My wife, our two young daughters, and I live on Humphrey Avenue, immediately across from the proposed new emergency facility at West Suburban Hospital.
While we oppose the proposed expansion, largely due to what we believe have been West Suburban’s repeated, misleading statements and failure to truly incorporate the concerns of the neighborhood into its plans, we would like to share our thoughts regarding not only reconciling the hospital’s needs with the concerns of the neighbors, but also minimizing the impact of the construction and future use of any new facility. Most of these concerns can be resolved simply by creating a “closed” hospital campus.
In that regard, we have urged and continue to urge the village board to mitigate the impact on our residential neighborhood by requiring the following from the hospital:
1) Provide meaningful, substantive alternatives orienting any new facility toward the hospital campus. Despite its claims to the contrary, the hospital has never provided such alternatives for discussion with its neighbors, but apparently merely wishes to shift all the issues related to its emergency room away from its campus. The neighborhood already bears, and will continue to bear, the burden of noise, lights, traffic, and people 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
If this facility truly is needed by West Suburban, and if the hospital is truly acting in good faith, then let the hospital, as a good neighbor, share the burden. It is far more reasonable and responsible for the ingress/egress of a hospital emergency room to occur from an already-existing hospital campus, rather than from a residential street. Notably, the hospital’s renderings of the proposed facility have not changed in any material fashion since they were first proposed by the hospital. Moreover, the orientation of the facility currently proposed is the first and only orientation option the hospital has ever provided or explored with the neighbors.
The hospital never opened discussion and review of the orientation of the facility to any real public scrutiny and input. We urge the village board to remedy the absence of meaningful alternatives by requiring the hospital to orient the proposed facility toward its other facilities.
2) Provide significant, thorough, and complete landscaping and foliage cover along the boundaries of any new facility to create an actual buffer between any new facility and the neighborhood. The demolition of the home at 209 N. Humphrey, as well as the proposed expansion of the hospital onto the rest of the 200 block, will eliminate the only buffer that now exists between the hospital and its residential neighbors. The only landscaping plans and renderings ever provided by the hospital only provide fairly limited landscaping and foliage. Moreover, the hospital’s plans only note how the trees will appear at full foliage at maturity-that is, in spring/summer 20-30 years+ from now. The board should require significant landscaping (i.e. raised ground levels) of several feet along the borders of any new facility, as well as comprehensive tree and shrubbery foliage (including evergreens) which provide year-round coverage beginning now, not just decades from now. Again, given the burden the neighborhood already bears and will continue to bear, it is not unreasonable to provide for a fair amount of closure to the hospital campus.
3) Meet strict photometric guidelines for the new facility. As early as July, 2006, if not earlier, the hospital promised to provide the neighbors a light study, but has never done so. The board should require independent photometric assessments of any plans for a new facility, setting standards which must be met by the hospital to minimize the additional burden that must be borne by the residential neighbors.
4) Require independent studies of the foregoing requirements. Given that every study provided by the hospital has been severely limited in scope and designed to provide the answer sought by the hospital, the board should condition any approval upon review of thorough, independent studies (i.e. traffic, photometrics).
5) Impose construction requirements upon the hospital to minimize the impact and burden on the neighborhood. Our concerns include fencing, time/day restrictions, and preventing demolition/construction vehicles from parking on residential streets or along our residence.
6) Provide clear review and enforcement procedures should the hospital not abide by any agreements, conditions, or restrictions related to the foregoing.
We invite all of our neighbors and fellow residents of Oak Park to join us in urging West Suburban to be a good neighbor, and in urging the hospital and the village board to take these reasonable, responsible steps to minimize the impact of a new facility on our property and neighborhood.