Methodist Hospital expansion faces opposition
by Andrew Pavia
Nov 26, 2013 | 1284 views | 0 0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Despite strong community opposition, New York Methodist Hospital in Park Slope is moving ahead with a plan to expand its facility by adding a new 300,000-square-foot outpatient center.

The proposal, however, was dealt a bit of a blow after Community Board 6's Landmarks/Land Use Committee voted against the plan.

The hospital would have to acquire five variances to build the facility to the 140-foot height proposed. Under current zoning regulations, the hospital falls under three separate zones, one of which would not permit them to build that high.

The hospital owns the land and could build as-of-right two buildings that would contain the same amount of space, but not reach nine stories.

Methodist officials have said that they want the extension to be one tall building so their doctors and nurses do not have to leave one building to get to another.

“We could as-of-right build two buildings now with the same zoned square footage as we propose,” said Lyn Hill, a spokesperson for Methodist Hospital. “We will do so if the variances are not granted.”

However, Hill said the construction time for that plan would be longer and it would include an additional building on the corner of 7th St. and Eighth Ave., which community members have opposed in the past.

At last week's committee meeting, 6th St. resident Bennet Kleinberg recalled how he was saved by the efforts of doctors and nurses at Methodist Hospital roughly 10 years ago after being diagnosed with septic shock and multiple organ failure.

Since that incident, he has been a strong supporter of the hospital, sitting on the Community Committee and dedicating a plaque in the lobby to the doctors who treated him.

“I was distraught and distressed over the past six months because Methodist has moved aggressively to push this project through,” he said. “Without community input and without listening to the needs of the many people who are sitting here tonight.”

Although the meeting was packed with opponents, some supporters of the plan voiced their opinions as well.

“Hospitals close when they are not visionary and creative,” said Reverend Dr. Daniel Meeter of the Old First Reformed Church on nearby Carroll St. “This building project deals with and anticipates the interconnectedness of healthcare.”

Dr. Andrew Vickers, an associate at Memorial Sloan-Kettering and professor of public health at the Weill Medical College of Cornell University, expressed his concerns with the plan.

“I fully agree that great institutions like Methodist need to expand their services, the question is how they do it?” he said. “Building mega-hospitals in small residential communities is definitely not the way to do it.”

A full board vote will take place next month, but ultimately the final decision on the project will be made by the Board of Standards and Appeals.

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