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Hartselle leaders look for funding to tear down old hospital

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HARTSELLE, Ala. - The old Hartselle hospital building has sat vacant for nearly a decade.  Mayor Randy Garrison and city leaders would like to tear it down for future development, but they admit it won't be cheap.

Garrison says it'd be over $10 million to bring the building up to code. He's hoping some grant money could help pay for the some of the cost of demolition, but the challenge will be finding the rest of the funds to pay for it.

From a glance on Sparkman Street, the former Hartselle Medical Center doesn't show seven years of decay.

"There are leaks inside the building, the heating and cooling system's been removed from the building," Garrison said.

The longtime hospital closed in 2012. Since then, city leaders have been entertaining ideas for what to do with the five-acre property.

"I have a connection to this. I was born in this hospital. So I don't want to see it just crumble down," Garrison said.

"Over time, it seems more unlikely that a hospital would ever occur or even an overnight care center," pharmacist Mike Preuitt said.

Right now, the hospital property is owned by Huntsville Hospital. So far there are no plans to reopen the center, even on a partial basis. Garrison says the most recent estimate was around $1.5 million to tear it down.

"To open half of it back up would be around $12 million," Garrison said.

Hartselle leaders need to come up with over $1 million to begin demolition. Garrison says an EPA grant could help start the teardown. Garrison hopes the site could be a future trade skill education center for high schoolers.

"This would be a central location for a workforce development center," Garrison said.

"I hate to see the property go to waste, I think something needs to be developed there," Preuitt said.

Garrison says there's no timetable for how soon the demolition could begin.

The grant is known as Brownfield Reclamation, which is normally awarded to sites deemed environmental contaminants. Garrison says the former hospital still has asbestos inside.

Neighbors are invited to share ideas at the next workshop meeting next Thursday at 5:00 p.m. at Hartselle City Hall.

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