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LEAD STORY

“Doubtful” hospital proponents will come back says Lumley

cover of First Monday featuring a photo of the derelict Sarnia General Hospital

The group proposing to purchase the abandoned Sarnia General Hospital for a $15 million medical campus says it has little interest in proceeding again.

Mark Lumley, representing Charles Dally, Alex Jongsma, Kenn Poore and Marty Raaymakers says “it is highly doubtful” the group would consider trying again “given how it was treated last time”.

Last time was two years ago when the group proposed purchasing the hospital site for a thousand dollars and taking responsibility for asbestos clean up and demolition estimated at $8 million.

In an open letter to Sarnia media Lumley is critical of Mayor Mike Bradley insisting he cutoff debate on the proposal while focusing on ownership issues that have now cost the City and Bluewater Health $224,000.00 in legal fees.

But Bradley disagrees telling First Monday the decision not to proceed with the sale to Lumley’s group was a majority vote of Council based on information it had at the time.

While Council had an estimate of the property value and the cost of demolition ownership was only determined late last year following months of legal wrangling.

The City does own the property, can sell it and is now looking for request for proposals again.

Bradley describes it as “ironic” the Lumley group would speak out now when it chose not to speak at the Council planning hearing in support of its proposal. Bradley says the Lumley group didn’t rebut any comments made in opposition.

However, in its letter to the media the group suggests Bradley violated Roberts Rules of Order by curtailing discussion that would have answered Council’s concerns about asbestos, cost of demolition and the ownership.

Bradley says that’s not so. “Rules of Order of Council are clear. Any motion to table is not debatable.”

Lumley says ownership was never an issue because both Bluewater Health and the City wanted to rid themselves of the abandoned hospital.

Now, two years later $224,000 has been spent on legal fees, $17,000.00 on an appraisal and $400,000.00 on maintenance and security.

Just before last Christmas a fire broke out.

Lumley estimates the taxpayer is now on the hook for $10 million. And while he is “doubtful” his group would be interested in a new request for proposals he stopped short of rejecting it all together.

“If we did,” Lumley told First Monday “it would be inappropriate to discuss details of a potential submission with the media”.

Bradley says he welcomes a new effort to find developers for the site. But noted the cost of remediation and demolition is and will be the challenge.

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