.

Ward 3 Councilman-elect Ed O'Neill did research on a majority of the sites, including the lot on Eighth Avenue South and South Fifth Street, property adjacent to the Sawmill Museum, land next to Sterling Federal Bank and property at Fourth Avenue North and North Third Street, all of which are not available.

"None of the 'no's' I got were because they didn't like the project," O'Neill told the group.

The Roosevelt location would need to be further examined to see if the green space and parking lot were one acre, the size lot that CHC needs. Graf had an amiable conversation with the owner of the green space, but group members also wanted an opinion from the Clinton School District and the city's Historic Preservation Commission about using the parking area south of Roosevelt.

While members acknowledged the likelihood they would receive some comments about Chancy Park similar to those about the Clinton Park location, they felt it was still an option worth considering.

The area of the park the group targeted contains a parking lot and a dilapidated tennis court, which group members didn't think had many patrons.

More talks with Hy-Vee's corporate office would need to take place before eliminating or progressing with that option, group members indicated.

The CHC clinic would serve people with and without health insurance and payment is based on a sliding scale.

Ideally, the clinic would be centrally located and off public transportation. The clinic is expected to have 3,600 medical and 1,920 dental visits annually and employ 14 full-time equivalents.

CHC secured a federal grant to construct the 12,000-square-foot facility. The grant requires construction of a new building and does not pay for land acquisition. In turn, the city would sell the land to CHC for $1. The project also has to be substantially complete by September.

The group plans to meet next week to discuss its findings.

"We're still under the gun on the timeline," Graf said. "This has got to keep moving."