Village Planning Board OKs Brooks-TLC site


OBSERVER Photo by M.J. Stafford This is a drawing of the building the Fredonia Planning Board approved for Brooks-TLC’s new hospital in the village.

Fredonia is getting a hospital.

The Brooks-TLC Hospital System site plan for a 100,000-square-foot facility, in what is now a vineyard off East Main Street, was approved by the village Planning Board unanimously Wednesday. The board also approved a State Environmental Quality Review (SEQR) assessment that found no adverse effects expected from the project.

Brooks-TLC counsel Marc Romanowski started the meeting off by reviewing the changes to the site plan since its original submission in January.

First and foremost, a driveway to and from Route 60 was added. Romanowski noted an updated traffic analysis indicates about 35 to 40% of traffic is expected to use the Route 60 driveway — and as a result, he said, the hospital should now have no significant impacts on traffic around its main entrance on East Main Street (Route 20).

When the board offered to hear comments from the public, only Vicky Cunningham, a nurse and dispatcher who lives in the village, spoke up. She wondered if there would be more helicopter transfers than with the current hospital in Dunkirk, because the hospital size is getting reduced from 65 to 29 beds.

“Villagers need to know that pilots … have to land into the wind,” she said. “The flight path might be determined, but it won’t be used every single time.”

Cunningham also asked if there would be a dedicated intensive care unit at the new hospital. Finally, she suggested the board make approval of the site plan contingent on the state Department of Transportation’s approval of the Route 60 driveway.

Romanowski replied, “What we want from this board is to say we are approving this with access to Route 60,” without allowing DOT to have any kind of veto on the driveway. He said at the previous planning board meeting Friday that if DOT rejects the driveway, Brooks-TLC would consider the site plan void and start over.

Mackay noted that if a community merely wants something, DOT probably won’t work with it; but if the community feels it’s needed, the agency will be inclined to grant it.

“It isn’t just the village that’s asking for this,” he said. “We have the county … the sheriff’s emergency traffic board wrote us a letter requesting this.”

On the flight path issue, Romanowski replied that there are actually three paths in place, to reflect shifting winds. He deferred to Brooks-TLC President and CEO Mary LaRowe on the intensive care issue, and she confirmed there will be a four-bed intensive care unit.

“Our idea of what the size of the facility should be was done with a number of outside consultants,” she said. “Our intent is to keep care local and transfer to tertiary facilities if needed.”

When it came time for the board to discuss the site plan themselves, they had little to say about it. Mackay noted they have looked at the plan since February.

“We’ve already discussed, asked for changes, received some changes … I think we should be ready to vote,” board member Dave Fridmann said.

After the site plan and SEQR review passed and the meeting adjourned, Fredonia Mayor Athanasia Landis expressed joy.

“I’m very happy,” she said “Not only do we have a new hospital, but also to assure that health care in the area is secure. That’s the main thing for me, to make sure the people of this area, all 30,000 people, have secure health care.

“Everyone is going to be pleased with the results,” she concluded.

LaRowe said, “We still have some approvals to get through … but our anticipation is that we will be putting the shovel in the ground in this year and moving forward. It’s an 18-month build, so we anticipate being in 2021.”


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