Neighbors to the hospital asked to be able to formally have a granite path constructed from one dead-end of Granada Hills Drive into the Seton Southwest property, under an electric power line, that would extend to the Seton Southwest parking lot so that people could walk up to Seton Southwest, and also have access to the new sidewalks planned for FM 1826.
By Ann Fowler
Neighbors of Seton Southwest Hospital recently complained to the Gazette that they felt the hospital was being less than a good neighbor through its failure to create pedestrian access to the edge of the hospital property so it could safely be used as a walking trail.
Granada Hills resident Rick Perkins, a member of the Oak Hill Trails Association (OHTA) described a “love-hate relationship” with the facility that is “mostly love” despite a persistent noise the hospital has yet to address. He said, “…the continual hums from their air conditioners or other pressurized equipment tends to be a drag. I can usually hear their equipment in my backyard on Sunday mornings when everything else is quiet. There are two other rows of houses between me and the Seton property, so I’m sure they hear them much louder than I do.”
Seton has a lot to keep cool, with 20,469 unique patients having been served at the facility during the 2011 fiscal year.
Perkins said hospital representatives occasionally come to his neighborhood seeking support for various projects. He said, “About three years ago they came to us, gave us a presentation of their future plans … and we wrote them a letter for the city. In our letter, we stipulated that we wanted Seton Southwest to do something about the noises generated from their utilities, but they never did anything about it. We also asked for pedestrian access to the edges of their property where we could walk on the property and complete a circuit between the two streets that dead-end into their property. Also, we asked that we be able to formally have a granite path trail constructed from one dead-end of Granada Hills Drive into the Seton Southwest property, under an electric power line, that would extend to the Seton Southwest parking lot so that people from our neighborhood could walk up to Seton Southwest, possibly even walk to the doctor, but also have access to the new sidewalks planned for FM 1826.”
Perkins said the trail would also benefit Seton employees and patients who could use it for exercise. Added Perkins, “Its a beautiful piece of property going to ‘waste’ right in our backyard.”
Mary Faria is the administrator of Seton Southwest, as well as vice president and chief operating officer. Asked about the requested trail, Dr. Faria said, “…we just don’t feel we have the resources to ensure the safety of those who might want to explore or exercise there, especially during the prolonged drought we’re experiencing. We hope everyone will understand.”
Dr. Faria also addressed a recent comment by Capital Metro Vice President of Planning Todd Hemingson, who said the agency has asked about using part of the Seton Southwest parking lot for a park and ride facility, but was turned down. Dr. Faria said while the large parking lot may look largely empty, that is an illusion.
She said, “When Seton Healthcare Family did an assessment of parking available for a park-and-ride at Seton Southwest, several years ago, we determined that there is not sufficient space to accommodate parking for the hospital, two professional office buildings, parking for guests when we have Seton or community meetings and events, and typical commuters, too. From the standard business hours of eight-to-five, our lots often are full. People who come to the hospital often have limited mobility, so you can appreciate how very important it is to ensure that patients and those accompanying them be able to park easily.”
Dr. Faria added that a current $8.2 million expansion for maternity services means many construction vehicles will use the parking lots. “Safety is our number one priority, and the risks increase with added traffic,” she said. The 10 to 12-month project will provide three additional LDRP (Labor, Delivery, Recovery and Post-Partum) rooms, eight new post-partum rooms, a new nine-bed newborn nursery, a new four-bed Level II nursery and a covered drop-off area at the Emergency Room entrance for patients. The construction should be completed by January 2013.
Added Dr. Faria, “We love our neighborhood and we care about the health of this community.”
Still, some in the neighborhood are not feeling the love. Beki Halpin, who lives in the Scenic Brook area, said, “It seems like the neighborhood is supporting the goals of Seton, but Seton is not supporting the goals of the neighborhood.”