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I would like to take this opportunity to respond to the e-article and comments regarding the recent removal of two homes on Laurel Avenue.
First, may I correct some misstatements?1. The home at 1929 Laurel Avenue has been vacant for a number of years. The sale was completed in February after the passing of the owner who had lived for several years in a nursing home out of state.2. The purchase agreement for the home at 1801 Laurel Avenue did not name Fort Sanders Regional as the party responsible for contacting Knox Heritage for removal of historic items. This responsibility fell to the owner of the property. We do not know if that contact was made or not made.3. There have been comments about the timing of the removals. Here are the facts: the removals were completed by a contractor once required permits were obtained; the property at 1929 Laurel was removed on Monday, June 28th; and, the property at 1801 Laurel was removed beginning Thursday, July 1st.
Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center has long been in discussions with the neighborhood association and members of our City Council regarding expansion efforts for our facility. We understand the importance of preserving the historic nature of the neighborhood we share but we must balance that with our responsibility as stewards of our community resource to ensure that our patients receive top notch medical care.
With all this said, we regret the breakdown in communication regarding the removal of these structures. We have called the neighborhood association and expressed our regret directly for not informing them in advance of our intent regarding these homes. We obviously underestimated the value of the homes to the neighborhood. We do not have immediate plans to build on either site and are, instead, planning a green space for use by our employees and the neighborhood.
We hope to continue to work with the neighborhood association and members of the historical preservation community to arrive at mutually beneficial agreements for the future of our neighborhood.
Keith N. AltshulerPresident, Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center