Clearing part of abandoned Kuhn site a good step but missing the point

Published 10:00 am Monday, July 27, 2015

It’s been a longtime coming, but the city is preparing to demolish at least a portion of the abandoned Kuhn Memorial Hospital on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.

“There are two buildings on the site, a front building and a back building,” Vicksburg Community Development Director Victor Grey-Lewis said Friday. “The roof on the front building is starting to collapse and with that, it gives us an opportunity in working with DEQ and (the Mississippi Department) of Archives and History to initiate legal action to take that building down.”

The smaller building on the south side of the property is in better shape and isn’t in the portion of the order the city should receive during its first board meeting in August. While removing the front building is a positive step to clearing the property, we don’t think it fully follows the mission the Board of Mayor and Aldermen set out to accomplish.

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On July 6, the board put the building under the city’s slum clearance ordinance in the aftermath of the abduction and killing of 69-year-old Sharen Wilson, whose body was found June 28 on the Kuhn property.

But when Wilson’s killer drove her to the abandoned hospital, it was the second building, not the one slated for demolition, where her life was ended brutally.

It was also in the back building where ghost hunters where investigating when they found Wilson’s body and the gruesome crime scene.

In the days following Wilson’s death when we went to investigate the hospital grounds, it was the back building that we discovered was full of beer cans and trash. Certainly the front building set for the wrecking ball is also full of trash, but we imagine it’s aging and faded.

Anyone with a scrap of sense knows not to go in there because the ceiling is collapsing and it’s contaminated with asbestos and mold. Wilson’s killer obviously knew.

In the coming days, as the front portion of Kuhn is torn to the ground, the view from Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard will get a lot nicer. But will it be enough? No.

The city must do what it takes to bring down the remainder of Kuhn sooner rather than later.