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Preliminary hospital designs to be shown


Residents of the neighborhoods near Highland Hospital will get a better look at a proposed hospital addition at a meeting on Monday, October 20. The meeting is at 5:30 p.m. in the Olmsted Lodge in Highland Park.

Residents will see preliminary designs for a two-story, 30,000-square-foot addition that would be built off the back of the hospital on what is currently a hospital parking lot at the end of Bellevue Drive.

The expansion would allow the hospital to increase the size of its operating rooms to meet industry standards, says Barbara Ficarra, director of public relations for Highland Hospital. Twenty-six new observation beds would also be added, she says.

The project still needs approvals from the City of Rochester and the State Department of Health.

Residents got an early look at the plans over the summer, Ficarra says. And now hospital officials are ready to share more details, updated visuals, and to get additional feedback, she says.

Ficarra says that people seem to understand that the hospital needs to expand. But they're also clear that they don't want the facility to grow beyond its current footprint, she says.

"The good news with this project is that by building in an infill area where we have space on our existing campus that it meets our needs and it meets the neighbors' needs," Ficarra says.

But parking is still a concern. The addition will displace more than 20 parking spots — more while construction is going on. Mike Mahoney, chair of the Highland Park Neighborhood Association, says hospital employees already use adjoining streets for parking.

"Definitely there are some people that consider it an inconvenience," he says.

Ficarra says that a parking study will be done in connection with the project.

"We are looking at keeping the same number of parking spaces that we have by kind of re-fitting some of our parking areas, restriping," she says. "But that's preliminary. We're still looking at that."

The Highland Park neighborhood is tightly packed; there's not a lot of breathing room between the hospital and nearby houses. The close quarters mean that residents pay close attention to the goings-on at the hospital. They are especially worried about the possibility of the hospital expanding into the neighborhood.

Many residents were upset when the plans for the addition were first announced earlier this year, because the hospital had also purchased the house at 27 Bellevue, which adjoins the hospital. Ficarra says that officials considered using the house for office space on a temporary basis while the addition is being built. But plans changed, she says, and the house is back up again for sale.

"I will say that their willingness to put it back on the market I think went a long way in kind of improving our relationship with them," Mahoney says. "We certainly hope they're not going to encroach into the neighborhood any more."