MATTHEWS – Town leaders will reach out to state representatives for legislative help in securing a longer lease for the Matthews Free Medical Clinic.
The clinic moved into town-owned property on South Trade Street in 2013, but to continue staying there past the end of its 10-year lease would most likely require an upset bid process, according to Town Attorney Charles Buckley.
The concern is that another entity could bid a higher amount than the reduced rate the clinic is paying for the lease, leaving the charity in a bind to find another place.
“At this stage in the game, the Matthews Free Medical Clinic has no intention of wanting to relocate or move but in order to do so, it’s a 24- to 36-month process out front – finding a space, upfitting a space, finding vacant land and building something,” Commissioner John Urban told colleagues during the Jan. 27 meeting.
Urban also serves on the clinic’s board of directors. The nonprofit serves low-income, uninsured patients in Mecklenburg and Union counties.
“I agree with the value that the Matthews Free Medical Clinic adds to our town,” Commissioner Barbara Dement said. “I don’t want us to ever lose that.”
Buckley said state law prohibits the town from renewing the lease beyond 10 years; however, he recalled how state lawmakers granted Matthews authority to enter a 99-year lease with the Matthews Chamber of Commerce at the train depot.
“That may be the most viable way because then you can guarantee who it is you are leasing it to and don’t have to go through the upset bid process,” Buckley said.
Commissioner Larry Whitley liked the idea of talking with state legislators. He reminded commissioners that they are scheduled to go to Raleigh in April. The board agreed on that approach.
Urban cautioned them not to let the issue lag more than a year because the clinic would face a compressed time frame to negotiate, upfit and move into a new space.
Support the clinic
The Matthews Free Medical Clinic holds its 16th annual golf tournament April 27 at Raintree Country Club. Registration costs $150 per player. Sponsorships are available at 704-841-8882.