The Washington Adventist Hospital of Takoma Park has once again bypassed its own city government for financial aid and gone instead to the town of Riverdale for a bond issue.
The hospital is asking Riverdale to refinance a $24.4 million loan it received from the city last September.
Takoma Park officials appear to be less disturbed this time than they were last fall, when the hospital applied for the loan without notifying Takoma Park officials.
Riverdale's mayor and Town Council announced last week their intent to sponsor a bond issue up to $29 million for the hospital. Riverdale Town Attorney Robert Shook said part of the additional amount would cover refinancing costs, and other spending would be detailed later in the hospital's formal request.
The council is scheduled to take action on backing the loan May 2. Hospital officials said they wanted to take advantage of current low interest rates.
Takoma Park's mayor, City Council and citizens groups lost a bitter, five-year struggle to save the Washington Sanitarium building that the hospital demolished last December. During the dispute, hospital administrators went unannounced to Riverdale to get what they said at the time was money to pay debts coming due. It later turned out that the loan also included money for demolishing the Sanitarium. City leaders said municipal lending authority was their main tool to bargain with the hospital over its development plans.
At the time Washington Adventist got the loan approval, it gave its sister hospital in Riverdale, Leland Memorial, $17,000, which was turned over to Riverdale as a voluntary payment for police services.
This time, hospital administrators did approach Takoma Park in February about refinancing the debt, but turned to Riverdale when the city hesitated.
City Council member Lynne E. Bradley said the deadline the hospital presented "didn't give us enough time for public hearings, and didn't leave the city enough time to respond. We told them we'd be willing to talk about anything they're interested in, but that we can't do it in this three or four weeks they've given us."