Haley, Shrubtown, mischaracterized West Sub neighbors' concerns

Opinion

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As a member of the Steering Committee of the East Central Neighborhood association, I would like to make some clarifications. This association was recently formed. While its genesis may have been jump-started by the planned renovation and expansion of West Suburban Hospital, it is not the only issue being addressed.

I'm not quite sure where Dan Haley found his information for his column two weeks ago ("West Sub debate comes full circle"), but this is not the impression I have received from this group. His characterization of the association in his column was highly inaccurate and I can only describe the Shrubtown editorial cartoon as intentionally inflammatory. One person's opinions are not representative of the entire group. I have found the members to be quite thoughtful and open to future meaningful dialogue.

The original notification by the hospital to the surrounding neighbors was that the abandoned building on its property would be torn down in two days. While that process has obviously been delayed and the building still stands, there has been no further communication from the hospital. Speculation of course is inevitable. In the light of no information, conjecture is a natural occurrence. But it is all conjecture at this point. The formation of an association is quite normal in this type of circumstance. There is no further implication until there are facts on the table.

When I moved into my home nine years ago I obviously recognized that there was a hospital directly to the east. I weighed the disadvantages of having a parking lot directly behind my property. I decided that the impact was not great enough to derail the purchase of my home. There have been occasional car alarms and truck noise, but it has not been anything unexpected.

While I concluded a parking lot in my back yard was appropriate, a large building on the same lot would change those implications. An emergency room on that space would greatly change the impact on the surrounding neighborhood. While I don't know for sure if that is one of the possibilities being considered, it is certainly the worst case scenario.

Mr. Haley stated that some members of the group are opposed to the $10 to $15 million-dollar investment in a new ER. I for one have no opposition to improvements. My concern is for the quality of life I now enjoy in my little piece of Oak Park. Also, while I realize there are other residents of East Central Oak Park, I believe those of us most directly affected by the hospital expansion have a stronger reason for concern.

Lori Portnoy

Oak Park

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