Tonasket hospital, Eagles committee close to a solution

Photo by Amy Veneziano This alley runs from the current main entrance to the hospital on Second and between the NVH business building, the Whitestone Apartments and the Eagles.

Photo by Amy Veneziano This alley runs from the current main entrance to the hospital on Second and between the NVH business building, the Whitestone Apartments and the Eagles.

TONASKET – The North Valley Hospital Board and hospital administrator Warner Bartleson have had several meetings with the Tonasket Eagles and the city in preparation for the Jan. 22 City Council meeting when the vacation of Second Street will be revisited.

The hospital made an offer of $600,000 to the Eagles for their property, said Bartleson. The Eagles countered the offer with a request for about $800,000, he said. The assessed value of the Eagles property is $140,000 and has been professionally appraised for $304, 000.

The hospital does not have enough money in their renovation budget to afford the Eagle’s request, Bartleson said. Taxpayers have approved the renovation budget in the form of a levy; spending over the assessed value for the property impacts the budget and the new hospital.

The board has since requested the that Eagles sell the district the north 18 feet of their property, which includes much of the back patio area, as well as an additional 10 feet on the east side of the property to widen the ally between Second and Third streets, Bartleson said.

That request is being discussed by the Eagles, he said, adding, the membership of the lodge has not yet voted.

If the hospital is able to acquire that extra property, architect Dave Franklund will return to the drawing board and create new plans for a one-story building, Bartleson said. Since no plans have yet been finalized, it is a fairly simple process to revisit the designs, he said.

“We’ve been waiting for this to be resolved before finalizing anything,” Bartleson said.

A request from the hospital to the Eagles included three necessities for both the hospital and Eagles to continue in their present locations.

First, it was requested that the Eagles sell the north 18 feet of their property. Second, the sale of 10 feet of property on the east side of their building to widen the alley for emergency access. Third, the hospital would seek to use some of the existing Eagle’s parking spots for day use, with compensation negotiated between the two parties.

The hospital additionally requested that the value of the property be determined by each party hiring an independent assessor. The average of those assessments would determine the property price. The hospital also offered to pay the closing costs and reimburse the Eagles for the cost of their appraiser.

Should the land be acquired, the hospital will redesign a smaller building for that spot, Bartleson said.

The hospital board and the selected Eagles committee group have been working since late November on the issue, which has brought much contention to the community.

Though no solid decisions have yet been made, at least one is expected at the Jan. 22 City Council meeting, where the council will vote on the vacation of Second Street. The City Planning Commission voted to recommend vacating the street on Jan. 11, Bartleson said. The Eagles committee has also indicated they will support the hospital’s efforts to vacate the street, he said.

The Eagles committee and leadership are committed to helping the Eagles in their request to vacate the street, Bartleson said. There was also an internally circulated letter encouraging members of the organization to assist.

The letter states that the committee is working well with the hospital and “does not want to be seen as a stumbling block in their attempt to obtain the Second Street vacation.”

Although no decisions have yet been reached between the committee and the hospital, Bartleson said the meetings have gone well.

“We appreciate that they have spent so much effort in finding an alternative,” he said.

Bartleson’s top goal is finding a solution acceptable to all involved parties, including city residents, the Eagles and the hospital.

“We are looking for solutions through different venues to find a workable plan,” he said. “This is a public process and we’re looking for input from all sources.”

If the hospital can purchase the north 18 feet of Eagles property, they will develop the lot across from the assisted living building on Whitcomb, which is already owned by the hospital, for parking purposes. That involves installing a retaining wall and paving the area.

The Hospital Steering Committee has also begun looking for alternative funding sources. They have begun the process to apply for several grants and will also be working to receive state and federal appropriations money for the expansion project.

However, everything is reliant upon one piece of asphalt.

“If we can’t vacate Second Street, we can’t go forward,” Bartleson said.