WellStar unveils latest plans for health complex
by Katy Ruth Camp
krcamp@mdjonline.com
March 31, 2011 12:00 AM | 6348 views | 12 12 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Joe Brywczynski,  senior vice president health parks administrator for WellStar, outlines plans for the new Health Park complex  to an east Cobb audience Wednesday night.<br>Staff/Jon-Michael Sullivan
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EAST COBB -WellStar officials unveiled their latest plans Wednesday for a proposed $80 million Health Park that the system hopes to open in August 2013 at the intersection of Providence and Roswell roads.

More than 100 residents filled the East Park Government Center for the meeting, which was hosted by the East Cobb Civic Association. Joe Brywczynski, senior vice president health parks administrator for WellStar, gave a presentation and then fielded questions that were submitted to the ECCA.

Brywczynski dispelled some rumors, but left others up in the air. Brywczynski said the building will likely be three-stories tall, with the possibility of a fourth level in the back and below grade - not up to seven stories, as some residents had speculated. Likewise, Brywczynski said the rumor that a traffic study had been conducted over Thanksgiving weekend was not true. He said the company has not yet conducted a study on how the complex would impact traffic in the area.

Brywczynski also said the company plans to create a main entrance and a right-out, right-in-only entrance on Roswell Road, with no entrances or exits planned for Providence Road. And the 250,000-square-foot facility will sit on about 1.4 acres, while nearly 34 percent of the 23-acre tract will remain greenspace. Brywczynski said there will need to be room for at least 1,000 parking spaces, and the stream that runs through the middle of the property will remain intact. He estimated that 350 to 700 employees would work at the new park.

But the main question on everyone's minds was whether the company was going to go through the normal zoning process with the county Board of Commissioners or through the Hospital Authority. If WellStar goes through the Hospital Authority, it avoids measures such as commission stipulations and resident input that are allowed through the zoning process.

During East Cobb Commissioner Bob Ott's town hall meeting Tuesday night, Ott said he was aware through talks with WellStar executives that the company had not yet decided which route it would take, and said: "We can only push so far. I intend to push it as far as I can, but if we push too hard, then they'll just go to the Hospital Authority."

When asked multiple times by residents which route the company intends to take Wednesday night, Brywczynski refused to answer, stating only that a pending appeal for a certificate of need "precludes us from discussing issues related to the certificate of need or zoning."

The system needs a certificate of need in order to go through the Hospital Authority.

WellStar received a certificate of need from the state department of community health for its proposed outpatient surgery center last September, but Northside Hospital has challenged that certificate and the first appeal hearing before an administrative law judge is set for the middle of April, WellStar spokesman Keith Bowermaster said.

But Lee O'Neal, a resident of the Independent Square subdivision off of Providence Road, immediately adjacent to the lot, said he is a member of the 45-member Community Advisory Committee for the development and that Brywczynski and other WellStar officials told him at the latest committee meeting on March 17 that they "do intend to go through the Hospital Authority and not the normal zoning process."

O'Neal said he has stressed to the executives that residents and commissioners would like for the development to go through the zoning process, but with no luck.

"They just say that they acknowledge our concerns, but they are still going to go through the Hospital Authority. I'm not sure why Joe was avoiding the answer tonight, but that's what they have been telling us all along," O'Neal said. "We just think it's disrespectful both to the commissioners who spend a lot of time and effort on the land use map and the future growth plan of the county and protecting citizens, but also disrespectful to the people who live and work in the area."

David Blumenthal, who also lives in Independence Square, said he and other residents were disappointed with the meeting Wednesday night because many of the questions they submitted via e-mail were never presented, and the issues within many of them were never addressed.

"Traffic is going to be a huge problem both on Provide and on 120. It's already a big problem, and we didn't hear anything tonight that told us how they plan to solve it," Blumenthal.

Providence Road is a two-lane street that leads to Dodgen Middle and Walton High Schools, and is surrounded by resident subdivisions. A Goddard School daycare center currently sits at the corner.

ECCA President Jill Flamm said some repetitive questions had to be lumped together, but believed every issue raised by residents was addressed.

"We wanted to give him 45 minutes for the presentation and get as many questions in as we could," Flamm said.

One issue that was raised but not addressed by Brywczynski was the recent flux in management at WellStar. One resident questioned if moving forward with the development was prudent given the company's recent firings of various executives.

Brywczynski answered: "We're here to talk about WellStar and the health care project. We have been reassured by the board that we need to move forward, and WellStar is moving full speed ahead on this project."
Comments
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For the record-
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December 15, 2011
Just reading the previous comments about Roswell Road being a 4 lane highway. Which is of course true-

But THE ISSUE is not what can be developed on that part of the property- But what Wellstar may do on the Providence Road part of the property. That is part of their plan, and they have refused to do anything that protects the safety or concerns this RURAL neighborhood has. THAT is why the project is contentious- and their actions and attitude have only made these concerns worse and more real.

If you are commenting about Roswell Road issues, then you have missed the other half of the property, and the concerns. They are real and they are legitimate.

