Renovate vs. relocate: Residents protest to keep Brooks in Dunkirk

Citizens gathered outside of Brooks Memorial Hospital Friday for a rally protesting the relocation of the hospital from Central Avenue in Dunkirk to its possible new location on Main Street in the village of Fredonia.

A rally to save Brooks Memorial Hospital in the city of Dunkirk commenced Friday afternoon on the sidewalk along Central Avenue.

The rally, organized by Don Williams and Frank Beach, started taking shape Feb. 9, and throughout the week members of the public were invited to join others at the Steelworkers Union Hall on Fourth Street to make signs.

“Where’s the feasibility study? Where’s the engineer reports with contingency options?” Frank Beach asked rhetorically as he spoke to the OBSERVER Tuesday. “Was there any conversation with the city with regards to bond issue to subsidize should there be a need because of cost? Was there any conversation about namesake donations?”

The grant being used to fund the future hospital states that they (the hospital) need to build a new facility however, not in a new location.

According to Beach and many others at the rally, such as city resident Gary Sedlmayer, that facility could be built in the northern parking lot and then the old structure leveled and turned into a new parking area.

“They don’t take into consideration the eventual roundabout on 60.” Sedlmayer added. “That’s going to be a horrible mess, it’s too much with the school letting out.”

Beach stated in his opinion that this event is not just having a negative impact on the city, but is also upsetting residents in the village of Fredonia. At this time, Beach says they have about 1,000 petition signatures alone from village citizens who wish the hospital to remain in Dunkirk.

Just this week Beach stated that he had heard from a Fredonia official that they may be able to supply water, but they believe the infrastructure, such as the sewer, will not handle it. “They’re probably going to have to spend another couple of million on that,” he added.

“All we want them to do is stop, wait a minute and let’s take a look at this,” Beach added. “They say they did studies back in 2013 or something, but nobody has seen anything. I would think before the reuse panel could assess what they can reuse that property for, they should know what’s going on, what the cost would be. They should have that feasibility study. There was never any type of architectural markup done as to what could be there.”

The rally lasted roughly 45 minutes and during that time the marchers, which numbered upwards of about 70 people from Dunkirk, Fredonia and Brocton, traveled up and down Central Avenue from the corners of Fifth Street to Sixth Street, holding up signs, many reading “renovate don’t relocate.” Cars driving by shared in many of the protesters’ sentiments by honking their horns and fist pumping the air in their vehicles as the drove along Central Avenue.

“It definitely has to stay here. They knocked down two buildings, not that long ago, to give them more property for parking.” Resident Mike Vinciguerra said. “And all of a sudden they’re saying ‘enough with you, we don’t care anymore’ and leave. It don’t make sense. I want to know how come there’s money for building a new hospital, but no money for renovation? Give us the numbers, give us the option.”