Letters: NDH site plan still not good enough

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As a member of the steering committee of Save Rhinebeck Green Space, I would like to make it crystal clear that our committee and members of the community who signed our petition support Northern Dutchess Hospital’s efforts to bring expanded, up-to-date patient care to the area. What we are asking is that Health Quest and Kirchhoff Properties develop the property in a way that respects the neighborhoods that surround the campus and the historic village of Rhinebeck.

Our committee has met on several occasions with David Ping of Health Quest and Joe Kirchhoff and Jeff Kane from Kirchhoff Properties to express our concern about losing the trees and the lawn in front of the hospital to a parking lot. What appears to be a compromise – by reducing the size of the parking lot on the front lawn – isn’t enough. We do not think the problem is solved.

What the current site and landscaping plan documents reveal is a reduced, but sizeable, parking lot situated in a central part of the front lawn, contiguous to an expanded, paved parking area behind the two-story brick medical building near the intersection of Montgomery St. and Route 9. The overall effect is another large parking lot, now shifted to the right.

Moreover, these parking areas, as well as parking that will hug the front of the new building extension, will be illuminated by upwards of 20 light poles that are 15-feet high. The entire front of the hospital and a vast majority of the area at the corner of Montgomery St. and Route 9 will be lit up like a mall.

The tree demolition plan indicates that 80 trees, not 34, will be cut down campus-wide, more than 20 of which are on the front lawn and border the medical building. The consulting group that did the survey did not deem any of these trees to have “important aesthetic or ecological value.” New plantings take years to mature and are more vulnerable to severe weather and nibbling deer than the magnificent trees we already have.

Because of creeping parking and accompanying lighting, it is more vital than ever to preserve the tree canopy and the green, open space in front of the hospital to soften and balance the effect of what will be a highly developed medical complex.

We are asking Health Quest to respect the value of the green space to neighbors, the community, and, yes, to patients who come to the hospital for care and healing.

Pamela Leeming


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