Council Committee Hears From Both Sides Of Children's Hospital Expansion Debate

Jul 28, 2017

Cincinnati City Council could vote next week on several ordinances to let a $650 million expansion at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center in Avondale proceed.

The Neighborhoods Committee held a public hearing on the items Thursday evening in Avondale. Nearly 150 people attended the meeting and some 30 offered testimony.

The Children's plan includes an eight story tower, renovation of some existing space, a parking garage underneath the new tower, and expansion of another nearby parking garage. The expansion will net about 120 news beds to the existing campus.

Children's Hospital officials have said the project is needed because of significant growth in patients and services.

The project will be done in phases and take five years to complete.

Some Avondale residents are opposed to the plan. They're worried about traffic circulation, health concerns, parking issues, and a lack of community outreach by Children's Hospital officials.

"The part that we are missing here is that it was not communicated all along the way, and for whatever reason, we were left out," said Tony Moore.

Derrick Smith told the council committee he doesn't have an issue with the expansion, but he is concerned about the lack of outreach.

"My issue is that (we) were not included at the table, and at the end of the day, it seems like we're being hurt over and over again," Smith said.

June Hill said Avondale residents don't have self-determination.

"When you're not a part of the process, you've been eliminated," Hill said. "And they should not be looked at as not important, not relevant, that their voice doesn't matter and it doesn't count, because it does."

Most of those offering comments were against the expansion. But several spoke in favor of the project and Children's itself. Many of those offering supportive comments were employed by the hospital or affiliated with it in some way.

Chris Packard has done work for the hospital, but also had a child who spent several months being treated there for a kidney issue.

"I know people are upset about some different things, but at the end of the day, I think pretty much anybody in this room, if you've got a child, niece, nephew, granddaughter, grandson, if something happened to a kid around here, they're going to Children's Hospital," Packard said.

City Council is being asked to approve several items for the project, which have already been approved by the city's planning commission. They include:

  • The vacation and sale of approximately 2.5 acres of city-owned right-of-way for portions of Erkenbrecher Avenue, Hearne Avenue, and Wilson Avenue. Erkenbrecher will be closed and re-routed to accommodate the new tower.
  • Rezoning properties from RMX (residential mixed) to IR (institutional residential).
  • A major amendment to the concept plan and rezoning property immediately north of Erkenbrecher Avenue between Burnet Avenue and Harvey Avenue. This is the location where a current parking garage will be expanded.

Last month, a city lawyer said it will take five council members to approve the Children's expansion, and six votes would be necessary to make changes to what the planning commission approved.

The Neighborhoods Committee will likely vote on the items Tuesday. If approved, the full council will then consider them Wednesday.