Town Board approves 140 parking spaces for hospital

July 11, 1008

Eager to give approval to Northern Westchester Hospital for use of 140 Reader’s Digest parking spaces so that its three year renovation can begin, the town board held a hearing to amend the zoning law to permit it.

Laurie Hamburg, resident of Lawrence Farms East, was first to speak.  She told the board that her daughter had had a near accident close to the high school, and urged them, with the increase of traffic the hospital parking will bring, to make sure that drivers are made aware of student foot traffic in the area.  She pointed out that there are no crosswalks or flashing lights in places where students enter the high school grounds, either at Roaring Brook Road or at common crossing places such as Upland Drive.
Manny Areces asked the board to keep in mind that the temporary parking permission will last three years, “and how does that fit into our community plan and the Reader’s Digest plan as promoted by [developer] Summit Greenfield” and its tax reevaluation?  Are we looking at the impacts of creating parking for the hospital at the same time Summit Greenfield is requesting a tax reassessment?”  Summit Greenfield has asked the board of assessment to reduce its property taxes by half.  Summit Greenfield is not charging the hospital for the 140 spaces over the three year period, and is in negotiation to rent commercial space to Northern Westchester Hospital.
“We owe it to the hospital.”
Gabby Rosenfeld, a resident of New Castle who sits on the board of the hospital, urged the board to help the hospital, an invaluable resources to New Castle and the region.  Dick Burns also described the town’s assistance to the hospital as imperative, saying “It is incumbent on this board to help.  Whatever regulation or traffic control it takes, do it.  We owe it to the hospital.”
Board member expresses reservations on traffic report
From the start, the board has made very clear to hospital representatives that the temporary parking cannot interfere with morning or evening rush hour traffic in the area surrounding the Reader’s Digest property, already a choke point for commuters as well as students and parents driving to and from the high school. 
Before reading out the motion to approve the alteration to the zoning, board member Robin Stout told the assembly, “For the record: this was originally brought to our attention via an application containing a report on traffic which I personally found to be very conclusory [without support of factual evidence].  I am not casting my vote on the basis of that report, but on need for the town to support the hospital.  We’re concerned about the impact of this temporary use on what future use might be made of the property.  We have our own traffic study underway.  We were recently recipients of memo from F.P. Clark dated July 1st that purported to analyze the traffic which I found to be conclusory and insufficient.  But board has worked with NWH to make sure traffic is not at peak hours at the location.” He then read the motion to adopt the proposed regulation.  Board members all voted in favor of the motion.