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WHITE TOWNSHIP: Indiana optometrists plan move, expansion

by on January 15, 2014 10:49 AM

Plans are in place for a longtime Indiana Borough eye doctors’ office to move to White Township and those plans include a larger, expanded facility, additional services and a name change.

The practice of optometrists Dr. Keith Hilliard and Dr. Charles Tarnoff will move in a year from its location at 120 S. Seventh St. to a 2-acre property at 945 Indian Springs Road. The practice has been housed at the Seventh Street site since at least the 1960s, Hilliard said this morning.

White Township planning commission members approved the final site plan Tuesday, pending a highway occupancy permit and a storm water maintenance agreement.

Workers might break ground as early as May. Some work to clear brush on the lot has already begun, according to township officials.

The new 5,000-square-foot optometry facility should open in January 2015, Hilliard said. He sees the move as a chance to grow.

“Our practice has been here for about 50 years, at the same location, I just felt it was time to,” he said. “It’s starting to limit our growth and expansion.”

Hilliard said the $1.1-million project has been in the works since 2010. He credits the property’s former owner, Joe Canton, of Homer City, with making the move possible.

“If it wasn’t for him, none of this would have been able to take place,” he said.

The medical practice’s new home will be across the road from the White Township Municipal building.

In addition to offering more space, the location is a high-traffic one and offers convenience, Hilliard said. Free parking for patients and staff was a priority, as was a peaceful site.

“It’s a beautiful 2-acre wooded lot, so we kind of want to make it serene, like a spa setting,” he said. “We just felt it was a prime location.”

The new medical office will more than triple the space of the practice’s current 1,600-square-foot office, Hilliard said.

Designed by Collegeville-based Eye Designs, which specializes in eye care offices, the facility will include a separate children’s area staffed with a babysitter.

Within the first year at the new location, Hilliard said he plans to bring on board a specialist in pediatric care and traumatic brain injury. Hilliard’s partner, Tarnoff, will be retiring at the end of 2014, after 40 years.

Down the road, the optometrist plans to add a laser center to the practice. He is also on staff at the TLC Eye Center in Pittsburgh and is a fellow of the American Academy of Optometry.

“Our vision statement is to provide world-class eye care and we just can’t do a lot of things we want to do in our current location,” he said.

Before the move takes place, it’s likely the practice will take on its new name — Indian Springs Eye Associates — so patients can become accustomed to the change.

“I think the main point is we want to provide world-class service to our patients,” Hilliard said. “I think this facility’s going to allow us to do that.”

Hilliard, a Homer City native and Indiana University of Pennsylvania graduate, has worked at his practice since he graduated from optometry school in 1998.

In other business:

• The planners approved a final minor subdivision request from Indiana Regional Medical Center for land that will be home to a sign designed to increase the hospital’s visibility. According to hospital officials, the digital marquee at IRMC’s main entrance will go a long way toward helping individuals identify where the hospital is located.

“There’s (currently) no presence at the end of the driveway,” hospital spokesman Mark Richards said today, adding that the sign will dress the area up a bit.

The sign will take between four and six weeks to build and could go up in a couple of months, he said.

The 1.074-acre lot at South Sixth Street and IRMC Drive is in the process of being sold to the hospital from Kovalchick Salvage Corp., according to township officials.

Planning commission members approved the subdivision with the condition that nothing but the sign would be built on the grounds.

IRMC had proposed the sign in March 2013, according to Chris Anderson, assistant borough manager, who discussed the project Tuesday with the planners. The hospital at that time was seeking an area to lease.

• Planning commission members also reorganized at Tuesday’s meeting, reappointing Robert Begg as chairman and Edward J. Onuscheck as vice chairman.

Planning commission review meetings will continue to be held at 8:30 a.m. on the first Wednesday of the month, with the exception of October, when the meeting will be at 8:30 a.m. on Oct. 8.

The planning commission will hold its regular meetings at 7:30 p.m. on the second Tuesday of each month except in November. Because the Veterans Day holiday falls on the second Tuesday of that month, the meeting will be moved to Nov. 10.

All meetings will take place at the White Township Municipal Building, 950 Indian Springs Road.

Julie E. Martin is a staff writer for the Indiana Gazette. Among her assignments are coverage of the Apollo-Ridge School and Penns Manor Area school districts and also White Township.
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