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Park Slope Still Hates NY Methodist Hospital's Expansion Plans

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[To the left, the old rendering of the hospital's expansion; to the right, a tweaked version.]

UPDATE: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that CB6 voted against the plans, when in fact the land use committee approved the plans with contingencies. Curbed regrets the error.

Representatives from New York Methodist Hospital tried again last night to appease Park Slope residents in Brooklyn by showing a revised plan to build an extension, and despite community opposition, community board 6 land use committee voted 10-5-1 to approve the variances, with contingencies. The meeting was the latest in a series of board meetings that are filled with residents' shouting.

"I love watching presentations on corporate fantasies," resident David Barnes, a 55 year old musician, said to the dozen representatives that attended the meeting. "But I still haven't heard anyone address the devastation that this construction will bring to the community."

Barnes was referring to the 16 townhouses that currently stand on the hospital's proposed site. The building would stretch all the way up to 8th avenue and would stand 152 feet tall and eight stories high. The main purpose of the expansion, hospital representatives said, was to have 12 operating rooms and 36 beds for recovery.

Meetings in the past had ended with hospital officials telling the public they would change things about the hospital to better accommodate the residential neighborhood. During this meeting, they proposed pulling back the glass walls on some of the upper floors in order to be less imposing.

Another concern residents had was parking space and the rise in traffic the expansion would bring. A traffic consultant presented on behalf of the hospital and said that, with the expansion, the hospital would have 662 parking spots. A hundred and four of those spots would be reserved for doctors. The hospital's current capacity is 597.

After the hospital officials and consultants made the case, the floor was opened up to the audience. Residents began to systematically chip away at the hospital's presentations, with one resident even taking up issue with calling a 152 feet tall building an eight-story building.

Barnes, as well as other residents, believes that the actual process of constructing such a large structure will make the whole area unlivable. "If you think by doubling the size of this hospital won't change the character of this neighborhood, then I don't know where you're from," he said to a round of cheers. "This is the wrong building in the wrong neighborhood at the wrong time."

In a time where many hospitals are closing in New York City, an expansion in this hospital is being met with skepticism. Andrew Vickers was amazed by the lack of data the hospital's presentation had. As a researcher for Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, Vickers is used to presentations where medical officials will present specific numbers on how and why something will work. But with this group of medical officials, the presentation was lacking.

"I saw no data being given to us tonight," Vickers told Curbed. "They're telling us they need this new expansion but they're not giving us detailed numbers on why exactly this expansion is needed."

The full board will vote Wednesday, but community boards are only advisory and the city will ultimately decide if the hospital gets the zoning variance. If not, the hospital could build a taller, thinner building as of right that could rise 15 to 20 stories.
—Eric Jankiewicz
· Methodist Hospital Shortens Itself A Bit To Appease Neighbors [Curbed]
· All New York Methodist Hospital coverage [Curbed]