WPCNR Common Council Chronicle-Examiner. By Shivaun Dipshan.
Wednesday, July 03, 2002. 1:00 P.M. E.D.T.: Concerned citizens and hospital employees piled in to the Common Council meeting, not to see the appointment of Commissioner of Public Safety, but to voice their concerns about the New York Presbyterian Hospital proposal.
HOSPITAL SHOWCASES DESIGN OF PROTON ACCELERATOR/BIOTECH CENTER: John Annunzio, the landscape architect of the building, as he appeared on Channel 72 Monday evening, presenting the first rendering of a combined accelerator/research lab on the Site Eight. Geoffrey Thompson spokesman for the hospital told WPCNR today, the hospital is agreeable to building the facility on Site Eight or a combination of two buildings, the research facility on Site Eight, the Accelerator on Site Five.
Photo by WPCNR
The Hearing on the hospital Special Permit was held open, and documents were referred out to City Departments for comment with a possible Council vote on the proton accelerator/biotech research facility on August 5.
Traffic, Pollution Concerns
The main concern of citizens who spoke, was the location of the biomedical center not as much the purpose, but safety issues such as traffic and pollution, and the effect it would have on White Plains. However, while the citizens are afraid of change, members of the hospital as well as residents posed the question what is the outcome if one fears change? They asked the council not to impede progress because it could lead to saving people’s lives. In the end it boils down to a question of stopping progress or allegedly, pollution.
A prophetic invocation
The Common Council meeting began with Father Donald O’Brien asking the Lord, to “grant us the courage to be open to each other and not to be fearful of new ideas and different approaches than our own to matters that are put before us.” His prayer was echoed throughout the meeting as representatives and employees from the hospital as well as residents asked that the council not fear the proposal of the biomedical research laboratories New York Presbyterian Hospital is planning for their White Plains campus.
”Watch” Ad Sets Tone.
The long list of residents and hospital employees to voice their opinions about the project started off with members of the Concerned Citizens for Open Space displaying their ad in the newest issue of the White Plains Watch.The ad demonstrated the signatures of 348 White Plains citizens who are opposed to the New York Presbyterian Hospital Project.
TRUMP CARD: The Concerned Citizens for Open Space advertisement as it appeared in the White Plains Watch this week was a star player Monday night.
Photo by WPCNR
“The citizens urgently request you vote no…we are deeply concerned about the future of White Plains,” said Barbara Benjamin, a representative of the association, reading the copy in the advertisement.
A preliminary WPCNR analysis of the first 100 names in the advertisement indicates that virtually all but 4 signees live in the residential neighborhoods immediately up to a mile and a half South of the project, and East of Post Road.
In our analysis of the first 100 signees of the ad, only 4 persons live West and North of Post Road, in the northern end of White Plains, and 58 households live in the area West of Post Road and South of the Hospital, the “Southend” of town. Of those, 39 of those 58 households reside directly South of the Hospital Property in the Gedney Farms, North Street, Haviland Manor area. We counted obvious husband/wife/family combinations as one household, accounting for the difference.
Residents of the Gedney neighborhood, the North Street Civic Association, and Rosedale neighborhoods and Bryant Gardens (immediately across Bryant Avenue from the hospital property) have voiced concerns in the ongoing public hearing over the last six months because it violates residential zoning, causes health problems as well as traffic problems, and creates a negative impact on surrounding neighborhoods.
Monday evening saw the same speakers from the five previous months of hearings repeating their concerns:
Carry Kyzivat, a resident of Maple Moor Lane, about 1 mile South of the proposed location, and concerned citizen of White Plains, asked the councilpersons “why can’t White Plains be known for preserving unique grounds for the benefit of its residents? I emplore you to show you really care for this city.”
Carl Barrera, a resident, said the issue is not whether open space will be preserved, but rather about a project that a landowner wants to build on his property. His point was the council should not confuse the two issues.
Unanswered Questions Still Lurking
Marc Pollitzer, a resident of North Street, approximately 1 mile South of the proposed project, discussed how this project “seems like a commercial endeavor.” He then went on to ask the council how they could “blindly approve” this project without understanding what the research would be.
