Phoebe wants woman's home - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Phoebe wants woman's home

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August 17, 2005

Albany-- A 92-year-old Albany woman is being forced out of her home so that Phoebe Putney Hospital can expand again. Not the actual hospital, but its employee day care center.

The Hospital Authority has won an eminent domain court battle to take the house.

Julia Lemon has rented a modest house at 303 Fourth Avenue for 23 years. It's her home. But Phoebe Putney Hospital wants to tear down the house and build a daycare center.

The house has been condemned and Julia Lemon must now find another place to live, but her landlord isn't giving up her legal battle against the giant hospital.

Lemon worked as a nurse at Phoebe Putney Hospital in the 1960s. But now her former employer has won a court fight to make her move. "No, it's not right. No, I don't think it's right." Lemon said. "No, but money talks."

Lemon rents a duplex on Fourth Avenue owned by Julie Montgomery. Next door is the hospital's child development center. Phoebe wants to enlarge the center, and they want the land the duplex is on.

Phoebe Spokesperson Jackie Ryan said "It's a very key recruitment and retention tool for Phoebe, to always make sure we have the finest employees, professionals delivering health care."

Ryan says the hospital has tried several times to buy the home, and had to use eminent domain as a last resort. Now they say they will help Lemon move. "Work with the tenants to relocate them. To pay for moving. To pay for social work conselling if that was needed," Ryan said.

Homeowner Julie Montgomery's lawyer said the Child Center will not be used for public purpose, which would violate the eminent domain statute. But the State Court of Appeals turned downed their objection to the condemnation order.

Lemon said she can't find a new home she likes as well. "Not as large as this one, no. They don't make them now."

Her landlord says the home is worth at least $84,000. An assesor said it was worth $55,000. The court's special master ruled Montgomery will be paid $68,500 for the property.

Lemon said "I get tired of that bickering. This way and that way and all."

All Julia Lemon wants is to be able to stay in the house that she's called home for almost a quarter-century.

The State Court of Appeals refused to hear the home owner's certificate of need appeal. Now Montgomery's lawyer plans to file a direct notice of appeal to the State Court so that it will be heard.

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