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Temporary structure scrutinized by council

WEST POINT — The Wellstar Medical Group building on 10th Street, originally a Commercial Bank and Trust structure, was only supposed to be at its current location temporarily when it opened in 2006.

As some of the City Council pointed out at their work session Tuesday night, 11 years isn’t what is usually considered temporary.

City Manager Ed Moon gave the history of the building to the council, adding that CB&T applied for the building in August of 2006 as a precursor to a full-sized branch bank under a temporary building agreement.

“We were unable to locate records of exactly when CB&T closed its branch, but the city received a request in 2013 from CB&T to remodel the facility for West Georgia Health Physicians Medical Office,” Moon said.

The city approved that use in September of the same year under a 3-year initial term agreement that could be extended two years if plans for construction were still ongoing.

With that five year period coming to an end this year, the city has received a request from Wellstar for another two year extension that would last until Sept. 30, 2020. Moon said that he and the rest of city staff recommend that the council consider the length of the variance.

“This structure has operated under a temporary permit for 11 years now,” said Councilmember Jerry Ledbetter. “That’s not a temporary structure.”

According to Moon, the structure was there with permission from the city but, at the time of the agreement, was expected to lead to a permanent residence in West Point.

“At this point we have to think about if it’s really their goal to put a permanent facility here or just roll until they can no longer roll anymore,” Councilmember Henry Hutchinson said. “Are they really showing a commitment to being here? The service is needed, that’s true, but we showed the commitment on our end, where is their commitment?”

Councilmembers Gloria Marshall and Sandra Thornton emphasized to the rest of the council how important the services of Wellstar were. According to them, this medical center is the only place some West Point residents could go because of their insurance.

Ledbetter agreed that a need was being met and that this fact left him “struggling to see” why the business shouldn’t take permanent residence in the city.

The council agreed they needed to discuss the issue further with a representative from Wellstar in order to find a solution.

In other actions, the council discussed a potential new special event permit.

“Due to the number of large events we are getting interest in, we have four between now and mid-November,” Moon said. “Our current permitting process is just one page, so we thought it was inadequate for what we need to gather the appropriate information.”

Since it was a work session no decisions were made, but it is expected to be decided at their next council meeting.