The June 19th Borough Assembly Meeting opened with several commenters calling on the Assembly and the public of Petersburg to support plans for a new hospital.
In April, the Assembly approved an extensive resolution to get the project closer to shovel-ready status. But that progress stopped last week when an ordinance to rezone part of the area the Assembly and the Hospital Board picked to plant the new facility failed before the local Planning Commission.
Phil Hofstetter is the CEO of Petersburg Medical Center. He came to the meeting to speak up for a new ordinance to rezone part of Service Area 1 to make way for construction. Hofstetter argued against the Planning Commission’s claim that Petersburg residents haven’t been sufficiently educated about the new hospital. He said the Hospital Board made the plans available to the public a long time ago.
“This has been a painstaking lease process selected from five potential sites over the past seven years,” said Hofstetter. “[It’s] the result of numerous assembly meetings, PMC board meetings, public forums, and work sessions. The step is crucial for the future of healthcare and Petersburg.”
The Assembly voted in favor of the ordinance, with one holdout. From the very outset of the project, Assembly Member Donna Marsh has been skeptical of the Borough’s ability to pay for the new hospital with state and federal grants. Marsh said she agrees with the Planning Commission’s recommendation.
“I think this medical center design and layout is a grand and beautiful facility,” said Marsh. “But I frankly do not see how we can afford it — not in the near future, not in the long term future. I think it gobbles up a lot of residential areas as the planning commission noted, so I will not be in favor of this one.”
The Assembly’s only other item of business was a resolution to temporarily change the assembly meeting schedule to accommodate Mayor Mark Jensen’s summer gillnetting plans. It would have changed the regular meeting schedule from Mondays to Thursdays through the summer months. The schedule change did not go to a vote, with no Assembly Member seconding the motion.
With the failure of that resolution, the next regular assembly meeting is scheduled for Monday, July 3rd.
Editor’s note: This story was changed to reflect that Assembly Member Marsh did not vote for the resolution to change the regular meeting schedule. She moved to allow the resolution to go to a vote, with no second.