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Park Slope Hospital Expansion Would Bring 100,000 New Patients

By Leslie Albrecht | October 22, 2013 8:20am
 New York Methodist Hospital says its new facility will generate 102,245 new patient visits annually.
New Details Revealed on NY Methodist Hospital Expansion
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PARK SLOPE — The controversial expansion of New York Methodist Hospital would bring more than 100,000 new patients a year to the neighborhood and generate almost 260 car trips each day, according to documents filed with the city's Board of Standards and Appeals.

The hospital's recently submitted BSA variance application answers some of the questions that neighbors have repeatedly asked about the expansion at public forums, such as how many people the new building will bring to the neighborhood.

The estimated figure is 102,245 new patients, according to a 154-page environmental assessment filed with the BSA application. By comparison, the population of Park Slope is 67,649, according to the most recent census figures.

The new details reinforced concerns about the project for some locals.

The hospital says in the application that the new building "is not expected to significantly alter traffic conditions" — a claim that troubled neighbor Deborah Orr.

"I'm not sure what they're basing that on," Orr said. "There's no way that could be true."

The application makes clear that most of the patients and staff at the new building would travel by car to Park Slope, she noted.

The new building, to be called the Center for Community Health, would house outpatient services, including 12 surgical suites, an endoscopy suite with six procedure rooms, a cancer center, an after-hours urgent care center, physician offices and a conference center.

It would span the block between Seventh and Eighth avenues, Fifth and Sixth streets.

The hospital revealed the following in its BSA application:

- The building would be 498,500 square feet and 152 feet tall.

- The structure would be nine stories (seven floors topped with two floors of mechanical equipment).

- The facility would employ 282 medical staff and 45 building support staff.

- The building would generate an estimated 257 car trips per day.

Spokeswoman Lyn Hill said it was important to consider those numbers within the context of Methodist's overall operations.

"[T]he raw numbers are much less important than the percentage increase they represent," Hill said in an email.

She added, "Since only visits and trips related to outpatient activity are reflected in the BSA filing (without regard to inpatient visits, total staff and physicians, emergency room visits, faculty practice visits, etc.), the actual percentage increase is much smaller than might be inferred from the filing alone."

Neighbor Eve Gartner said the hospital's application does little to shed light on the project's potential impacts. Usually BSA applications compare a proposed development to a "no-build" scenario, then disclose potential environmental impacts, said Gartner, an attorney with experience on land use issues.

But the hospital doesn't include a "no-build scenario" in its filing. Instead, Methodist outlines two scenarios: the building it wants to construct, and the building it would have to construct if it doesn't win a variance. Both options assume that some sort of new facility will be constructed.

"They've picked the wrong baseline, and by doing that they've obscured the real impacts and prevented the decision makers from understanding what they’re doing," Gartner said. "What they're trying to do is make it so that [the city] will say, ‘Oh, this won’t have any impacts at all.”

Community Board 6 will hold its next public meeting on New York Methodist's expansion plans on Thursday Nov. 21 at 6 p.m.; the location is to be determined.