News

Hospital buying land at Bayview

BY GAYLE SARAN

South Whidbey Record

BAYVIEW — Whidbey General Hospital is finalizing two land deals worth more than $2 million as part of its ongoing plan to improve medical services on the South End.

The hospital will build its new clinic and a new station for its paramedics at Bayview, considered by many people to be the crossroads of South Whidbey.

The hospital’s board of directors is wrapping up two property purchases, one with Goosefoot and the other with the private partnership of Verlane Gabelein and Bob Sebo.

At recent board meetings, the board approved the purchase of one acre of land from the Goosefoot Foundation and a 4.5-acre parcel from Gabelein and Sebo. Both pieces of land are at Bayview along Highway 525.

The 4.5-acre parcel will cost $1.9 million. It will be used as the site for a clinic to replace the hospital’s Clinton location. The Goosefoot land will cost $380,000, and the hospital is planning to construct an emergency medical services station on the property to replace its Freeland location.

The new clinic will be constructed on the property across Highway 525 from Casey’s Red Apple. The cost of construction for the 19,000-square-foot clinic is estimated at $10 million.

The EMS station will be built on a portion of the property that abuts the park-and-ride lot at Bayview Road and Highway 525.

“It is a triangle piece of property that goes about 400 feet up the highway,” said Christine Hurley, executive director of Goosefoot.

Hospital spokeswoman Trish Rose said the new clinic would continue to offer the same services as the old one in Clinton, plus a few more.

“It will continue to serve low- and moderate-income residents and includes cancer care, lab services for the hospital, imaging, home health, life line and a community outreach office,” Rose said.

The current clinic in Clinton — which is owned by the hospital — will be sold.

Rose said the new facilities will be more centrally located to better serve the population of South Whidbey.

She said construction of both facilities is expected to begin in 2008.

The new EMS station replaces the old “green” house in Freeland.

“Cost of the building is still a moving target,” Rose said.

“However, cost of construction of the paramedic station has been scaled down to less than $3 million. The board is considering a metal structure to keep costs down,” Rose said.

The funding for the new EMS station was included in last year’s levy.

The EMS station will include housing for hospital paramedics on duty and a garage for the ambulance.

“It will be an improvement over our existing facility in Freeland, which leaves our rigs exposed to the elements,” Rose said.

Previously, Goosefoot and the hospital district were in negotiations over a lease for six acres of land next to the Sear’s House on Bayview Road and Meinhold Road.

Goosefoot had suggested a lease that would run about at $9,000 per month. Hospital officials, though, wanted to build its new facilities on land owned by the hospital.

“We really tried to interest the hospital in that parcel,” Hurley said. “They really felt it was in their best interest to build the clinic on commercially zoned property that they owned.”

“We had talked about a lease for that property, but in the end ... the hospital felt they needed the commercially zoned piece on Highway 525,” Hurley said.

However, Hurley said Goosefoot has plans for the property next to the Sear’s House.

It currently is an empty field that’s used for overflow parking for the Bayview Farmers Market and for events at Bayview Hall. Goosefoot is considering a development plan that would eventually create a subsidized, multi-family housing project on the property.

“We are in the process of talking with the county to use it for affordable housing,” Hurley said, adding that the nonprofit organization is working with the Island County Housing Authority on the proposal.

“We just submitted a request to Island County for a zoning variance to allow the housing,” she said.

Hurley said they had an initial meeting with neighbors about the affordable housing project.

“They were very appreciative of being involved early in the process,” she said.

Gayle Saran can be reached at gsaran@whidbey.com.

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