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Duhig to Village Board: 'Be Wary of Advocate Christ's Expansion Plans'

Trustee Tom Duhig warns of "hidden costs" of Advocate Christ expansion to Oak Lawn taxpayers in terms of local economy and infrastructure.

Saying he wished he could have painted a “rosier” picture of most recent plans to expand its campus, Trustee Tom Duhig poked holes in some of the hospital’s impact studies before the rest of the on May 8.

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Duhig, whose fourth district encompasses the medical center campus, hinted that some of the methodologies Advocate Christ used to conduct its traffic, economic and water impact studies for its proposed 9-story inpatient tower omitted huge parts of the big picture.

Last year, that is currently under construction.

“Whether you like the Obama Healthcare Plan or not, if you remember how it was presented to Congress, it was 'read 1,500 pages and vote on it in two days,'” Duhig said. “It was sort of the same kind of approach used on the Planning and Development Commission.”

Duhig warned his fellow trustees “to be wary” of the unknown.

“There are a lot of hidden costs that we’re dealing with and trying to get our hands on,” he said. “I’m not convinced we have a good plan in place.”

Following Duhig said that some Advocate Christ’s economic impact studies painted too “rosy” a picture of the expansion’s effect on the local economy.

The has indicated a strong possibility that it may have to hire three full-time police officers. New equipment designed to fight fires and pull off rescue efforts in taller buildings may also need to be purchased for the .

Referring to the Cook County Administration Building fire in October 2003 that claimed six lives, Duhig continued, “I know [Advocate Christ] has one of the best architects and construction companies working on this project but try to tell the people that lost their friends and relatives at 69 W. Washington St. where people died in the stairwells.”

Duhig also blasted the medical center’s traffic studies conducted by the hired traffic-engineering firm KLOA in Rosemont. The first traffic study did not include Keeler Avenue from 93rd Street to 95th Street. A second study did not take into account residents on the south side of 95th Street.

“All of the residents from 95th Street to 99th Street were pretty much ignored and taken out of the study,” Duhig said.

Advocate Christ’s nine zoning variance petitions also suggest zero-setback for the 170-foot-tall tower; in other words, the building would bump up against the sidewalk. The medical center has submitted a request to widen Kostner Avenue to accommodate increased traffic.

“I have no idea what’s going to happen to snow plows going down Kostner Avenue with pedestrians on the sidewalk,” Duhig said.

Village taxpayers could face increases in their water bills as well. Last year, the medical center consumed between 5 million and 10 million gallons of water.

A new underground lift station would need to be installed at cost of $400,000 to $500,000 to minimize the medical center's impact on the village sewer system, as well as new a traffic signal light at 95th Street and Kilbourn Avenue at about the same cost.

The medical center claims that the addition of new parking garages to the campus will lessen traffic on area streets.

With the medical center’s expansion will come the increased need for medical office buildings and clinics on 95th Street between Pulaski Road and Central Avenue—

Duhig warned village board members of “incrementalization” by taking properties that could be developed for retail use and turning them into non-sales-tax generating medical offices.

“What’s going to happen to the mom-and-pop stores that make this village great,” Duhig said. “Are the small businesses going to get eaten by the doctors offices and people coming with MRI machines? There hasn’t been any long-term planning by the hospital.”

Village officials have asked Advocate Christ for additional impact studies before planning commissioners give their final recommendation and ultimately send it to village trustees for a vote.

“I work for the residents of my district and ultimately for all of Oak Lawn,” Duhig said. “If it’s good for my district it’s probably good for the rest of Oak Lawn, but if it’s good for Oak Lawn it’s probably not good for my district.”

