Skeptical residents told Simone and Mount Sinai representatives that the 60-doctor medical practice proposed at Number Six School does not belong in a residential area, despite the representatives’ claims that the facility would blend in with the community, not create a lot of extra traffic and employ local doctors.
“I don’t pay Nassau taxes to see my neighborhood over flooded,” said Nidia Mordejar. “Your numbers are sheer fantasy. You’re talking theory.”
The medical developer representatives told the crowd at Lawrence Middle School that the Number Six School building will be mostly kept as is, with landscaping and other building improvements. Entrances will be shifted to the side of building facing Peninsula Boulevard and Branch Boulevard, where a 450-car parking lot would replace the current ball fields.
Many residents have raised concerns about the potential traffic created by the facility, which will be open every day, but Cameron Engineering’s Rebecca Goldberg, who conducted a traffic study for Simone, claimed there would be “no perceptive change” in traffic in the area.
Observing traffic patterns both on Peninsula and at a similar WestMed facility in Rye, Goldberg said that over the course of the day, an additional 100 to 200 vehicles per hour would travel to the facility on local roads. On the weekends, only about 45 vehicles will travel to the facility per hour. In terms of parking, at peak time of about 10 a.m., 316 of the 450 spots will be filled.
The building will be power washed and cleaned up, and dumpsters will be hidden from public view, said architect Brian Newman, of Newman Design.
“Prior to anyone walking into that building, there will be internal demolition,” he said. “It will be 100 percent clean of mold.”
The facility will also meet FEMA standards and all mechanical systems will be moved, said Benjamin Weinstock, an attorney for Simone.
Residents also raised concerns that the developer will change the plans after the project is approved, but Weinstock said that “everything we say, we’re accountable for.”
Doctors from Mount Sinai and WestMed Medical Group, which will manage the proposed facility, talked up the advantages of having many doctors under the same roof.
“This is the kind of place you’d want your family to go to,” said Dr. Simeon Schwartz, founding president and CEO of WestMed. “World-class medicine in a convenient way.”
Schwartz said that patients would be able to meet more of their medical needs in the same day with relative ease, and an urgent care center at the facility will help people avoid the ER. The facility will utilize electronic medical records and link up with Mount Sinai’s main campus. He added that 65 local physicians have expressed interest in joining the practice.
Dr. Arthur Klein, president of Mount Sinai Medical Network, said that independent doctors have a hard time expanding.
“Mount Sinai has a long history of interest in community health. We have to change the way we do healthcare — we can’t do healthcare in the expensive facilities,” he said. “Most doctors are looking for more modern ways to treat patients.”
In addition to the 60 doctors, 100 employees will also be hired. There will be no clerical staff at the facility. Phone calls will be handled off site.
Weinstock, who has represented Simone for about 10 years, assured the crowd that the facility “is not a medical office building. This is a group practice.”
Weinstock also refuted claims that the facility will only give back $35 to households on their tax bills, saying the number is closer to $100.
Meanwhile, other residents at the meeting voiced support for the project, and questioned the motives of the opponents.
A public referendum on Simone’s proposed medical facility will be held on March 20. If the public gives Simone the go ahead, it still must seek variances from the Town of Hempstead.