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Akron City Council to hold special meeting on proposal to donate steam plant to hospital

By Stephanie Warsmith Published: August 26, 2013

Akron City Council will hold a special meeting at noon Friday to discuss a proposal to put an issue on the November ballot donating the city's downtown steam-heating and cooling system to Akron Children's Hospital.

No other items will be discussed at the meeting, which is being held while council is on its summer break.

Mayor Don Plusquellic last week proposed giving the system to Children's, which would then find a permanent owner or operator for the plant.

William Considine, the hospital's president and chief executive, said Children's needs assurances that the downtown district heating system with a troubled past can continue to meet the heating needs for the hospital's expanding campus in the future. The hospital could build its own steam plant, but the city-owned plant likely would have a tough time serving other businesses without Children's as its major customer.

Under its charter, the city can't sell any public-owned utility to another operator or enter a long-term operational lease without voter approval.

The steam plant provides heating and cooling to more than 50 downtown businesses and locations. Other major customers include Akron General Medical Center, Canal Place, City Hall and the Summit County offices.

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