News


Kids delay bulldozers on hospital expansion

Day care parents say they learned of imminent construction just two weeks ago

Kids playing in a tree-shaded sandbox have temporarily stopped the bulldozers on Stanford University's $5 billion medical-center expansion.

Parents of children at Stanford's Arboretum Children's Center, which has operated inconspicuously for years among the oaks near Hoover Pavilion, said they learned just two weeks ago that digging for a new parking garage was set to begin next month in the middle of the school's current play yard.

Stanford's construction plans will demolish the day care center's "Forest Room" and place 2-month-old to 5-year-old children just 38 feet away from the digging for the nine-level garage, they said.

Acknowledging "parents have only recently become aware" of the imminent construction, Stanford appeared to be scrambling this week to resolve the issue.

While maintaining the project "will not pose significant health risks to children," the university asked the Palo Alto City Council to postpone a final approval on the massive medical-center expansion from June 20 to July 11.

Stanford's current plans call for relocating the Forest classroom and play-yard space to a side of the day care center away from the digging.

But parents, many of whom are Stanford physicians and scientists, say they're still worried about toxic airborne particles and dangerous noise levels.

"There are many unanswered questions regarding possible significant health hazards of the construction project," they said in a statement.

"We have several parents willing to lie in front of bulldozers if necessary," parent Melissa Michelson told the Palo Alto City Council Monday.

Michelson disputed Stanford's contention that the problem is just a matter of miscommunication and that the environmental analysis concluding children would be unharmed by the construction is sound.

"We don't believe this is a communication problem. We believe this is Stanford not taking adequate concern for our children," she said.

Simon Klemperer, a geophysics professor whose children have received care at Arboretum, said parents "had no idea" until two weeks ago the hospital project will involve the old Hoover Pavilion.

The pinkish, historic structure is across Quarry Road from Bloomingdale's. It was built in the early 1930s and operated at the time as Palo Alto Hospital but was replaced as the main hospital facility following the 1959 opening of the Edward Durell Stone structure still in use.

Hoover is slated to be restored and used for medical office space.

Day care parents had paid little attention to details of the hospital expansion until receiving a June 6 email inviting them to a meeting about the "revitalization of Arboretum," Klemperer said.

"I was vaguely aware of the (medical-center expansion) project and, like all Stanford projects, tend to assume that it is for the greater good," Klemperer said, adding he had believed inconveniences such as traffic would be outweighed by a new hospital.

"Parents' jaws dropped" at the June 16 meeting, when plans for a mid-July erection of construction fences -- one of which will bisect the children's play yard -- were unveiled, he said.

As of Thursday, Sarah Staley, director of public relations for the hospital project, said Stanford stands by its environmental analysis but was working to "find mutually agreeable solutions before beginning construction activities on the Hoover site."

Possible options include "providing interim child-care facilities off-site during construction, opportunities for other child-care services, and implementing additional mitigations informed by the City Council-certified Final Environmental Impact Report," she said.

"Clearly there was a breakdown in communication," Staley said.

"Though many on and off campus have been invested in the entitlements and facilities planning process for over four years now, the fact that the parents of the campus-based child care center were unaware and uninformed of the project is regretful."

Comments

Like this comment
Posted by citizen
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Jun 25, 2011 at 2:18 pm

That's why CA is so much trouble, they don't know how to make a decision. Kids health & welfare are important, but don't stop forward progress ! Relocate the the kids and their little school,
keep moving forward people..


Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Jun 25, 2011 at 2:30 pm

Stanford has taken ownership of the problem and pledged to find a mutually satisfactory solution.

No cover up, no denial, no backing away from responsibility and no harm done.

Well done Stanford.


Like this comment
Posted by Stanford can't take of their own
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jun 25, 2011 at 2:32 pm

If Stanford can't be trusted to take care of their own employees and employee's children, can we really trust them to take care of their Palo Alto neighbors?


Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Jun 25, 2011 at 2:47 pm

Stanford can't take of their own - please provide an example where your intentionally provocative and equally deceptive anonymous name has occurred.

As noted above Stanford has taken ownership of the problem and pledged to find a mutually satisfactory solution.

No cover up, no denial, no backing away from responsibility and no harm done.


Like this comment
Posted by neighbor
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Jun 25, 2011 at 2:48 pm

@Stanford can't take care of their own: no, we can't trust them to take care of their neighbors. One of many examples: the new "nature" trail built alongside a busy road. Not exactly what the community had in mind, but they did what they could get away with, neighbors be damned. It wouldn't take much effort to list other examples. They are a bad neighbor, pure and simple.


Like this comment
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Jun 25, 2011 at 2:57 pm

Let's see - Stanford provides free access to the Dish Trail system, at significant cost to Stanford, and now a new trail system that connects to the foothills. What harm has Stanford done other than giving something away for free (vs Palo Alto's denial of access to Foothill Park to non-residents)?


Like this comment
Posted by Yawn
a resident of another community
on Jun 25, 2011 at 9:24 pm

Palo Altans complaining about Stanford - get over it. You bask in sun shed by their accomplishments on one had, whine and complain on the other. Peter's right with his information. Move on!


Like this comment
Posted by svatoid
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jun 26, 2011 at 12:20 pm

Peter Carpenter and Yawn are correct. There seems to be this feeling by some that Stanford is evil. Unfortunately this feeling has been fostered and put forth by some of our elected officials in Palo alto, who made the centerpiece of their council service the constant bashing of Stanford. As I have said before, without Stanford, Palo Alto would be Gary, Indiana.


