Saturday, September 24

Protecting the Health of CB2

"#OccupyCB2" signs on the chairs.
The Environment, Public Safety, and Public Health Committee of Community Board No. 2 held a meeting regarding the St. Vincent’s Campus Redevelopment Project on the night of September 21. Before the meeting commenced, a man walked around the auditorium and placed “#Occupy CB2” signs on the empty chairs. The chair, Jason Mansfield, led the board of five men and four women. “This is an unprecedented construction project in the middle of the Village, in the middle of a heavily residential area with two schools,” began one board member.

(Photo Courtesy of Community Board No. 2)
First on the agenda was a presentation by Ann Locke, who addressed questions raised by the board regarding the remedial action plan for the environmental impacts of the construction project. The board was also concerned that the demolition of the old hospital building would release asbestos and wanted to know the contractor’s plan of containment. Locke addressed how hazardous material was going to be disposed and explained that no carcinogens would be released into the environment. Citing that after 9/11 the health of children at Stuyvesant School were negatively impacted by delivery trucks not having diesel particular filters installed, the board requested that vehicles of the contractors and all parties working on site to be equipped with diesel particular filters. The board also made a request for the construction company to set up a website and post, in a timely manner, the air quality for playgrounds and public areas. “NYU does it” was their argument.
When chair then opened up questions to the floor, he began to lose control of the discussion. Some members of the community (specifically those who were holding up “#OccupyCB2” signs) had questions completely unrelated to the agenda. First up to the microphone was a man with an eye patch who had with him a small dog. He began by saying how he almost had a small stroke that day. “Why can’t they give us a hospital?” he asked, “They have the money!” to which some members of the community answered with a standing ovation. Next up was an older woman who said, “We were shot down at every turn, but we still want to save the hospital!” As soon as they got a hold of the microphone, they began to speak passionately and at length about saving St. Vincent’s.
A spokesman from North Shore LIJ responded by saying that “the existing hospital [St. Vincent’s] could not continue to exist as a competitive 21st century hospital because of physical constraints such as ceiling height” and cannot fit modern equipment. “In 2014, the community will receive a new park, new school, and new emergency department,” he added.
After Mansfield regained control of the room, Judy Wessler of the Commission on Public’s Health System gave a presentation on the “Qualitative Community Health Survey” conducted by the St. Vincetn’s Community Health Needs Assessment Task Force. Her presentation highlighted how people don’t know where to go after St. Vincent’s closed. “Information, transportation, and access to appointments were a serious problem,” said Wessler.
“I personally am very worried about a free standing emergency room,” said Wessler, “I think it works in rural areas, but we are in New York City.” Her statement was greeted by another standing ovation.

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