BAY RIDGE — Parking is such a big problem at the Brooklyn Veterans Administration Medical Center that one veteran told U.S. Rep. Max Rose that he makes sure to arrive more than 90 minutes early for his doctor’s appointments so that he can grab a space in the parking lot.
A hospital worker told Rose that he has often seen elderly veterans walking into the medical facility at 800 Poly Place exhausted after having to park their cars blocks away and walk all the way to the building.
Rose, a Democrat representing Southwest Brooklyn and Staten Island, is calling on the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to solve the parking dilemma by constructing a parking deck on the hospital building.
Rose, an Army veteran who earned a Purple Heart in Afghanistan, fired off a letter to V.A. Secretary Robert Wilkie demanding action.
“As the bedrock of veterans’ health care in New York City, the Brooklyn V.A. should be easy to access for all veterans to receive care,” Rose said. “However, I was shocked to hear so many complaints from my constituents about lack of parking access, and the burden this creates when traveling for an appointment. This is unacceptable and must be addressed immediately.”
The hospital has a parking lot, but it fills up quickly, according to Rose, who said the lot is located a distance away from the facility’s main entrance. Elderly veterans face the risk of falling and becoming injured as they walk across the parking lot to get to the hospital, he said.
A parking deck would cost $30 million and would take three years to build, according to one estimate. Rose said it would be money well spent.
The V.A. would have to get the ball rolling by including the first phrase of the construction project in its official budget request for FY 2021. Federal agencies submit budget requests to Congress each year.
Unless the V.A. includes funding for the parking deck at the Brooklyn VA Medical Center in its budget request, Congress would not be able to appropriate the funds, according to Rose.
“This parking deck is not simply a matter of convenience. It is a life, health, and safety issue,” Rose wrote in his letter to Wilkie.
A spokesperson for the Dept. of Veterans Affairs did not dismiss Rose’s proposal for a parking deck outright but said the Brooklyn V.A hospital already does its best to serve veterans arriving at the facility by car.
“Parking can be a challenge in big cities like New York, but the Brooklyn VA Medical Center has 784 parking spaces for the convenience of our Veteran patients and employees. We also have a reserved area to drop off limited mobility patients and those who prefer not to walk from the parking lot,” the spokesperson told the Home Reporter in an email.