Hospital offers quick parking fix

January 25, 2008
By

JOHN RUCH

JP CENTER—Arbour Hospital has agreed to hire a parking lot attendant as an olive branch to nearby Robinwood Avenue and Parley Vale residents while it tries to conclude a legal agreement with them to resolve 30 years of concerns about the psychiatric facility’s operations.

Negotiations have been under way since 2005 and have repeatedly stalled. The city’s Inspectional Services Department (ISD), which is mediating meetings about the agreement, once claimed it would be done by September, 2006.

“I’m trying to show some good faith,” Arbour chief executive officer Joe Murphy told the Gazette of his decision to hire an attendant before the official agreement is finished. “I’m very interested in being a good neighbor. I think the people I’m working with are good people.”

Murphy is a relative newcomer to the process, having joined Arbour nine months ago. The agreement process, at least, appears to have speeded up under his watch, with meetings now held every two weeks.

“I’m hoping to have it done by…no later than summer,” Murphy said.

Arbour, a private hospital at 49 Robinwood Ave., was established on the site under a different name in a 1979 zoning decision. The decision included various provisos about the hospital’s operations.

Neighbors complaining about parking, traffic, off-hour deliveries and other problems for years have said the hospital appears to be violating some of those provisos. ISD has said at least some provisos were never fulfilled, but won’t cite the hospital. Instead, ISD is brokering a “memorandum of understanding” (MOU), or legal agreement, between residents and the hospital.

Ellen Goodman of the Robinwood-Parley Neighborhood Association is key figure in the negotiations. She did not return a Gazette phone call for this article.

Resident Deb Pasternak, who has not been involved in the recent negotiations, e-mailed Murphy last month about local streets being full of hospital-related parking and traffic. She noted that she was copying the e-mail to the Gazette and state Rep. Jeffrey Sánchez.

A few days later, Murphy responded to Pasternak, saying he had consulted with Goodman and agreed to hire a parking attendant to monitor the situation.

“Instead of waiting until the MOU is complete and hiring the parking lot security staff I have agreed to immediately fulfill this part of the MOU,” he wrote in the e-mailed response, adding he believes “significant process” has been made in recent meetings.

The hospital began advertising for the position soon afterward.

Pasternak told the Gazette she will rejoin the negotiation process.

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