Community gives input on ECM Hospital’s future

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FLORENCE, Ala. (WHNT) - It's an iconic building for Florence residents.  Standing more than six stories high and encompassing some 200,000 square feet, Lauderdale County's only hospital is on the back-side of its life expectancy.

When Regional-Care purchased Eliza Coffee Memorial Hospital from Florence and Lauderdale County, they promised a new hospital to be built on Veterans Drive.

As that project nears reality, Florence  Mayor Mickey Haddock wants to start figuring out what to do with the existing building. During Monday’s council meeting, the mayor heard residents' ideas.

Sandra Sockwell’s family owns property right next to Eliza Coffee Memorial Hospital.  She’s concerned about the effect of the building's impending vacancy on her property value. That’s why she attended the council meeting.

"There were lots of ideas tonight that I haven't thought of. Would be excellent use that would keep the property values in the area. So I'm looking at it in a positive way. I think it will help," said Sockwell.

Along with Sockwell, many other residents are looking at this soon-to-be-available space as a positive.

"We wanted the residents to have the input, to come and to be able to tell us what they think it should be," said Mayor Haddock.

A future residents say is bright and glad they're a part of. The project could take up to three years to become a reality.