Kevin L. Hoover
Mad River Union
ARCATA – Humboldt State is creating an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) required for demolishing the old Trinity Hospital. It would be replaced by an 83-space parking lot with about 13,000 square feet of greenspace along the west and south sides of the parking lot, a bus shelter, benches, bicycle parking and a bike repair station.
As explained by HSU presenters Michael Fisher, associate director of Planning, Design & Construction, and George Dix, senior environmental planner/project manager of Rincon Consultants, Inc. (responsible for drafting the Initial Study, and the Draft/Final Environmental Impact Report), the old hospital is all but irredeemable – riddled with asbestos and lead paint, and collapsing.
Though unhappy with parking in their neighborhood, area residents in attendance weren’t enthused about the project. Some said it would draw in more vehicles, though the presenters said those cars are already hunting for parking in the area. A parking study is in progress.
A few attendees pointed to the recently disclosed email dialogue between HSU and developers of The Village, saying they didn’t trust the university. Some suggested that housing should be created at the site, possibly tiny houses to alleviate homelessness.
Resident Bob Doran wondered why the old hospital, unused since 2008, had been allowed to deteriorate. He was told that limited maintenance resources had to be used in keeping Founders Hall safe for students.
Resident Jeff Sterling asked whether, in the face of the attendees’ skepticism, the university planned to continue with the project. But that decision was outside the scope of the meeting, which was only intended to gather comment for the EIR.