Community gives opinions on ECM future - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Community gives opinions on ECM future

About 50 residents convened to discuss the future of the ECM campus. (Source: WAFF) About 50 residents convened to discuss the future of the ECM campus. (Source: WAFF)
FLORENCE, AL (WAFF) -

Although the new Eliza Coffee Memorial Hospital won't be ready for at least another two years, Florence leaders want to get a head start on what will happen next once the medical staff leaves.

Community members were asked to bring their ideas and opinions to Monday evening's meeting, the first of what local leaders hope will serve as one of many brainstorming sessions.

About 50 people showed up to First Presbyterian Church on Tennessee Street to meet with hospital and city officials. Those who spoke told the committee why they moved to Florence, why they like the area, and their hopes for the future.

Committee chair Van Morgan said it's extremely important for residents and business owners who live and work near the hospital to be a part of these meetings.

"Their quality of life is going to be affected, their property values are going to be affected, it's going to have an impact on the College Street commercial corridor," Morgan said. "Everybody needs to have an idea of what's going to happen and get comfortable with it."

Like many in attendance, resident James Thigpen is pleased with how Monday's meeting went.

"I thought it was very productive; it was a good start," said Thigpen.

"You go up to Nashville and you see new construction," said another resident, James Byrd. "You go down to Birmingham - see new construction. I'd like to see Florence start to grow."

The city's future, though, is bittersweet for Byrd, who lives on the East side where the new ECM facility will one day sit. Like him, many are left in limbo, wanting to know what's going to happen next.

"I need to know if I need to complete the remodeling on my home or just continue to wait, so I'm kind of stuck in this zone," he said.

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