Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Seattle Children's settles with community


Seattle Children's settles with community

Puget Sound Business Journal (Seattle) - by Jeanne Lang Jones Tuesday, February 9, 2010, 5:08pm PST

Seattle Children’s Hospital and the Laurelhurst Community Club have settled a long-running dispute, paving the way for the hospital’s expansion into the upscale neighborhood.

The compromise between the two sides is likely to keep the hospital from moving out of Seattle, as it had threatened to do.

The agreement is due to be presented to the Seattle City Council Wednesday morning when the council hears oral arguments from 11 parties in support or opposition to the hospital’s major institutions master plan.

“We have worked closely the last several weeks working out our differences and have a compromise that benefits both the hospital and the surrounding communities,” said Laurelhurst Community Club President Jeannie Hale. She declined to provide details of the agreement.

Seattle Children’s Hospital is seeking city approval to expand from 250 to 600 beds at its Laurelhurst location. Community groups have opposed the proposed expansion, saying it was too big for the neighborhood. Hearings Examiner Sue Tanner also recommended last year that the City Council deny the hospital’s expansion plans.

The first phase of the proposed expansion calls for a new 93,527-square-foot emergency department, 258,000 square feet of new bed units, more than 176,000 square feet of diagnostic and treatment facilities and roughly 64,000 square feet of mechanical facilities.

The first phase could be completed in three years, with three additional phases planned.

Last summer, Seattle Children’s Hospital CEO Dr. Thomas Hansen said the hospital might be forced to relocate if it could not get its master plan approved in a timely fashion.

Although the agreement reached between the community club and the hospital appears to put their differences aside, it doesn’t necessarily mean the council will approve the plan as currently presented.

“I think it is important to underscore they have come to an agreement and their responsibility is to come before council to detail it, but the council is the decision-maker,” said Michael Jenkins, legislative analyst for the City Council’s central staff.

“The council will weigh whether or not to approve the master plan.”

The City Council will be hearing oral arguments in a quasi-judicial proceeding in which the council functions somewhat like a jury, making its decision based on official records. Other parties expected to attend the council meeting include Friends of Children’s Hospital, the Coalition of Major Institutions, Laurelon Terrace condominiums, Dixie and Steve Wilson, Catherine Hennings, the Seattle Department of Planning and Development, the Displacement Coalition, the Interfaith Task Force on Homelessness, Hawthorne Hills Community Council and the Seattle Community Council Federation.

After oral arguments are heard, the council will meet again on Feb. 25 to begin deliberations. The council can accept or reject any proposed agreement or send it back to the hearing examiner for further review.

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