CARBONDALE -- Plans for an empty hospital in Carbondale have neighbors lining up on both sides of the debate.
A private company wants to turn Marian Community Hospital in Carbondale into a drug and alcohol treatment facility.
The closing of Carbondale's only hospital caused controversy back in 2012. Now, almost two years later proposed plans for Marian Community's old building are also stirring up controversy.
Officials with the hospital sent neighbors notes last week telling them that a private company, Just Believe Recovery Center in Florida, is interested in buying the old hospital. The company handles drug and alcohol treatment.
That's something Robert Cecere knows a lot about. He's 22 years sober, but thinks plans for the hospital are a positive move for those who are not as lucky.
"People like us need a place to go. The programs, the fellowship, A.A. or N.A. I think it's a good move," Cecere said.
The company needs to go in front of the Carbondale zoning board to get approval for the plans. So, a treatment center here could be far off.
"I think the way Carbondale is now, we could use it, because there's a lot of people out there that need treatment," added neighbor Bernice Viccaro.
Carbondale city officials said reaction to the plans has not all been positive. The zoning officer said more than a dozen people have called the city to protest.
Marian Community Hospital has been closed for nearly two years. There's a doctor's office on the property. But, the main hospital building has been empty all that time. Some neighbors think that is more troubling than any potential new tenants.
"I think it's obviously reassuring that the building will be occupied by a professional company. Regardless of what it does. I think that some people could have a negative connotation because it's drug and alcohol treatment, but it doesn't bother me," said Melanie Andreoli-Carpenetti.
Whatever the opinion, Carbondale city residents can voice it at the zoning board hearing Wednesday night at city hall.