BELGRADE, Mont. - Bozeman Deaconess Hospital is reevaluating plans for a Belgrade Health Park. This time, they say they'll take into account the change in access the new East Belgrade Interchange will bring.
Hundreds of people pass a sign on Jackrabbit Lane every day. The sign says "Future Home of Belgrade Health Park."
Bozeman Deaconess has had plans for the land for years. We called the Belgrade Planning Department to find out what happened to those plans.
Belgrade City Planner Jason Karp showed us the hospital's initial plans for the Belgrade Health Park.
The hospital first bought the land on Jackrabbit in 2004. In 2005, they "did some zone changes out there to accommodate that type of project," says Karp.
It changed the land from commercial and light manufacturing property into B2 medical land. They also got a conditional use permit for building height relaxation. But in September of 2007, Bozeman Deaconess withdrew.
Since then, Karp says they put in some sidewalks and leveled the site where a Gallatin Equipment building once stood. Other than that, Karp says the hospital has been quiet.
"Have they told you what happened or why?" We asked. "No. My guess is that, when they withdrew in 2007, that's right when the economy went down south," replied Karp.
Belgrade Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Debbie Youngberg says she gets calls about the property all the time.
"It has lots of exposure because it's at one of the busiest corners there on Jackrabbit Lane," explains Youngberg.
Youngberg and Karp agree, the property is in a prime location with great access to I-90. Jackrabbit has also been improved and the plot sits less than a mile form the new interchange. It will connect to the East Belgrade Interchange via Alaska Frontage Road. Karp adds, the plot already has access to city water and sewer.
We called folks with Bozeman Deaconess. They tell us they hope to put a plan together sometime next year to expand their existing presence in Belgrade. They say that could include outpatient services like X-rays and a laboratory.
That's good news for folks like Youngberg who say the city needs the Belgrade Health Park.
"It would be nice to have a place where people could go and have X-rays and tests and post and preoperative stuff done instead of having to go clear into the hospital in Bozeman," Youngberg says.
Representatives with Bozeman Deaconess say they could begin building as early as next year.