During their May 4 meeting, Gadsden County Commissioners voted to allow the North Florida Health Corporation to lease part of the Lamar Massey Building, which is located in Chattahoochee.
The commissioners also voted to make $300,000 in repairs to the building.
The North Florida Rural Health Corporation plans to use the Massey Building to provide primary care services, with anticipation of expanding services to include obstetrics and gynecology, pediatrics, cardiology, mental/behavioral health, pharmaceutical, dental, internal medicine, infectious disease and podiatry services.
The Massey building, which is located at 680 Maple Street in Chattahoochee, currently houses Senior Citizen Services.
“I have no problem allowing North Florida Rural Health Corporation to sublease the building, but I do have a problem if the expansion process leads to the crowding out of the senior citizen services in that building,” Commissioner Anthony Viegbesie said.
Commission Chair Brenda Holt said the services that the North Florida Rural Health Corporation want to provide are currently needed in Chattahoochee.
She said Chattahoochee residents have to drive 45 minutes to Marianna or Tallahassee for health care.
“We need them in Chattahoochee,” Holts said. “It’s our building, and we’re responsible for the building itself.”
Commissioner Kimblin NeSmith said he had an opportunity to tour the building several times with County Administrator Ed Dixon.
“I made sure that building was absolutely allocated,” NeSmith said.
NeSmith said the building is not only in disrepair, but senior citizens are still using the building even in the building’s poor condition.
“The door that they enter into is in terrible shape; the landscaping is in terrible shape; the lighting is bad; water flow is bad; there’s mud, and dirt and residue on the building,” NeSmith said. “This building should’ve never gotten in this shape.”
There is also significant damage to the roof, which Dixon said will cost $100,000 to repair.
Viegbesie said the building is inhabitable.
Dixon said the building is in “total disrepair.”
Commissioner Eric Hinson said he agreed with allowing the North Florida Rural Health Corporation to lease the building when the company agreed to pay for the repairs, but he said he had since changed his mind because he didn’t want the county to spend $300,000 out of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) fund.
Dixon clarified that money from the CARES fund would not be used to renovate the building.
He said the county would be using insurance money from Hurricane Michael, and he said the county would carve out money from other areas of the budget as well.
“They didn’t ask us to do this; they offered to do this,” Dixon said.
Dixon said the county does not want the North Florida Rural Health Corporation to make the repairs needed, as it may cause further issues down the road – should the county choose to no longer lease the building to that agency.
“If we don’t want them there anymore [but] they have an investment in our building, we’re going to have to fight them for that investment,” Dixon said.
Dixon added the Massey Building is a county-owned building, and the county should not be leasing buildings that are not in proper condition.
He said the county should charge adequate rent, but the county should also be responsible for the repairs.
Dixon said it’s important that the county takes care of all of its facilities.
“We don’t have a plan to take care of all of our falsities,” Dixon said. “They’re all in disrepair.”
The commissioners voted 3-1 to allow the North Florida Rural Health Corporation to lease the Massey building.
Hinson was the lone dissenting vote.
The commissioners also voted to repair the Massey building, which is expected to cost about $300,000.
Commissioners Ronterrious Green, Viegbesie and NeSmith vote in favor of the county paying for the renovations. Hinson voted against it.
Holt stepped out of the meeting before the votes were called.
The will allow the health corporation to lease the building for 10 years, with an option to renew.
Both Senior Citizens Services and North Florida Rural Health’s allocated spaces will be clearly defined in the lease.
Dixon will negotiate the lease amount with North Florida Rural Health.
Erin Hill – firstname.lastname@example.org