BY ALEJANDRA O’CONNELL DOMENECH | Over a thousand Upper East Siders have signed an online petition calling for state and city lawmakers to oppose Northwell Health’s $2.5 million renovation plan of Lenox Hill Hospital.
The petition comes a month after Manhattan Community Board 8 passed a resolution opposing the renovation plan which calls for the creation of a 490-foot-tall residential tower next door to a revamped 516-foot-tall Lenox Hill hospital.
“The incredible momentum building around this campaign should send a clear message to our elected officials that Northwell Health’s plan is simply not viable,” wrote Andy Gaspar and Stephanie Reckler, members of the Committee to Protect Our Lenox Hill Neighborhood, in a statement. The community group has received a total of 1,569 signatures since the petition’s creation 11 days ago.
Opponents of the plan have repeatedly said that they are not against upgrading the hospital, which is in need of an expanded emergency room and neonatal unit. Instead, opponents are afraid that Northwell wants to transform the hospital to a medical tourism destination. And, they worry about the impacts of construction on traffic, nearby businesses and air quality.
The proposed plan calls for the expanded emergency room, a new diagnostic and treatment center, an ambulance bay and a mother and baby center, which would be completed in phases over 10 years. The double rooms in the hospital would be changed to spacious single patient rooms where future patients would be able to receive food prepared by a Michelin-star chef, as part of the hospital’s efforts to “promote wellness.” As medicine advances, the size of single-patient rooms is meant to accommodate equipment for bed-side procedures, according to a Lenox Hill representative. Representatives also said the space is meant to better accommodate visiting friends and family.
Representatives from Lenox Hill Hospital and Northwell Health have said that they are open to working with the community before the project formally enters the land-use process. In order to start work on the plan, Northwell would have to obtain zoning variances. Current zoning law prevents new development from exceeding 170 on Lexington Avenue and 210 on Park Avenue.
The bottom of the petition includes a long list of contact information for elected officials including Governor Andrew Cuomo, City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, state Senator Liz Krueger, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and City Council Member Keith Powers.
A week before the October community board meeting, both Brewer and Powers reached out to Northwell and requested that it examine the scale, planning and timeline of the project. Both elected officials have stated that they are open to listening to both sides on the project and take community input seriously.