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Hospital seeks more parking

Whidbey General Hospital soon may have room to expand if officials complete the purchase of a $150,000 parcel of land immediately east of the hospital.

Whidbey General CEO Scott Rhine said Tuesday that the hospital has put down $5,000 in earnest money on the 1,000-by-165-foot parcel at 301 NE Third St. in Coupeville. This gives the board 30 days to decide on whether to purchase the land from its owner, Milton Davis.

Rhine said there are no immediate plans for the property, though he added that the purchase is a good one, "especially where the parcel abuts the current property of Whidbey General and will allow for future needs.

"At this point in time, we believe that it will be reserved for future use and potential parking or office spaces," he added.

Sandy Roberts, a real estate agent based in Coupeville, negotiated the deal for the Whidbey Island Public Hospital District. The hospital wasn't the only agency interested in the property. Roberts told the board Monday that local developer Frank Tichey finally stepped aside as an act of good faith toward the hospital.

In return, the board is drafting a "first right of refusal" in order that Tichey may have first dibs on the northernmost portion of the property, which will likely be zoned Low Density Residential and sold by the hospital.

The lot would start on Third Street and run about 160 feet south, remaining about 135 feet wide on Third. The hospital would retain either the south 30 feet along the street or an easement of that width. The lot will be no smaller than a half-acre.

If the sale goes through, the hospital could not sell the residential lot for less than 10 percent under the price established by an appraiser as the property is zoned at the time of sale.

According to a draft purchase agreement, Whidbey General would assume responsibility "for the rezoning or boundary line adjustment necessary to comply with the Town of Coupeville to create two lots from the existing one."

There is currently a burned-out residence on the northern portion of the property -- a fire gutted about one-third of the home. If the hospital buys the property it likely will assume responsibility for tearing down and removing the debris. Roberts said tentative estimates put the cost of removal between $5,000 and $25,000.

Another building near the home that serves as a carport/storage facility would not be removed, remaining intact for sale with the property.

Rhine said hospital officials actually have 90 days in which to evaluate the property; only the first 30 days are at no cost, meaning the earnest money would be recouped in this time if the sale doesn't go through. After this, Rhine said, the hospital has another 60 days to look at factors "that may or may not be there."

Half the earnest money, or $2,500, would be lost if the hospital decides to pull out of the sale during this period.

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