Story last updated at 6:26 PM on Jan. 4, 2005
Think outside box for medical facility
Robin Speering

Concerning the medical office building proposed for 1140 Prince Ave., across from Athens Regional Medical Center, let's try thinking outside the box. One suggestion would be to find a location other than Prince Avenue. A possibility might be the old General Time facility on Newton Bridge Road.

There are some advantages, such as revitalizing a part of town that has vacant buildings. The roads and water mains are already there. There is ample space for a new building, and parking would not be a problem. Also, if a new building is built, others will soon follow.

In addition, there is more potential for new property taxes on Newton Bridge Road. And, traffic would be diverted outside the perimeter, rather than toward Prince Avenue and through residential areas. The local economy is moving toward service industries and away from manufacturing. Converting industrial areas to service areas might be the wave of the future.

There is no reason medical services should not be decentralized. There are already doctors' offices off Hawthorne and Oglethorpe avenues. A new building on Newton Bridge Road could form the center for another medical community.

Investments in health and medical services appear to be leading the economy. Converting the Newton Bridge area to medical services could draw more new money into the Athens-Clarke County area than building on Prince Avenue. There is more potential for growth there than on Prince Avenue.

Robin Speering

Published in the Athens Banner-Herald on Wednesday, January 5, 2005