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Height talk tops hospital hearing.

Byline: Matt Cooper The Register-Guard

CORRECTION (ran 2/21/03): The deadline is March 5 for PeaceHealth's rebuttal of public testimony on the RiverBend hospital project. A story on page D1 on Thursday had the wrong deadline.

SPRINGFIELD - Two members of the Springfield Planning Commission said Wednesday night that a 60-foot height limit may be unrealistic for PeaceHealth's RiverBend proposal, one month after the commission based its support on that condition.

Speaking on the second and final night of a public hearing before the City Council, Commissioners Tim Malloy and Bill Carpenter suggested that 60 feet may be extreme, but the project, if approved, should be capped at a certain height.

"The council should not give PeaceHealth the literal sky," Carpenter said, "because PeaceHealth will take it."

About 40 people were in attendance after the crowd approached 200 a night earlier, when roughly 35 folks spoke out on the project.

None of the five city councilors would discuss the project, but they'll question staff March 17 on PeaceHealth's proposal to build a regional medical center in northwest Springfield. The council plans to vote on March 31; if approved, PeaceHealth hopes to open the facility in early 2007.

The project's height has been a talking point since the commission voted Jan. 22 to recommend the 60-foot restriction with its show of support.

Some want to protect views from the neighboring McKenzie River, but PeaceHealth CEO Alan Yordy said Tuesday the restriction would preempt plans for a "world class facility" of between 130 and 145 feet in height.

Malloy, a hospital supporter who abstained from the commission's vote due to his employment with a division of PeaceHealth, said a height limit is warranted but added, "I'm not sure it's 60 feet."

Carpenter, who called himself the swing vote in favor of the project, suggested 90 feet might be acceptable, but not 135 feet.

"We really do not need this for a legacy," Carpenter said, holding aloft a caricature of the city logo with a towering building imposed on one bank of the familiar drift boat scene.

Dave Carvo, a Glenwood plumber, suggested that five stories - as opposed to the eight or nine that PeaceHealth plans - should be adequate. Glen Love, of the McKenzie Fly Fishers, said his group supports the 60-foot limit. Bob Bumstead, of Eugene, said a tall structure would overshadow Springfield's small-town character.

PeaceHealth says the new, larger facility - Sacred Heart Medical Center at RiverBend - is crucial for providing regional health care for the next 100 years. Opponents counter that relocating the 2,200-employee hospital from Sacred Heart Medical Center in downtown Eugene to the suburban fringe in Springfield warrants review by all local governments, not just Springfield.

Cynthia Hart sought to distinguish herself from a vocal group of hospital opponents who, like her, live in the Game Farm Road area near the hospital site.

Hart, who used to fish and ride horses on and around the land in question, said PeaceHealth will be "awesome stewards of this land."

Carmen Urbina, executive director of Centro LatinoAmericano in Eugene, also called PeaceHealth a good neighbor, saying the health organization has supported Latino health-care issues.

WHAT'S NEXT

Public record: Written testimony will be accepted through 5 p.m. Feb. 26. Send letters to the attention of the City Council at Springfield City Hall, 225 Fifth St., Springfield, OR 97477.

Rebuttal: PeaceHealth must submit a rebuttal within seven days of March 5.

Q&A: The City Council will discuss the project with staff at 6 p.m. March 17 in the council chambers.

The vote: The City Council will vote on the project March 31.

More information: Call City Hall at 726-3700.
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Title Annotation:Two planners say 60-foot limit may be too low, but some cap is still necessary; General News
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Feb 20, 2003
Words:609
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