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Bayside residents clash with hospital on expansion

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The hospital filed a certificate of need with the state Department of Health to build an estimated $52 million 80,000 square-foot expansion on the east side of its existing structure, according to Dr. Edwin Simpser, the executive vice president of the health care system. TimesLedger publisher Steven Blank is vice chairman of the board of St. Mary's.The approval process could take up to a year or more, Simpser said, and emphasized that the hospital was committed to working with neighbors."We've worked hard to be unobtrusive with this building," he said. "We're trying to do as much as we can to be neighborly."But some neighbors, who have historically clashed with the hospital, questioned why the plans were not mentioned at a board meeting that neighbors sat in on just a few weeks before they were filed."They don't share the information. They go ahead and they tell us after the fact that they've put together the plan," said Blanche Felton, president of the John Golden Park Block Association.Hospital officials said the plan is in the earliest stages and residents' concerns have been taken into account."The project was put together after years of talking to the residents to respond to their concerns," said Blank.The new expansion, in a U-shaped hollow on the side of the property that faces the Cross Island Parkway, would nearly double the hospital's existing 90,000 square feet. It would not increase the number of beds, currently at 97, Simpser said. Instead, the space would give patients more private rooms, provide more room for families and staff and areas for therapists to do rehabilitation, which they now often do in hallways."The actual operation is not expanding in any way shape or form," Simpser said. "It's mainly designed to give appropriate space" and bring the 57-year-old hospital in line with state's modern standards.The plan also calls for aligning the hospital entrance with 29th Avenue - something residents have long asked for - and adding 60 parking spaces.The $52 million plan would be financed with a combination of philanthropic and state money, he said, but the hospital is still at least a year away from a campaign to raise the money."Our estimate is that construction is not going to happen for a very long time," he said.Reach reporter John Tozzi by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300 Ext. 174.By John TozziSt. Mary's Hospital for Children took the first step toward a major modernization and expansion of its 57-year-old Bayside building at the end of December, a move that some residents decried even as hospital officials said they went out of their way to consider the concerns of the neighborhood.The hospital filed a certificate of need with the state Department of Health to build an estimated $52 million 80,000-square-foot expansion on the east side of its existing structure, according to Dr. Edwin Simpser, the executive vice president of the health care system. TimesLedger publisher Steven Blank is vice chairman of the board of St. Mary's.The approval process could take up to a year or more, said Simpser, who emphasized that the hospital was committed to working with neighbors."We've worked hard to be unobtrusive with this building," he said. "We're trying to do as much as we can to be neighborly."But some neighbors, who have historically clashed with the hospital, questioned why the plans were not mentioned at a board meeting that neighbors sat in on just a few weeks before they were filed."They don't share the information. They go ahead and they tell us after the fact that they've put together the plan," said Blanche Felton, president of the John Golden Park Block Association.Hospital officials said the plan is in the earliest stages and residents' concerns have been taken into account."The project was put together after years of talking to the residents to respond to their concerns," Blank said.The new expansion, in a U-shaped hollow on the side of the property that faces the Cross Island Parkway, would nearly double the hospital's existing 90,000 square feet. It would not increase the number of beds, currently at 97, Simpser said. Instead, the space would give patients more private rooms, provide more room for families and staff and areas for therapists to do rehabilitation, which they now often do in hallways."The actual operation is not expanding in any way shape or form," Simpser said. "It's mainly designed to give appropriate space" and bring the 57-year-old hospital into line with the state's modern standards.The plan also calls for aligning the hospital entrance with 29th Avenue - something residents have long asked for - and adding 60 parking spaces.The $52 million plan would be financed with a combination of philanthropic and state money, Simpser said, but the hospital is still at least a year away from a campaign to raise the money."Our estimate is that construction is not going to happen for a very long time," he said.Reach reporter John Tozzi by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300 Ext. 174.

Posted 7:02 pm, October 10, 2011
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