Council to hear comments on Carle facility

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DANVILLE, Ill. (WCIA) – – City council members will open the floor to public comments and presentations on a consolidated Carle facility Tuesday night.

The medical campus would be west of downtown Danville between Logan Avenue and Gilbert Street. OSF HealthCare’s campus is north on Logan, and officials there say they are concerned closures along Logan during construction could be life-threatening for some patients heading to its emergency department.

“A delay of seconds sometimes makes a difference,” OSF President Dr. Jared Rogers says. “And I’m not speaking as a hospital president when I say that. I’m speaking as a physician who worked for almost 20 years in emergency medicine.”

Carle officials say they consulted medical professionals, city and transportation officials about their plans.

“I’m completely comfortable that the approach Carle has taken to mitigating traffic flow will result in no meaningful delays in getting to a hospital, either be that a hospital in Danville or any of the hospitals in Champaign County,” Carle Emergency Medicine’s Dr. Michael Smith says.

Mayor Rickey Williams also says he would not have supported closing a portion of Logan if he felt it would endanger anyone. He says he has received hundreds of letters voicing opposition to the closure, many from OSF employees. He plans to listen to voices from both sides at Tuesday’s council meeting.

“This project will not only transform a neighborhood, but provide additional medical services and support that are much needed in our community,” Williams said. “We will do all that we can to accommodate Carle and OSF to make sure that it’s a project that is beneficial for everyone.”

Two owners who have three lots within the proposed development area have not responded to the city’s offer. Williams says if they don’t hear back soon, the city may have to take steps toward eminent domain. 

People who work in the area say they’re eager for construction to begin on the new complex.

“I think it will be beautiful over here, after all is said and done,” Katie Trussel says. “I think we’re going to be busier with the construction and with Carle being over there and I think our regulars [at Leon’s Diner] will still make it over here.”

Trussel’s co-worker and lifelong Danville resident Zina Garza agrees.

“The more doctors, the more hospitals, the better,” Garza says.

She doesn’t think the traffic impact along Logan will be massive.

“I don’t think it’s gonna be as bad as people think that it is,” she says. “There’s gonna be other ways to get around to where you need to go, to the emergency, to here. I’m not worried about it because I know Carle’s not gonna do something to where people aren’t gonna get to the hospital.”

Another issue the city has to address before construction can get underway is buying back properties within the proposed site. Williams says two people who collectively own three lots have not responded to the city’s offers yet, and that if he doesn’t hear back soon, the city could use eminent domain.

A final vote on the proposal is scheduled for December 17, and after that, the medical complex will need to go through an approval process with the state of Illinois. Carle Senior Vice President Caleb Miller says they hope to have the entire process wrapped up by 2021.

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