Thursday, Jan. 31, 2008

Mayor touts Bowie’s accomplishments

Robinson cites hospital issue as area of concern in annual address

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Mayor G. Frederick Robinson told an audience of business and city leaders last week that the state of Bowie is ‘‘excellent,” citing several accomplishments of the past year.

Yet he cautioned that there are several areas of focus needed in the city in 2008 – including resolving the Dimensions Health Care situation, which Robinson characterized as a ‘‘crisis.”

The system, which is owned by Dimensions Health Care, has been financially troubled because of a large number of uninsured patients.

In his annual ‘‘State of the City” address Jan. 24 sponsored by the Greater Bowie Chamber of Commerce, Robinson reiterated the city’s commitment, to not only maintaining the Bowie Health Center, but to having a 100-bed hospital in the city.

City officials have long hoped for a hospital in the city, as the Bowie Health Center is only an ambulatory center, open from 8 a.m. until midnight.

‘‘This fight has knocked discussion of a 100-bed hospital in Bowie off the table, and that is unacceptable to us,” he said.

The issue has been largely dormant since November 2006 when Dimensions withdrew a proposal to the state to build a six-story, 100-bed hospital in Bowie.

Officials are concerned about what will happen to the Bowie Health Center if there is a Dimensions bankruptcy.

‘‘This is not a political problem. This is a matter of public health and safety that must be resolved,” Robinson said.

Robinson again cited a Forbes magazine article from last fall that showed Bowie was the ‘‘most livable” suburb in the Washington area because of its housing, schools, safety and other factors.

Robinson also cited the development of the city’s police department, new environmentally-friendly parks maintenance building and the city’s ‘‘focus on core services,” such as street repairs.

Among the goals Robinson cited for this year are to work to a solution on the issue of frequent power outages in the city, emphasize environmental protection and continuing to expand the police department, which currently has 30 officers.

Chamber of commerce member Joe Cronin, president of Crown Fence and Custom Decks, said he was pleased to hear Robinson report that there are plans to widen Route 197 between Route 450 and Kenhill Drive.

‘‘Every day it’s like the rest of [Route] 197 is five lanes with the middle lane and you come to two lanes, [Route]197 is a parking lot until you get to the other side,” Cronin said.

He said he approves of Robinson’s job performance as mayor and said Bowie is growing and doing well as a city.

‘‘Bowie is growing, and with the new housing and everything, I’m fortunate to have most of my business staying in Bowie,” Cronin said.

E-mail Megan King at mking@gazette.net.