Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Hebrew Home explores options for expansion on Palisade Ave.

Here's a story from this week's edition of the Riverdale Review.

By Brendan McHugh

Reingold (right) and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn
listen to constituent complaints at the Hebrew Home.
The Hebrew Home is planning to add new buildings for more senior services on the adjacent 14-acre plot, recently sold to them by the Passionist Fathers of Riverdale. 

A meditation center, possibly an underground garage and a consolidated entrance are also preliminary ideas Hebrew Home president and CEO Daniel Reingold said he has for the future. 

The land was bought for $16 million about two months ago from the Passionists, who could no longer afford the land with increased expenses, fewer retreat guests and fewer new recruits. 

“We are excited about this opportunity,” Reingold said Friday. “We think it will be something the community will be proud of. We hope to involve the community early on in discussions about what we’re going to try and do.” 

He added that the Hebrew Home will go through the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP), which requires months of public review and community involvement. 

“The Hebrew Home is considered among the best, if not the best nursing institution in the country,” Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz said. “Increasing their ability to provide services to seniors is a good thing.” 

Reingold said he was excited to work with the community, noting that the Hebrew Home was the first institution in the area to submit a ‘master plan’ to the community board. 

“This is very premature, but our plan would be to demolish the existing structures and replace them with an environmentally sound green building,” he said, calling the larger building an “eyesore.” 

The existing house, while attractive, is not handicap accessible and would not be able to be used by the seniors at the home. 

“It looks pretty from the outside, but it’s completely shot. It would cost a fortune [to renovate], and what do you do with it?” he asked rhetorically. 

Going through ULURP, the Hebrew Home doesn’t expect to break ground for at least three years.

“We’re very happy that Hebrew Home is making their plans public and we look forward to being a partner with a decision that’s helpful to the community and the public,” said Robert Fanuzzi, chairman of Community Board 8. 

“Before they get to the construction phase, they need to think about how it affects their neighbors,” he cautioned, citing traffic woes. 

Reingold said the Hebrew Home has offered its employees incentives for carpooling and taking mass transit, and in the past year has reduced the number of cars on the lot by about 90. 

“I’m envious of my colleagues who get to come on the train, read the newspaper or take a nap,” he said, noting that he doesn’t have a mass transit option from his Westchester home. 

Reingold said he’d like to consolidate the entrances to the Home and work with the community to solve the traffic situation. Both Palisade Avenue and W. 261st Street are very narrow, pothole-ridden roads. Earlier on Friday, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and City Councilman G. Oliver Koppell met with Hebrew Home residents, whose main concern was paving the nearby roads. Quinn promised to look into it.

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