Ruth Marie Hicks, a resident who works as a researcher, voiced her concern about the location of the planned project. “I do not see that a residential area is an appropriate place for conducting this research.”
She also discussed how she thinks there are going to be more researchers than the hospital proposed because the amount of space and the number of researchers don’t add up.
Do We Really Need it?
Hicks also stated that Westchester didn’t need this (proton accelerator)facility because “we are very over serviced medically…we don’t need more facilities in this city…we already have two hospitals.”
In previous articles, WPCNR has reported that the proton accelerator, would be the only proton therapy cancer treatment facility of its kind in the New York Metropolitan area. WPCNR has found the accelerator treatment has long been ignored or not considered by oncologists in this area as a cancer treatment for prostate, children’s brain tumors and breast cancers. The reason may be that the accelerator renders obsolete the more invasive surgical procedures and radiation treatments in vogue to treat those cancers and practiced extensively by surgeons and radiologists in the New York metropolitan area.
WPCNR queries of surgeons and cancer specialists who treat such tumors expressed very little knowledge to us of the proton accelerator treatment. It is a treatment that has shown to be more effective and less invasive in treating prostate cancer, yet is tacitly ignored by cancer specialists in our area, so not too many patients are recommended for it.
Hicks, who is an asthmatic, warned the councilpersons not to underestimate the seriousness of pollution. Her mother, who was a singer and never smoked a day in her life, died of lung disease. “Pollution is a serious medical problem,” she said.
Esthetics Seem More Important
Mr. Wilcocks, a resident of Westchester, voiced his concern with people caring more about “a view” than saving people’s lives.
“If such risks were not taken before we would not be having this discussion because most of you would be dead. Progress always comes with a price tag,” he said. He then went on to call citizens who opposed the project arrogant and selfish and said that many of their complaints were not valid. For example, he called the traffic issue “minor traffic problems.”
The Role of Research-Possible Projects
The employees of the Hospital spoke of the benefits of research. Gale Rider, who is the Director of Psychiatric Health, voiced her concern about the need of hospitals to stay current.
The job of an academic medical center is to stay current: “health care is moving very rapidly and we find ourselves behind…what we are being challenged with now is the cure…what people want is the cure. It’s hard for families to hear we don’t have it now but it’s coming…the time is now,” she said.
Another researcher who works for the hospital tried to explain the kind of projects that the hospital is trying to set up. One of the projects is geared towards improving the quality of life of anxious elderly people in the community.
First Look at Facility Design
After a break in the Common Council proceedings, there was a surprise presentation by the New York Presbyterian Hospital. Most of the persons speaking at the hearing left, and missed some very interesting information, including a rendering of the new facility.
PAUL BERGINS ARTICULATES HOSPITAL COMPROMISE: Attorney Paul Bergins explaining the two compromise positions of the proton accelerator/biomedical research building Monday night, as he appeared on Channel 71.
Photo by WPCNR
One of the New York Presbyterian Hospital attorneys, Paul Bergins, presented the most recent developments in the project. Bergins offered an olive branch proposal, saying the hospital was open to placing a 6-story proton accelerator and research building on Site 8, with an accompanying parking structure behind it. Only five stories of which would be above ground, with the proton accelerator below ground.
When queried about tree destruction, a concern of Councilperson Rita Malmud, Bergins said the hospital was still working up a site configuration to limit the amount of tree destruction by relocating the retension pond.
For the first time in the one-year on-going consideration of this project, the hospital presented a color rendering of what the building would look like on the Site 8 interior site.
It is a red-brick, low-rise building, that is designed to a height that would not be seen from either Bryant Avenue or Mamaroneck Avenue, not rising above the tree line, according to Geoffrey Thompson, a spokesman for the hospital. Entry would be from the Bloomingdale Road access road where the hospital enjoys easement rights.
Documents Referred Out to Departments
At the conclusion of the hospital presentation, the Common Council voted unanimously to refer the documents out to city departments to comment. Next in the process, is creation of a Findings Statement. The Hearing on the Special Permit was kept open, and will resume or be closed at the August 5 meeting of the Common Council.
