The proposed closure of an about 465-foot stretch of Goethals Drive in Richland got mixed reviews during a public hearing Tuesday night.
The closure is a key part of Kadlec Regional Medical Center's vision for future expansion of its campus. Opponents talked about the potential effect on local access and traffic in the area, among other concerns.
Proponents cited traffic analysis showing the area could handle the change and listed benefits, including increased pedestrian safety.
About 20 people spoke during the hearing, which lasted close to an hour during the Richland City Council's regular meeting.
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The council didn't make a decision on the right of way vacation; it's expected to take a first look at an ordinance for it on May 21.
Karen Barton, who lives on Kimball Avenue, said she uses Goethals Drive almost every day to get to the hospital, her doctor's office, her bank and other spots in the city. "I have grown up in the core area of Richland, and I can attest that Kadlec has been a very good neighbor and I agree they should expand. However, I do not agree abandoning Goethals Drive is the answer," she said.
Mike Tvedt, chairman of the Kadlec Foundation board, said Kadlec is focused on patient care. "Health care is going to be very important in the years to come in our community," he told the city council. "I think the actions that Kadlec is taking are going to improve that in years to come and make our community even better."
The hospital's campus today covers about 11 acres. Hospital officials envision a larger campus, including multiple medical office buildings -- one already is under construction -- stretching onto a 14-acre area immediately to the east.
Goethals runs in between.
The proposed closure would affect the section of Goethals stretching about from the emergency room entrance to just south of the office of Dr. I-Yen Yang.
The city council last month approved a development agreement with Kadlec to help guide the future campus expansion.
The pact opened the door to the possible Goethals right of way vacation by requiring the city to initiate the process. But it didn't guarantee the vacation ultimately would happen; that's up to the city council.
If the council signs off, the hospital will buy the right of way at the market rate.
It also will build a new connector street between Jadwin and Gillmore avenues on the east side of the 14-acre area and install a vehicle route through its campus from Goethals to that new entrance.
The section of Goethals would remain open until the new connector street is built.
If the council denies the request, the development agreement is nullified.
-- The council gave initial approval to an ordinance annexing 137 acres along the city's southerly border in the Reata Road area.
A public hearing was held during the city council's meeting April 16 meeting.
The council must vote on the ordinance once more before it's final.