Like this comment
Posted by Yawn
a resident of another community
on Jun 26, 2011 at 1:11 pm

Indeed, Svatoid. You are one of the rational people on this board. I have seen so many times Palo Altans turning any subject that's not directly about them, into about them, such as this subject. It's indulgent and keep contributing to why so many around here make fun of your town. Then of course, someone like you writes, and is a reminder that not all residents are that self-focused.

The truth is, like any major organization, there is good and bad with Stanford, and as a result, there are good and bad benefits to living so close. I, for one, am grateful that the ER is so close...one never knows...and I remind myself of that when dealing with traffic, etc., generated by Stanford events.


Like this comment
Posted by Janet
a resident of Downtown North
on Jun 26, 2011 at 3:11 pm

Anyone building a big project is required to conduct environmental analysis to ensure that no harm will be come. If Stanford and the City ignored something so obvious as 140 kids at the construction site, then what else have they ignored? Was the analysis enough to ensure that no harm will come?


Like this comment
Posted by Me Too
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 26, 2011 at 3:29 pm

My favorite line about Stanford was when someone wrote that, without Stanford, Palo Alto would just be Redwood City. But of course, without Stanford, Redwood City wouldn't even be what it is. In the various places I've lived, people always complain about big institutional neighbors, and extract something when the big neighbor needs a variance. But I've never seen anything like this! Which is especially surprising given that from where I sit, Stanford is a pretty good neighbor, providing lots of ancillary benefits to the community.


Like this comment
Posted by Sally
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jun 27, 2011 at 10:24 am

Good. They've got more sense than our city planners.

Remember their claim this expansion won't cause traffic problems.

Want to buy a nice bridge?


Like this comment
Posted by svatoid
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jun 27, 2011 at 10:38 am

"Remember their claim this expansion won't cause traffic problems.
Want to buy a nice bridge?"

Here we go again--PA people complaining about traffic problems.
Of course these are the same people who claimed there would be major traffic issues due to the Sand Hill Road widening and the opening of Ikea in EPA.
These "too much traffic" zealots have lost all credibility with me. It seems that anytime someone talks about doing something in Palo alto, we immediately here the plaintive, negative whine that it will cause "too much traffic".
Palo Alto does not have major traffic problems. It is all a myth. It seems that people seem to forget that with the daytime population of the city rising to about 125,000 there will be additional traffic. Or would people prefer that there be no incoming traffic into Palo Alto and all that that would mean?


Like this comment
Posted by frustrated
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 27, 2011 at 10:48 am

As a close neighbor of Stanford, I would just like to say that they have provided us some incredible talent, medicine and access. (Where have all those companies - Google, HP etc come from??)

On the subject of the hospital expansion....where was this little day care for the past few years. Are you telling me that none of those PHYSICIANS didn't know about this project?

I would expect that this group of people would also complain bitterly if Stanford Emergency wasn't prepared for them in advance when they needed it! Remember, it could be you, your family or dear friend who needs help and if we don't progress, it will become more difficult to get the excellent health care that we have today.

Don't stop important and necessary work for this ignorant group of individuals.


Like this comment
Posted by TskTsk
a resident of Barron Park
on Jun 27, 2011 at 11:11 am

There is no traffic problem in Palo Alto, but there is a significant population of "Me first" and "Why should _I_ have to do anything to accommodate _you_" types of drivers.
I used to think Los Altos had the worst drivers out there, but Palo Alto has, without a doubt, the rudest population of drivers in the immediate area.


Like this comment
Posted by frustrated
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 27, 2011 at 11:22 am

Oh TskTsk.... I couldn't have said that better myself! PA does have the rudest and most aggressive drivers I have ever seen (all in a very passive aggressive stance, of course!)

I prefer driving in Rome than PA because at least you know the drivers KNOW what they're doing and are willing to take the blame for being wrong rather than flipping you off because you dare to chastise them.


Like this comment
Posted by CJ
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 27, 2011 at 11:48 am

This Stanford bashing is so unfounded and ridiculous. For those few people on this post who continue to wonder what Stanford is trying to sneak in there I ask you what other private landowner has spent 4 years jumping through hoops and doing the planning to build something on their own land. And when something is built on Palo Alto land -- a huge housing complex on the old Rickey's hotel site, for example -- there is not nearly the outrage about traffic and school crowding.


Like this comment
Posted by Gary Indiana
a resident of another community
on Jun 27, 2011 at 12:51 pm

Ouch


Like this comment
Posted by wondering
a resident of Stanford
on Jun 27, 2011 at 3:16 pm

What is so hard to understand in this story is why these parents, all of whom are connected to Stanford, did not realize that they would be reviled if they said anything negative about this revered university. Even if their children are at risk, they should understand that in this area, saying anything that reflects badly on Stanford just cannot be done. One parent who understood is the professor who blamed himself for having failed to realize that the renovation project DID include the ancient Hoover building. He learned that in this place, victims have to blame themselves. Others didn't pick up on that.


Like this comment
Posted by GetAGrip
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 28, 2011 at 2:37 pm

Good grief!! Just get it done! Have the kids inside when dusty. If that means every day of daycare is inside. so be it!!! The teachers can keep the kids in projects indoors. Plenty of indoor exercising with mats, static bikes, stories, and walks away from the construction areas.


Like this comment
Posted by justamom
a resident of another community
on Jun 29, 2011 at 3:41 pm

When I was pregnant with my second child, I walked my 2-year-old to a major construction site every day to watch. We'd pack a picnic, since we would spend a couple of hours at a time. Some PG&E guys even gave him a card, hardhat and toy truck for his 3rd birthday since he was such a "faithful foreman on the job." Toddlers and preschoolers LOVE to watch construction!


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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