Location for Proposed New Medical Facility Still Up in Air
by Karen James
May 23, 2008 | 1654 views | 0 0 comments | 15 15 recommendations | email to a friend | print
TELLURIDE – After an extensive search for alternative locations failed to produce other viable options, Telluride Medical Center officials announced last week that they will continue planning for a new medical center as if it will ultimately be sited on the RV lot/Pearl Property at the west end of town.

The TMC Board of Directors asked for public input, sent letters to the Telluride and Mountain Village Town Councils, the Board of County Commissioners and the Lawson Hill Homeowners Association. They also met with Lawson Hill residents and emailed every realtor in the area in an attempt to unearth any properties that might be suitable, regardless of current sales status, according to Board Chair Bill Grun.

In the end, 16 sites were evaluated in terms of quality of care, lot size, land cost, building cost, operational cost, easy access to public transportation, future expansion ability, emergency vehicle access (including helicopters) and community support.

“What we came down to at this point is the RV lot, which actually works fairly well,” although it has some limitations, including very little room for future expansion, Grun told the roughly 40 attendees gathered at a community meeting held at the Wilkinson Public Library last Thursday.

“This is kind of like, which frog do we kiss and try to make a prince out of it?” he said.

In some ways two adjacent parcels in Mountain Village, lots 1007 and 1008, which are located next to the parking structure between town hall and the firehouse, would be a better location for a new medical center than the RV lot.

“The site is a really good match for the medical center because it has room to expand for future services, it’s very close to pedestrian access, has ample parking (which is a major issue) and probably offers ski-in and ski-out for ski patrol so patients don’t have to be bundled into a van,” TMC Administrator Gordon Reichard explained in an interview.

Not to mention, “we might be able to get the land at a much reduced price than the Town of Telluride is asking for the RV lot,” he added, declining to disclose that price due to do a confidentiality agreement with the town.

“We believe it’s still too high,” he continued. “We’ve gotten a private preliminary appraisal and it is somewhat less than what the town is asking.”

Nevertheless, the RV lot has one major advantage.

“Right now we have the RV lot offered to us by a letter of intent from the Town of Telluride,” Reichard said.

“We have a deep interest [in the Mountain Village location], but we can’t act upon that because the property has not been made available to us,” he added.

In the role of private citizen Jonathan Greenspan, mayor pro-tem of the Town of Mountain Village, has publicly declared his own support for locating an entire campus to include a medical center, a recreation center, childcare/daycare facilities and affordable housing (see Guest Commentary, p. 28) on the two lots.

“It would be shameful to say, ‘Gosh, I wish we had explored that properly before we pulled that trigger,’” he explained.

“In these economic times it’s very difficult to keep trying to dig up new dirt and to fit in all these amenities our community says it wants,” Greenspan said, adding that the economies of scale merit the idea of building a campus.

“We can sit down with everybody on board and say, ‘What are the collective needs?’” he continued.

“We have to be smart on how we spend our money.”

Regardless of Greenspan’s efforts, Mountain Village council has not addressed the idea, said Mayor Bob Delves. The Mountain Village Owners Association owns the two lots – not the town – so, for now, any council discussion would be premature.

“The bottom line is Town doesn’t own the land,” he said, adding, “I think the reality is that these lots, along with a number of other pieces of dirt in Mountain Village, are ripe for master planning.”

Representatives of TMVOA did not return calls in time for publication.

Delves said he has received mixed community input concerning the idea of a new medical center in Mountain Village. Those in favor view it as an amenity they just want to see built, he said. Those opposed wonder if Mountain Village Boulevard’s twisting nature could handle ambulance traffic.

“I don’t know whether it would increase or decrease ambulance traffic,” he said. “We evacuate a lot of people out of here.”

In the meantime, the TMC will continue on as if the RV lot is a done deal, although they know it’s not.

The first issue is whether or not the community will allow building on the Pearl given its designation of open space. The second issue is whether they’re willing to pay for it.

Grun acknowledged that the voters will make the final decision as to whether a new medical center is built in the near future, much less where it will be built.

Then again, “There’s another elephant in the room out there,” Grun said.

“There’s a Valley Floor decision that’s coming. If we get an unfavorable Valley Floor decision, probably all bets are off.”
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