Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Carilion Not Interested In Disputed Land, Exec Says

Carilion CEO Ed Murphy with CFO Nancy Agee: Not interested^

When a Roanoke Times headline bellowed, "Court to let private land be seized for Carilion site" Nov. 18, I cringed and wondered just how much was wrong with the headline and the story that accompanied it.

Apparently, quite a bit.

The top of the story tells us that a circuit court judge ruled that The Roanoke Redevelopment and Housing Authority can condemn land near the expanded Carilion Clinic and Virginia Tech-Carilion med school. The strong suggestion is that Carilion wants the land and will go to any length to get it.

Apparently, nobody took the time to ask Carilion executives if that is the case. "We have no interest whatsoever in that piece of property," says Chief Financial Officer Nancy Agee. "We have much higher priorities for the limited discretionary funds we have available."

The story says the "ruling clears the way for the first seizure of property for the Riverside Center, a gleaming business park and medical school being constructed" and stresses that "the case pitted a small business against the region's corporate giant and a city government entity." David vs. Goliath, so to speak.

Not so, says Agee, pointing out that her sympathies lie with the people who own the land, Stephanie Burkholder and her husband, Jay. There is a flooring business on the site. Agee says she is opposed to condemnation of private property in a case like this. "I have told the city [Housing Authority] to just let it drop, that we aren't interested in the property," she says.

The Burkholders have reportedly been offered $1 million for the property by the authority, but turned it down as too low. "It's worth about half that," says Agee, "and I think we need to simply state that we're not interested in it. I'd just like to see the process stopped."

The story makes this accusation: "The Burkholders have contended that Carilion and the city colluded on a project they both benefited from financially, struck a deal in private, and then had the housing authority do their bidding." Agee says that isn't true and I'm inclined to believe her.

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