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Residents decry Mercy's plan for Lorain facility

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LORAIN — Local residents attended in droves for Monday’s council meeting for a public hearing on a rezoning change on Oak Point Road that would allow for a new Mercy medical facility.

Jacob Walter, an Oak Point Road resident, spoke candidly about how the proposed facility was not welcome in his neighborhood.

“None of us want this in our neighborhood. I hope that you all consider that when you vote,” he said.

The Lorain Planning Commission met in regular session Oct. 4 and considered the rezoning of property on Oak Point Road from R-1A Residential to B-1 General Business, meeting similar opposition from the public as it did Monday. From there, it was moved to recommend approval from Council, which allowed a public hearing before voting.

The proposed facility would house a comprehensive health care center, including primary and specialty care along with walk-in services.

Though the meeting was mostly open for public opinion, several Council members, including Councilmen At-Large Joseph Koziura and Mitchell Fallis and Councilmen Greg Argenti, Angel Arroyo Jr. and Dennis Flores, stated their opinions first. Flores said if Mercy was a good corporate sponsor for Lorain, the city already would have had a facility built.

“My message to Mercy is, ‘You forgot about us,’” Flores said. “I didn’t bring any holy water here tonight but have mercy on us.”

Many residents who spoke at the meeting, most living near or on Oak Point Road, voiced passionate opposition against the change. People like Marilyn Finch, an Oak Point Road resident, said it would make more sense for the facility to be in central Lorain instead of the west side. She also asked why the facility couldn’t be in the downtown area, which was in desperate need of revitalization.

“It’s not about my household, it’s not about my neighborhood,” she said. “The building, the medical facility needs to be more available to the people of Lorain County.”

Residents also voiced their concern about the potential increase of traffic of the residential area and how their neighborhood could change as a business zoning area. Many weren’t against the facility, just its location.

Ken Mulder, who attended the hearing on behalf of Mercy and property owner Sandra Bitar, said the reason Mercy picked that location is because the land is being donated and it would allow the hospital system to own the building. But he said Mercy also wanted that location and not central Lorain because 59 percent of its patient base is near south and west Lorain.

“I can’t see Mercy moving to downtown to build this facility and move away from the majority of its patient base,” he said.

Dave Richards, who live on Yorktown Road near Oak Point Road, also supported the facility because Mercy is one of the largest employers and could bring more jobs to the city. If the city rejects the proposal, Richards said, it will hurt the city’s ability to be competitive to land other health care facilities and that specific market will dwindle.

“This is natural progress on an interchange that is growing, and I think you have to allow it to grow in this respect.”

Council will vote on the proposal during an upcoming meeting.

Contact Bruce Walton at 329-7123 or bwalton@chroniclet.com.



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