March/April 1995, p.2

Parking Lot Growth by Hospitals in Brooklyn

In two Brooklyn neighborhoods, local grassroots organizations have been fighting to stop hospitals to add to add to local traffic woes by building new garages to encourage more cars to enter their neighborhoods.

In Cobble Hill, Long Island College Hospital's plan to turn Upper Van Voorhees Park into an eight-story parking tower is moving along smoothly, according to Murray Adams, of the hospital's legal department "The Judge threw out the petition by the Friends of Van Voorhees Park declaring that the plan did not bypass ULURP guidelines," said Adams. He also stated that the contract for the deal to transfer the parkland to the hospital should be signed soon. Cathy Fitzsimmons, Vice Chair of Friends of Van Voorhees Park, reported that "We are appealing ... the legal fight is still on, it is very difficult, but not over yet…Why do they want to spend $10 million for 430 parking spaces (over $23,000 per space). This is totally a staff amenity …This hospital is very well served by public transport" She added that "Council Member Joan McCabe has filed a formal request for an investigation with the Comptrollers Office for the appraisal price and also other financial issues surrounding the park." Charlotte Fahn of the Parks Council said, "This should not happen ... parkland is scarce, and the hospital does have viable alternatives. The city should not be replacing a park with an eight story garage".

In Park Slope, the New York Methodist Hospital is also in a legal fight for their plan to erect a complex containing a 538-car garage, which will also contain about 60 doctor's offices and retail space. Lynn Hill, a spokesperson for the hospital, described the plan as a project to "replace an ugly parking lot with a beautiful building". She stated 'We feel quite confident (about completion of the project) ... we have won at every point so far …We have over 3,300 pages of traffic and air quality studies that show it is unlikely that more cars will come to the area".

Although the hospital is within walking distance of five different subway lines, she also stated that patients and visitors "must come by car." Jeff Prant, President of Park Slope Action for the Environment pointed out that "A key reason why there is opposition to the project is that the additional spaces will make it more feasible for people to drive ... there will be turnover in the spaces, three cars per
space, (3x500=1500) or about 1500 additional cars per day ... Their studies are worthless, they were all financed by the hospital, it just takes common sense to see that additional supply will increase demand."

The Brooklyn Hospital also desires more parking. Irene Van Slyke, a T.A. Board Member passed on the information that "Me hospital has submitted an application for a special permit to build a three level accessory parking lot with approximately 212 spaces and the construction of an additional 118 spaces by converting the roof of the existing parking garage to parking. 'Me roof currently contains tennis courts".

Jeff Prant summed up the problem best, "It is ironic that these institutions have so little regard for the health of the people in their communities. Respiratory disease in NYC is three times the national average, and they are attempting to sell additional parking as a health issue.

New Lot Kills Garden

At the Brooklyn House of Detention on Atlantic Avenue, in Brooklyn, the garden was, paved over for parking. Assistant Commissioner Figueroa of the Department of Correction is I promising to return the garden to its original state after the community complained. In addition, the Warden has eliminated sidewalk parking.

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