Hospitals weigh in on sanitation garage

By Sabina Mollot

While neighborhood residents have been quite vocal in their opposition to the city’s plan to build a sanitation garage on East 25th Street, the area’s other neighbors, the nearby hospitals, have noticeably stayed out of the debate. Residents, who have argued that the 180-truck garage could delay ambulances due to the increased traffic, have, since the plan’s becoming public, speculated that the hospitals’ silence on the issue is due to “political reasons.”

“One could question whether city employees have been asked not to comment,” said Janet Handal, president of the Waterside Tenants Association. Handal has been one of the most vocal opponents of the plan, last week announcing the formation of a coalition of tenant and cooperator groups who are opposed to a sanitation depot on First Avenue.

This week, Town & Village reached out to nearby hospitals, to ask if they had any concerns about the garage and also to note that their silence hasn’t gone unnoticed by the community. Those hospitals include Mount Sinai Beth Israel, VA Medical Center’s Manhattan campus, Bellevue and NYU Langone.

In response, only two hospitals responded, neither saying they were opposed or in support of the garage.

A spokesperson for the VA Medical Center, Claudie Benjamin, said that a representative for the hospital was at the most recent public meeting on July 15. However, she added that the hospital was still in a “fact-finding” stage and had therefore not taken a position on the project.

“We will be carefully following Department of Sanitation reports relating to this project to be sure that our veterans are not negatively impacted and continue to have timely access to the health care services they have earned and deserve,” said Benjamin.

A spokesperson for Bellevue, Evelyn Hernandez, made a similarly brief statement.

“HHC Bellevue Hospital Center is working with the Department of Sanitation to ensure that the garage’s construction and operation have no adverse impact on the hospital’s operations,” she said in an email.

Elizabeth Dowling, a spokesperson for Mount Sinai Beth Israel, declined to comment on the project, other than to say the first she’d personally heard about it was by being called by T&V.

Representatives for NYU Langone declined to comment.

T&V also reached out to the Fire Department, which oversees an Emergency Medical Service Unit that’s located at East 26th Street and First Avenue. The FDNY said it was aware of the plan and that the department didn’t expect any impact on its operations.

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