Bassett Reaches Out: Jane Forbes Clark,
Dr. Brown Calm Upset Neighbors
By JIM KEVLIN • The Freeman’s Journal
Edition of Thursday, Nov. 20, 2014
Bassett has reached out to its neighbors, and the neighbors – disgruntled as recently as Sept. 29 at a Village Hall hearing on simplifying the hospital’s planning challenges by placing it in a single “institutional zone” – seem satisfied for now.
“They were in full listening mode,” neighbor Bill Waller, Beaver Street, said after he and 60-some Bassett neighbors spent an hour Tuesday, Nov. 11, airing their concerns to Jane Forbes Clark, who chairs the hospital trustees’ facilities committee, hospital CEO/President Vance Brown and Jonathan Flyte, vice president/facilities planning.
“They said, ‘We don’t have a plan. We’re working on it. That’s why we’re here today’,” said Frank Capozza, who lives on the corner of Beaver and Pioneer. “I thought it was a very good meeting,” he added.
The impression the neighbors received was what the hospital trio intended, said Dr. Brown in an interview. The idea of the meeting, held in the hospital’s Clark Auditorium, was “to listen and not to speak.” He added, “This came from our need to be better day-to-day neighbors.”
He divided the inputs under four themes:
• One, “employee impact on neighbors.” For instance, despite pavilions for smokers set up around campus, employees who leave the non-smoking buildings during breaks are still problematic for neighbors.
• Two, parking. “Everything in Cooperstown is about parking,” Brown quoted one attendee as saying. Neighbors were concerned about people parking all day long in side streets where that’s allowed; that’s particularly in winters, when snowplows plow in parked cars.
• Three, bus routes. It was suggested that as Bassett’s current gasoline-powered buses wear out, they are replaced with quieter propane-powered buses. Another suggestion was reducing the number of bus stops and the number of times buses complete the loop between the hospital and parking lots. And perhaps reducing and centralizing bus stops.
• Four, properties acquired by Bassett on streets surrounding the hospital. “Who’s there and for what purpose?” the neighbors asked.
At the meeting, Brown was able to announce what may be a partial solution to complaints about clanking snowplows clearing Bassett lots in the wee hours after storms: Some of the plows have been fitted with hydraulic drops, so they can be more silently lowered than the gravity-drop ones.
After the inputs are digested, further meetings will be held with neighbors to ensure concerns are being met to the degree they might, said Brown.
As for neighbors attending, both Waller and Capozza repeated a remark by Miss Clark that, while Bassett doesn’t necessarily object to the “institutional zone” that prompted the Sept. 29 outpouring, the hospital did not seek the zone.
Capozza said it was suggested the hospital make more use of “the back door” – Route 33, outer Susquehanna, Brooklyn and Estli avenues – to access the hospital, rather than Route 28 to Beaver, the major access now.
Also clarified was a concern that the hospital is planning a “dormitory” for the 20 medical students enrolled in the Bassett-Columbia Presbyterian medical school. It’s not happening, the gathering was told.
In the interview, Brown, who has been at the helm since July 1, said Bassett did its last master plan seven years ago, but that it was largely set aside because of its impact on the neighborhood.