Neponsit Center Hearing Rescheduled For 11/28
The Health and Hospitals Corporation has rescheduled a public hearing on the future of the abandoned Neponsit Health Care Center after abruptly canceling an earlier meeting that was to be held in Jamaica without much notice to the Rockaway community.
The meeting will be held on Tuesday, November 28 at the DSSM-Neponsit Adult Health Care Center, located in the Sands Point Medical Center at Beach 102 Street and Rockaway Beach Boulevard. The hearing will begin at 6 p.m. and speakers are asked to register in advance for an assigned speaking time.
The prior hearing, scheduled in Jamaica on October 18, was postponed by the HHC after local activists and politicians complained that Rockaway was given no notice of the meeting and that it should be held on the peninsula.
Jonathan Gaska, the District Manager for Community Board 14, told The Wave two weeks ago that the city's Economic Development Corporation has been working with the Neponsit Homeowners Association on a plan that would keep in scale with the present zoning plan for Neponsit, which allows only single-family homes.
The city cannot develop the land, however, without the permission of the State Legislature, because the land is now zoned for either a park or a health care facility, Gaska added.
This month's hearing is the first step in the process of getting that zoning changed, he said. The facility, located on Rockaway Beach Boulevard at Beach 148 Street, bordering the National Park Service property at Riis Park, was closed suddenly after a Labor Day storm in September of 1998.
At the time, the city said that the storm had so weakened the facility's buildings that they were unsafe for occupancy.
The home was completely evacuated over a two-day period, without prior notice to either the 300 patients or their family members. Residents, some of whom had lived in the home for more than fifteen years, were bused out in the dark of night to other HHC facilities all over the city.
Some of the patients were "lost" in the transfer. A 71-year-old woman was "lost" for several days because HHC officials could not find where she was transferred.
In March of 2000, a study conducted by the City Council found that the buildings were in good structural condition and did not have to be abandoned.
At the time, there were charges, never substantiated, that Mayor Rudy Giuliani ordered the evacuation so that one of his political allies could take the property for a hotel development.
Many of the former patients joined in a lawsuit and in June of 2003 they were awarded a $5 million settlement.
Speakers at the November 28 meeting will be limited to five minutes speaking time. Those who wish to speak should register by writing or calling Patricia Lockhart at 125 Worth Street, New York City, New York 10013 or at 212-788-3360.