Updated with Pictures, Dec. 10:A media briefing conducted by New York Presbyterian Hospital Tuesday, December 4, revealed the hospital is willing to build on three interior sites within their campus, two of them are a considerable distance away from Bryant Avenue. The hospital views financing of the facility as being dependent on the approval of the Common Council of the proton accelerator project.
The hospital said it was considering a “public-private” partnership to finance the proton accelerator project, and needed Common Council approval before they could begin to solidify the $265 million projected to finance the project.
The briefing disclosed that the proton accelerator was judged by the hospital environmental evaluators to be safer than an MRI facility, and posing no radiation threat, and generating no radioactive waste.
HOSPITAL HOSTS THE WHITE PLAINS MEDIA: On Tuesday, December 4, New York Presbyterian Hospital “round-tabled” with, (clockwise, L to R), Alex Philippidis, back to camera, Westchester County Business Journal, James Benerofe, SuburbanStreet.com, Susan Chang,White Plains Watch, shown in news conference with (to right of display board), Constance Hildersley, Vice President for Real Estate, Geoffrey Thompson, Thompson & Bender, and Willa Brody, Hospital public relations, and Susan Elan, The Journal News, was also present. WPCNR PHOTO.
With the White Plains media present, New York Presbyterian Hospital executives, Connie Hildersley, Vice President for Real Estate, Willa Brody, public relations, and their spokesman, Geoffrey Thompson, walked reporters through a summary of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement, found by the Common Council last week to be “complete.” A public hearing is scheduled on the DEIS January 7, 2002 at City Hall.
The DEIS addresses other potential sites where the hospital has gone on record as of Tuesday of being willing to construct the Bourne biomedical research lab and proton accelerator.
Each of the three sites identified would receive traffic from a new entrance drive from Bloomingdale Road to be constructed adjacent just South of the Bloomingdale’s site, with no traffic anticipated on Bryant Avenue. The alternate site suggested farther West off Bryant Avenue also references a “secondary entrance” on Bryant Avenue.
ORIGINAL PROPOSED BRYANT AVENUE SITE:The original plan for the proton accelerator building, to right, and the new Bourne Research Lab, left, called “Plan B,” calls for the cancer-fighting treatment facility to be located in one of two large office buildings built on property immediately accessible by the Bryant Avenue gate, at bottom of plan. Constance Hildersley stated in the briefing that the hospital is willing to move the accelerator site. Plan transcribed from NYPH DEIS by WPCNR PHOTO.
Asked by WPCNR if the Common Council wanted the hospital to build on any of the three sites, if the hospital would do that (build on one of alternate sites), Hildersley said, “Any of the sites that meet our program are viable. If it meets our programs, it’s acceptable to us. Sites 6,7,8 are viable alternatives.”
The matter of consideration of alternative sites for the proton accelerator and biomedical-biotech research laboratory was demanded by the scope of Draft Environmental Impact Statement. Alternative site suggestions from the hospital have long been asked for by all Common Council members.
WPCNR walks the sites with NYPH’s Brody
In order to get a view of precisely what would be the impact on the surrounding neighborhood by the three locations proposed in the DEIS, WPCNR asked NYPH if we could have a walk-through of the sites, and a photo opportunity.
The walk-through was granted last Wednesday by Ms. Hildersley, under the condition that no pictures would be taken. Ms. Brody advised that the hospital will be providing visuals of the three potential sites for the public at the January 7 hearing, and did not want WPCNR photo composition judgment to convey an impression to the public before the hearing.
AERIAL VIEW OF SOUTH END OF NYPH CAMPUS shows area where original two-building construction on Bryant Avenue was proposed, and alternate sites. North is at the top of the picture. To orient the reader: the road at bottom of picture is Bryant Avenue. The entry off of Bryant Avenue, center, foreground, is the Bryant Avenue Gate.The original Plan B buildings are proposed to go on Bloomingdale Road on the two fields split by Bryant Avenue Gate.The road at the left of the photo is Mamaroneck Avenue, which forks to the right, turning into Bloomingdale Road. The square cutoff at top left of photo is Bloomingdale’s. Aerial view electronically transcribed from NYPH DEIS by WPCNR PHOTO LAB.
Thursday afternoon, December 6, Ms. Brody took WPCNR on a tour of Proton Accelerator Alternate Sites, identified as Sites 8,6, and 7. I list them that way because that was the order in which your reporter walked them with Ms. Brody.
William King’s favorite part of the Hospital property is one alternative.
