Letter to the Editor : Health Quest Site Plan for Rhinebeck

A letter to the Rhinebeck ZBA

September 19, 2013

To: The Village of Rhinebeck ZBA

From: Keith Greeney and Donna Zulch, Rhinebeck, NY

Re: Health Quest Site Plan for Rhinebeck

The proposal by Health Quest to expand it’s Rhinebeck facility by 81,450 SF has very little to do with the improvement of health for Rhinebeck citizens. It has been poorly planned and is now being pushed onto our community as a “necessary” health facility. This is a self-serving assessment made by Health Quest and not by the communities of Northern Dutchess County.

While other new health facilities, other than Health Quest, are being built in Rhinebeck, Red Hook and in Kingston, Health Quest seems to be in a last minute race to lock up its control as the “only” healthcare provider in the area by consuming private doctors’ offices. Now Health Quest wants to build an expansion onto Northern Dutchess Hospital as they see fit, even though the Rhinebeck community has not asked for this expansion. The citizens of Rhinebeck do not want a mega parking lot at the northern edge of the community; we would like to maintain the greenbelt that currently exists there. We also do not want the ZBA to approve the 3-story building which would end up being 9 feet over the Village law as written.

The Health Quest plan is presented with total disregard for our community.
An example of out-of-control growth is Health Quest’s claim that the hospital delivered over 1000 babies this past year, while we have a declining enrollment in our local schools. Just because we have a great not-for-profit Upstate Films theatre and people travel from far to come to our movie house, do we expand and put in a Mega Movie House? No, of course not! Rhinebeck does not need it nor do we want it.

The overall proposal is unacceptable to the Rhinebeck community. This was stated clearly in the Rhinebeck’s COMMUNITY VISION as clearly outlined in the THE RHINEBECK PLAN developed by Sally Mazzarella and her committee members and approved by the Rhinebeck Town Board with full support from the Rhinebeck Village Board. Just a few of the items follow:

􀂉 Adopt innovative solutions to preserve open space and the rural landscape, and adaptive reuse of existing buildings; cooperate with the village in planning a smart growth strategy. Discourage sprawl;

􀂉 Preserve gateways to the village and hamlet, and create/maintain Greenbelt (distinct edges) around these settled areas to preserve the identities of the village and town.

􀂉 Preserve the town’s historic character, as defined by historic buildings and features.

􀂉 Develop a better understanding of traffic conditions, regional transportation plans, and transportation alternatives.

􀂉 Connect the town and village with a network of walking and biking trails.

��� Protect water quality and water resources.

􀂉 Adopt signage and lighting standards to reduce visual clutter, enhance community character and reduce light pollution.

Health Quest has not only ignored the following in the Rhinebeck Plan, but they also have failed to be good community advocates:

“On the importance of protecting and managing community resources, three out of four respondents placed a high regard on environmental, cultural, and agricultural resources. Other community resources, such as the Northern Dutchess Hospital and libraries were also considered very important or important, but only slightly less so.

The overall picture that emerges is of residents who enjoy the rural and historic character of the community, feel strongly about the village as the center of the community, and wish to have a say in the way development is occurring. Residents, by an overwhelming majority, favor community resource protection, but they also wish to see the tax base expanded with limited new commercial growth that is developed in a small scale manner, serves local needs, is locally-owned and operated (i.e. no national franchises) and is managed in an environmentally sound manner.”

To continue, “Town officials have been presented with a clear mandate: Residents overwhelmingly like the town just the way it is, and are not interested in any growth that would not be considered ‘smart.’ Residents place extraordinarily high value on the community and environmental resources that make Rhinebeck a special place to live, and will only tolerate new development if it respects and conserves those values. Residents understand the implications of failing to establish clear smart growth policies and ensuring their implementation.”

Where was Health Quest’s “2nd Phase Plan” in June, 2008. Their medical services are already way beyond the needs of Rhinebeck and the Northern Dutchess County area. Health Quest is building an empire to service Kingston, Ulster County, Columbia County, Poughkeespie and who knows where else. Northern Dutchess Hospital, a voluntary, non-profit institution located on Route 9 on the corner of Montgomery Street and Route 9, is part of the Health Quest health care system, which includes Vassar Brothers Medical Center, Putnam Hospital and other affiliates. We do not need this kind of growth here in Rhinebeck. Kingston is more suitable as a medical hub than Rhinebeck. Our small community is just too small for this kind of unnecessary growth.

We live in Rhinebeck and we are urging The Village ZBA to delay any expansion until the community has more time to investigate its need of this large expansion that goes against everything in THE RHINEBECK PLAN written by Sally Mazzarella with community input.

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