Cortez City Council members on Tuesday decided that a planned metal building on the campus of Southwest Memorial Hospital needed to be more visually appealing.
They approved a revised site development plan that will require builders to include more trees and a stucco skirt around the planned ambulance bay and operations facility, at the corner of Cottonwood Drive and Dr. E.E. Johnson Drive, northwest of the hospital’s helipad.
The council passed the resolution approving the plans in a 6-1 vote, with councilman Tom Butler voting no. Mayor Karen Sheek said the council had worked hard the past several years to promote beautification of the city.
“Curb appeal is really important,” Sheek said. “All of us need to do our part to keep moving forward.”
In November, county voters approved the hospital district’s request for a limited sales and use tax by a 3-2 margin to help fund a $14.2 million capital improvement project for the 40-year-old medical facility. The 0.4 percent tax – 4 cents per every $10 – would be applied to money spent in Montezuma County but would exclude certain items like most food purchased in grocery stores, prescription drugs, residential utilities and nonlicensed farm equipment. Construction was expected to start in March.
The ambulance and operations complex will feature two parts: a 5,400-square-foot ambulance bay and 4,800-square-foot operations facility, which includes offices and meeting rooms. The ambulance bay will contain a service garage, as well as four large overhead doors, said project architect George Matocha.
Hospital representatives said the stucco wasn’t necessary and would be too expensive. Ralph Wagner, a representative of the hospital owners, said stucco would cost about $20,000, which might be better spent on health care concerns than on aesthetics.
“This building won’t be ugly,” Wagner said.
He added that the building’s design plan met city building and planning codes. He said the complex would not be very visible for the general public because it would be hidden by other hospital buildings and would be far away from traffic on Mildred Road. The first priority for the building is to be a practical service garage rather than a beautiful building, he said.
Butler, though, was adamant that a metal building was not consistent with the council’s efforts to beautify the city. Even with more trees and a stucco skirt, he wouldn’t vote for the design plan.
Sheek admitted the issue at hand was “thorny.” Spending money to make the building more beautiful would be worthwhile in the long run, she said. The building’s lifespan would be 50 or more years, according to Matocha.
“Fifty years of ugly is a long time; $20,000 is not a bad price tag (to beautify it).”