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Participants on both sides of Steele Memorial Hospitalís street vacation request cited safety concerns as reasons to be for or against the proposal.

During its May 2nd meeting the Salmon City Council held a public hearing on a request to vacate a portion of VanDreff Street. The hearing was not required by law but the council felt the need to hear public opinions before making a decision on the request.

The hospital is asking for VanDreff Street to be vacated between Church and Daisy streets.

Steele Memorial Medical Center Chief Operating Officer Abner King said the hospitalís priority concern is for the safety of the facilityís patients, staff and visitors. VanDreff must be crossed when going to or from the hospital and clinic, the EMS building or the heli-pad. The portion of street in question runs along the northeast side of the hospital between the aforementioned sites as well as the hospitalís parking lot and areas where future office buildings may be built. King said the present street surface is not conducive to wheelchairs, stretchers or gurneys. He said that if that portion of VanDreff is vacated Steele Memorial would assume street maintenance and he stated that there are no present plans of closing the street to emergency assess or to expand the hospital.

King said one of the reasons behind the vacation request was to clear up the hospital propertyís legal description. .

There was a portion of an alleyway included in the vacation request however after research into the propertyís past ownership histories, and the fact the hospital building already sits on that specific section of alley, based on hearing discussions the alley vacation request was dropped.

City Planner Dan Maiyo tracked records to 1910 and was able to confirm the street is a legal right-of-way however there were no documents on giving the alley to the hospital and there are no documents to show the city owns the alley. He found that VanDreff was created in 1922 as the result of a court order. Daisy Street has been in existence since the original town site was created.

Surveyor Larry Wade said when the property housing the hospital was purchased from the Tapscotts the alley was included and therefore there is no need for a vacation process.

City Attorney Fred Snook could see no reason the city would want an alley that is under the hospital. At the end of the hearing he was asked to prepare a legal opinion on all aspects of the street and alley vacation request.

Safety concerns put one long time medical center employee in favor of the street vacation. She said that from her experience of dealing with sometimes inconsiderate vehicular traffic as she crosses the street on foot or maneuvers patients in wheeled conveyances back and forth between the clinic and hospital, having the street open to regular traffic is not safe.

Neighbors in the area spoke against vacating the street because it provides the safest route for students of all ages who walk to and from schools. It was mentioned that VanDreff relieves Main Street of a lot of traffic and questions were raised as to impacts on Lena Street, where school busses now run, if the requested portion of VanDreff becomes unavailable to traffic. Another comment in opposition to the vacation named VanDreff as a vital part of the city transportation system and alternative for Main Street traffic.

Written comments against the vacation proposal came from Idaho Power Company due to underground cable in the vicinity of the requested street and alley vacations, the Salmon City Police Department which feels eventually connecting VanDreff to Highway 93 South would be beneficial and, the Lemhi Fire Protection District which cited access to the ER Entrance as well as access in the event of fire.

In his rebuttal comments King said the medical center would not close the street to emergency access or private transport to the hospital and is not looking to restrict pedestrian traffic.

The council will make a decision on the vacation request within the next 35 days. Attorney Snook will be providing council members with his legal findings before their May 16th meeting. Councilman Jim Bockelman will be abstaining in the voting procedure because his daughter is employed at the hospital and that legally constitutes a conflict of interest.

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