Hospital offers daycare compromise

June 30, 2011, 2:01 a.m.

Following concerns expressed by parents whose children’s daycare is located near the proposed Stanford Hospital & Clinics expansion, Stanford University Medical Center has offered to relocate the daycare to a different on-campus site for the duration of the construction, according to an announcement by Arboretum Parents Group spokesperson Laura Pisani at Monday’s Palo Alto City Council meeting.

After four years of debate and 96 community meetings, the $5 billion hospital expansion project, which Palo Alto Mayor Sid Espinosa called “the largest development project in the history of” the city in a phone interview with The Daily, was for the most part approved at the June 6 Palo Alto City Council meeting. It was delayed at a subsequent meeting on June 20 when parents from the Stanford Arboretum Children’s Center expressed concerns about air and noise pollution from construction. The daycare is 38 feet from a proposed nine-story parking garage at Hoover Pavilion.

Hospital offers daycare compromise
(SERENITY NGUYEN/The Stanford Daily)

Community members had previously expressed concerns about the increased traffic associated with the Medical Center’s expansion and the potential environmental damage from the construction process. As part of the June 6 approval, Stanford agreed to pay $175 million to Palo Alto to address these issues.

This includes $39.2 million for infrastructure, community development and sustainability programs as well as $91 million to current and new hospital employees over the next 51 years for Caltrain passes.

The remaining amount was designated to other concerns about environmental and sustainability impacts, including the relocation of many trees in order to reduce the number needed to be cut down for the Medical Center’s expansion.

Furthermore, some community members had expressed “visual aesthetic concerns,” said Palo Alto Deputy City Manager Steve Emslie in a phone interview.

Stanford Medical Center is expected to add 1.3 million square feet: 144 additional beds in its main hospital and 104 beds, new family rooms and a relaxing “medical garden” at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital. At the city council meetings, many Stanford doctors stressed the importance of the additional space in order to better serve the community and the growing population.

“Stanford will be able to build a world class hospital it needs,” Espinosa said.

Various community members, including former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Steve Young, had expressed support for the proposal.

“As a resident of Palo Alto, as someone who for generations now–for my children and probably their children–have been beneficiaries of this hospital,” Young said at the June 6 meeting, “I urge you to approve this project tonight in a unanimous fashion.”

In addition, the Medical Center’s expansion will allow Stanford to bring its hospital buildings up to seismic standards. Currently, Stanford’s main hospital building is not up to standards set after the 1994 Northridge earthquake, but the changes outlined in the current proposal should rectify any deficiencies.

As for the daycare issue, the University and the parents have until July 6 to decide whether a legal injunction on the expansion is necessary. Many are hoping it will be resolved amicably and the collaborative partnership between Stanford and the Palo Alto community will continue.

“Over the last two years, we moved towards a much more collaborative way of solving the issues,” said Palo Alto City Council member Pat Burt.

“The parents want their concerns to be met,” he added. “Everyone expects the hospital and daycare will be resolved quickly and to everyone’s satisfaction. [We] hope to have final approval in a week or two.”

Pisani said at the meeting that the parents’ group is “optimistic” a sufficient solution is in the works.

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