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County Board Airs Fate Of Former Jail, Hospital

Issue Date: September 27, 2018

The fate of two important buildings in the City of Marinette were discussed at the Marinette County Board meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 18, and will likely come up for more discussion and hopefully some decisions in the coming year.

One of those buildings is the former jail and law enforcement building adjacent to the courthouse but facing Ella Court Street, and the other is the now vacant former Marinette General Hospital building on Shore Drive, more recently known as Bay Area Medical Center (BAMC).

A few years ago County Board had been considering having the old jail building torn down, but that would have been costly. There also have been proposals to have the City of Marinette move City Hall there, and apparently that remains a possibility, though no decision has beEN reached.

Meanwhile, some roof repairs are needed in the near future. County Administrator John LeFebvre and Facilities Director Martin Keyport now have plans to make the needed repairs and keep the building in use.

LeFebvre said his proposed 2019 budget includes $375,000 for new heating, ventilating and air conditioning equipment to be installed before any work is done on the roof, and funds for demolition of at least some of the old jail cells on the top floor of the building.

At the start of the Sept. 18 meeting Bay Area Medical Center President and CEO Ed Harding reported to the board on the hospital's move in August from the old hospital on Shore Drive to its brand new quarters on University Drive, and that brought questions from Supervisor Don Pazynski on plans for future use of the original hospital, which originally was owned by the county. Parts of the building were built in 1939, when it was known as Marinette General Hospital, but other parts were constructed much later and Harding said the entire building "is in fantastic shape."

However, as part of its agreement when the City of Marinette was asked to annex the site of the new hospital, BAMC directors had to guarantee that if no one is found to occupy the now vacant old hospital within five years they will have it torn down, and to back that promise they had to place $1.5 million on deposit.

The old hospital grounds abut the UW-Green Bay's Marinette campus on the back side, and there have been repeated suggestions that the best thing that could happen would be for the University to acquire the building. It has also been proposed as another possible new site for Marinette City Hall.

Harding told County Board that BAMC has had several developers look at the old hospital, and said some are still working on it.

"To me, it's a no-brainer!" declared County Board Chair Mark Anderson. "That hospital is so close that you can throw a ball and hit the University campus!" He and others commented the hospital building has rooms with private baths, a cafeteria, dining area, recreation areas and other facilities that students would need. Anderson said he had met with UW-Chancellor Gary Miller and was told they are considering the possibilities. Anderson felt perhaps the building is too large for a single developer, but also felt the university could bring in a lot more developers than the city or county could.

Everyone seemed to agree tearing it down should not be considered.

Asked if the hospital trustees would give the building to someone, Harding agreed they might, but said it would cost the recipient $1 plus $1.5 million, because they would have to cover the amount BAMC has on deposit to cover the cost of demolition if it is needed.

Meanwhile, harding was complimented on the beautiful new hospital, and there were hopes that having a fine new facility would encourage more physicians o move to marinette to practice.


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