Old ParkView could be razed year from now

Published 12:00 am Saturday, September 21, 2002

[09/20/02]The former ParkView Regional Medical Center could be demolished a year from now if the owners cannot strike a deal with Alcorn State University.

Mayor Laurence Leyens told about 70 residents of the neighborhood directly north of the hospital complex Thursday night that he has been told by representatives of River Region they will raze the six-story structure if it is not occupied by the school.

He said the main reason cited by the hospital’s owners is the cost of maintaining the property, about $50,000 a month.

“They are prepared to do that for another 12 months, but after 12 months, they’re prepared to demolish it,” Leyens said.

Representatives of River Region and from Alcorn, which has its main campus in Lorman, had been invited to the Wildwood Association’s annual meeting Thursday, but were unable to attend, said David Gibson, vice-president of the association. Gibson said he had been in recent contact with Dr. Clinton Bristow, president of Alcorn, who assured him that plans for an expanded program in Vicksburg are moving forward, but have been delayed.

“They have not given up on the site,” Gibson said.

Bristow and other Alcorn officials, who a spokesman in his office said have been evaluating the project, were not available this morning.

“We’re still speaking with Alcorn and are open to negotiations with other entities,” River Region spokesman Diane Gawronski said of plans for the building.

“We’re trying to not leave it abandoned. Our engineering department attends to it on a daily basis. It is not being ignored.”

Leyens said River Region wants to transfer ownership but Alcorn doesn’t want the entire facility.

Leyens said one plan being considered is creating a non-profit organization that would own the building and lease a portion to Alcorn while seeking tenants for the rest. But, Leyens also stressed that city government could do little except encourage the deal.

“As a city, I feel a responsibility to guard over that good intent,” Leyens said. “I will continue to work in a positive way with the hospital to come up with a positive outcome.”

Built as Mercy Hospital in 1957, the hospital on Grove Street served most of Vicksburg and the surrounding communities until February when the new River Region Medical Center opened on U.S. 61 North.

Street Clinic and Marian Hill, a chemical dependency treatment center, are still in active use at the site, but the largest portion is empty and fenced off to keep vandals away.

Leyens said that if ParkView is torn down, plans are to leave the property as a park-like setting.

When plans were announced in January for Alcorn to possibly begin classes there, officials said they expected classes to start this year. Gibson said plans are now for classes to start in September 2003.

Programs planned for the campus in Vicksburg include computer science and physician-assistant courses.

Founded in 1871, Alcorn was the nation’s first state-supported black university. Today the school, with its branch campus in Natchez, has a total enrollment of about 3,100.

When the new hospital construction was announced, the corporate parents, Quorum Inc. of Nashville, pledged the old hospital would not be allowed to become derelict. That pledge was picked up when Quorum sold to the present provider of most medical services in Vicksburg, Dallas-based Triad Inc.

Triad’s second hospital, Vicksburg Medical Center on North Frontage Road, known today as River Region West, also no longer operates as an acute-care facility but is used as a geriatric treatment center. Vicksburg Clinic, which is adjacent to it, also remains in full use.