Plans for hospital expansion will not meet future demands of area

Posted: Friday, September 12, 2003

The Central Peninsula General Hospital board would like to build the largest traffic problem in the city with a hospital expansion that will never meet the future needs of the residents on the Kenai Peninsula.

I am looking at the artist's pipe dream of this hospital with a parking lot about the same size as we have now. The project will only increase the beds by four to 50 beds. What will happen when we are through paying off the tax debt of one-half mill per $100,000 of assessed value? Is this a boroughwide property tax?

We will have a hospital that is out of date again and with very little space to grow in. Again, officials will come to our children to ask for more money to build a bigger and better hospital or finally a new one. Then, what will the people do with the one we have?

If the borough plans on using the area between Marydale and Corral Street and Binkley to Fireweed, the city of Soldotna will be mostly hospital with helicopters coming and going all the time and it still will not meet the demands of the area.

I would like to see a better location just outside town with lots of land for the future of the Kenai Peninsula. If we don't do this now, the city of Soldotna will lose some property taxes, be forced to expand into Ridgeway and over the hill into the Mackey Lake area. This may not be a bad idea since there is lots of property there with a high borough tax base.

Anchorage has two major hospitals with very little room left for those hospitals to expand. Another thought: One of these days that helicopter just might land on your home in pieces, then what? How about the emergency vehicles, private vehicles and service trucks operating to and from support services at the hospital more noise, more traffic, possible accidents.

This area's population is going to grow, creating more traffic and there well be no end of it. It's better to plan now before building a larger hospital right in your back yard. And traffic on Fireweed will be like the street that is in front of the post office that the project manager said would not cause problems to the school or community there or don't you remember what Binkley was like before the post office?

Oh, yes, I forgot about our school, Soldotna Elementary. What will the increased traffic do for it? Land values around the hospital will drop because of traffic from the hospital on side streets.

What would be wrong with building a new hospital and selling the one that we have to an HMO? This might just keep the hospital costs down. We also could subdivide and lease the new wing that was a rehab unit to the VA or start a small clinic for low-income families.

The borough is looking for more space. We could use the old hospital patient rooms for offices. Also, the command center for emergency services could be located in the basement, then we could use the funds earmarked for a new Emergency Command Center to help build the new hospital.

The year 2006 will be a biggie for the Kenai because of the summer business and the Arctic Winter Games in the same short time. The winter games could affect the year 2005 as well, because of early arrivals of those in the winter games.

The area between Binkley to Fireweed and Marydale to Corral is 14.7 acres. This is not a true figure because of the Mormon church, dentist office, pharmacy, library and medical centers and a couple of other businesses. After buying out the homes in the north side of Corral and demolishing them, this should leave a figure of about 10 acres for parking and the hospital. Not a whole lot of space when the parking lots are larger than the hospital they serve.

I did forget one thing: The borough has talked about closing down Soldotna Elementary, which will make room for what? More government.

Raymond P. VinZant , Soldotna

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