Speaking before a group of 120 interested residents Tuesday in a forum at the Havre de Grace Community Center, Upper Chesapeake CEO Lyle Sheldon said Havre de Grace will have a new state-of-the-art hospital.
Sheldon said the journey started five years ago, and it may carry even longer into the future.
"We're not sure today if this is a five-year project, a 10-year project or even a 15-year project," Sheldon. "We're not sure what the timing of this project is. We're working with the city and with City Council on that timing but, again, we're not sure if ground-breaking is two or five years away. But we do know unless we get started with the planning, the water and sewer departments, and with the zoning requirements, it will never get started."
Sheldon also touched on whether or not the hospital would become a trauma center and explained that with Maryland already having five amazing trauma centers in the area, it would be better to focus on primary and secondary types of services with a main focus on outpatient care.
Paul Muddiman, Vice President of Morris & Ritchie Associates, Inc.—the engineering firm for the project—discussed possible layouts for the new campus. He said it may include a coffee shop, pharmacy, convenience store with gas pumps and other office buildings for medical and treatment services.
Muddiman also described a picturesque setting of the hospital grounds with available walking trails, ponds with overlooks, and "great curb appeal".
Shannon Kraus, Senior Vice President of HKS architects and the lead designer on this project, also helped build the Bel Air facility and was pleasantly surprised with the turnout of residents.
"We will try to listen to the community, listen to the staff, listen to the client and shape this facility that meets their needs going forward," said Kraus. "You've got one shot to put your stake in the ground and set yourself in a new course for the next 100 years."
Muddiman said the project, which would occupy 20 acres of the acquired 97 acquires of land, would be built in phases—the first of which could be complete around 2016. Phase two has a target date of 2019, phase three in 2021, an phase four in 2025 or beyond.
Kraus said each phase would be built to stand alone, in the event that other phases were not completed.
One resident asked if the expansion of Bulle Rock Parkway and Route 155 would take place immediately or during future phases of construction?
Glenn Cook, Vice President of the Traffic Group, answered all traffic related questions, and said they would need to add two more lanes at the intersection of Bulle Rock Parkway and MD Route 155 to help with better traffic flow.
"The improvements are being phased as development is being phased, but the improvements will be in place when that segment or that phase of the property is developed. So the improvements will be there as the need is there," Cook said.
The proposed helicopter pad has also been a concern for local residents, fearing the noise and constant use would disrupt the quiet neighborhood currently surrounding the planned development.
Sheldon addressed this issue and explained how the helicopter would utilize the hospitals close access to I-95.
"Helicopter flight paths, unless they are picking someone up in an accident, almost always use the interstates as their visual highways. They fly along the interstate paths and then come off usually at right angles. So we've got a great airway access for the helicopter that might come," he said.
Sheldon expects around three helicopter flights a month, explaining that it would be merely used for "pick up, grab and go" purposes.
During a recent City Council meeting, residents of The Paddocks outlined some concerns regarding light and sound as it pertained to the hospital and its proximiity to their residences.
City Council may vote on the zoning ordinance for the hospital at its next meeting—set for Aug. 6.
Harford Memorial Hospital, located at the corner of Union Avenue and Revolution Street, sits on about four acres of downtown land and is Harve de Grace's largest employer. The hospital, on average, treats over 100,000 patients a year.
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