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Several residents blasted Newman and the board for misrepresenting the community as it dealt with the leaders of the care facility at 29-01 216th St.Kare Pender, who lives near St. Mary's, criticized Newman for submitting a letter to the state Health Department last month that supported the $105 million proposal that would add a five-story pavilion and 60 new parking spaces."It seems to me a St. Mary's bias exists," she told the board. "Please, CB 11, don't turn your back on us."The board has not taken an official vote on the expansion, but Newman said it was appropriate for a letter such as his to be sent without a vote."The board would never get its work done if we had to approve every letter that was sent out," he said.Residents and some board members have been against the expansion for a long time, citing parking, noise and litter problems.Board member Frank Skala, an outspoken opponent of the expansion, said the facility's plans were also detrimental since the majority of the money will come from Medicaid."It's a waste of money. They are throwing away taxpayer's money," he said.Newman said he is listening to residents' concerns and is working to resolve the issue with the hospital in everyone's best interests. He accepted the criticism from his board members and residents."It's democracy and people are entitled to their opinions," he saidDespite the stern words, Newman's still won re-election to the post in by a slim 19-17 margin during the board's elections later in the meeting. Newman, who has been chairman for a year, beat out board member and Queens Courier reporter Victor Mimoni."I'm sure there were some people who didn't vote for me because of St. Mary's, but the end result was I was re-elected as board chair," Newman said.Skala scoffed Newman's win."He may have gotten the surprise last night, but the vote was close and he should have gotten a wake-up call," he said.The state Health Department approved the plan on Feb. 7. Newman said an invitation-only meeting was scheduled to be held Wednesday between residents and the chairs of the board's health and zoning committees to further discuss the facility."I welcome you asking questions and hearing the answers," Newman said.Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 146.
©2008 Community Newspaper Group
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