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Relocation of St. Mary’s program delayed

Attempts by St. Mary’s Hospital for Children to shift some of its programs from its Bayside campus to other sites have been delayed by landlord troubles, a hospital administrator told the community last week.

Local civic leaders and neighbors have been fighting the children’s hospital for several years on quality-of-life issues the residents say stem from St. Mary’s. Residents have cited crowded parking on neighborhood streets, speeding cars and drainage of the St. Mary’s property as problems.

To lessen neighborhood traffic St. Mary’s had been working to relocate two of its programs: the Homecare Program and its Medical Day Care Program. So far, only the Homecare Program has changed locations, while the state has stymied efforts to find a new home for the Medical Day Care Program.

But moving the Homecare Program hit a snag recently when negotiations with a Francis Lewis Boulevard landlord fell through, said Dr. Edwin Simpser, St. Mary’s senior executive vice president of operations and medical affairs.

Simpser told the regular meeting of the Joint Advisory Community Council, it would take about 12 weeks to move the entire Homecare Program to a site in New Hyde Park instead.

“The landlord at New Hyde Park initially did not want to give us any extra space — he wasn’t really sure what we were all about,” Simpser said. “Now he’s more familiar with us and is offering us more space.”

St. Mary’s has been trying to move the Homecare Program from its 29th Avenue campus as a way to reduce the traffic entering and leaving the hospital as well as the number of cars parked on neighborhood streets.

Simpser has said since the moving effort began the hospital has been monitoring the on-street parking of its employees and seen a decline in the number of St. Mary’s employees who park on the streets.

St. Mary’s Hospital for Children is a non-profit, long-term and rehabilitation facility that features 97 beds and treats children with a wide range of medical disorders. The hospital, which moved to Bayside from the West Side of Manhattan in 1951, is located at 29-01 216th St.

Civic leaders Frank Skala, president of the East Bayside Homeowners Association, and Dr. Blanche Felton, head of the John Golden Park Block Association, have been battling the children’s hospital for close to 10 years on various quality-of-life issues, including traffic and expansion.

Last fall the civic leaders — long distrustful of the hospital’s commitment to solving quality-of-life problems — asked to have a community resident appointed to the St. Mary’s board of directors.

Steve Blank, publisher of the TimesLedger Newspapers and a board member, informed the civic leaders last Thursday their request had been denied.

“It was felt that this is a better place for that discussion to happen,” Blank said, referring to the Joint Advisory Community Council. “We meet twice as often as the full board.”

Blank said the board of directors had invited Skala and Felton to return for another presentation in December.

Reach reporter Kathianne Boniello by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 146.

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