The agenda for Tuesday night’s regular meeting of the Woodruff Town Board stated no action would be taken that night regarding the proposed Howard Young Medical Center (HYMC) helipad-hangar project, but that didn’t prevent a lengthy discussion about the issue.
Town Chairman Mike Timmons said a three-hour meeting was recently held and attended by HYMC officials, their project engineer, himself and representatives of the Oneida County Zoning Department.
“The discussion centered around the hospital saying they would review all the possible sites for the project,” Timmons said. “They’ll then use a score system to determine which, in the final analysis, is the best location for the hospital, but safety and patient care remains the number one priority for the project.”
Within the last year the helipad was moved from the east side of the HYMC campus to the west side. After that move, hospital officials announced plans to construct a helicopter hangar and an ambulance storage garage adjacent to the helipad location. HYMC is also considering construction of a large fuel tank on the site to hold thousands of gallons of fuel for the helicopters.
Hospital officials said moving the helipad to its current location closer to the emergency room will allow for quicker treatment for patients needing emergency care. In fact, they say there is the potential that patients will be treated 10 minutes faster, which could be the difference between life and death.
Hospital officials say the building itself will be 120 feet by 70 feet and will house four ambulances and two helicopters. There will be mechanic space, a pilot’s office and a sleeping room as well as a bathroom and medical supply room.
Timmons said that at the recent meeting, hospital officials said they will “look at everything.”
“They said there will be five or six areas of consideration for scoring what is the best possible site for this project,” Timmons said. “Then they’ll come back with a presentation detailing their final proposal.”
Some property owners living near HYMC have expressed opposition to granting approval for the project. They said the increased flights and the moving of the helipad to its new location will significantly increase the amount of noise they hear and the vibrations they feel in their homes when the helicopters fly in to land at HYMC.
They also said the medical center should have not been allowed to move the helipad to its new location without the public being informed before the move began.
The medical center has already completed a considerable amount of ground clearing work and the removal of trees at the site they have proposed for the project.
All the information gathered by HYMC will also be included in its application for a conditional use permit (CUP) which must be approved or rejected by the Oneida County Zoning Department.
Ferrel cats in the town
The board also held a discussion on the issue of ferrel cats in the town at the request of Supervisor Tom Granland.
Granland said he has seen a number ferrel cats in the town and has trapped some in the past and had them spayed or neutered and then they were let free. But he recently learned the town has no ordinance regarding the licensing of cats and he feels town officials should strongly consider some type of town ordinance on the issue.
“Wild cats could be caught and then spayed or neutered and then let free again,” Granland said. “I’m not against the wild cats. I’m against the babies they are having ... which increase the wild population.”
Granland said if the wild cats could no longer have kittens the wild population could be decreased significantly.
“I think our phones would be ringing off the hook with calls from cat owners who let their cats roam free and when they return home they find their cats have been fixed without their permission,” Timmons said.
Woodruff Police Chief Lenny Drewsen also expressed concerns about the town’s liability if the town captured cats and had them neutered or spayed without their permission.
Granland told the board he would try to arrange a presentation for a future town meeting from a woman who works for The Fix Is In, an organization which would perform spaying and neutering services for the town if they requested them to do so, for a set fee for each animal.
The board agreed to hear the future presentation and then hold further discussion on the issue.
In other business the board unanimously approved, after a second reading, an amended town ordinance regarding special year-round weight limitations on town roads. The amendment now includes Arnett Road in the ordinance.
Joe VanDeLaarschot may be reached at email@example.com.