Montefiore maneuvers to avoid state review

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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.

“The community is the ultimate stakeholders,” he said. “They’re the ones who are going to make a decision.”

Residents who attended last week’s meeting decried Montefiore’s effort to avoid a DOH review.

“I think that that’s just totally ridiculous,” said Steven Benardo, a former school superintendent. “We believe they have to go before the [DOH] commissioner because it’s a six-story facility.”

Constantine Pantazis, whose father lives next door to the site of Montefiore’s proposed new facility, shared the skepticism.

“You can’t distinguish and say three floors are a garage; two floors are this. It’s one big facility,” he said. “It just seems to be a convoluted plan to try to confuse us.”

Still, Mr. Pantazis welcomed Montefiore’s move to relocate a driveway from Oxford Avenue, next to his father’s house, to Riverdale Avenue.

Kate Rose, Montefiore’s assistant vice president for public policy and government relations, confirmed she was at last week’s meeting, but declined to discuss details of the hospital’s latest plans.

Last month, she gave a presentation to the CB 8 Land Use Committee saying Montefiore would build a three-story center on Riverdale Avenue. There was no mention of a garage going below that facility.

At the time, Land Use Committee Chairman Charles Moerdler suggested representatives from Montefiore have a small meeting with community members in order to improve communications between both sides, which have been acrimonious to date.

Residents at last week’s meeting said Montefiore declined to provide details on how many patients and vehicles the new site would receive.

The Committee to Protect Riverdale, an informal group of residents opposed to Montefiore’s plans, sent out an e-mail urging people to come to the Land Use Committee Meeting next week. The message cited Montefiore officials as saying they would not submit new plans to the Department of Buildings until after that meeting.

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bronxrunner

As I predicted, the rats Dinowitz and Klein have jumped ship from helping the community under the cover of a BS law they probably advised Montefiore how to circumvent. How convenient that so soon after this law is passed, they find a way to circumvent it. Not a surprise since Klein now won his primary and is basically a shoo in, as well as being a paid whore for montefiore (check how much money he recieved from them). Also not a surprise since it was a member of Dinowitz's club who sold the property to monterfiore in the first place. Why anybody ever trusted these fools to do the right thing is beyond me. But, this is where the system has brought us, and it ain't getting better.

Thursday, July 17, 2014 | Report this
Dimateel

Yes, this site is across the street from an apartment building, but also within site there is a bank, a drug store, doctor's offices and on the same side of the street a full block of commercial stores. A building with doctor from one of the top hospitals in the country, and one that includes a large amount of indoor parking along with being on a wide commercial street near numerous bus stops seems a very good thing.

People who object to any kind of change are always the most vocal. The land designated for the Montefiore facility is obviously already in the commercial category. I can't think of a more welcome addition than facilities for this wonderful institution. Inclusion of a large amount of space for

parking eliminates what may have been the only possible real objection.

Thursday, July 17, 2014 | Report this
bronxrunner

Your geography is dead wrong Dimateel. The site is not directly across the street from an apartment building. The site is directly across the street from the single story yo-burger. It is on a block where the tallest structure is 3 stories, and that is a new building that just went up. The rest of the block are single-story storefronts. I understand you support the project, and that is your right, but please get your facts straight before you write.

Thursday, July 17, 2014 | Report this
Dimateel

Thank you for the correction. I did check the Riverdale map but have not been involved in the earlier discussions. So, across from Yo-Burger instead puts Montefiore in the middle of the commercial block, where large delivery trucks are double parked during most of the day. Yesterday I couldn't use open spaces because a uniform delivery truck and a produce truck were blocking open space. How can anyone object to a building delivering much needed services because it is a few stories higher? It has indoor parking facilities, greatly to be desired if you are going there or going to some of the stores you now have trouble parking to use? You may want to reconsider your rigid thinking. Montefiore has already revised their plans to meet your expectations. I won't answer any rebuttal. Incidentally Dinowitz and Klein put more effort than most public officials in taking care of the really needed projects for this area.

Friday, July 18, 2014 | Report this