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The Front Page:
Concerned neighborhoods to protest hospital plans at April 2 Council Meeting.
Objective: keep the public hearing open past April 2.
Citizen groups to attempt to involve Hospital in dialogue on biomedical cancer center location during Scoping period.
Teck describes Monday closed meeting as a "kick-off of a campaign to let elected officials know the majority are upset."
Media, hospital officials and employees prevented from joining meeting.
Hospital needs to let proton accelerator manufacturer know they want the state-of-the-art cancer-fighting device by May 25.
Grant of $250,000 in place from Empire State Development Corporation.
By John F. Bailey with WPCNR Reporters
CityLine: March 29, 2001 -- Methodist Memorial Church, Bryant Avenue
A crowd described as "standing room only" of approximately 70 to 100 persons met Monday evening, March 26, at the Methodist Memorial Church, and learned from Concerned Citizens for Open Space officials and neighborhood association representatives (who have read the Hospital Health Science Master Plan) about the New York Presbyterian Hospital biomedical cancer research center planning two high rise medical research buildings at the Bryant Avenue Hospital gate.
According to three participants who attended the meeting, no concrete directions or strategies were hammered out, however a source at the meeting did say the objective for Monday's Common Council meeting comments was to convince the Council to keep the public hearing open for another month.
A spontaneous gathering...
Alan Teck, President of Concerned Citizens for Open Space, who addressed the meeting and Pollitzer hoped that many would attend the April 2 Common Council meeting.
Teck said he wanted as many persons as possible to attend the Common Council Monday to provide their comments to highlight the concerns New York Presbyterian Hospital should address in the environmental impact statement the hospital has to prepare as the referral process on the biomedical complex proceeds.
Marc Pollitzer, President of the North Street Civic Association emphasized this was not a CCOS-sponsored event.
Teck today asked WPCNR to correct an impression we had left the Mayor at a League of Women Voters environental initiative presentation Tuesday evening that this was a CCOS-sponsored meeting. Teck emphasized to WPCNR today that the meeting was a "city-wide" expression of concern, and not a CCOS-organized event because CCOS "was not a political organization."
Pollitzer, interviewed by WPCNR by telephone, told us that the citizens hoped to involve the hospital in a dialogue in future weeks, but had not reached out to hospital officials yet to request such a dialogue.
Another situation discussed during the meeting was the lack of funds for the launching of a legal approach to the problem, according to another source.
Geoffrey Thompson, spokesman for New York Presbyterian Hospital, was asked by WPCNR if the hospital would consider meeting with citizen groups to discuss relocation of the two biomedical complex buildings. He said he would check with the hospital to see if they would entertain such direct talks, though he did tell us "I do not want to negotiate in the press."
Last week, in an earlier interview, before the Monday evening meeting, Thompson advised WPCNR that the the New York Presbyterian Hospital has a two-month window to accept or decline "a memorandum of agreement" with the manufacturer of the proton accelerator.
According to Thompson, the hospital does not have to say yes or no to the accelerator outright, but to provide "an indication of things going forward in a positive way."
He said the hospital hopes the Common Council will consider the project with "expediency."
The date when the hospital needs to respond to the proton accelerator manufacturer with their expression of interest, before they lose their exclusive franchise is May 25.
State of the art cancer treatment device would serve NY, NJ, PA area.
Thompson said that the proton accelerator the Hospital and its method of cancer treatment has been accepted by the Food & Drug Administration as an "approved medical practice," and has been approved by HMO's (Health Maintenance Organizations) as a form of treatment they will cover.
He also described the accelerator the hospital is considering the state of the art model. He remarked that the accelerator at Harvard at Massachussetts General Hospital "has never been quite perfected," saying it has had problems with its software. The accelerator the Hospital has the opportunity to acquire for the Bryant Avenue site is apparently the "state of the art" design of the technology and has not encountered the problems the unit at Massachussetts General has, according to Thompson.
Thompson told WPCNR that the proton accelerator installation on Bryant Avenue would take 30 to 36 months to build and was expected to draw patients for treatment from the tri-state area as well as Pennsylvania.
The first of the promised state grant money has been guaranteed to New York Presbyterian hospital according to a spokesman for the Empire State Development Corporation contacted by WPCNR. The grant is in the amount of $250,000. According to the spokesman, the grant has gone to Albany "for the check to be cut." Status of the multi-million grants earmarked for biotech centers are still under negotiation in the state legislature. (Previously, WPCNR has learned that Edward Arace, Regional Vice President of the Empire State Development Corporation has singled out New York Presbyterian Hospital as the favored site for the proton accelerator, having visited the campus twice within the last nine months.)
Media prevented from covering meeting...
Alex Philippidis, Editor-In-Chief of the Westchester County Business Journal, and a resident of White Plains, attempted to cover the meeting as a reporter. He was escorted from the meeting by Mr. Pollitzer, because, in Mr. Pollitzer's words to us, "it did not need to be a media/press event. It was not a press meeting. It was a gathering of neighborhoods to make sure people are aware of what's going on."