The GW Hospital will hold a groundbreaking ceremony Wednesday for the construction of the new, state-of-the-art hospital even though GW has not obtained a building permit for the project.
Amy Pianalto, media relations coordinator for the hospital, said the permit is “in process.”
Hospital CEO Phillip S. Schaengold said the University will begin excavating when the building permit arrives, according to an article in The Washington Post.
“In D.C., the builders of a project proceed at their own risk when a zoning decision is granted,” Schaengold told The Margaret ppeal any zoning decision and hold up projects.”
Michael Thomas, a member of the Foggy Bottom Association, said the upcoming groundbreaking is only ceremonial. Some residents of Foggy Bottom filed an appeal asking the District Board of Zoning Adjustment to reconsider its decision to approve the hospital.
Thomas said Foggy Bottom residents will be at the groundbreaking Wednesday, wearing black to signify their opposition to the new hospital.
The hospital has not filed an environmental impact statement or an environmental assessment with the D.C. Health Department, Thomas said.
“We think that’s strange,” Thomas said.
Pianalto said she did not have the information on whether the hospital has filed the environmental statements.
According to The Post, the Health Department must check for storage tanks under the site and ensure that the soil can support the building.
Thomas said other issues with the new hospital worry residents, such as the impact of emergency vehicle traffic on pedestrians. Foggy Bottom residents also are concerned about the effect of new traffic in their neighborhood, Thomas said.
“The impact on traffic, in general, and truck traffic in particular, is significant,” Thomas said.
According to hospital construction plans, all of the loading docks are in residential sections of the Foggy Bottom neighborhood, Thomas said.
Thomas said GW has not informed Foggy Bottom residents of its plans for the existing hospital. Pianalto said plans for the existing hospital are up to GW and not the hospital.
One Foggy Bottom resident, James McLeod, told the Post there is no evidence that a new hospital has to be built. McLeod told the Post that GW may be able to renovate the old hospital because “technologically, it can be done.”