Today’s news:

Officials slam plan for St. Joe’s

The Manhattan-based Cornerstone of Medical Arts Center Hospital signed a long-term lease early this month with the site's owner, Galway Properties, and Cornerstone hopes to operate a 150-bed inpatient and detoxification combination program in the space at 79th Avenue and Union Turnpike once its current lease expires at the end of 2008.Galway Properties, a Long Island development company owned by brothers Sean and Eamon Lavin, bought the 80,000-square-foot St. Joseph's Hospital site in 2004 after St. Vincent's Catholic Medical Centers sold it in bankruptcy.Local civic leaders, however, oppose the plan, saying the neighborhood is already home to two similar facilities-one called Aurora Concept, around the corner on Parsons Boulevard and another at nearby Queens Hospital Center."The community has decided it's just not appropriate to have a five-story, 150-bed treatment center right next to Aurora Concept. It's not about Cornerstone being a bad provider; it's bad for the community," state Assembyman Rory Lancman (D-Flushing) said Friday at a news conference to address the issue.With the St. Joseph's Hospital site in mind, Lancman drafted his first bill earlier this month. The bill would require the oversight of the local community board when a facility such as this wants to move into a neighborhood. Current site selection law requires community board oversight for group homes, but not for facilities such as Cornerstone.City Councilman James Gennaro (D-Fresh Meadows) said Lancman and the community are working on "how to have a better process for these facilities in the future."Lancman and Gennaro have also learned that Cornerstone was not entirely truthful in its application to the state when it first sought approval to lease the site."Cornerstone has made some misleading statements" about the location of the nearest similar community facility, claiming that it is more than a mile away, Lancman said.Gennaro agreed. "There are many facilities nearby that provide the same kind of services, and [Cornerstone] misrepresented that on their application," he said.Gennaro is also introducing a resolution in the City Council to back up Lancman's bill. "My office is in touch with the New York City Department of Health to make sure the city is on record with the state," he said.Reach reporter Alex Christodoulides by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 155.

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