Livingston clinic gets money to expand

LIVINGSTON -- There may be help just around the corner for those in need of better medical serv- ices.

After receiving federal stimulus funding, Livingston Medical Group decided to increase the size of its building so it could add offices, said Donna Kenney, community development director.

"We have two clinics in town, and both of them are severely overcrowded," she said.

It received about $721,000 through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, said Leslie McGowan, director of planning and development for the community-owned nonprofit health center.

The center wants to expand services, and officials are looking at upgrading the building with stimulus money to improve service, she said.

"We are very impacted," McGowan said. "We would probably need a building twice our size for all the services that we actually provide."

Amid increased demand, budget cuts and more people coming in without insurance, the health center needed the federal money that led to the proposed expansion, she said.

But there was one problem.

The medical center is on a site that's not zoned for medical offices.

It's unknown how the medical center ended up there, Kenney said.

After learning this, Livingston Medical Group went to the City Council to obtain a conditional use permit that would allow it to expand. The ordinance passed 4-1 at the June 1 council meeting.

But some issues remain.

The expansion was slated to take place at the medical center's Main Street site, Kenney said.

But opposition from the library next door and the public brought the plan to a halt.

Councilman Frank Vierra said the expansion shouldn't take place at the medical group's current location.

"There is a lot of opposition to reviewing anything or adding on to that current building because it's only going to cause a bigger problem with traffic and congestion," Vierra said at the June 1 meeting.

People who live near the Livingston Medical Group have voiced concerns about parking, said Councilwoman Margarita Aguilar.

The latest plan is to relocate the medical center to a vacant lot next to Campus Park Elementary School, Kenney said.

The medical center needs one more vote from the City Council to get its conditional use permit. The next step would be to secure financing for the new site, Kenney said.

The city would have to help with transferring the land from the school to the Livingston Medical Group.

It will be at least a couple of years before ground is broken on a new site, Kenney said.