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Not in our neighborhood

Not in our neighborhood Not in our neighborhood

Forty to 50 people filled the Corydon Town Hall Monday night to tell town planners they are not happy about the location Harrison County Hospital officials have selected for a new hospital and medical office building: their neighborhood.
They objected to the prospect of increased traffic on inadequate roads in the area, which have been the scene of many bad accidents. They cited increased dangers to children who play there; more noise (especially sirens and helicopter ambulances); decreased land values, and loss of quietude, which they thought they had obtained when they bought homes in a subdivision. Several people said the rock trucks from the quarry nearby drive too fast in the area.
Others wondered if the new hospital plans would bring a new interchange on Interstate 64. And if that happened, they said, it would almost guarantee more changes and and bring even more development.
Two architects presented the hospital’s “conceptual” plans for a state-of-the-art, 155,000-square-foot hospital and a three-story medical office building on a 34-acre site south of I-64, west of the Corydon-Ramsey Road and east of S.R. 337. HCH now has 90,000 square feet on 11 acres.
Hospital CEO Steve Taylor said his board has been looking for a site for 10 years, and this is one of the two best they have found in and around Corydon. The other, ironically, is a few yards away: on the opposite side of Corydon-Ramsey Road, on property owned by New Albany developer Bob Lynn, who is anxious to sell 34 commercially zoned acres to the hospital.
Appeals board member Dr. Len Waite pointed out that if the hospital officials wanted to build there, they would not have to come before the appeals board for a variance because the land is already zoned commercial.
That property is just north of Lynn’s Homestead Manor North First Addition, which has 87 residential lots now being developed, and Homestead Manor, which opened a few years ago with 66 lots.
Taylor said HCH is landlocked in south Corydon on Atwood Drive, off S.R. 337. He said the majority of the medical staff is convinced the hopsital needs new modern facilities, and must offer more diverse services in order to survive.
Taylor said their preliminary plan, presented by architects Bob Walker and Tom Millea, calls for no appreciable increase in the number of beds, about 55, but additional space would be required for the hugely increased outpatient and ER services that a growing community requires.
The hospital has purchased options with the two landowners, Paul J. Scharf and Beryl J. Yetter, while Jewish Hospital has taken an option on land behind Cowboy’s food mart in north Corydon, at the intersection of S.R. 135 and Quarry Road.
Taylor said consultants are busy studying the I-64 interchange idea, but, even if a new interchange were designed for S.R. 337 or Gethsemane Road, it could be five or 15 years away.
The new site would enable one to get to the hospital by many routes, but one of the main ones would be a four-lane road that will be built on Lynn’s land between S.R. 135 and the Corydon-Ramsey Road.
Right now, the hospital board and administrators want the hospital to remain county-owned, locally-controlled, and non-profit. Jewish Hospital of Louisville, in conjunction with a few local doctors, has expressed an interest in partial ownership and providing management expertise and financial suport for any expansion plans. Other Louisville hospitals and national hospital chains may also be interested in partnering with HCH or even building their own medical buildings here, Taylor has said.
The neighbors spoke at the plan commission appeals board meeting, at which hospital officals sought a variance to build in an R1 area. Appeals board chair Steve Kitterman announced ground rules early on made sure the meeting was orderly and everyone got a chance to speak, as long as it wasn’t repetitious.
Dave Bennett of Sky Park Drive presented a petition against the hospital plans, objecting to expected noise, traffic and hazards to all the children in the “starter-home” subdivisions.
Arthur Turcotte, who lives just south of the Scharf-Yetter property, said he was not contacted in advance about any hospital plans. Richard Gettelfinger, speaking for his elderly father, Paul, 87, who owns property there, said his father was not notified either, and if an advisory sign was put up, they didn’t see it.
Harrison County Hospital treasurer Jeff Davis said notices were sent by mail to adjacent landowners whose names were listed on deeds on file at the courthouse.
Susan Baker has lived on the Corydon-Ramsey Road for three years. She said traffic has picked up, despite the recent installation of a stop light at the intersection of S.R. 337 and the Corydon-Ramsey Road. “People run it all the time,” Baker said. There is also a deaf child area there. “That (hospital) doesn’t need to be in our neighborhood,” she said.
Maureen Fey-Lawson, who grew up on that intersection, said her parents wouldn’t let her play on the yard there because it was so dangerous.
Michelle Dayvault said she and her husband moved their family to their dream home to get away from bad roads, and now they were looking at dropping property values and new intersections.
Melvin Delaney, whose wife, Kathy, was critically injured when her car was knocked into a house at the same intersection, said no commercial business belongs there. In addition, the wooded buffer on the south side of the hospital would probably disappear when the hospital wanted to expand, and he said the funding for the hospital plans is by no means assured.
Taylor said many people view having a hospital in their neighborhood as a plus. Land values often go up, not down. Planner Patricia Timberlake said she was not taking sides but she lived for many years next to HCH and appreciated the proximity when her children had an emergency. She said the helicopter and ambulance noise never bothered her. “Harrison County Hospital was the best neighbor I ever had,” she said. Waite echoed her comments about noise.
It was noted that even with 34 or more acres, the hospital would still be “landlocked” on the new site. Taylor said 34 acres would be adequate.
He said he could not ever recall an accident on Atwood Drive, even though it’s narrow and windy, and many people use it everyday, from ambulances and delivery trucks to hospital visitors and student drivers from nearby Corydon Central High School.
Gettelfinger said the topography of the Karst terrain land may not lend itself to hospital development, and, because it’s a county hospital, “It’s our money.” He suggested that the appeals board table the matter and check out alternate sites.
Waite said, “It has to be tabled,” and he made the motion to do that, which the board approved unanimously.
Taylor said Tuesday morning that “building up” at the present location is almost impossible, and access would still be a major problem. The cost of renovating the buildings and bringing heating, plumbing and electrical systems up to code would be prohibitively expensive, as would building a new road in from S.R. 135.
“This is not a place for a modern day hospital.” Taylor said.