Valley View asks city voters to vacate two streets for expansion
Valley View Hospital officials are asking Glenwood Springs voters to vacate sections of 19th Street and Palmer Avenue so the hospital can proceed with a $32 million expansion project.
The special election will be held Tuesday, Sept. 24, at the new Glenwood Springs City Hall, 101 W. 8th St. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. The voter registration deadline has passed.
The hospital is seeking voter approval to take over a 568-foot-long the portion of 19th Street east, or uphill, of Blake Avenue, and a 350-foot stretch of Palmer Avenue adjacent to the hospital.
Nineteenth Street would remain open between Grand and Blake avenues.
Voters will be asked one question of whether to vacate the 19th Street segment and a second question whether to vacate the Palmer Avenue segment.
The hospital board decided to ask the question at a special election because they feared the questions would get lost in the lengthy general election ballot on Nov. 5, and could be turned down if voters didn’t take time to learn about the issue.
The expansion plan calls for a new two-lane L-shaped street to be built around the north and east sides of Valley View’s Medical Office Building, linking with the existing Palmer Avenue near the Sunnyside Retirement Center. Motorists will be able to get to the road from Blake Avenue or from 21st Street.
“It will give us more of a campus, without having a road in the middle,” said Gary Brewer, Valley View chief executive officer, of the street closures.
Instead, the new street will form a ring around the medical campus, linking parking lots for patients and hospital staff. It will be a private street built to city standards. Valley View will also re-route city electric lines along the new street, and create a new access road for city electric crews to reach the city’s electrical substation uphill from the hospital.
A stub end of 19th Street, just east of Blake Avenue, would remain open for ambulances to access the new emergency room entrance, and for patients using the west parking lot at the new Medical Office Building and the loop drive up to the hospital lobby.
Vacating 19th Street will make room for hospital expansion, while vacating part of Palmer Avenue will make room for additional hospital parking.
A new, two-story section of the hospital is planned to be
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built out from the hospital and onto what is now the upper part of 19th Street. The first floor will host a new emergency room and radiology department, more than twice as big as the present facilities. The second floor will make room for a greatly expanded Family Birthplace, with five private delivery rooms.
Uphill from the hospital, new parking lots will add 187 spaces. Other spaces will be lost to create the new connecting road, but Valley View expects to come out of the project with about 125 more parking spaces than it currently has.
“We’ll have ample parking once we get this done,” Brewer said.
In cooperation with St. Stephen’s Catholic Church, which owns the land on the northwest corner of 19th and Blake, Valley View’s project will also properly align the 19th and Blake intersection.
Brewer said church officials have agreed to give up eight feet of land along Blake Avenue so the street can go straight across 19th. The intersection will become a four-way stop, and will be much safer for motorists and pedestrians, he said.
Road work starts this fall
If voters approve the two street vacation requests, the hospital will start grading and paving work on the new parking lots and street this fall. The parking lots should be open before winter, said Mike Biles, Valley View’s director of facilities management.
But the new street won’t be ready for paving until next spring, he said, so the vacated streets are expected to remain open until early summer 2003.
Biles expects to break ground on the hospital expansion in June 2003, and that’s when the vacated street segments would be closed.
The work is to be done by R.J. Griffin of Nashville, Tenn., which specializes in hospitals. The company also built Valley View’s new clinic in Silt as a test run of the partnership, Brewer said.
Funding for the $32 million project will come from private revenue bonds issued by Valley View, which is a private, nonprofit organization.
“We are not trying to be lavish,” Brewer said. “We want to build a nice hospital that meets the community’s needs.
“Every nickel we are spending is going into patient care and expanding our patient services,” he said.
The project is the result of two years of planning. An earlier expansion plan was rejected, and Valley View’s board of directors has settled on a multi-phase plan that will allow the hospital to grow in its current location to meet the medical needs of the area for many more decades.
There simply isn’t any other place where the hospital could go, Biles said.
So, for example, the foundation for the new building will be engineered and built so it could support as many as six floors.
Brewer said he doesn’t expect it to go beyond three floors, but feels strongly that long-term growth capacity should be built in to the new facility.
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