Hospital issues linger
Editor’s note: The following is an excerpt from the Vail Homeowners Association monthly report. We publish weekly excerpts from the association, which keeps a close eye on economic and political trends in and outside of the town. The newsletter electronic version with links to supporting documents is available at http://www.vailhomeowners.com.
The collapse of the proposed redevelopment of the town of Vail municipal complex site to include a medical office complex linked with the Vail Valley Medical Center has refocused concerns over how future hospital redevelopment will be integrated into the larger community.
Recently, the town and Medical Center have conducted a series of open meetings concerning the Medical Center’s long-term expansion plans. Some who attended those meetings reported, however, that the meetings seemed more like public relations events than efforts to seek common ground with the community. No property owners from the affected neighborhoods were consulted in setting the meeting format or agenda, and matters that had been agreed on earlier in the municipal complex site discussions, such as traffic patterns and helicopter service issues, were ignored.
The Vail municipal complex project’s failure greatly disappointed many of those who live in the surrounding residential neighborhoods who had worked hard to finalize collaborative solutions. As a result of the planning and design work done for the project, it is now known that practical and economically viable solutions that would resolve all of the affected neighborhoods’ public safety and congestion concerns do exist.
There are those who believe the town is backing away from those solutions because of new pushback from hospital and the fear that if redevelopment concessions are not made to the Medical Center, it will make good on its threatened relocation downvalley to be closer to emerging population centers where it has already located some aspects of its operations.
Others say this possibility is exaggerated, if not outright misleading. Vail Valley Medical Center, they say, is adamant that it remain a locally controlled institution.
Critics say that the Vail Town Council, in their negotiations over the redevelopment of the hospital facilities, should take into consideration the possibility of a takeover by a large outside corporate entity, with the associated follow-on consequences, much like that which occurred when the local ski mountain operator moved their offices out of the valley. The town, they advise, should hold the hospital to the same standards that applied to other large-scale developments and not approve development piecemeal.
And, as part of any plan, the town should insist that the Medical Center give enforceable assurances that protect the community’s interests in the key issues of quality of care, traffic safety and the location of helicopter services.