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Ginger May 15, 2012 at 01:38 PM
I like the fact that he's asking common sense questions.
John Biller May 15, 2012 at 02:14 PM
Seriously....who voted this tool into office? My God we have stupid people living all over Illinois. Silly me to think it was only Chicago that voted morons into office.
Elantra1 May 15, 2012 at 02:46 PM
Tom Duhig, glad Tom Phelan coached you through your talking points. If he could have grabbed the Microphone and pushed you aside, it would have been all the same. Great job dissecting a traffic study (Larry's work). Your not a good looking puppet as the previous board (when she read Phelans talking points straight from an e-mail).
andy skoundrianos May 15, 2012 at 03:00 PM
Once again here comes the fake names attacking people. I give credit to Trustee Duhig for standing up for residents and taxpayers and not knuckling under to Advocate like our Mayor did just because he got a stupid award from Advocate..
OakLawnGuy May 15, 2012 at 03:36 PM
The reference to the 69 W. Washington incident was out of wack. It bordered on a scare tactic. All you need to ask is that Advocate make sure they are up to and surpassing code where possible. Not make a statement that essentially says, "This building better be safe, not like that one downtown that was built n-teen years ago where people died in a fire." As for his other statements: he's representing his constituents, and for that he deserves respect.
Vern Miller May 15, 2012 at 05:05 PM
So why are they so concerned about losing sales tax dollars? What about the tax dollars you lost at 111th and Cicero. No one was concerned about that oh its ok cause that was your plan.......
Connie Lemon May 15, 2012 at 05:32 PM
medical buildings bring paying consumers to our community. They eat at our restaurants, fill up with gas, stay in our hotels and shop at the stores in the area. We want state of the art medicalcare that saveslives.We need to expand to avoid the back log of patients in the emergency room waiting for inpatient rooms and outpatient testing. Let's all see the bigger benefit to our community!
Garbage May 15, 2012 at 05:53 PM
Andy -- how can you say that? He got center stage and had another photo-op!! Just what he likes.
OakLawnGuy May 15, 2012 at 06:00 PM
These comments kinda dance around some facts that may never have been compiled: just how much does the Hospital contribute to the community? If Advocate knows, and it's substantial, I would think they'd use that number in their sales pitch. I doubt anyone on these threads can answer that question, so I'm very curious as to who can, and why they have yet to do so.
MJ May 15, 2012 at 10:27 PM
well said Connie, that's a piece of the puzzle that is hard to see or evaluate accurately, but it exists. I am an Oak Lawn resident and a 30 year Advocate Employee, yes indeed that "cancer" on your mom and pop lined community!!? All of this back and forth about this is getting rediculous. The hospital must keep up with changing medical needs to serve all the people in this area who are in need of the many special things that are NOT available at neighboring hospitals. I'm not sure if people are aware that a great many services and procedures are not available at these other hospitals especially in the area of pediatrics...these patients are all transferred over to us for care. If you are lucky enough to have never encountered this situation, you are blessed. It is very true that most employees patronize the Oak Lawn stores while coming and going to work, it's just too convenient not to! It troubles me that people think that Advocate is trying to take over and ruin Oak Lawn. The hospital needs to stay appropriate certainly, but I am for progress and moving forward especially when you see so many run down or unused areas in the area. I have no political feeling about any of our officials, but I can only hope that they look at all aspects of this and speak for themselves without being swayed for other reasons. It's absolutely true that we take care of the sickest of the sick and I'm glad to have access to it! Can you imagine an Oak Lawn without Christ/Hope?
Oak Lawn Gal May 15, 2012 at 10:37 PM
I thought Duhig asked some good questions and I'd like to hear some informed answers. The 69 West Washington reference was definitely strange in so many ways. Christ hospital has been there for decades and is obviously a tall complex. So if they haven't thought through fire disasters and their response by now I'd be very surprised. He lost me on Christ Hospitals' water consumption raising resident water bills, I personally don't want to see any of the Christ hospital expansions with a zero setback. It's already looking like a monolith on the 95th street side. Expanding the traffic study to include the blocks south of 95th street is a valid concern. Bringing out the costs of new traffic lights and the lift station are also valid. Also the possible need to hire new police to concentrate on that one campus is something that should be discussed. To OLG's question - we know these expansions result in short-term construction jobs. It would be nice to know how many OL residents get one of those jobs. After that we assume that the expansions result in new jobs that help the OL economy. That assumes that some of those jobs go to OL residents and that Christ employees and visitors eat and shop in OL. Also that Christ employees live in OL and pay rent, taxes etc. Big assumptions but no hard facts. I still think Christ Hospital is an asset to OL but it wouldn't hurt them to quantify their value to Oak Lawn.
