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    Hospital neighbors want to wall off noise

    Sun Coast Hospital officials say they are making an effort to reduce the problem.

    By ERIC STIRGUS

    © St. Petersburg Times, published December 5, 2000


    LARGO -- Elizabeth and George Delorey were taking a nap in their bedroom one afternoon last year when they heard a helicopter roar over their home on its way to Sun Coast Hospital.

    The Deloreys had just bought a two-bedroom, two-bathroom home on Sunset Circle that bordered the hospital's parking lot.

    Before they bought the house, the concerned couple asked neighbors if the hospital was too noisy. A neighbor said not to worry, the hospital was planning to build a fence to cut down on sound coming from the parking lot.

    A year later, the Deloreys say, their nights are still filled with the intermittent sounds of car alarms, the rattle of delivery trucks, the noise from the hospital loading dock, the conversations of hospital employees and with the glare of car lights that shine into their living room.

    "The noise and everything from the trucks is terrible," said Elizabeth Delorey.

    After persistent telephone calls by the Deloreys to hospital administrators and city officials, Sun Coast Hospital has agreed to several steps to make life easier for the couple as well as a half-dozen other residents whose homes abut the parking lot.

    Employees have been told to turn off their car lights when approaching the southern edge of the parking lot. Delivery drivers will be told to turn off their engines while unloading. Hospital officials also said they are willing to work with residents to repair a wooden fence at the edge of their properties to serve as a buffer from the hospital noise.

    "That should help a lot," said hospital spokeswoman Kim Hannibal.

    But the Deloreys and other neighbors still are worried that the plans will not do enough to limit the noise and glare from the parking lot.

    "They should have a wall over there," said neighbor Helen Bokowski, who lives across the street from the Deloreys and can hear the trucks from her home.

    Residents have asked the city or the hospital to fill a 12-foot drainage ditch between the homes and the parking lot and build a fence over it to block the noise from the hospital.

    Mayor Bob Jackson said Monday that the city needs the drainage ditch to handle stormwater runoff and that it is unlikely to be filled.

    Bokowski has been living on Sunset Circle for 26 years. Although she lives across the street from the Deloreys, Bokowski said she still can hear the noise from the trucks coming into the parking lot at night.

    "It's unbelievable," she said.

    Aside from making a good space for a wall, filling the ditch would cut down on a potential safety hazard, the Deloreys said. One of their neighbors has three young children, they said, one of whom could fall into the ditch.

    The city has agreed to build fences at both ends of the area between the homes and the parking lot to prevent someone from walking onto the property.

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