St. Vincent's Hospital Redevelopment Hearing Draws Hundreds

By Patrick Wall on March 6, 2012 9:41pm 

Irini Sadek, 77, waited for two-and-a-half hours to be admitted into a public hearing on Mar. 6, 2012 on plans for the St. Vincent's Hospital redevelopment. She is seen resting in an overflow room where she was sent.
Irini Sadek, 77, waited for two-and-a-half hours to be admitted into a public hearing on Mar. 6, 2012 on plans for the St. Vincent's Hospital redevelopment. She is seen resting in an overflow room where she was sent.
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DNAinfo/Patrick Wall

CITY HALL — A man collapsed as dozens of people, including many senior citizens, waited outside for hours Tuesday morning to attend the final public hearing on the proposed redevelopment of the former St. Vincent’s Hospital site.

A City Council subcommittee heard testimony for and against plans by the developer, Rudin Management, to build luxury homes, emergency medical facilities, a new school and a park at the site of the former Greenwich Village hospital, which closed in 2010.

Members of the public began to line up outside 250 Broadway about 7 a.m. to reserve spots at the hearing, which was scheduled for 9:30 a.m. but began a half-hour late. At one point, after waiting outside for over an hour, a 75-year-old man collapsed and had to be hospitalized for "weakness," according to the FDNY and a former nurse who was also waiting on line.

While everyone who stayed on line was eventually admitted into the hearing, many people complained about the long wait.

“We’ve been waiting and waiting in the cold to go to this hearing,” said Emily Lyon, a critic of the development, who lined up at 7:40 a.m. and was admitted about noon.

“The longer we’re out here, the more people who have to go home."

The City Council's press office estimated that a maximum of 80 people had been standing on line at one time, noting staff followed the Council's standard "first come, first served" protocol for busy hearings and that nobody had been turned away.

A Council spokeswoman later estimated that over the course of the day, at least 200 people made it into the St. Vincent’s hearing, which lasted more than four hours.

Only 100 members of the public could fit into the hearing room and adjancet overflow room at a time, so security let in one new person whenever an attendee left, she added.

Eileen Dunn, who worked as a nurse at St. Vincent’s for 24 years and also opposes redevelopment the plan, said that the man who collapsed got on the outdoor line at 7:45 a.m. and “passed out” about 90 minutes later.

“He knew that to get in," she said, "he had to be at the front of the line."

At the hearing, the developer and dozens of union construction workers showed up to defend the St. Vincent's plan, while members of groups calling for a full-service hospital at the site testified against the proposal.

Bill Rudin, managing partner at Rudin Management, called the project “the product of over 70 public hearings and over 200 public meetings” and said it would “return jobs, health care, elementary schools seats and open space to this wonderful area of Greenwich Village.”

But critics said the plan for a 24-hour emergency medical center and ambulance service does not address the need for a local full-service hospital and endangers residents who must now be transported to medical centers outside of the neighborhood.

“Obviously this does not provide the health care necessary for over 1 million residents and visitors who come to our community daily,” said Yetta Kurland, co-founder of the Coalition for a New Village Hospital, a community group that she said boasts 8,000 members.

Councilman Mark Weprin, chair of Council’s zoning and franchises subcommittee, scheduled the hearing. The subcommittee must vote on the proposal, followed by the land use committee and finally the full Council.

The Council has until March 28 to vote on the plan.

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