Sunday, May 15, 2016

Updates Needed on Muhlenberg RFP and Parking Study

Once the political dust (or donkey-dust, as Rick Taylor used to say) has settled, maybe we can get an update on two major items, downtown parking and Muhlenberg.

In February, the City Council approved a parking structure feasibility study for $60,750. It was a step toward creating a parking deck downtown. Talk of a parking deck goes back at least to 2007, when planning consultant George Stevenson of Remington & Vernick said he knows the city is planning a six-story parking deck off East Second Street between Watchung and Park avenues. That didn't happen, and the city is still relying on ground parking for the Central Business District.

The new study will include examination of funding options, such as asking developers to contribute to the cost. Another issue is whether the the Parking Authority should be revived. It was disbanded in favor of a Parking Bureau that monitors parking both in city lots and at meters

The Muhlenberg situation is more recent. While Muhlenberg Regional Medical Center closed in 2008, a satellite emergency department remained at the hospital site. It has since been relocated to another building on the campus, which was subdivided into three lots. The now-vacant hospital sits on the largest lot, which is 10 acres.

In March, the city issued a request for proposals for the site. Although it is still owned by the hospital, officials have been willing to let the city seek a redeveloper. The site would have to be purchased from the hospital owners and the city wants a "health care focus" for future uses.

A downtown parking facility and a new health care resource are crucial to city development, the first because of new apartments downtown in addition to stores, and the second because the hospital closing created a void that needs to be filled for the city and its neighbors.



  1. I looked over five Muhlenberg proposals that are being reviewed by some secret committee the mayor has set up. Sensing how this city operates, I wouldn't be surprised if the winner was Patrick Terborg (of South Second fame) and his 'all things for all people' idea, including a new municipal complex, public library, nondescript medical building, and apartments. A couple of proposals contained veteran's services and housing, and one was from a group of doctors associated with JFK that envisioned multi-disciplinary out-patient services along with a wellness facility and adult daycare. I'm not sure if the review committee contains any healthcare professionals or is just an amalgamation of political appointees and city administration types.

    1. The committee is and was never secret. It was announced along with its make up at a council meeting which included a council member which I think was Ms. Rivers.
      Apparently the RFPs are available for public consumption, since you have read them. Now, why can’t you just let this committee do its job?

    2. In that case, I apologize. I was not aware there was a public pronouncement. Just a few weeks ago after one of the budget hearings I spoke briefly about Muhlenberg with development chief Carlos Sanchez, and mentioned (not for the first time) the importance of a committee that included an ample quantity of healthcare professionals. He didn't say anything about the existence of a committee, and I haven't read anything about it either. Is there anyone on it with healthcare experience? How were its members solicited? Do you think my comment is preventing the committee from doing its work?

    3. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. The purpose of the committee is to help select a possible developer not service providers. The RFP was written to attract developers with experience in developing health care centric development. So there would not be a specific need for a health care professional on the committee. The submitted proposals should state the developers experience with health care centric developments and show successes in that arena. Since you said you have read the submitted proposals were there any with experience and resources to develop a health care centric site? Your comments are just negative. You are suggesting there is something wrong. No your comments with not prevent or help anyway. I trust some day the sun will shine in your world.

  2. A parking deck in that location would be a traffic nightmare.