Rick Ammirato, a spokesman for the Mayor’s office, said a vote could be taken at that time, but not necessarily, it depends on the Common Council. Ammirato said the public can send in written comments to the Planning Department up until July 28 on the project.
Straub Approved. Mayor’s Wishes, Not King’s, Come True on Commissioner.
MAYOR DELFINO AND NOW NEW PUBLIC SAFETY COMMISSIONER DR. FRANK STRAUB: The Mayor is shown congratulating Dr. Straub in June when he introduced the NYPD Anti-Terrorism expert to White Plains. Dr. Straub was approved by the Common Council Monday evening.
Photo by WPCNR
Before taking a final vote on the new Public Safety Commissioner nominee, Mayor Joseph Delfino read from Dr. Frank Straub’s resume to reiterate why he would be a good candidate for Commissioner of Public Safety. He mentioned that he had “excellent credentials and experience.”
Some of the things he listed were that Straub is the Co-Chair for the Metropolitan Area Terrorism Committee, working with the New York City Fire Department to develop joint training programs for emergency responders to chemical, biological, and radioactive terrorist events.
He also mentioned that when Straub was Chief Administrator of the NYPD’s office of Training he managed a $25 Million Budget and supervised 750 persons. Straub has a Ph.D. in Criminal Justice from the City University of New York, a Master’s Degree in Forensic Psychology from John Jay College of Criminal Justice, and a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from St. John’s University. He also teaches graduate courses at John Jay College of Criminal Justice.
“His unique background will bring a new vision…he will play a vital role in bringing fire and police to a new level of excellence,” the Mayor said.
Strengthen Bond Between Fire and Police
The vote was 6-1; Councilman William King was the only one who voted against Straub being appointed.
After the voting, the Mayor swore him in and presented him with the White Plains Public Safety Commissioner badge.
“It’s an honor to be appointed and a privilege to serve White Plains…Thank you for this opportunity to serve White Plains as a Commissioner of Public Safety,” Straub said.
He then went on to discuss how after September 11th the need for police and fire departments to work more closely together is called for and how he is going to help “strengthen the bond between fire and police.”
Not Enough Summer Jobs for Youth
The Youth Bureau is helping children to get summer jobs but the problem that many kids face is that there aren’t enough jobs. Councilman William King asked citizens of White Plains to “help employ our kids during the summer…if you have any odd jobs around the house you can think of or know any people who could use some help… please do not hesitate to call the Youth Bureau at 422-1378.”
Hudson United Bank
Hudson United Bank is donating $10,000 for the Independence Day Celebration and other Special Events.
“They said what can I do to be a part of this community? That is the first time any corporation has said that to me,” Mayor Delfino said.
Councilperson Rita Malmud also expressed her gratefulness for their 4th of July celebration.
The Mayor also mentioned that they are planning to have an outdoor film at the White Plains High School. The film that is going to be shown is Harry Potter; a date is yet to be set for the event.
Councilpersons Express Their Enthusiasm for the New Field
SAXON WOODS SOCCER FIELD SITE: Shown is the location of the new soccer field to be built for White Plains by the County of Westchester. It is located adjacent to the southbound Hutchinson River Parkway Entrance at Mamaroneck Avenue at far end of the Saxon Woods Pool Lot.
Photo by WPCNR
An artificial turf soccer field is going to be built at the southern end of the parking lot at Saxon Woods Park, which is adjacent to the Hudson River Parkway entrance ramp. The Council accepted the Inter Municipality Agreement necessary to initiate the project.
“I am so pleased we are starting what needs to be done to bring more soccer to White Plains,” said Malmud. She, along with other councilmembers, were pleased at its location because it wouldn’t bother people living near the field.
The City will pay for the maintenance of the field and be responsible for establishing regulations.
Benjamin Boykin, Jr., Common Council President shared Malmud’s enthusiasm for the project and added that the field will stay open till 10 p.m. and will be provided with lighting. The lighting will not impact the surrounding neighborhood. Boykin also said that they are planning to get the neighborhood’s reaction to the field.
“It’s an excellent opportunity for our city…it’s a field of dreams that has come true for our city,” councilman Tom Roach said.
“A few years from now Brazil should watch out,” said councilman Bob Greer.