Concord Hospital CEOs speak with one voice: Add to Langley Parkway
As one moves out and the other moves in, two CEOs of Concord Hospital have thrown their weight behind a controversial extension of Langley Parkway.
In a letter to city council last month, former CEO Mike Green said Capital Region Health Care, which includes Concord Hospital, has been “a longtime partner in the development and implementation of Langley Parkway, and is committed to continuing the partnership through this last, critical phase of the project.”
That letter is dated Dec. 11, and Green retired at the end of 2013. But his successor, Robert Steigmeyer, also said he wants to see the city complete the last leg of the parkway.
“It is a project I do support,” Steigmeyer said in an interview. “We are in favor of the continuation of the Langley Parkway phase three.”
The hospital has supported the Langley Parkway project financially since the first phase – traffic signals at its entrance on Pleasant Street – was completed in 1995. Vice President of Facilities Domenic Ciavarro said the hospital also helped cover planning costs for the second phase, which connected Clinton and Pleasant streets in 2008.
Then again in 2011, Concord Hospital agreed to split the $150,000 cost of planning the final phase of the extension with the city.
This phase would begin at the hospital campus and continue Langley Parkway northeast, extending the road to the intersection of Penacook and North State streets. That leg of the parkway is currently a dirt road used for recreation.
Construction is scheduled for fiscal years 2017 and 2018 in the city’s capital improvement plan, and must be approved by city council. But during three public hearings this fall, Concord residents present were overwhelmingly opposed to the project. The parkway would eliminate open space and spend too much money, they said, and they weren’t convinced the new road would alleviate traffic.
In his letter, Green encouraged the council to keep the project on schedule.
“Purely from a public safety perspective, the final leg of Langley Parkway will result in further traffic and mobility improvements, while also providing a distinct and separate means of access to the Pleasant Street corridor and the services therein,” Green wrote.
Steigmeyer echoed many of the points in Green’s letter, saying the first two phases of the project have already helped to ease congestion around the hospital and other community organizations such as Concord High School.
Engineers have estimated the third phase of the parkway would improve travel time to the hospital by as much eight to 12 minutes.
“Improving access to medical care for community members who live in the north and the east, that really is our primary interest,” Steigmeyer said.
Just more than two weeks into his job, Steigmeyer said he is aware of local opposition to the project.
“Thus far, since I’ve arrived, I’ve been made aware of the neighbors that have concerns,” Steigmeyer said. “I’ve also been made aware of the neighbors on the School Street side that have been impacted by the amount of cars coming through their neighborhood.”
He also noted the hospital has no plans for two undeveloped parcels of land it owns on the north end of its campus. One is protected by a conservation easement, he said, and he expected the other to remain untouched while the hospital focuses on its current campus.
As he settles in at Concord Hospital, Steigmeyer said he hopes the city can continue open discussion about the project.
“This needs to be a full community conversation,” Steigmeyer said.
City Engineer Ed Roberge said his office is currently reviewing a report on the parkway extension from a consultant design firm, and he will bring that information to the city council “sometime in the early part of the year.”
But the project could sit on the shelf if the council doesn’t push it forward, and Mayor Jim Bouley told concerned residents at a public meeting on the project in October they shouldn’t worry about construction beginning any time soon.
“There is no money to do this project,” Bouley said at that meeting. “There is no real will. There is no desire. There is no great need right this second.”
In an interview yesterday, Bouley said the Langley Parkway extension will be reviewed alongside other projects on the council’s agenda.
“Every year, the council reviews the capital budget,” Bouley said. “Every year, we review our transportation infrastructure, and every year, we try to make adjustments so that we hit the greatest needs for that fiscal year.”
The council will meet soon – likely in February – to set its priorities for the next fiscal year, Bouley said.
“The Langley Parkway, as well as Loudon Road, as well as the completion of Fisherville Road, as well as the neighborhood streets, they will all be considered,” Bouley said. “They will all be reviewed.”
(Megan Doyle can be reached at 369-3321 or firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @megan_e_doyle.)