CB6 gives cautious thumbs-up to NY Methodist expansion

Another hurdle down.

New York Methodist Hospital’s proposed expansion of its outpatient facilities came one step closer to fruition as members of Community Board 6 gave a cautious thumbs-up to the plan on Wednesday, January 8.

The board vote of 27 in favor, four opposed, with no abstentions, followed a Landmarks/Land Use Committee vote on Monday, January 6. The board’s recommendation will be forwarded to the city’s Board of Standards and Appeals (BSA), which must rule on the variety of zoning variances that have been requested. CB 6’s vote is advisory only; BSA is not bound by it.

As previously reported, the committee attached 11 conditions to its support including limitations on height, as well as provision of a long-range plan by Methodist to CB 6 that, according to the motion, “considers the long term needs and objectives of the hospital over the next 20 years at a minimum, and how the hospital intends to meet those needs and objectives in a manner that is both inclusive and respectful of the Park Slope community.”

Other restrictions attached to the committee’s approval include a minimum reduction of 189 parking spaces “in the combined existed and proposed parking facilities, …while leaving some margin over current projected demand to absorb future growth,” as well as continued hospital participation in two task forces – one focused on traffic and the other on construction – and a commitment by the hospital to continue its dialogue on building design with local residents and civic groups.

According to the hospital, the expansion is needed because of increased reliance on outpatient facilities. It is proposed to include doctor’s offices, a new ambulatory surgery center, an endoscopy suite, an urgent care center and a comprehensive cancer center including radiation oncology and chemotherapy services on-site, as well as community education and conference facilities.

“On a macro scale, we’re fortunate that our hospital is in such great shape that they can make this level of an investment in the community,” CB 6 District Manager Craig Hammerman previously told this paper. “They’ve been open since the 1880s. Hopefully they can continue to serve our community for generations to come.”

Lyn Hill, vice president of communication and external affairs for Methodist, told this paper that the hospital was “gratified by Community Board 6’s vote to recommend approval of the variances  needed to build our Center for Community Health. We look forward to continuing to work with the Community Board as we move forward with the project.”

Among the early concerns of community residents expressed during meetings with Methodist representatives were traffic patterns, the building’s design and construction plans – all of which the hospital attempted to address with revisions to the plan.

Among the changes made in the plans by Methodist was routing all traffic in and out of the hospital on Sixth Street (the original plan called for Sixth to be used as an entrance and Fifth Street as an exit). In addition, the design was altered to move the bulk of the building as far as possible from nearby homes.

The routing of construction vehicles was also addressed in the revamped proposal, with Sixth Street the nexus of activity, and alterations were made to the plans to reduce such impacts as noise and dust.

Additional reporting contributed by Heather J. Chin.

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