We're all grateful to have a hospital in our city. It's reassuring to know that, if you have an accident or health emergency, help is just minutes away. If you live in close proximity to the hospital, though, the institution's presence can be a source of annoyance.
Parking is an issue that remains unsolved, although we haven't heard much about it lately. Hospital workers park their cars on the street, taking up spots that area residents, without driveways or garages, consider theirs. Early in 2015, the Common Council voted on a new law that would provide parking permits for residents of the streets surrounding the hospital. Anyone parking on the designated streets without such a permit would be ticketed. The legislation squeaked through the Council in March 2015 with barely a majority but was then vetoed by Mayor William Hallenbeck because, although the parking permit scheme had originally been his idea, the Council Legal Committee had "turned it into a monster." Since there weren't enough votes to override the mayor's veto, that was that.
A year ago, in March 2016, Alderman Priscilla Moore (Fifth Ward), who lives on one of the affected streets, asked about the legislation. Council president Claudia DeStefano, who lives on the same street, suggested it was time to resurrect the law, but a year later, nothing has happened.
But here's a problem with the hospital that should be easily solved: litter. Columbia Memorial Hospital has declared itself a smoke-free campus. Smoking is prohibited everywhere in the buildings and on the grounds. The problem is that many of the people who work at the hospital are smokers, and when they want a cigarette, they have to leave the grounds of the hospital. A favorite place to go is just across Columbia Street, at the top of McKinstry Place. And when they smoke, they drop their cigarette butts on the ground, where they accumulate, on the sidewalk and on the lawns of nearby houses.
Cigarette butts have been a problem for a while, but recently Gossips learned that other kinds of hospital-related litter is ending up in people's yards. Exam gloves and even a surgical mask have been found strewn on the ground.
According to Gossips' sources, it is not clear if people are wearing these items when they come across the street to have a smoke and pull them off and toss them on the ground, or if the items are being carried by the wind across the street from a giant trash bin with no lid on the hospital grounds. Either way, this litter, along with the cigarette butts, is unacceptable, and it seems to be a problem that could be far more easily solved than the parking problem.
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