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Stroger to board: You must obey me; old hospital must go

Tuesday, January 27, 2004
Special to
by Chinta Strausberg

When the Cook County Board approved the building of a new hospital, it also agreed to tear down the old facility, President John Stroger Jr. said Sunday reminding his board of its legal responsibility.

"When we went before the city, the Medical District and the state, the conditions that we were able to get a permit to build the new hospital (now named the John H. Stroger Jr. Hospital) were that we would demolish the old hospital."

He said at that time there were questions about open space and other considerations.
Reading from a letter written to the board from Christopher Hill of the Chicago Planning Department, Stroger said:"the city agreed to issue the super-structure permit approval with the understanding that the county would approve the demolition of the existing hospital."

Stroger said the board went to the state and made those types of agreements."
Referring to the battle between two board members who have sided with preservationists who want a hotel or other projects in the old hospital, Stroger said during an interview on V-103 Cliff Kelley show: " We need that land.

" We don't need to built a hotel on the Medical District land, which was allocated for medical programs."
A 2,000 car garage and additional office space for physicians are needed, Stroger emphasized. The board must comply with the open space provision, he continued.

Stroger said a group of preservationists wants the board to save the Cook County Hospital "because of historical significance, but that was never a part of the agreement when we went forth to try and get the permit to build" a new hospital.

Making it clear, Stroger explained that the preservationists can not get a permit to build a hotel or residences.

" They keep talking about building. They've had beautiful plans drawn up, but it would have cpst nearly $200 million and nobody has the money."

And the stalemate on the board over voting to tear down the old county hospital is costing taxpayers from $400,000 to $500,000 a month, Stroger said.

Referring to the time when the old Provident Hospital closed, Stroger said:" because the hospital was inactive because nobody was taking care of it, it cost us nearly $38 million just to reopen that small hospital."

"We have to think the whole program out" said Stroger referring to the fate of the old County Hospital."

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