Better Location

Written by Our Town on . Posted in Opinion and Column, Our Town, West Side Spirit.


To the Editor:
In response to “Neighbors Won’t See the Light of New Cancer Center” (Jan. 26), I must speak up for my building (440 E. 62nd St.) and the community of the Upper East Side. Your account of the meeting was different than what I witnessed and missed or dismissed the most important points. Those points are:

1) The effect on traffic. Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) admittedly did not perform a traffic feasibility analysis. Currently, traffic often backs up onto the FDR Drive in either direction. Currently, traffic backs up onto the Queensboro Bridge. This will worsen considerably.

Consider this: MSKCC’s building will have no garage, only a driveway. Post-operative patients, by law, must be accompanied out of the building by someone. Do you think they will walk with their escort up the hill to the subway? No! Someone will be waiting for them in a car, probably on York Avenue.

2) MSKCC’s unwillingness to even talk to its neighbors. MSKCC filed its request for variances (allowances to build beyond what New York City code allows) and fast-tracked approval just as the holiday season began. Perhaps our all-volunteer board was remiss, but the residents of the building learned of the Community Board 8 meeting with only a week’s notice.

3) Our building supports a MSKCC facility here. This is what prompted me to write this letter. Overwhelmingly, the people who spoke that night clearly stated that they had no problem with MSKCC building next door. They only wanted MSKCC to respect previous agreements negotiated with the help of Community Board 8.

Many current and former MSKCC employees live in this building. Several people living here are patients of the hospital. They merely want the building to fit into the neighborhood.

4) While residents of the affected building learned of MSKCC’s plans only a week before the community board meeting, somehow, a patient managed to show up with a prepared speech, a speech that had nothing to do with the debate or even with reality. The speech cast my building’s residents as rich people trying to deny convenient medical care to poor people like him. This is a ridiculous and insulting lie.

Your paper purports to serve the Upper East Side. Sadly, you missed the points that affect this community, namely a neverending traffic nightmare foisted on us by an uncaring, rich organization that indeed has alternatives. MSKCC has 20 other sites and presumably other “sleeper” sites like the one under discussion. Surely, a wiser location can be found.

Steve Edelstein
440 E. 62nd St.

Letters have been edited for clarity, style and brevity.

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