Monte withdraws med center plans
By Shant Shahrigian
Following weeks of community opposition, Montefiore Medical Center is withdrawing its plans for a large new facility in south Riverdale from the Department of Buildings.
Elected officials announced the move at the Community Board (CB 8) Land Use Committee meeting Monday night, saying Montefiore’s developer, the Simone Group, will propose revised plans at an undetermined date.
“We have deep ties to Riverdale’s residents and its physicians and are optimistic that Simone can develop a creative solution that respects the concerns of the community,” President and CEO of Montefiore Dr. Steven Safyer said in a statement released Tuesday.
The Simone Healthcare Development Group is the proposed hospital’s developer and previously bought lots at 3733, 3735 and 3741 Riverdale Ave., as well as 3644 Oxford Ave for the project.
At Monday night’s meeting, Councilman Andrew Cohen, Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz and state Sen. Jeffrey Klein said community pressure was the reason Montefiore would change its plans. Since Montefiore proposed a 95,000-square-foot facility in November, hundreds of community members have turned ordinarily calm Land Use Committee meetings into heated forums to voice their opposition.
“None of us can guarantee what the end result is going to be,” said Mr. Dinowitz. “But there was a change in attitude. They know how the community feels and I believe that has an impact on what they do.”
Land Use Committee Chairman Charles Moerdler said the community owes the officials, including Congressman Eliot Engel, “an eternal debt of gratitude.”
But residents voiced skepticism of the latest development, saying they remain opposed to the construction of a medical facility in south Riverdale in any form.
Stuart Gartner, an organizer for the Committee to Protect Riverdale, which opposes the new facility, said the process so far could be in keeping with what he termed “a certain playbook” in which developers start negotiations asking for more than they know they are ultimately going to get.