New Lawrence + Memorial Hospital parking lot gets ready to operate

New London - It's been nearly four months since Lawrence + Memorial Hospital completed a new 225-space parking lot off Ocean Avenue and not a single car has parked there yet.

But a hospital spokesman said the employee lot is expected to open by the middle of this month.

"All the plans for modifications have been accepted and approved,'' Mike O'Farrell said. "Our team is working on bonding issues and some pricing on how much the remaining work is going to cost. ... In a couple weeks we expect to be open."

The lot, which will be open 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., is on land off Ocean Avenue behind a small strip mall that includes the Recovery Room restaurant and a Dunkin Donuts.

The hospital received approval for the lot last year but ran into drainage issues as the lot was being built. According to minutes of city Planning and Zoning Commission meetings, the hospital altered the original plans without returning to the commission for approval. Adam Kuhn, project manager for the hospital, said he made the decision to do the additional work because waiting would have caused further erosion problems.

On Feb. 7, the commission approved the modifications, which also included the hospital submitting revised plans that included landscaping and the proposed location of nine trees. A request to extend the hours of the parking lot to midnight was denied.

During the commission meeting, several residents of Dell and Evergreen avenues and Ray Street complained about the bright lights and expressed concern over increased traffic.

The parking lot will be used by hospital workers, freeing up space on the main campus for visitors, O'Farrell said. Employees will also be encouraged to park in the lot and not on residential streets that surround the hospital, he said.

The hospital may re-apply at a later date for permission to keep the lot open later than 6 p.m., he said.

k.edgecomb@theday.com

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