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Why Nye County is reluctant to gift a 3-acre lot in Tonopah for construction of new hospital

Northern Nye County Hospital District trustees are asking the Nye County Commission for a 3.21-acre parcel of land adjacent to the former Nye Regional Medical Center that they say would aid in the construction of new health care facilities for Tonopah.

The request was delayed after commissioners questioned why hospital officials should not have to pay for the site, which is owned by the county.

As discussions opened during the board’s Tuesday, April 18 meeting, Nye County Commissioner Debra Strickland started with a pointed question.

“Do we just give property away?” she asked. “We’ve never been able to do that before.”

Nye County Assistant County Manager Lorina Dellinger said it was possible, noting that should the board wish to do so, an item would be brought forward in the form of a resolution, with a deed attached to it.

“With no compensation?” Strickland pressed. She then turned to Nye County District Attorney Brian Kunzi. “Is that allowable?”

“I have concerns with this one,” Kunzi replied. “I think there is a lot to look at. What bothers me when I look at it is, they are talking about using it to facilitate their construction. We can grant them an easement, we can grant them access to the property without giving them the property… And the other thing is, I think there are issues with the hospital district. Just to simply give them the property without really doing some more exploration, I think would be problematic.”

Tim Gamble, vice chair of the Northern Nye County Hospital District, joined the discussion via teleconference.

“It is the consensus of our consultants and hospital construction partners that it would be very difficult for us to place into our RFP (Request for Proposal) development of a property that we don’t own, which is the anticipation, for ease of access,” Gamble stated. “This would include road work and other civil development of this particular piece of property. This would also facilitate the rehabilitation, if you will, of the flood channel that runs in front of the hospital itself.

“I’d also remind the commissioners that without compensation and without any further issue, they did deed the hospital property itself over to the hospital district, without question,” Gamble continued. He added that it was the hospital district’s understanding that the 3.21-acre lot being requested was originally a part of the overall holdings of the former Nye Regional Medical Center. However, Dellinger said that was incorrect, reporting that the property in question had always been county-owned.

“It would be very difficult for the hospital district, in my opinion, solely my opinion, to rehab a property for somebody else’s future use, at the county’s benefit, under an easement, rather than for future development of other projects that the hospital district plans to take,” Gamble reiterated.

Strickland said she wanted to see more backup information to support the item, remarking, “I’d appreciate it if our district attorney would look at it further, perhaps coming up with a solution rather than to deed over a property, without compensation, to the hospital district.”

No timeline was given for the review of the item but Kunzi said he would strive to make it as quick as possible.

Strickland made a motion to continue the item, with a second offered by commissioner Frank Carbone. The motion passed with all in favor.

The Nye Regional Medical Center was closed in 2015 after years of financial hardship and is set to be torn down due to the presence of both asbestos and petroleum. The demolition is to be paid for through an $800,000 loan from Nye County using U.S Environmental Protection Agency funds and an additional $150,000 in grants from the same program, which requires a $150,000 in-kind match from the hospital district.

As detailed by hospital district officials, once the old facility is removed, the path will be clear for the district to apply for many other grants that could help pay for the construction of an entirely new critical access hospital, something community members have desired for many years.

Contact reporter Robin Hebrock at rhebrock@pvtimes.com

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