andy skoundrianos May 16, 2012 at 03:05 AM
Amen OLG and OL Girl I am not anti Advocate,I am pro residents and Pro Taxpayers Advocate should give the Village Money in Impact fees. The expansion will have an IMPACT on the community both good and bad. They make over 80 million a year You can't give the town that supports your development some money?? Cmon
Lorraine Swanson (Editor) May 16, 2012 at 03:58 AM
I love your Kmart, Vern.
OakLawnGuy May 16, 2012 at 12:16 PM
Even the now-defunct Saturn Of Oak Lawn gave us a playground!
prophet12155 May 16, 2012 at 12:53 PM
so many good points by both sides! i truly hope that those who are opposed to a HOSPITALS expansion never needs its services....for their sick child at hope....for a transplant at a world clasd transplant facility.....or anything else. on another note....i would love to see some additional restaurants on 95th street to accomodate visitors to patients and the staff that works there. i know when i had my children there my hubbie complaining that the only restaurant was burger king for something fast-ish. the last was 8 years ago and not much has changed! i see people in scrubs at potbelly etc but we need more! also it really makes me angry for duhig to compare the christ expansion and any code issues to the 69 washington tragedy is sickening disrespectful and of no bearing to his arguement.
OakLawnGuy May 16, 2012 at 01:39 PM
I don't think anyone wants to block the expansion of the hospital. I believe the area residents don't want to be forced by Advocate to suffer through an extremely disruptive period of construction whose result is more street, more parking, more traffic and less neighborhood. Village residents don't want to be forced into paying out $1.8 million in infrastucture upgrades. (And that's only the documented sums that I have personally seen in print.) And Crawford Gardens does not want to be forced into a permanent and fundamental restructuring of their neighborhood in order to further Advocate's business interests. I sure hope that over here in Minnick residents are as vigilant when it comes time to finalize the Beatty/Permacor development plans. That will also create a neighborhood footprint that residents will have to deal with for years to come.
john Crivellone May 18, 2012 at 10:49 PM
I agree, Tom Duhig is a incredibly stupid. he sat on the village board and decorated a chair for the last three years and said nothing, now he wants to take a stand against the most progressive business expansion that I have seen in Oak Lawn in my lifetime. This is it this guy must and will go next election.
john Crivellone May 18, 2012 at 10:54 PM
Tom Duhig comparison to 69 West Washington makes little sense to me. This guys mind just flies all over the place. Tom Duhigs relationship with Advocate Christ Hospital should be contained to Tom visiting the 5th floor where some real professionals can figure out what makes this guy tick.
mactheknife May 19, 2012 at 02:07 PM
John You are awfully angry at Mr. Duhig. Why so much anger? Perhaps you should visit the fifth floor! People are not "stupid" just because they disagree with you. If you think you can do better, why don't you put your name on the ballot. Is it possible that nobody will vote for you?
john Crivellone May 20, 2012 at 04:53 AM
Dear Mactheknife: That is a good idea I think I will run against Duhig next time out. Thank you for the idea. I am angry because I am sick and tired of watching this town move along like Mayberry. Things must change Macktheknife. We are in a new technological age where information travels at the speed of light. The foreign competition that we will experience will erode jobs in America if we don't wake up. This is not a good progressive move on the part of someone that is supposed to lead us to prosperity. We need entities like Christ Hospital that creates good paying jobs for those who live in Oak Lawn. without this hospital Oak Lawn would be in deep serious trouble. Mr. Duhig is hindering this institution and and there is no reason for it.
Mike Lynch May 20, 2012 at 06:44 PM
When asked at the village board meeting why did the hospital administrators give their home address as 44440 W 95th st. (the hospital address) and then go into a long dialogue about how wonderful it is to live near the hospital I know that these people do not reside inside the hospital. They just wanted to give the appearance of being Oak Lawn residence.With all thats going on they don't want to be nearby Im all for having an expansion but the Oak lawn residence are already so soaked by real estateand other taxes which is causing home values to decline.If he hospital pays for the three additional police officers needed, the lost revenues from demolishing taxpaying homes and businessesthe water sewer and othe related costs Ill support it. even though I ll have to deal with more traffic on a daily basis . I just don't want to get nailed with another tax increase

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