Site 8 is the first site. It is the area known as the driving range, a sloping sprawl of meadow, rough-mowed of 7.5 acres. As Ms. Brody and I drove up, we parked at the road bordering the North edge of the site, and saw two golfers actually practicing shots. Ms. Brody, in an aside, told me Councilman King “loves this part of the property. He feels it is the perfect example of a meadow.”
.AERIAL VIEW OF SITE 8,”THE DRIVING RANGE:” This technological cropping of the aerial view shown earlier, indicates the meadow proposed as Alternate Site 8. Aerial view was electronically transcribed from NYPH DEIS by WPCNR PHOTO LAB.
I looked across the meadow to the South.
The “driving range” was bordered by a row of approximately 20 stately evergreens on the East, (to my left, marching towards me). Beyond the evergreens were the formal gardens, which would not be touched. I gazed across the meadow to the South, noting a wide copse of mature trees due as I took in the East to West sloping fairway in front of me.
To my right, bordering the meadow (on the West) were thick woods. Ms. Brody explained the woods would be partially cleared to accommodate the west wing of the proton accelerator building and its new access road.
Brody advised that the large copse of trees bordering the South side of Site 8 would be removed to accommodate a portion of the Proton Accelerator building.
We walked across the meadow to the south, it took us about 10 minutes to traverse it. I noted the copse was filled with mature trees but not thickly forested and it had a slight arroyo in the middle leading to open rolling fields on the other side.
Access road for all three alternative sites will parallel Bloomingdale’s South drive.
Ms. Brody said a new entrance road would be cut through Site 7. Site 7 is heavily wooded property immediately south of Bloomingdale’s, located on the bluff above Cassaway Brook down in the gorge distinguishing the extreme Western portion of the hospital property.
Asked how wide this proposed entrance road was to be, Ms. Brody said that had not been determined, but indicated it could be either two lanes or four lanes, to accommodate left-right turns more feasibly. She showed me how engineers had marked the cut of the entrance road with pink tape affixed to trees on the densely wooded Site 7.
I noted how the pink tape sliced from directly South of the Bloomingdale’s building, along the edge of the steep wooded slope above Cassaway Brook below to the West. The pink tape led out to the edge of the existing concrete road leading to the aqueduct bridge where we were parked, then continued through the woods bordering the driving range on the South.
STACKED BUILDING DESIGN FOR SITE 8: Design of combined Proton Accelerator/Bioresearch lab proposed for Site 8 (and Site 7). Viewer should note building is gently bowed in the glass center tower section, so it resembles a boomerang. Dark exterior is proposed to be red brick. There is a lighter brick face also proposed. (See plan in previous illustration). Building design electronically transcribed from NYPH DEIS by WPCNR PHOTO LAB.
According to the DEIS, a five–story L-shaped building of 384,000 square feet would be built on the “driving range” meadow plus a parking garage. This “stacked scenario,” would accommodate both the proton accelerator and the Bourne Research Facility in one building. A total of 4.7 acres of open lawn would be removed. A total of 83 trees of the variety that lose their foliage, and 64 evergreen plantation trees would be removed to build the structure.
Site 6 is West of Bryant gate on Bryant Avenue set on rolling fields.
Once we reached the extreme southern end of Site 8, standing in the middle of the wide copse of trees, Ms. Brody pointed to rolling cleared hillocks immediately in front of me through the broad copse of trees at the rear of the driving range site. Beyond the gentle rise of knolls, I could see the buildings of Bryant Gardens Apartments through tall tree cover.
SITE 6 IS ENVISIONED FARTHER WEST ALONG BRYANT AVENUE: Second “hospital-preferred alternate “Site 6” from the air, consists of the lower west meadow along the Bryant Avenue corridor, and sits below Bryant Avenue grade. It will take a portion of the woods above Cassaway Brook. West end of Bryant Avenue is at bottom of the picture. (Use overall aerial view at beginning of this report for reference.) Cropped aerial view electronically transcribed from NYPH DEIS by WPCNR PHOTO LAB.
Brody said this was the site originally envisioned as soccer fields in the ill-fated Plan A voted down by the Common Council on July 17, 2000. This site is the second alternative.
Site 6 moves Plan B West: two buildings, plus garage, lower than Bryant Avenue elevation.
Site 6 runs alongside lower Bryant Avenue, sprawls on 10.7 acres, and is below the street level of Bryant Avenue. Brody said the visual impact on Bryant Avenue residents would be less than the Plan B site further up East on Bryant Avenue, with the thickening tree border on the lower West end of Bryant Avenue creating more buffer for the residents.
