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Hospital plan gets response

August 11, 2002|by SCOTT BUTKI

scottb@herald-mail.com

Most residents of Robinwood and Edgewood drives interviewed last week said they oppose Washington County Hospital moving near the Hagerstown Community College because there would be increased traffic on already busy roads.

"It is going to make the street pretty congested," said Bert Berlinicke of 11621 Robinwood.

The Robinwood area is one of three sites under consideration if Washington County Hospital rebuilds and leaves its location on East Antietam Street in Hagerstown. The other sites being considered by a search committee are Allegheny Energy's 450-acre Friendship Technology Park, which is south of Hagerstown off Interstate 70, and a two-block area in downtown Hagerstown.

Officials say extensive road improvements will be needed if the Robinwood site is chosen.

For now, there are concerns among residents of the area based in part on existing traffic congestion.

A problem with increased traffic would not be outweighed by the proximity to the hospital if it were built at the Robinwood site, Berlinicke said.

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"The other one isn't too far away," he said.

Dorothy Sites said many drivers speed by her house at 11702 Robinwood.

"We take our lives into our hands every time we back out of our driveway," she said.

Robinwood turns into Edgewood at Mount Aetna Road.

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The Robinwood site is on 230 acres of agricultural land just east of the college near Robinwood Medical Center. The hospital and the medical center are both owned by the Washington County Health System.

People surveyed Thursday as they visited Robinwood Medical Center said they support putting the hospital near the medical center.

It makes sense to move the hospital near Robinwood's doctors' offices and to a location with more room for expansion, Dick Sheridan said.

Dennis Norris, a medical center visitor who also supports the hospital site because of its proximity to the medical center, said he does not think the traffic is too bad on Robinwood and Edgewood.

But several area residents said they often have to wait just to pull out of the driveway onto the street because of the level of traffic.

James Cavil of 103 Greenwood Drive off of Edgewood said it sometimes takes almost five minutes to turn from Greenwood onto Edgewood.

"The traffic is terrible," said Monty Mumma, who has lived for 30 years at 76 N. Edgewood and watched as the amount of traffic increased. He doesn't want the hospital to be built in the area because conditions will worsen, he said.

"It's dangerous," his wife, Barbara Mumma, said.

By the time Barbara Mumma leaves for work at 6:30 a.m., traffic is congested in front of their home near the intersection with Dual Highway, she said.

Don Lowe and his wife, Shirley, disagree on the hospital site.

He likes the idea of having the hospital built nearby because he thinks it belongs near the Robinwood Medical Center. She opposes the location because of the increased traffic.

Road improvements



Washington County Public Works Director Gary Rohrer has said about $20 million to $25 million in road improvements probably would be needed if the hospital is built near Robinwood.

Improvements may include building a connection road between Robinwood Drive and Md. 64 that would bypass the portion of Robinwood between the college and Md. 64, Rohrer said. He estimated the cost of a connection road, intended to alleviate traffic on Robinwood, at $4.2 million to $5.5 million.

Dorothy Sites said that some people would avoid the connection road and still use Robinwood.

Professional Court would also need to be extended from Eastern Boulevard to Robinwood, which would require a bridge over Antietam Creek, Rohrer said.

The city wants the hospital built on a block surrounded by East Franklin, East Washington and Mulberry streets and North Cannon Avenue with parking on an adjacent block. Under the city proposal, 58 properties would have to be acquired, Breichner said.

Health System officials say a preferred site will be selected this summer, but a decision on whether the system can afford a new hospital won't be made until next summer.

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