Lorain Port Authority supports VA clinic at LHS site

By Richard Payerchin, The Morning Journal

The Lorain Port Authority will work with Lorain schools and the city to control a site that could become a new veterans clinic.

Meanwhile, the Port also will sponsor this year’s Rockin’ on the River concert series with an extra boost of $5,000.

The Lorain Port Authority board on Jan. 20 held a special meeting to consider an agreement to work with Lorain City Schools to transfer the current Lorain High School to the Port. The Port board voted 6-0 to adopt a resolution allowing Executive Director Rick Novak to work with the city and schools on a property transfer.

The Port control of the LHS site would become part of an “expression of interest” submitted to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs for a new community based outpatient clinic, or CBOC, in Lorain.

The VA is seeking “expressions of interest” for using 20,052 square feet of net usable space for a permanent clinic in Lorain, according to a Jan. 4 notice by the federal agency. Proposals are due Jan. 25 to the federal agency.

The goal of the project with the city and schools is to have a permanent location for the CBOC in Lorain, Novak said.

Details still are in the works for the LHS property, Novak said, but ultimately the Port could take title to the high school, which also is the former Southview High School at 2270 E. 42nd St.

The Port Authority will have no up-front cost because of the resolution, Novak said. The transfer would allow the Port to transfer the land without going out for public bid on the site, he said.

The resolution also shows the Port, Lorain schools and the city are partners in redeveloping Lorain, said Port board President Carl Nielsen.

For months, the city has been looking for ways to keep the community based outpatient clinic, or CBOC, at the St. Joseph Community Center, 205 W. 20th St. in Lorain, or in the city at another location. The VA in October 2015 announced that it signed a lease agreement with Fedcar Co. Ltd. to develop and lease the property located at 5255 N. Abbe Road, Sheffield Village, moving in this year.

On a personal note, Nielsen praised the VA for health care provided to his uncle, the late Homer Nielsen, an Army veteran of World War II who died at age 86.

“If it wasn’t for the VA in Lorain, his quality of life would not have been as good as it was,” Nielsen said. “They were wonderful to him.”

Meanwhile, the Port will commit $5,000 from its marketing budget to support the Rockin’ on the River concert series to be held for the second summer at Black River Landing.

Rockin’ on the River promoter Bob Earley asked the board to consider the financial sponsorship as he negotiates with bands that will appear this year, Novak said.

The Port this year will have a new online system for advance sales of tickets to Rockin’ on the River shows, so the Lorain Port Authority may make back the $5,000, Novak said. The new ticket system is in development but Earley’s goal is to have it go live by March 1, Novak said.

Earley and the weekly shows were “a game-changer for this community,” Novak said, and the board members agreed.

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