As the hospital sees it, access to Site 6 will be from the planned new entrance paralleling Bloomingdale’s South entrance, we have described. No entrance, according to Ms. Brody, our site tour guide Thursday, was planned from Bryant Avenue, however the DEIS makes reference to a “secondary entrance on Bryant Avenue,” for Site 6.
Entry road to Site 6, takes out more woods.
The new entry drive, either two-lane, or four-lane, would be extended through the thick wooded border of trees on the Western edge of the driving range. Brody drew my attention to the pink tape marking the route of the newly proposed road through the forest border of the West edge of the Driving Range (Site 8)
The new access road, as I see it, cuts through thick woods to access the lower Bryant Avenue location. Just speculating here, but I cannot see how that woodsy border along the Site 8, leading to the Bryant Avenue Site 6 would be preserved if you are cutting a roadway through it. I think you lose most of it.
The access road to Site 6 appears to be perched on the edge of the gradual steep slope leading down to the Cassaway Brook gorge on the Western edge of the property. Construction on Site 6, though would preserve the wetland corridor and woodlands below Bryant Gate according to the DEIS.
Ms. Brody pointed out that most of the copse of trees we were standing at on the South edge of the driving range would be removed. The DEIS states 85 mature trees and 150 other trees would be removed in constructing the two buildings plus parking garage on Site 6.
SITE 6 PLAN IS A TWO-BUILDING PROPOSAL: It moves the Plan B configuration West to the edge of the steep slopes leading down to Cassaway Brook. Parking Garage (6 stories, partially underground sits inbetween the two buildings. New entrance road parallel to Bloomingdale’s Bloomingdale Road South entrance traverses wooded section beside Driving Range Meadow, and leads to the Site 6 complex. Dark shape is the stormwater basin. Site Plan electronically transcribed from NYPH DEIS by WPCNR PHOTO LAB.
Two Buildings Plus Parking Garage on Site 6, if Selected.
Should Site 6 be chosen, the hospital envisions two buildings, one housing the proton accelerator facility, the second building, the biotech labs, with a 6-story parking garage. The complex would house 384,000 square feet of space in two buildings, each 3-stories, or in one “stacked” 6-story building. The parking structure would be six stories in either case.
There would be no entry off Bryant Avenue at all, though there is a reference in the DEIS to a secondary access. Entry to the complex would be via the proposed Access Drive along the West perimeter of the Driving Range site.
ALTERNATE SITE 7 IS “PRISTINE WOODLAND:” The final acceptable alternative build-site in the hospital view is located south of Bloomingdale’s sourthern driveway, above Cassaway Brook, and before the acqueduct entrance located at the Mamaroneck Avenue and Bloomingdale Road fork. The light colored block in upper left of this view is the Bloomingdale’s complex. The Mamaroneck Avenue, Bloomingdale Road fork can be seen at the left of the view. Aerial View electronically transcribed from NYPH DEIS by WPCNR PHOTO LAB.
Site 7, Formerly Earmarked for Fortunoff’s, Has Least Neighborhood Impact, But Levels 1,000 Trees.
As we walked back across the Driving Range, I noted to Ms. Brody that it appeared the least impacting site was right in front of us South of Bloomingdale’s in a thickly wooded area.
Brody agreed, but remarked Site 7 was an area that Barnabus McHenry, Chairman of the Hudson River Conservancy, considered to be the closest to what he described as “pristine woodland.”
Site 7 is thickly forested. You can see Bloomingdale’s on the other side of it, but not well, and you do not get much of a sense that there is a major department store there. This was the piece of property originally envisioned on the defunct Plan A to be the Fortunoff’s site.
The forested Site 7 sandwiched between Bloomingdale’s and the north side of the acqueduct road and occupies 5.7 acres. It slopes up to the Northeast and down to the west towards Mamaroneck Avenue. It is directly adjacent to the Bloomingdale’s entrance drive.
Staring at the wild ramble of trees shielding the sky, and noting how thickly the trees were spaced, I could see it would be very difficult to walk through that site to the Bloomingdale’s property without considerable effort, it was that thick with trees, (1,085 if them, according to the DEIS).
The DEIS estimates that clearing Site 7 would remove 1,000 “mature trees” and 85 trees for the construction of the new access road which would lead in from Mamaroneck Avenue. A portion of wetland would also be eliminated.
