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Panel gives thumbs-up to Methodist Hospital expansion

The expansion of New York Methodist Hospital came one step closer to fruition as members of Community Board 6’s Landmarks and Land Use Committee gave a cautious thumbs-up to the plan on Monday, January 6.

By a vote of 10 in favor, five opposed, with one abstention, committee members conditionally approved the proposal. The full board will vote on the matter at its January meeting on Wednesday, January 8, beginning at 6:30 p.m. at the School for International Studies, 284 Baltic Street, and its 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.

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.”

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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