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LIJ hoping to construct Marcus Ave. traffic exit

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But despite seeking the second exit, hospital administrators contend their single main exit is adequate even if the new garage is built.

"We believe having traffic come in and out of Lakeville Road will work," said Maurice LaBonne, senior vice president for facilities services for the North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System, which administers the medical center.

Nevertheless, LaBonne said LIJ would try to build the second exit, which requires the center to obtain easements through private property at the northern end of the campus, where the new garage is scheduled to be constructed, to Marcus Avenue, the proposed exit. Marcus Avenue sits on the medical center's northern border, with Lakeville Road on the eastern edge.

LaBonne said one of the landowners, a local bank, declined to provide an easement but an alternative route using the old Motor Parkway is being pursued. Permission for the route has already been granted by the Parker Geriatric Center, a separate institution on the medical center's campus, and is being sought from another private business, whose management has indicated it may agree to participate.

LIJ must also get approval from the village of Lake Success and Nassau County, both of which have been contacted.

"I would be very pleasantly surprised if they could pull it all together," said Richard Hellenbrecht, chairman of Community Board 13.

Seeking a second major exit on Marcus Avenue to ensure Lakeville Road does not become congested was the primary concern of CB 13 and the Lost Community Civic Association, which covers a residential neighborhood that sits directly to the south of the hospital.

"You have to make provisions to get these cars in and out," said Oscar Berenberg, president of the civic association, in a recent interview.

Faced with a parking shortage, LIJ initially presented the community board in the summer of 2002 with a proposal to expand its existing two-story garage near 76th Avenue upward and outward, but the board and the Lost Community did not like the idea.

"They felt it was too large and too tall and not respectful of residential neighbors," LaBonne said. Instead, LIJ returned to the board several months later with a proposal to build a second, seven-story garage with 1,660 spaces near the golf course on the campus' northern boundary.

Because the new parking garage would require a zoning variance, the proposal was put to a vote at CB 13 and had to be authorized by the city's Board of Standards and Appeals, which approved the project Dec. 9. During its April meeting last year, the community board voted 32-0 with four abstentions to approve the revised proposal as long as certain conditions were met.

Those conditions, according to Hellenbrecht, included building the Marcus Avenue exit; limiting valet parking, which increases a garage's capacity, to certain days; and maintaining low garage fees to encourage employees and patients to no longer park on the street along 76th Avenue.

LaBonne acknowledged that street parking clogs the avenue and said the garage, tentatively scheduled to be constructed in 2005, should help alleviate the problem.

But Berenberg remained dubious of the project and of LIJ's plans in general. He said "there's a lot of animosity against the hospital from the local community," which he attributed to LIJ since it originally was scheduled to be a small community hospital but has grown into a large medical center serving two counties.

Berenberg's civic association and CB 13 have asked LIJ to create a citizen's advisory committee, where residents in the surrounding neighborhood could voice their concerns.

LaBonne said LIJ is committed to working with the community. He declined to comment on LIJ's origins and growth but said "everybody's come to rely on LIJ as one of the premier hospitals in the metropolitan area."

Reach reporter Michael Morton by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by calling 718-229-0300, Ext. 154.

Posted 7:02 pm, October 10, 2011
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