Hospital expansion needs more scrutiny
The March 11 and 18 public hearings on further expansion of Aspen Valley Hospital by 83,000 square feet have been spirited and rational. You have undoubtedly received a great deal of input and many points of view which, hopefully, will be carefully considered and balanced as you assess the future of this project.
Unfortunately, Phase II of this massive development did not get the in-depth scrutiny that was called for two years ago, and now it is what it is – a disastrous and flawed design with many unresolved problems. But Phase II is still under construction, and this could offer a ray of hope for a more suitable outcome.
You have heard numerous hospital employees and doctors expressing urgent needs and deficiencies, which they feel will be satisfied if phases III and IV are allowed to proceed. You also have heard from the general public that the project is too unattractive, imposing and destructive to the character of Castle Creek Road, the Meadowood subdivision and Twin Ridge as well as views from the roundabout and across the valley.
The prospect of three to four more years of construction is simply untenable. You surely understand by now what Aspen Valley Hospital design and administrative teams want, and, at the same time, it is extremely important that you are hearing the very valid concerns of area residents and the community at large – what must be preserved and what they feel is in jeopardy.
Now, it’s time to go deeper. The scope of this expansion – the environmental impact, the long-range financial feasibility and sustainability, and the ultimate cost to taxpayers – has been repeatedly questioned. Perhaps the future of the project should be assessed by an independent task force comprised of individuals who have the expertise to assist and work with you in determining the right course of action. This task force should include someone who is a hospital-planning specialist who understands our demographics and can assess our actual community health care needs. Even if this has been done, it would be wise to update all such information at this juncture, between phases, where creative changes can be made and financial catastrophe averted.
It seems logical that Phases III and IV be tabled indefinitely, and the unusable portion of the parking garage (set aside and not intended for use until all four phases are complete) be redesigned and configured to accommodate the urgent needs of the emergency room and the decontamination area, etc. We are wondering why addressing these deficiencies did not have a higher priority than 12,000 square feet of office space in the last go round. Perhaps you can get to the bottom of this.
Please rein in and re-examine this potential disaster waiting to happen.
Nancy Tate Hall