Saturday, December 20, 2014

Montefiore maneuvers to avoid state review

By Shant Shahrigian

Montefiore Medical Center has altered its controversial plans for a new facility on Riverdale Avenue in a way that could circumvent a new review process by the state Department of Health (DOH), according to residents who met with hospital and development representatives last week.

The community members said Montefiore now plans to create a six-story structure encompassing about 77,000 total square feet. It would include a ground floor, three stories of parking and two stories dedicated to providing medical services.

The latest plan, which a Montefiore spokeswoman declined to confirm or deny, marks a significant reduction in the health care giant’s initial proposal to create an 11-story, 95,000-square-foot site on Riverdale Avenue near West 238th Street.

But Montefiore also claims its latest plan will avoid a new review process mandated by Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz and state Sen. Co-Majority Leader Jeff Klein, according to residents who attended the July 9 meeting.

At the end of March, the lawmakers took the unprecedented step of targeting Montefiore’s unpopular plans with legislation requiring the DOH and other bodies to review proposals for ambulatory care centers over three stories tall or greater than 30,000 square feet. According to residents at last week’s meeting, Montefiore says since only two stories on the proposed Riverdale Avenue building will offer any services, the facility will be exempt from the law.

Mr. Dinowitz said he had no opinion on whether the plans — which Montefiore will present at a public Community Board (CB) 8 Land Use Committee meeting on Tuesday, July 22 — will be subject to a DOH review.

“I’m not the one to answer that,” he said in a phone interview. “The fact that Montefiore put forth a plan which very significantly reduces the size and capacity of the building… I believe is due mostly to the law that we passed.”

Mr. Klein also said he had no opinion on whether the review process will apply, adding that his office is evaluating Montefiore’s latest proposal.

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