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hospital wants LP County to pay for road

Wednesday, May 31, 2017 15:11 PM
Written by Stan Maddux
Category: Local News

Franciscan Health is asking LaPorte County to pay for building the main access road to its new $233 million hospital under construction along Interstate 94.

Dean Mazzoni, president and CEO of Franciscan Health, made the request during a Tuesday evening work session of the LaPorte County Council.

The 2,500 extension from Ohio St. across 400 North outside the southern boundary of Michigan City would cost almost $900,000.

Council president Jeff Santana said a vote would likely occur at the June 26 regularly scheduled council meeting.

Mazzoni said Frontage Rd. running parallel to the site with U.S 421 was deemed too congested at 400 North and will be strictly for emergency ingress and egress.

He said the county would see a return on its investment from considerable growth he predicted the hospital will attract to both sides of the half mile long extension and existing arteries in all directions.

''I can promise you, you are going to see alot of new development that wouldn't happen if not for the new hospital,'' said Mazzoni.

Mazzoni said Franciscan Health has already pledged $500,000 for construction of a new base for LaPorte County Emergency Medical Service at the new hospital site and contributes millions in free or reduced cost health care to low income residents.

He also noted 890 of the 1,400 employees at the current hospital on Michigan City's west side are LaPorte County residents.

Santana applauded the hospital for being a good neighbor but asked why the decision for a new main access road came after construction of the hospital had already begun.

Mazzoni didn't have an answer, saying the project was already in the development stages prior to him being hired.

To calm any fears about Michigan City annexing the area, LaPorte County Council attorney Shaw Friedman said the county under the law would continue to collect property tax dollars generated by any new development from within a tax increment financing district should there be an expansion of the city's boundaries in that direction in the future.

Councilman Mark Yagelski said he didn't have a problem with the request but would like the new road constructed wide enough now to accommodate increased traffic from future growth.

''I just want to see some planning involved in this. I see the potential for this thing developing,'' he said.
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