SITE 7 REQUIRES A 5-STORY STACKED BUILDING PROPOSAL: A 90-foot high building would be built housing both the proton accelerator and the new biotech research facility. Building could be shifted slightly differently. Advantage to this plan is that it is least offensive to the Bryant Avenue corridor, yet it is environmentally agonizing.Site Plan 7 electronically transcribed from NYPH DEIS by WPCNR PHOTO LAB.
One building plus a parking structure for Site 7 if selected.
According to the DEIS, the “stacked” building option is the only way Site 7 can be developed. If Site 7 is favored, a single “L-shaped” building of six stories (one underground), would be built with a separate 6-story parking garage. The combination proton accelerator and biotech lab would rise 90-feet and be visible from the Bloomingdale’s parking lot.
Financing Seen Easier to Get With Council Approval in Hand.
On Financing the project, Ms. Hildersley said that was not addressed:
“Financing is not a subject of an environmental review. It’s not part of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement. Financing is part of the ongoing activity we’re working with.” Hildersley said.
HILDERSLEY OF THE HOSPITAL SUGGESTS FINANCING EASIER ONCE APPROVAL IS GRANTED: Constance Hildersley shown at the December 4 media roundtable told WPCNR that a Common Council approval of the proton accelerator was a key component in speeding fundraising for the $265 million proton accelerator facility. Photo by WPCNR.
When pressed by reporters on the subject, Hildersley said that a public-private partnership was envisioned. She mentioned that M. D. Anderson, the cancer research facility in Houston is financing its proton accelerator facility with a public private financial arrangement.
She said the hospital saw the project costing $265 million, $100 million of which was for the cost of the proton accelerator.
Then she said a very meaningful thing: that financing was very difficult to get from the financial world without an approved project. This leads this reporter to believe that the hospital believes a Common Council approval of the accelerator/biotech facility would pave the way for attracting a syndicate of investors in the project:
“Our credibility goes up when we make a step,” Hildersley told me last Tuesday.
Conversely, a council denial would have a very negative impact on the hospital vision of its future. Asked about the scenario of a Council denial, Hildersley said, “We’ll do whatever we have to do.”
Media Briefing Gives a Summary of the Conclusions
Additional Facts coming out of the “Media Briefing:
*Timetable: Hildersley said if the proton accelerator were started in the late fall of 2002, it could be completed by 2005, with the complete facility finished by 2006.
* The Proton Accelerator has been evaluated and found to be a safer facility than a typical MRI facility. It generates no radioactive waste and releases miniscule discharges of radiation, that are not a threat. The accelerator causes no contamination of soils or ground water. It would not cause electromagnetic interference with cellular communications. It would produce no odors.
At the Loma Linda facility, there have been no noise complaints in 10 years, and little perceptible noise based on inspection of the existing site. The finding of the DEIS, as summarized in material given me at the briefing:
“The existing Loma Linda Proton Treatment Center has been in continuous operation for over 11 years and demonstrates that use of proton beam therapy can be accomplished successfully and safely for patients, facility staff, and the public at large. The NYPH would use the same, or essentially similar equipment as that used at Loma Linda.”
* Storm water drainage will be greatly improved with a double-purifying system that will be installed as part of the project.
* The original proposed site along Bryant Avenue impacts the least amount of trees of any of the other “alternative sites:” 11.
* The soil samples for the alleged contaminated sites not cleaned up and certified clean by the Department of Environment Conservation are “coming soon,” as of last Tuesday.
* The proposed Plan B facility on the initially proposed site which is the primary site being considered calls for entrance at the Bryant Avenue gate. To mitigate traffic impact, the hospital proposes two traffic lights at the Bryant Avenue gate and at the cross street farther East on Bryant at the Methodist Church. The DEIS traffic study contends these two lights will decrease wait time.
Northern sites rejected
* The sites on the North half of the hospital property have been rejected by the hospital as alternate sites because the sites are too long and narrow. According to Ms. Hildersley, the narrow property available bordering Westchester Avenue, Bloomingdale’s and the golf course cannot contain the floor plates (read floor space) that modern research facilities now require.
Large sprawls of floor are needed so disciplines can coexist in a closer environment to interact, she said. Hopscotching lab facilities on different sites when their purposes are related are counterproductive to the purpose of a research lab, she indicated by her comments to reporters.
The Draft Environmental Impact Statement was prepared by Allee King Rosen & Fleming, Incorporated of White Plains, and Dolph Rotfeld Engineering, Adler Consulting, Evans Associates, and Pasanella & Klein Stolzman & Berg Architects. The hospital Environmental Consultant was David Paget of Sive, Paget & Riesel, and Stephen Kass of Carter, Ledyard & Milburn.