Iowa River Hospice wants Fifth Avenue extension off strategic plan

T-R PHOTOS BY JOE FISHER Iowa River Hospice Community Liaison Rhonda Miller shows the obstructed view created by development on E. Merle Hibbs Boulevard south of the hospice home.

Iowa River Hospice board members and the Friends of Iowa River Hospice organization want action taken on the proposed Fifth Avenue extension.

Property on East Merle Hibbs Boulevard is being developed, which is south of the hospice center. It was proposed Fifth Avenue be extended to run along the west side of Iowa River Hospice and east of a neighborhood owned by Kading Properties.

Leadership at Iowa River Hospice has expressed concern constructing a street that close to their property would diminish the tranquility patients are seeking.

Marshalltown City Administrator Jessica Kinser said there has been no discussion by the city to move forward on extending Fifth Avenue at this point. The most recent time the project was discussed publicly was during a Marshalltown City Council meeting on Sept. 14, she said.

“This project has not been one that staff or council has dedicated any time to recently,” Kinser said.

If Fifth Avenue were to be extended west of Iowa River Hospice, it is likely a generator and shed located on the hospice center’s property would need to be moved.

Iowa River Hospice Community Liaison Rhonda Miller said she wants the issue officially taken off the city’s strategic plan. She hopes to raise the issue during a strategic planning session to be held virtually on Friday.

“It has been reiterated by officials that there is not a need for South Fifth Avenue to be extended for safety or security of residents in that area,” Miller said. “It would be terribly disruptive to Iowa River Hospice patients and families that rely on us.”

The hospice center houses six inpatient care units on site. Its caregivers also service a 50-mile radius with at home hospice care. About 20 percent of patients use the facility. Miller said 250 to 300 people are served either on or off-site every year.

The most popular units are the two on the south side of the building which face the Merle Hibbs Boulevard development. Miller said residents enjoyed watching the crops grow and the tractors at work.

“That’s Iowa. That’s what we are,” she said. “It would certainly take away from the serenity and peacefulness of our setting. Patients and families enjoy the porches and using the yard. It’s a wonderful setting for enjoying nature when they can.”

Iowa River Hospice community liaison Rhonda Miller points to the land where a proposed extension to S. Fifth Avenue would run through. Iowa River Hospice administration would like the Fifth Avenue extension taken off the city's strategic plan.

With the development taking place, some of that scenic view has been changed.

If Fifth Avenue were to be extended near Iowa River Hospice, it would have been necessary to relocate a storage shed that sits northwest of the main building, as well as a generator to the west.

Douglas Boyd is a former president of Iowa River Hospice and current member of Friends of Iowa River Hospice. He said concerns related to this project being part of the city’s strategic plan have been brewing for more than a year.

“Our concern is the proximity of a road to the peace and serenity of the hospice home where people go to pass away,” he said. “When we bought that property it was much more isolated than it is today. We had to raise more than $2 million in donations to build the home.”

Since the home was built in 1983, housing has been built to its west. Boyd said purchasing more land to ensure the space would remain untouched was not a realistic option financially at the time.

Iowa River Hospice administration and Friends of Iowa River Hospice want the city to take the Fifth Avenue extension off of its strategic plan. They are concerned constructing a street nearby would negatively impact the tranquility of the facility.

The city first approached Iowa River Hospice about adding a street adjacent to its property about 10 years ago. The city at one point proposed purchasing some of the hospice’s land which hospice leaders refused, according to Miller.

“We were not interested in selling. Then the phrase ’eminent domain’ was used,” she said. “That ended the conversation quickly.”

The issue coming back up sparked the hospice center to collect more than 1,800 signatures in a petition opposed to the proposal.

Contact Joe Fisher at 641-753-6611 or jfisher@timesrepublican.com


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)