The Sidewalks of White Plains


Hildersley of the Hospital says "within the process is the solution."

In remarks on White Plains Week, she demonstrates why proposed research facilities cannot be built on the medical oval and the historic district.

By John F. Bailey


CityLine: May 11, 2001 -- Public Access Studio, White Plains

Appearing on the regular Friday morning videotaping of the WPCNR television show, White Plains Week, Constance Hildersley, Vice President of Real Estate for New York Presbyterian Hospital, ruled out locating the two new proposed research and proton beam accelerator facilities in the historic district.

For the first time, Ms. Hildersley indicated the most likely compromise position for the two buildings was south of Bloomingdale's on Bloomingdale Road.

The primary reasons why the new buildings cannot be built in the historical district is because of the "square building footprints" required to build the accelerator housing and the lab facility. Hildersley pointing to a color diagram of the hospital site, that the historical district on the West, North and Northeast sides of the property is a series of narrow strips that will not contain the facilities, especially the accelerator building because of its construction requirements.

She said the two facilities could not be combined because the Bourne Lab building was composed of wet research facilities, while the proton beam accelerator was a "dry" operation, and required a custom housing.

She said the historical district classification rules out constructing the new buildings on the Medical Oval portion of the property because the historical district designation requires similar architectural integrity consistent with the buildings now located on the oval. The proton beam accelerator building particularly cannot be fitted in to blend with the design of the historical buildings on that area of the property.

The golf course on the Northeast side of the hospital property, she reports, cannot be built on because of drainage problems caused by the steep slope.

She singled out one area south of where Bloomingdale's is now, where both buildings could conceivably be built. The original Hopsital Millennium Preservation Plan that the Common Council voted down in July, 2000, called for constructing 400,000 square feet of retail (including a Fortunoff's, restaurants, and upscale merchanting) on this site. Hildersley pointed out though that placing the buildings there would destroy a great deal of woods.

In the course of her remarks on the show, Hildersley, and Geof Thompson, hospital spokesman also said the controversy over whether commercial partnering being an acceptable use of the hospital property did not reflect the nature of medical research today. Hildersley indicated that private commercial interests working with medical and hospital facilities is the way medical breakthroughs are being achieved today.

Pressed at the conclusion of the program as to why the hospital does not simply work with the city now to find an acceptable location for the two new planned research facilities, and submit another plan Hildersley said she expected this would be explored in the process of presenting the Draft Environmental Impact Statement.

(The scoping session was officially closed by the Common Council last Monday evening. The Planning Department is in the process now of completing the Scoping Document that the Hospital must address in preparation of the DEIS.)

After the program had been concluded, Ms. Hildersley was asked again on this point and she told Alex Philippidis, Jim Benerofe and this reporter, hosts of the show that "within the process lies the solution" indicating to us that the present siting of the two new proposed buildings is already being recognized as a controversy by the hospital. This is the first time the hospital has indicated the hint of compromise on site.

Alex Philippidis, Editor of the Westchester County Business Journal pointed out that the most likely site was the area proposed as the Fortunoff's location last year since the square footage is the same. Hildersley said she expected this would come out in the process of developing the Draft Environmental Impact Statement.

"This is why we were eager to start the process and why we settled the lawsuit," she said.

Ms. Hildersley and Mr. Thompson appear on White Plains Week with John Bailey, Alex Philippidis and Jim Benerofe cablecast on Channel 71 Tuesday evening the 15th at 7 PM and Friday, May 18 at 7:30 PM, where you can view Ms. Hildersley's remarks and analysis of the hospital historical district.


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