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posted: 4/13/2012 8:14 AM

Polite audience, speakers impress Arlington Heights mayor

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It was no surprise to Arlington Heights Village President Arlene Mulder that a crowd of about 200 left standing room only at this week's village board meeting.

The issue: Northwest Community Hospital's request that the village reopen two exits onto Kirchoff Road. While people can drive into the hospital campus from Kirchoff, only emergency vehicles are allowed to exit that way.

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Hospital officials say the current situation is unsafe because it backs up traffic at other exits; neighbors, especially those to the north, say opening the Kirchoff exits would create traffic hazards.

Mulder had been tipped off to the large crowd because she got about 250 emails -- mostly from hospital employees -- in favor of the request. And she got an equal number from area residents opposing it.

But what blew Mulder away was the demeanor of the crowd.

"I was so overwhelmed and impressed with the audience," she said. "It was such an example of respect and civility. They are passionate about the topic, and all the speakers followed my rules. That never happens."

Mulder's rules include talking for only three minutes, not to be redundant and to be standing nearby when you're the next speaker. And she asked the crowd to avoid booing or applauding.

The village president is still hopeful a solution can be found that will satisfy all sides. The board will discuss the issue again, possibly as early as April 30.

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