An Independent Look at St. Vincent’s Hardship Case
October 7th, 2008, 5:39 pm
The St. Vincent’s hardship case currently before the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) is one of the most complicated projects that the agency has considered in decades. The LPC must determine whether the maintenance of the 1961 O’Toole building in Greenwich Village “physically or financially prevents or seriously interferes with” the hospital’s ability to carry out its charitable purpose. Throughout the process, MAS has urged the LPC to seek the advice of experts in hospital design and operations who can examine the St. Vincent’s materials and offer independent opinions on the application. At a public meeting today, the LPC invited several government officials to speak about the St. Vincent’s case and answer the Commissioners’ questions. There was no definitive answer as to whether or not the site of the O’Toole building is the only viable location for St. Vincent’s new hospital facility, but the officials did help the LPC and the public acquire a better sense of the issue. The LPC is expected to determine whether or not there is a hardship later this fall. All speakers at today’s meeting emphasized the importance of St. Vincent’s to the west side of Manhattan. A representative from the office of Deputy Mayor of Health and Human Services, Linda Gibbs, spoke about the need for a hospital on the West Side of Manhattan to serve neighborhoods such as Battery Park City, the Village, and Chelsea. From the Office of Emergency Management, Seth Cummings, described the need for St. Vincent’s trauma center in the case of a large-scale emergency. In particular, he noted that in the case of a hurricane, patients in other hospitals throughout the city could be evacuated to St. Vincent’s. Nine potential, although perhaps problematic, alternative locations for St. Vincent’s were presented by Michael Meola from the City Economic Development Corporation. The locations were chosen because they are large enough for St. Vincent’s needs and could be available for development. These sites, none of which are publicly owned, include two in the Hudson Square area, two in West Chelsea, and five in the Hudson Yards area. The last two speakers, both from the New York State Department of Health, answered questions on the state’s policies and regulations for hospital standards, helping the Commissioners better understand the needs of St. Vincent’s. The Commissioners will further discuss the application at a future public meeting, the date of which has not been set.