CHICAGO — After Children's Memorial Hospital announced plans in 2006 to move from Lincoln Park to Streeterville, neighbors of the planned 23-story facility balked when they learned it would include a rooftop heliport.
Citing safety concerns, the Streeterville Organization of Active Residents filed a lawsuit to try to block the heliport and reached out to the Illinois Department of Transportation, asking IDOT to deny the hospital's rooftop heliport application.
"From day one this has been about whether it's safe to nestle a heliport in a forest of skyscrapers," Patty Frost, then a board member of the residents group, said in February 2011, according to ABC.
But now, a year after the renamed Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago opened — with the state-approved heliport — the two sides appear to be peacefully coexisting.
According to reports that document the heliport usage, helicopters landed at the hospital 36 times between June 2012 and April (the last month for which numbers were available), delivering critically ill children from other hospitals or organs to be transplanted into sick patients at Lurie.
The heliport at the hospital's former location was used to transport about 73 patients and five organs per year, according to the Illinois Department of Transportation.
Lurie spokeswoman Mary Kate Daly said the hospital provides the residents organization — and anyone who asks — with the heliport usage reports.
"We don’t really have anything to argue about anymore. They decided to stop their efforts opposing the heliport and that was quite a while ago … and since then they have been reaching out to us, and their members have really welcomed us to the community since we've been here," Daly said.
Christine Foh, president of the residents group, said the hospital has dealt with any problems that have arisen from the heliport, including repositioning the heliport's red lights after a neighbor complained they were shining into their residence.
There is also a heliport review committee made up of community members and neighbors. Daly said the committee meets quarterly with the hospital's transport team and heliport operations staff to discuss the heliport.
The hospital even invited neighbors to a one-year birthday part for the facility.
The hospital felt "it was so important for us to have a heliport in this location [because] we had one at our old location," Daly said. "I think we have put the past controversy behind us."