NEWS AND ISSUES
Testimony by New York State Senator Thomas K. Duane Before the New York City Planning Commission Regarding The St. Vincent's Hospital Redevelopment Proposal
December 8, 2009
My name is Thomas K. Duane and I represent New York Statefs 29th Senate District, in which St. Vincentfs Hospital Manhattan (gSt. Vincentfsh) is located. Thank you for the opportunity to present my comments on the Draft Scope of Work to prepare a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the St. Vincentfs Hospital Manhattan – New Acute Care Hospital and Emergency Department and Residential Development Project (gthe projecth) before the New York City Planning Commission today.
The project includes the development of a new acute care hospital and emergency department in place of the current OfToole Building on the west side of Seventh Avenue, the construction of a new residential tower on the east side of Seventh Avenue, along with new townhouses on W. 11th Street and the conversion from commercial to residential of existing buildings east of Seventh Avenue. The large scale of this redevelopment proposal obviously generates many questions and concerns regarding the short- and long-term consequences of its implementation, which the eventual Environmental Impact Statement needs to fully address. I would like to outline some of the areas I believe warrant further study beyond that described in the Draft Scope of Work with the goal being that this environmental review process will allay the reasons for the apprehension that I, other elected officials and the community share.
To begin with, I was very troubled that the Draft Scope of Work finds that gdetailed quantified traffic and parking analyses will not be required.h I, local residents and Manhattan Community Board 2 (CB2) are too well aware that small changes to traffic patterns can have huge impacts on our neighborhood, especially given the small, irregularly angled street crossings characteristic of Greenwich Village. The proposed project includes the addition of 250 parking spaces and substantial changes in ambulance and ambulette entrances, all of which will have a significant impact on traffic patterns in the area and should be studied extensively.
Additionally, the text amendments allowing for a reduction in size and a change in the open space ratios of large-scale developments will apply to all of CB2. The DEIS must study whether these changes will affect any other large-scale development in CB2 and analyze the potential impact of these changes. Another concern that should be addressed is that the map amendments allow for more floor area than needed for this proposal, and would allow for an even greater scale if at some point residential uses are replaced with commercial or community facility uses. It is very important that the DEIS include an analysis of the maximum density allowed under these map amendments and the potential adverse impacts at this site and other potential development sites.
This large scale redevelopment proposal will obviously result in significant changes to shadowing in the surrounding area. While a detailed shadow analysis is required for sun-sensitive landscapes, historic resources and open space, I request that a detailed analysis also be completed for all sites potentially shadowed by this project.
There are also many construction concerns that I believe can be mitigated with thoughtful planning. As you are well aware, this project resides in the Greenwich Village Historic District and contains and abuts multiple historically significant buildings. The DEIS should detail how these structures will be monitored and protected during construction. It should also include detailed analyses of street closures and the length of construction stages as well as the need for safe asbestos removal and proactive rodent abatement. It is critical that the DEIS address how this project may overlap with the proposed Metropolitan Transportation Authorityfs Emergency Ventilation Facility construction at 61 Greenwich Avenue.
St. Vincentfs has shown leadership in providing services to marginalized populations but unfortunately this project requires the relocation of outpatient community services. As a way to mitigate lost services to the immediate area and the adverse impact on the neighborhoodfs character, the DEIS should study the inclusion of significant special needs and low to moderate income housing in at least one of the Rudin residential buildings. I look forward to continued conversations with St. Vincentfs and the Rudin family about the financial feasibility, government and neighborhood will, and appropriate space to address this crucial issue.
Additional community facilities that will be affected by this proposal include public schools. The Draft Scope of Work estimates that the new residential units will add 107 elementary and middle school children to the neighborhood. I appreciate that the Rudin family has proactively addressed this strain on our already overcrowded schools in School District 2 by facilitating an agreement between the NYC School Construction Authority and the Foundling Hospital well over a year ago to create a much-needed elementary school.
Thank you for allowing me this opportunity to comment on the Draft Scope. I appreciate your consideration of my concerns and suggestions as this project moves forward.