In the early hours of July 18, the White Plains Common Council voted 5-2 against a plan by New York Presbyterian Hospital involving mixed-use development on its 232-acre campus. If the proposal had been approved, the hospital would have donated a 60-acre plot (half of it wetlands) for a city park. The plan also called for a zoning change to the development property. Hospital officials testified that, if the plan was not passed, they would proceed with Plan B, which calls for a medical research park and staff housing. This alternative does not require a zoning change nor offer any free park land, but it does include an amendment to its special-use permit to allow a medical facility in a residential neighborhood.

Plan B was rejected by a 7-0 vote. Plan A entails development of 450 housing units for sale and rental; 400,000 sf of retail space; and a 400-room hotel/conference center. Both opponents and proponents of Plan A claim that the park land, which many had nicknamed “Central Park,” would benefit the city because it sorely lacks open space as well as land for ball fields for its youth and adult sports programs.

Some members of the public and mayor Joseph Delfino urged that Plan A be referred to city agencies so that changes could be negotiated. Others, including several council members, say the hospital was engaging in “bullying tactics” by demanding a vote on referral and stating that a defeat would mean the death of Central Park.

Geoffrey Thompson, a spokesman for New York Presbyterian Hospital, notes that, “rejection of Plan A is a complete disappointment. We worked two years on developing the master plan and now they won’t even allow any public discussion on it.” He also stated that the hospital was “in shock” over the unanimous rejection of Plan B.

He adds that the hospital is, “considering all options, including possible redress in court.” If litigation ensues, most likely the hospital would file an Article 78 petition. When asked if the council’s vote signaled the end of the Central Park and the Plan A proposal, Thompson responded, “I think it does.”

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