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A Better St. Mary’s

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Anyone who reads this newspaper on a regular basis knows how enormously proud we are of St. Mary’s Hospital for Children in Bayside. This hospital, which serves children fighting the most serious and often fatal illnesses, recently embarked on a $114 million expansion. When the work is completed, the hospital will be able to offer even better service to even more children.

“This project, it’s really overdue from the standpoint of the obsolescence of the physical plant in Bayside,” said Jeffrey Frerichs, president and chief executive officer of the hospital.

The project will triple the amount of space available for rehabilitation from about 4,000 square feet to roughly 12,000 square feet. The construction, scheduled to begin next month, will also create 420 temporary jobs.

Let’s see: 420 jobs at a time when unemployment is over 10 percent and better care for children battling the most cruel illnesses — could anyone object?

Sadly, yes. Frank Skala, president of the East Bayside Homeowners Association, said the expansion will result in dirt, noise and more cars passing through the neighborhood. He grumbled, “It will turn a residential area into a construction yard.”

The hospital has gone out of its way to address the concerns of some of its neighbors. It scaled back its original plans and held open dialogues at Community Board 11.

We suggest Skala and others who might be bothered by the dust and noise close their windows and by iPods with headphones to cancel the noise when construction begins. Meanwhile, we trust that most Baysiders are proud Bayside is home to one of the best children’s hospitals on the East Coast.

The Coastal Classroom

Even at a time when the city is tightening its belt, there are some wonderful programs that have managed to survive. One of these is Green Girls, a program for middle school girls run by the city Parks Foundation’s Coastal Classroom.

Located in Long Island City, Green Girls are casting nets in the East River and learning about the hidden life of microorganisms there.

The summer camp combines math and science with hands-on fun and, from what we observed, is a success.

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