The Telluride Hospital District (THD) and the Town of Mountain Village released today update on an application filed with the United States Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) concerning a pending Individual Permit to allow the THD to impact wetlands on a parcel of land located next to Mountain Village Town Hall and the Gondola Parking Garage, which THD acquired from the Town of Mountain Village in June, 2015.
The request was to impact and mitigate 0.44 acres of wetlands located on the site. The site would accommodate a new expanded Critical Access Hospital (CAH), designed by the THD to serve the growing population and expanding needs of the Telluride region, which needs are currently underserved given the limitations attributable to the existing aging 9800 sf facility located in the Town of Telluride, which lacks opportunities for sufficient updates and expansions to meet the current and future healthcare needs of the community.
Since 2006, THD, recognizing the space limitations in the existing facility, embarked on process to identify a new site to construct and operate a new, replacement hospital. The process led to the identification of some 22 potential sites that THD determined merited further evaluation for the possible acquisition and siting of the new hospital. THD reached out to the owners of these parcels and encouraged each owner to submit a proposal to THD if their parcel was available to THD for the development and operation of the facility. THD received firm proposals from three owners proposing a transaction with the THD for their respective site. After studying the sites, THD determined that the site owned by the Town of Mountain Village was the only viable site, based upon cost considerations; access to parking and public transportation, applicable land use provisions and similar considerations.
The Town of Mountain Village initially submitted the wetlands permit application for this site in February 2015 and later modified it in July 2015 to facilitate the development of the CAH. Since closing on the Mountain Village parcel in June 2015, THD has been pursuing the wetland permit. Since July 2015, the THD and the Town have responded to questions and provided additional information to the Corps in response to questions and comments raised by the Corps, sister agencies and the public, which made for a clear, detailed record for the Corps to consider and evaluate in making a decision on the wetland permit.
The Corps follows a sequential process in reviewing and acting on a wetland permit. One element of the review is a determination by the Corps clarifying there are not practical alternatives that THD could pursue in connection with the development of the CAH that would avoid impacts to wetlands and allow THD to meet its development goals and objectives.
The Corps advised the THD, in correspondence dated April 19, 2016, “the Corps has determined that the overall project purpose is to construct an expanded medical center facility that will meet the requirements of a Critical Access Hospital (CAH) compliant facility to serve the Telluride Region. The Corps assessed the alternative analysis information you provided in light of the overall project purpose and it appears that at this point there is no other practical alternative location to achieve the overall project purpose.” [See the Corps letter attached.]
With this determination, THD will now proceed with other elements of the wetland permit review process.
THD Board President Larry Mallard commenting on the Corps response said, “I’m pleased to see the US Army Corps of Engineers confirm our belief that ‘it appears that at this point there are no other practical alternative locations.’ We will ask our consultants to diligently follow up with providing information, such as a final wetland mitigation plan to the Corp, to enable it to continue and complete its evaluation of the pending wetland permit.”
Mayor Dan Jansen commented “this is a sequential process and this letter represents an important milepost within the much broader process. We understand there are more steps to come and know the Army Corps is looking for additional information that I’m certain THD will provide in a timely manner.”