Friday, April 05, 2002

Warren urged to help land hospital

But leaders cite expense

By Cindi Andrews,
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        LEBANON — Several mayors Thursday urged the Warren County commissioners to do whatever is needed to bring Middletown Regional Hospital to the county in a wide-ranging meeting that brought out 150 residents and government, business and hospital leaders.

        “I think the citizens want to see their money spent to bring a hospital to Warren County,” Carlisle Mayor Patrick Long said after the commissioners said the county can't afford the project.

        Middletown Regional plans a 550-acre health and technology campus on Interstate 75 at Greentree Road for a relocated hospital, as well as educational, research and high-tech partners. It would add 3,200 jobs and move 1,500 jobs from Butler to Warren, the hospital estimates.

        The endorsement of the plan by most Warren County mayors last week prompted the commissioners to call Thursday's meeting. They say the project will cost Warren $20 million to $30 million in road improvements just east of the development.

        “We can't go broke just to say there's a hospital in Warren County, when it's only 2 miles closer,” Commissioner Mike Kilburn said.

        They stressed that they support Middletown Regional's plan, just not the location in rural Turtlecreek Township.

        “It's very easy to stand up and support the vision,” Commissioner Pat South said. “My gosh, look at the jobs.”

        Mason Mayor John McCurley disagreed.

        “I listened to 55 minutes that sounded like a sales pitch on why not to build a hospital, and we're asking you to take a more neutral position,” he said after the commissioners spoke.

        A hospital at Greentree and I-75 would mean a quicker trip to the hospital for northwestern Mason residents, Mr. McCurley said.

        The commissioners, however, were not the only ones with concerns.

        Monroe Mayor Mike Morris asked what's in it for his city. Most of the 550-acre project — though not the hospital — would be in Monroe, yet the city has been excluded from conversations about costs and revenues, Mr. Morris said.

        Some Turtlecreek Township residents continue to oppose the project, which they fear will bring too much traffic and development.


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