Thursday, July 23, 2009

Healthcare NIMBYs

I apologize for the paucity of posts - I'm busy, which makes it hard to find things to gripe about here. Anyhow, here's a decent one: Children's Memorial Hospital is in the process of building a brand-new facility on the Northwestern Memorial campus in Streeterville, the neighborhood that is home to the Mag Mile. Children's Memorial has long had a heliport at its Lincoln Park location, and wants one at its new place in the Near North. The approval for the helipad is nearing the end of a long process, but is meeting resistance from the local block club, SOAR. Their opposition has triggered a series of hearings by IDOT, the first of which was today. While it is currently unknown whether or not SOAR has a legitimate concern, as their day to offer expert testimony is tomorrow, this quote in a Chicago Daily News piece on today's hearing made it seem to me that something else is going on:

“If there’s an accident in this neighborhood, it could be terrible,” said Streeterville resident Hugh Stevens, who came to hear more about the hospital’s proposal. “I’m in favor of Children’s Memorial Hospital, but I don’t think Children’s thought about this enough before they decided to move.”
What struck me about this resident's statement is that he says it as if Children's did not already have a helipad in a Chicago neighborhood. I mean, I do not actually live in Lincoln Park because it is too expensive and a bit too stuck-up for my tastes, but I am there quite frequently for school and I can assure you that it would be just as terrible to have a helicopter accident in Lincoln Park, the only difference being that the victims would have slightly smaller wallets than those in Streeterville. This, to me, sounds like the neighborhood's using a classic NIMBY tactic of claiming safety concerns as a cover for really just not wanting the potential for helicopter noise at any time of the day or night. Tomorrow may see something different at the hearing, but I do not anticipate being surprised.