These Cobble Hill residents are looking for preventive care, not a Band-Aid solution.
A forthcoming traffic study for a new medical center coming to the former Long Island College Hospital site will be too little, too late for a project that could open as early as next year and still has no concrete plans for parking, say neighbors.
“You hired somebody to do a traffic study but the facility was designed first,” said one local at Community Board 6’s human service committee meeting on Jan. 27, where a hospital rep showed up to tout features of the new facility but was met with a barrage of questions about where visitors will park. “It seems backwards.”
The New York University Langone Medical Center honcho told residents it has hired former city transportation commissioner Sam Schwartz — better known as “Gridlock Sam” for his old newspaper advice column — to analyze the impact the new sickbay at Atlantic Avenue and Hicks Street will have on traffic in the area.
But the university — which took over the old hospital’s emergency department in 2014 when the site was sold to Fortis Property Group — says providing parking is the developers’ responsibility, and the company still hasn’t announced what or where that will be.
Locals now worry the lack of any firm plans for visitors’ cars means they will end up leaving them on nearby residential streets — an issue that could be compounded by sticking ambulance bays on busy Hicks Street.
“The whole point of an ambulance is to get you there quickly, and on Hicks Street you don’t do anything quickly,” said one Cobble Hill resident.
The hospital bigwig said 15,000 patients graced the gurneys in its current emergency departments on Amity Street last year, about a third of whom arrived by ambulance. And he expects the university’s reputation will bring in even more ailing visitors when it relocates to the new, four-story digs — which will include an emergency department, four surgical beds, and a cancer treatment center.
“I think the NYU name and brand has value,” said Gary Kalkut, an executive at New York University Langone.
Past patients driving in have been able to access the old hospital parking garages, which Fortis plans to knock down so it can build luxury apartments.
A Fortis spokesman said it will definitely have new parking for the infirmary in place by the time it opens in late 2017 or early 2018, but could not say how many spaces.
“While the number of parking spaces in our redevelopment plan has not yet been finalized, we are committed to providing parking for the new NYU Langone facility in accordance with New York City rules and regulations,” said James Yolles.
But leaders of a Cobble Hill civic group — who recently attended several secretive meetings with reps from Fortis, the university, and City Hall to hash out the details of both developments — say they are still concerned about the amount of parking in the plan.
“Parking is one of the issues that remains outstanding,” Buzz Doherty, vice president of the Cobble Hill Association, told this paper following a meeting last month.
The clinic has long been a sore point in the neighborhood. Locals fought hard to keep the hospital open, and some have slammed the new “freestanding” emergency room — the result of a lawsuit settlement that required any buyer to keep some medical services on the site — as a glorified urgent care.
Demolition on the old hospital is already underway, and the university will start building the clinic soon.