By Amy Kent Herald Staff Writer
The Clinton Herald
---- — CLINTON — A new affordable health care clinic has been long in the works for Clinton, and after two possible site locations have failed, the city has a new spot lined up — a parking lot.
City officials came together this week at a committee of the whole meeting to discuss utilizing a portion of the municipal parking lot attached to Clinton Park on South Fourth Street to be used for the low income clinic.
Community Health Care, Inc. (CHC), a Quad-City based health care clinic, has shown interest in developing a facility in Clinton for several years, and as the need for affordable health care continues to grow, city officials are ready to do what they can to make it happen.
So far, the city has done everything to secure land for the new clinic, land they will sell for $1. After two different site locations have failed, and now a third one is on the table, the city is hoping this will be the solution they have been looking for.
The last location option the city discussed would have placed the 12,000 square foot facility in the Liberty Square area. However, because of delays and changes from the Iowa Department of Transportation, that location is no longer available.
“In late October Jason Craft and I attended a meeting to talk about the right-of-way and property disposal related to right-of-way and that process is now going to take much longer than initially anticipated,” City Administrator Jessica Kinser said. “So that area is not going to be possible to locate a clinic."
So on Tuesday, Kinser came back to the council to discuss the next option that has been in the works for some time, but only now has been released to the council and the public.
The municipal parking lot near Clinton Park contains approximately 2 acres of land. The city is interested in acquiring about 1 acre of that property to be used for the future CHC clinic.
"It really would have a minimal effect on where most of the parking is currently used in that lot, by neighboring businesses, or for the park," Kinser said.
City attorney Jeff Farwell also informed the city that because the property was platted as a park when the city was founded, aquiring that location will be easier than other commercial lots.
However, councilman John Rowland said by allowing CHC to build the facility near the park, it could start a trend for other businesses to want to build on the city's parks.
"This will come up, we'll hear about it," Rowland said. "What if we get other requests from other people to use the city parks for putting businesses in."
The answer from Farwell was simple "you can deny it."
"This is a pretty unique project here and that's why I think it rates looking at this space for that. And of course it is a parking lot," he said. "Originally it was grass, but at some point the city decided to pave it over and it's been that way for a long time."
To move the project to the next phase, the committee of the whole made a recommendation to allow Kinser to begin a development agreement between the city and CHC.
"The biggest part of the development agreement is that we have things figured out in the end," Kinser said. "It's hard to put a timeline and dates to this because there are some things that won't be completed by the city. (But) the development agreement is the next big step."