Additional parking planned at Beaumont

Project to start with home demolitions this spring/summer

By: K. Michelle Moran | Grosse Pointe Times | Published April 24, 2014

GROSSE POINTE CITY — Despite some concerns from neighbors, a proposal to increase parking at Beaumont Hospital, Grosse Pointe, was unanimously approved April 14 by the Grosse Pointe City Council.

The proposal — which will create a 408-space, two-level parking structure, with the top level being at grade and the other level being below ground — will involve the demolition of 10 hospital-owned houses on Notre Dame to make way for the new parking area, and the relocation of a historical home at Jefferson and Notre Dame. It also will involve closing access to the hospital campus from Notre Dame.

City Planner John Jackson, of McKenna Associates, said the plan would create a new driveway onto hospital property off Jefferson for access to the service area, and it would eliminate the hospital’s use of off-site parking, most of which took place behind the Village CVS store. The additional parking would leave Beaumont with a surplus of more than 200 spaces until additional development in 2018, he said.

A traffic study prepared by the hospital and reviewed by the City’s traffic consultant determined that traffic increases on surrounding roads would be minimal, Jackson said. The one area of concern was the intersection of Notre Dame and Jefferson, where fears of possible lines of traffic blocking the residential street led traffic consultants to recommend creation of a bypass lane at the Jefferson inbound lane, creation of a more defined deceleration lane into the Jefferson inbound lane, and the addition of a “Do not block driveway” sign and striping at the inbound and outbound Jefferson curb cut, according to a report by Jackson. There also will be a double-lane egress “for the curb cut closest to the Jefferson/Cadieux intersection,” the report stated. These changes should prevent cars from stacking up in front of Notre Dame, Jackson said.

To improve circulation, he said there would be more signs directing trucks where to go, and there would be two exits on Jefferson to allow vehicles to turn left from one lane and right from another to prevent traffic backlogs.

All the same, City resident Joan Louwers was among those concerned about the project and what it would mean for her and her neighbors who live near the hospital.

“(The) Beaumont expansion is going to increase traffic in all of the City,” she said, warning that traffic “is going to be all backed up” at certain times due to people entering the hospital campus for work shifts. “I just disapprove of all of this.”

Michael Hoeflein, the program leader for real estate development and planning for Beaumont Health System, said the major shift change takes place at 7 a.m., when many service workers begin their day. Nurses typically work 12-hour shifts, he said.

“You see a gradual release of staff throughout the day, but 7 a.m. is the major (shift change time),” Hoeflein said.

However, he noted that because so many employees have to park off-site now, nearby residents are subjected to shuttle buses going in and out of the hospital campus “pretty much constantly,” something that wouldn’t be occurring once the parking is expanded.

Another neighbor, Judith LeBeau, of Notre Dame, said she was “concerned about fire department exercises” at the hospital-owned vacant homes across the street from her that would be torn down for the parking expansion.

Public Safety Director Stephen Poloni confirmed that officers from all five Grosse Pointes would be conducting fire training exercises at these homes before demolition, but he reassured residents that they would be notified about the training ahead of time.

Jackson said the plan includes “a lot of improvements to the service area” and “a lot of landscaping and screening improvements,” including screening walls on Notre Dame and Jefferson, the preservation of many mature trees, and the planting of 12 trees on Notre Dame and four on Jefferson.

City Manager Pete Dame said demolition of the houses would be the first component of the plan.

“There will be a concerted staff effort to make sure we manage the construction process,” he said.

A date hadn’t been set at press time for moving the historical Cadieux Farmhouse, but Hoeflein said they are “looking for a May or June move.”