GOSHEN — The Goshen Board of Public Works denied IU Health Goshen Hospital’s request for parking on High Park Avenue Tuesday afternoon.
The request was initially approved, with some changes suggested, by the Traffic Commission last week and was then recommended to the Board of Public Works.
The hospital hoped to add 20 parking spaces along the south side of High Park Avenue from their main entrance west to Mayflower Drive. It would only be legal to park in the spaces between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. daily.
Mark Podgorski, Vice President of Hospital Operations, said the spaces were needed to help stem the tide of growth that the hospital has experienced recently.
“The reason that we need additional parking at this point in time is because our parking lots are full,” Podgorski explained. “If you come around Tuesday or Thursday to the hospital around 9, 10 o’ clock in the morning, you’d be hard pressed to find a spot.”
Concerns about safety and maintenance eventually trumped the request, however.
Joe Dervin, president of the Historic Racemere Peninsula Neighborhood Association, noted that the street is very narrow and taking away nine feet for the parking spaces makes maneuvering even more difficult.
“It’s 29 feet wide, or so,” Dervin explained. “So we’re going to put nine-foot parking there and then have 20 feet to have two semis passing each other, or an ambulance and a semi, or the ladder truck and a semi, which doesn’t make a lot of sense.”
Street Commissioner Denny Long had his own reservations about the project.
“We are going to have a problem getting our big truck through there,” Long said about snow removal. He added that they could have a smaller truck go down High Park Avenue, but that would take one away from downtown and delay the completion of snow removal in that area.
Board members Rudy Stegelmann and Michael Landis stated that 20 extra spots would not be effective in solving the hospital’s long-term parking issues.
“Just 20 spaces is a drop in the bucket to your parking needs,” Landis said.
Dervin and Podgorski both referenced a proposal that would connect the Millrace Trail across Main Street to Goshen College, which would allow hospital workers to park at a property south of the hospital and walk to work.
“We have the old Keim Nursery behind Park Pharmacy building south of the hospital,” Podgorski said. “We have a substantial parking area there and one of the good things that came out of this whole discussion with the neighborhood was, ‘Hey, why don’t you try to incentivize your colleagues to park over there somehow.’”
Podgorski said some focus groups would be formed among hospital employees to discuss the possibility of that option, though he still believes it isn’t the full solution to the parking problem.