Friday, July 06, 2007

City Officials: Touro Project Exciting News

City Officials: Touro Project Exciting News
By SARAH ROHRS/Times-Herald staff writer
Vallejo Times Herald

If the notable Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., doesn't beat it to the finish line, Touro University will become the first facility in the United States to offer the latest technology in cancer treatment.

A day after Touro announced a combined particle beam therapy center for Mare Island's north end, several city officials said the project is "exciting" news for Vallejo.

The cancer treatment and research center would cost $231 million alone, which represents a significant investment in Vallejo's future, said Touro vice president Richard Hassel.

It is part of Touro's ambitious $1.2 billion plans for the former Naval base.

"If it comes to pass it will be the kind of development everyone has been wanting for Mare Island. It's exciting," Vallejo Mayor Tony Intintoli said. "It has a potential for creating an economic boom for Vallejo."

His sentiments were shared by council members Tom Bartee, Stephanie Gomes and Tony Pearsall.

The school has teamed up with international medical giant Siemens Medical Solutions to develop the facility. The 125,000-square-foot center is slated for the corner of G Street and Azuar Drive. Construction could start by the end of the year, with the center completed in 2010.

"It's actually a pretty big deal. It's actually huge," City Manager Joe Tanner said. "If they get this thing built, it will mean jobs, jobs and more jobs."

Technically, Touro's plans for Mare Island's north end are still in the proposal stage. However, Tanner said the deal is nearly complete, and both the city and Touro are "within inches" of signing.

The City Council will have the final say. Tanner said he is unsure when the deal goes to the council, but added, "we expect it to happen very soon." Earlier this year, the city agreed to negotiate exclusively with Touro to develop the north end.

Tanner said he predicts doctors will flock to Vallejo and professional office buildings will sprout up around the new cancer center and elsewhere in Vallejo.

Meanwhile, Mayo Clinic radiation oncologist Robert Foote said the Rochester clinic is also forging ahead with a center utilizing the same combined particle beam technology.

"I guess you could call it a race," Foote said. "We hope to be the first." He said Touro and Mayo Clinic officials met earlier this year to discuss the project.

Foote said combined particle beam therapy will use proton beams and heavy carbon ions, which have been shown to be more effective than conventional radiation therapy.

Touro president Bernard Lander said Mare Island is an ideal spot for a medical and research center with enough land to expand.

"There are people dying. We need more and more aggressive approaches to fight cancer," Lander said.

Within the north end, Touro also intends to build a large cultural center, hotel, retail areas, classrooms and student housing. The school opened in 1998 and is educating more than 1,400 students at colleges of osteopathic medicine, pharmacy, health sciences and education.

For more details on the project go to:

Contact Sarah Rohrs at or 553-6832.

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