Submitted by Brooks Harris
Greenwich Hospital is seeking to build a dedicated cancer center on land it owns across from its current site.
The fate of this project will be publicly debated in the Planning and Zoning meeting, conducted by Zoom, this Thursday, September 8th at 4:00pm. You can attend the meeting by clicking this link:
Although you may not have considered it, this is a facility that (sadly) you or someone you know is likely to need during your lifetime. Each year, 600 town residents (1% of our population) are expected to be diagnosed with cancer. Over 10 years, 10% of the population means you, a family member or a close friend is likely to be affected by this.
To manage this problem, our town needs better access to state-of-the-art care. Currently, advanced facilities exist in New Haven (an hour north) and New York City (an hour south), but making that trip, often in traffic, a dozen times or more for treatments when you are nauseated from the cancer drugs and immunocompromised is a heavy burden. This is something you do not want to. Other local options may be out of network for many Connecticut resident (like Memorial Sloan Kettering) or do not offer advanced treatments. In addition, if you get sick, first line treatments are ubiquitous, but if you want cutting-edge treatments and access to the new trials (which you will) you need treatment at a facility with research affiliation. Many Greenwich cancer patients receive treatments in New Haven or New York City primarily for future access to new drugs which might be harder to get locally. The proposed Greenwich Cancer Center would have research affiliations.
A new cancer treatment facility will greatly enhance the quality of life for many of our residents undergoing one of the most challenging problems one can face. We need to do all we can to help the hospital make this care available to us. The best way to do this is to encourage our Planning and Zoning Commission to approve the Hospital’s plan.
The Hospital already owns the land and is paying 100% of the cost of construction, including converting much of the property into a green-space park. Such a facility would attract some of the world’s leading experts in Oncology for the benefit of our residents. But there is a risk that they will not be able to build this project because neighbors are concerned with construction noise, traffic in the area and other issues. While those concerns are valid, the Hospital has invested time and money to address them.
Neighbors expressed concerns that proposed parking would be unattractive and limit green space. The Hospital responded by redesigning parking to be underground and converting much of the property to a green park. Neighbors expressed concerns about traffic, so the project was improved to have dedicated, one-way entry and exit, ensuring optimal flow. The redesign is more expensive, but the Hospital is committed to working with local residents to make this good for them too. And while construction noise is unavoidable, this will soon be behind us and we can enjoy this state-of-the-art facility.
Finally, an important consideration is what may happen to the land if the project is not approved. I do not know what may happen to this land, but I do know that many developers have been buying up parcels in Greenwich and proposing outsized and incongruous low-income housing under State Statute 8-30g. If this were to happen, our Planning and Zoning Commission could not protect the neighborhood from what may be an even more concerning development.
Your input matters and is critical. So far, the Commission has heard primarily from neighbors, giving the impression that local concerns outweigh the broader benefits Greenwich would enjoy. If this perception remains, this project may be delayed or jeopardized. You can help ensure this does not happen by joining the P&Z Zoom meeting on September 8th where public commentary on this project will be accepted. During the meeting each attending resident will be given a few minutes to voice their opinion.
Please join this Zoom call. Your voice carries a lot of weight here. You can help ensure this important project proceeds.
If you have questions or would like help getting your voice heard, please feel free to reach out to me at: [email protected]
Greenwich is a fabulous Town with great amenities and civically minded residents. Let’s get together and make this Town even better. Let’s improve our hospital and encourage P&Z to approve the new cancer center.
Brooks Harris is the Chair of the Greenwich RTM Finance Committee and serves as board member of the Greenwich Affordable Housing Trust Fund. The opinions in this letter are his own and do not represent those groups.