New parking areas included in Yale-New Haven Hospital’s proposed $430 million cancer center plan will encroach upon the Hill and Dwight neighborhoods, city residents complained during a meeting last night at the New Haven Public Library.
The meeting — held by the five-year-old advocacy group the New Haven Urban Design League — featured a slide show presentation by architect John Reddick ARCH ’76, president of the City Institute of New York, who highlighted what he said were flaws in the current integration of Yale’s medical center with surrounding residential spaces. About 50 people attended the gathering, held in the library’s community room.
Reddick said development in the University’s medical campus has often been carried out at the expense of neighborhood aesthetics. He showed slides of area neighborhood gardens as examples of what could exist in lieu of parking lots.
“I don’t think a parking garage, no matter how you put it, is a good replacement for that level of character,” he said.
After the slide show, audience members voiced their general concerns about the cancer center, including the possibility that it would create only low-end jobs for local residents.
David Cameron, a Design League board member and the Political Science Department’s director of undergraduate studies, said the hospital’s proposals for potential garage locations could devalue residential property and concentrate pollution from exhaust fumes.
“I think the cancer center has to be built,” Cameron said, “but I don’t think they should put a parking garage in … the Route 34 corridor, because it will cut off the Hill from the Dwight neighborhood. They should keep to the east of Howard Avenue.”
Ward 10 Alderman Edward Mattison LAW ’68, co-chair of the aldermanic committee on the cancer center, said he is concerned that Yale-New Haven is not willing to compromise on zoning and parking issues.
“The hospital often has an unintended impact on its surrounding area,” he said. “They have a lack of understanding about what to do to mitigate that impact.”
Reddick said Yale-New Haven and the University have not always been conscientious in their development work and criticized a number of architectural choices that placed pleasant facades in Yale’s direction while neglecting the backs of lots and buildings facing residential areas. Reddick, whose previous work includes public development in Harlem, said he believes too many parking lots and run-down buildings will deter commercial development and harm a neighborhood’s a sense of community.
Yale-New Haven spokesman Vin Petrini said the hospital has already surveyed surrounding communities about parking and development issues. He said the Design League does not accurately represent the majority of residents who would be impacted by the cancer center.
“This is an organization that has come into the project at the 11th hour,” Petrini said. “It lacks credibility. We have worked very diligently to incorporate neighborhood concerns into our plans … We need to get this cancer center built.”
Petrini said the center, for which the hospital originally planned to break ground this month, is being unduly delayed by groups like the Design League. Yale-New Haven submitted its center proposal to the Board of Aldermen exactly six months ago.
Mattison said aldermanic decisions on the cancer center plans will likely progress in coming weeks, as city planning officials are “90 percent there” in revising a proposal to create a new business-medical zone for the center. The finished proposal will be submitted to the aldermen to be considered — along with about 10 other issues — before they make a final decision.