Hamilton County Commission

Tana Weingartner / WVXU

Hamilton County Commissioners officially voted Wednesday to 'close the book' on the idea of using the former Mercy Mt. Airy hospital for a new crime lab.

Coroner Lakshmi Sammarco says she's not satisfied.

"We're very disappointed that the appropriate people weren't brought together to make just the retrofit happen for the crime lab and the morgue in such a way that the current hospital spaces could have been used without costing the tax payers a whole lot of money," Sammarco says.

Hamilton County / Provided

After more than a year of waiting for an answer, the group which owns the former Mercy Mt. Airy hospital site is looking for new options.  

Mercy Health offered to give Hamilton County the former hospital building. The idea was to renovate part of the facility into a crime lab, replacing the county's current cramped outdated one.

But this week, commissioners agreed to decline the offer.

Spokeswoman Nanette Bentley says Mercy Health is already weighing other options.

Hamilton County / Provided

Hamilton County Commissioners are set to turn down an offer to take over the former Mercy Mt. Airy hospital. They'd been considering it to house a new crime lab and possibly other county offices.

While the coroner's office has been in the news a lot lately for being cramped and outdated, it's not the only department with space needs. The county is reviewing its entire building stock.

Even though the former Mercy Mt. Airy site would have been free, renovations would have cost $80 - $100 million. Hamilton County Commissioners say that's just too high.

Sarah Ramsey / WVXU

Hamilton County Commissioners are poised to reject an offer to take over the former Mercy Mt. Airy site.

"With budgetary constraints," says commission president Greg Hartmann, "I just don't think that our move to Mt. Airy is going to be fiscally prudent. I don't think that we can afford to invest $80-100 million, absent a new revenue source, in that facility. Today, I think that we should move on from Mt. Airy."

Commissioners Hartmann and Monzel say even though the building would be free, the renovation costs are too high.

Hamilton County Commissioner Chris Monzel isn't ready to give up on the idea of turning part of the former Mercy Mt. Airy hospital into a new crime lab.

Last week, commission president Greg Hartmann said a vote was likely soon and indicated it didn't look promising.

Monzel says he's trying to find a public/private partnership to make it happen.

Provided / Hamilton County

Hamilton County is preparing to create a Heroin Task Force aimed at curbing the rapidly increasing number of users and overdoses.

Commission President Greg Hartmann announced the effort during his annual State of the County address Thursday.

"Nine thousand heroin addicts came through our jail in 2013," says Hartmann. "There's seven heroin overdoses per day in the City of Cincinnati. I've begun discussions in Columbus. I'm also going to invite the City and our public health experts."

His office later released the following goals for 2015:

Sarah Ramsey / WVXU

Commission President Greg Hartmann delivers the State of Hamilton County address Thursday.

He says the county's finances are doing well, thanks to several years of tight budgets, and cuts.

"Our balance sheet is as good as it has been in the last decade," says Hartmann.  "I think that we're proud of that. It's involved shared sacrifice by many employees of the county."

He also plans to recognize some of those county workers.

Amy Spasoff / Memorial Hall

Update: 02/04/2015

Over-the-Rhine's historic Memorial Hall is ready to undergo major renovations. Hamilton County Commissioners today agreed to enter a development agreement with 3CDC to update and operate the 600-seat performance hall.

All three commissioners voted 'yes' on the project, which includes a $1.5 million contribution from the county.

 

Original post date: 02/02/2015 3:27 p.m.

Memorial Hall in Over-the-Rhine is poised to undergo renovations if Hamilton County Commissioners sign off on the project.

Tana Weingartner / WVXU

An aluminum tile wall in the Hamilton County Justice Center lobby is falling down and ArtWorks has a plan to fix it.

"It's going to cost us the same amount of money to either remediate that wall and paint it white," says Lisa Webb with the county budget office, "or have ArtWorks come in and put a beautiful mural up on the wall."

Webb says the current decorative aluminum tiles are coming off the wall, creating a public safety hazard.

The Sheriff's office, county officials and ArtWorks will soon begin brainstorming ideas to replace the tiles with a painting.

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