When Total Access Urgent Care backed out of its plan to come to Maplewood at a former car lot, Maplewood Mayor Barry Greenberg explained his view of the decision, and described a conversation he had with the company’s president, Dr. Matthew Bruckel.
Bruckel, though, wasn’t asked for his view — why his company decided not to come to Maplewood after all. He wasn’t happy about that.
He saw the article as negative to his company, and gave his phone number in a comment on the article so he could give his side. He did that in a phone call on Friday.
From Dr. Matthew Bruckel:
We want to be a positive force for change in America and do a great job, and we certainly are not perfect but we also don’t want an article to be published, which on first reading, gave a perception of negativity, and I’m sure that ’s not what you intended.
Our effort and and our initiative to come to Maplewood were true and genuine, and it really came down to the basics of a, I believe, a bureaucratic decision that was not based in reality.
So the city of Maplewood has a sign ordinance that — I’m a doctor, so I’m no expert at sign bureaucracy — but my understanding of their sign ordinance is that if you’re on the corner that you’re allowed to have signage on the main street and the side street.
So our building location, the lot we were going to buy, had two streets, had Manchester and a side street, which I can’t remember now. And the little side street was opposite the direction of the main street that we really wanted to advertise on, which is Big Bend and Manchester.
So 90 percent of our patients are coming from Big Bend and Manchester, and the city of Maplewood has an ordinance that prohibits you from having signage on Big Bend, and it doesn’t make sense to me.
So why would a city say to us, we are prohibited from advertising on the street that most of our patients are coming from?
The goal was to have a building that has good signage. And we want a business that has signage that faces toward the streets that has the volume of patients that are coming to us….
They said we could have signage on two sides, but the only two sides can have signs on are the main street, Manchester, and the side street, which faces nobody. Nobody is going to see it.
So we said, OK, let’s come up with a compromise. We said we will rotate the building 45 degrees, where the point of the building will point Manchester, and then we’ll have signage basically on two sides of Manchester, basically facing southeast and southwest. And they said no it’s not allowed. And we said we’d like signage on the building side that faces Big Bend, they said no that’s not allowed.
So literally we would have a building that has no signage on Big Bend, and meanwhile CVS, whose on the corner, has eight signs. And we are just asking for two signs. That’s it.
So I don’t think it’s about Bruckel ‘wanting his toys or leave.’ It’s about Bruckel wanting reasonable signage…. If I’m going to put two and half million into a project that is either going to generate enough patients to break even or not, it shouldn’t be the question of do we have enough signage to make it profitable…
I run a business that’s very forward thinking, I don’t run a city. And I don’t pretend that I have the knowledge how cities operate. And I get the fact that they have to have one rule for all players, but the fact that we decided that the city sign ordinance was not going to be successful for us doesn’t mean that we should get a black eye in the community.
We’re just trying to run a business. We’re trying to have a business that’s successful, and if we have a business that has good signage and it’s successful, great, and if we have a business that is prohibited from having appropriate signage, and is unsuccessful, I don’t want to be in a position where I blame the city because they’re not going to take fault. It’s my fault.
I’m an honest, straight-forward speaking guy. A lot of people don’t like what I have to say. But what I speak is my reality, and I think my reality makes sense. And to have a conversation with a city, that instead of talking with individuals that are reasonable people, we’re talking about the bureaucracy of sign ordinances. You can’t have commonsense conversations with bureaucracy.
I love Maplewood. Maplewood is a fantastic town. The corner of Big Bend and Manchester is a phenomenal corner. We would love to be there. I get that some of the traditionalists don’t want us there because they think our signage is too bright, or too blue, or too red, or too… but it’s America. It’s red, white and blue. It’s us.
And the services we provide are fantastic. In fact, we only hire nice people. And if our doctor and our staff and our front desk people are not nice to patients, then I actually help them find a job with our competition.
We want to be in every community. We want to be a presence everywhere, and just because we come into a situation where we run into an ordinance, or a rule, or obstacle that doesn’t work we shouldn’t get a black eye. We should be commended for attempting to come into a neighborhood. We should be commended for trying to trying to break down barriers. We should be commended for trying to change the healthcare landscape and the healthcare delivery system, but instead, all we get is a negative article about we’re self-righteous and pompous about, well, we’re just going to take our toys and go somewhere else.
We’re real people. We’re genuine people and we really want to make a difference. And I’m sure the mayor didn’t intend to be snarky with his comments. This is not a contest. It’s a negotiation for people trying to make the world a better place, and it’s not always going to be possible in every community.
Their rules are very black and white, and we get it. I was a commander in the United States Navy. I understand rules. I understand ordinances. I understand situations where you have a situation where you cannot make an exception for an individual business in order to maximize your potential for success buy giving them the signage that they want, that’s fine. And it’s our right and our prerogative to say, OK, so it’s not going to work out, but then they shouldn’t pooh-pooh us for that.
If they really want us in the neighborhood, they should say, let’s change the sign ordinance so that it makes sense for businesses to be successful and prosper. Or let’s acknowledge and accept the fact that our our sign ordinance is not something that they want to deal with.
Everything does not work for everyone. I think every town, including Maplewood, wants to have the right bank in their town, wants to have the right grocery stores in their town, wants to have the right doctors offices in their town, and I think that our request is very reasonable.
If we’re going to be relatively on a corner, or close to a corner, let us show the signage of our business on the busy traffic side of the corner.
If they’re willing to change it, we’ll come back. This is not a dead deal. We’re open to success in the future. We’re open to reasonable people making reasonable decisions and improving the success of these decisions going forward.
So we want to grow and we want to be in Maplewood. We certainly want to find the right corner in Maplewood, but we don’t want to be in a situation that is a marketing detriment, where we’re like, ‘wow, we really wish our patients on Big Bend could see us.’…