And if you are an anonymous Wellstar employee posting on these boards again- for shame.
Useexisitingspace
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June 26, 2011
Quite frankly there is enough medical services in our community already. We have two urgent care centers more than a dozen of physician offices, one of which Wellstar moved into on Roswell Rd. and Imaging facilities. We have enough. To drive 10 minutes to Windy Hill hospital, or Kennestone or Northside for an outpatient surgery is fine. I can't imagine how you could possibly get a CON for thi megatropolois. I hope Northside wins this case, because they are correct....it is NOT needed. Perhaps taking 80 million dollars and using that to update equiptment and areas within the hospitals. Hey here's another idea, utilize the money to revamp a building that is vacant ? A real waste of money. But truly not surprised, it is all about the money, incoming revenue to make Wellstar richer isn't it ?
NotsurprisedAnymore
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June 25, 2011
That is how Wellstar rolls these days. They do not care about the residents of East Cobb and how they feel about this project. They have made their minds up. They didn't bother to even check out anything at all before purchasing the land. Does that seem a little odd to anyone else?

Wellstar is all about the money and being the biggest healthcare provider in the south. How about improving the hospitals that are already up and running and buying updated equipment. The nurses mentioned that they do not even have adequate equipment on the floors and their spending $80 million on this office park. Are you kidding me? Come on management. LISTEN to your employees.
ramble
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April 01, 2011
As an answer to "healthyme" who questioned where the email writers got their erroneous information. I can bet it started with northside or St. Joes. Those two hospitals can't stand the thought of WellStar moving with a bang into E Cobb. Just look at the fact that they are opposing the certificate of need. I don't really get the big concern. As pointed out there are already all sorts of buildings/businesses on 120. This health park sounds like a much nicer addition than a Target or Home Depot. Can't wait to see it!
healthyme
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March 31, 2011
The presentation was much different than what has been going around in the "stop the heath park" emails. Am now wondering where the email writers and circulators are getting their obviously erroneous information?! Good lesson in not listening to naysayers and to pay attention to the actual owners of the information.

Thank you WellStar for being innovative with this concept, and for choosing East Cobb as one of the sites. Sounds like a fantastic addition to our wonderful community!

(and how great will it be to walk to a doctor's appt and improve my health even more!)
Georgia DAWG
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March 31, 2011
As someone who has attended most of the advisory committee meetings, including the last one, I am not sure where Mr. O'Neal heard WellStar state that they were going through the Authority. Whether from the podium or face to face, I've always been told no decision has been made. And if he is so against the project, why be on the committee?
MR ??
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March 31, 2011
It’s ECCA that has kept the public in the dark and Well Star trusted ECCA leadership to inform the public. They did what most of these power hungry people do and never passed out good info. Best thing Well Star could do is conduct meetings with the real people in the community not the power hungry power brokers and pawns of the county commission.
Drive By
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March 31, 2011
Residents near or anywhere close to this "proposed" development- It will happen and as a previous blogger stated, it IS on Roswell Rd., a divided 4 lane that is a connector to Johnson Ferry Rd., Sandy Springs, Roswell and I-75 in the other direction. If you live that close to a divided 4 lane, then what do you expect to happen along that corridor? Where do expect them to put it? In the middle of the interstate?

Also, those very close will be able to sell their house/property for commerical use in a couple of years. Just look at Kennestone.
Again33
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March 31, 2011
Up and Down Georgia State Route 120 there are Krogers, Publix, Home Depots, Shopping Malls, etc. It is a divided 4-6 lane major road in East Cobb, and the residents that live near this road are only now concerned about traffic? And questioning what Wellstar will do to alleviate traffic? Traffic will be there with our without Wellstar.
Protect Providence
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March 31, 2011
Was glad to hear that Providence Road is getting more consideration...at least with words.

It is funny that Wellstar still doesn't understand how it feels to be shackled (not able to address commissioners), told not only which questions would be not addressed (the important ones on zoning), told that attendees would not be able to react during the meeting, and then not have questions put directly to them with the ECCA trying to be non-controversial or something.

It feels like you are being run over by a train! And that alone will get people fired up and feed the conspiracy theories.

Wellstar is still going to have to allow the neighbors to get a chance to speak their minds, without having a sock stuffed in their mouth! Remember, we LIVE here and invested in our neighborhood- not an industrial park. Be a good neighbor!
Happy About This!
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March 31, 2011
Anything that will bring new jobs to the area is fine by me! And if I can avoid driving to the busy Kennestone campus for certain appointments, that is a bonus.
FROM TEXAS
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March 31, 2011
Put a fork in it call it done!! The Cobb county chamber wants this bad another 80 million dollar project a lot of money to be spread around. See which politicians get nice checks form Well Star next election. Sounds like all surveys were slated to their favor as to the need for this facility. Everyone will get a lesson in eminent domain laws in the state of Georgia. Hospital Authority just remember that there will be no zoning; no public input last night wasn’t public input. They were just telling you when the train is leaving the station.
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