Rice Hospital lease gains Planning Commission approval
WILLMAR — The Willmar Planning Commission has signed off on the proposed lease of Rice Memorial Hospital to the new Carris Health.
Under a proposed affiliation that will bring the city-owned hospital and Affiliated Community Medical Center's regional physician group under the umbrella of the new nonprofit subsidiary of CentraCare Health, the hospital would be leased to Carris Health.
The lease was presented to the Willmar Planning Commission during a special meeting Wednesday. The commission is charged by the Willmar Charter to review any lease of city-owned property for a term longer than three years.
Following the presentation and discussion the Planning Commission recommended the Willmar City Council approve the lease agreement, Willmar Planner Megan DeSchepper said.
The proposed agreement would have the city leasing the hospital to Carris Health for a total of 60 years. There is an opportunity for Carris to purchase the hospital after 10 years, as long as certain requirements are met, including that the hospital bonds are paid off and that voters approve the sale in a public referendum.
The lease with Carris Health includes not only the hospital, but Rice Care Center and Rice Home Medical.
"It is all the Rice properties," DeSchepper said.
The Planning Commission looked at the agreement from a purely land use perspective.
"It was to understand the process of the agreement," DeSchepper said.
The one condition the commission raised was in regard to a city-owned parking lot adjacent to First Street South, used by Rice employees. If the city, at some point in the future, decides to develop or sell the land, the Planning Commission would like the city and Carris Health to come up with a plan to replace the lost parking.
DeSchepper said approximately 25 people attended the meeting, held in the Willmar Fire Hall. Those in attendance included Rice leadership and the city attorney. There was no opposition to the plan raised during the meeting, DeSchepper said.
The Willmar City Council will be holding a public meeting at 7 p.m. Nov. 14 at the Kandiyohi County Health and Human Services Building to give residents another opportunity to ask questions and share their comments and concerns about the lease.
A public hearing will then be held Nov. 20 during the regular Willmar City Council meeting. Following the public hearing, the council could decide to vote on the lease agreement.