Turning Long Island College Hospital into condos is off the table for now. In a surprise move, SUNY's Board of Trustees is leaving the fate of the cash-strapped hospital a matter to be considered when Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio, one of its biggest defenders, is mayor. Josh Robin filed the following report.
The protesters say they're thankful for Long Island College Hospital.
Tuesday, they're also grateful the debt-ridden hospital is off the gallows pole, at least for now.
"It was clear that this was something that was not going to be accepted by the community,” said H. Carl McCall, chairman of the SUNY Board of Trustees.
What LICH was going to be was a series of condos, plus a health care facility. Sources say under the plan, as community members feared, ambulances would no longer be accepted.
It wasn't enough for community activists or for Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio, who got arrested over it this summer.
But it seemed SUNY's Board of Trustees wanted to at least start exclusive talks with the developer. A call to do just that passed one state committee Tuesday afternoon, then it got abruptly tabled at a meeting representing the full board.
"We really don't have a solution,” said McCall.
"We're stunned by the news today. McCall's motion to sell LICH has at least been delayed. Enough of the trustees had the courage to say they had doubt about the process, doubts about the numbers,” said Jeff Strabone of the Cobble Hill Association.
But it's unclear what de Blasio can do. There are few patients at the hospital and there’s apparently no interest in someone keeping the hospital going.
Jim Walden, an attorney for Public Advocate Bill de Blasio and community groups released a statement.
“For community members in need of a hospital with emergency services, a ‘medical mall with luxury condos’ sounds like someone’s idea of a bad joke. We are heartened that some trustees took a deep breath, and we look forward to continuing to press the community’s case: … it needs, expects, and deserves a real hospital operator, not a land grab with some medical frills,” reads Waldens’ statement.
SUNY has tried for months to shut down the hospital, which has been operating at a loss.
The sale wouldn't have solved the hospitals financial problems, not by a long shot. The property's appraised value is less than $250 million. Its debt? More than double that.
Officials say the hospital is taking away money from SUNY colleges.
“There are a lot of people who want to see it open but haven’t done what we’ve had to do, is face the financial consequences of doing so,” said McCall.
The city is resisting taking over the hospital. That could change with de Blasio. He says he'll, “continue to fight any plan that fails to provide critical health care for surrounding neighborhoods.”