- Associated Press - Friday, December 19, 2014

SALINA, Kan. (AP) - Salina Regional Health Center is suing the city of Salina after a city commission denied the hospital a permit to demolish a former medical campus.

The hospital filed the lawsuit Wednesday, saying the Salina City Commission violated its property rights by voting in November to refuse to allow it to demolish the former St. John’s Hospital and other buildings on the Penn Campus in Salina.

Some commissioners said Salina Regional hadn’t tried hard enough to preserve the important historical building, The Salina Journal reported (https://bit.ly/1DRj1Li ). St. John’s was started in 1914 by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia and was operated by the Wichita-based Sisters of St. Joseph until 1995.

The hospital is not listed on the state or national Register of Historic Places but was designated as a Heritage Conservation District in 1997 because of its cultural and historical significance to the community. Salina Regional says St. John’s was given that designation over the health center’s objections.

The lawsuit asks the Saline County Court to reverse the commission’s decision and invalidate the Heritage Conservation Ordinance.



“The Salina City Commission has denied Salina Regional its basic property rights,” a statement released by the hospital said. “SRHC hoped to avoid the expense of legal action because it takes money away from patient care. But the commissioners’ action leaves the hospital no other choice.”

City Manager Jason Gage said he was not surprised by the lawsuit and that he hoped to resolve the dispute quickly.

“It’s in the best interest of both parties if we can somehow come to an agreement without spending private and public dollars on legal fees,” Gage said.

The hospitals and other structures on the campus have been vacant since 2011. Salina Regional began trying to sell, lease or repurpose the campus in 2002 but it said in the lawsuit that none of the developers it contacted could find a financially viable use for the site, even if given the property for free.

“It would be extraordinarily expensive to attempt to save the hospital but remove all of the additions and other structures on the Penn Campus,” the petition states.

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Information from: The Salina (Kan.) Journal, https://www.salina.com

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