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Residents, it seems, are still fighting the redevelopment of the St. Albans Veterans Hospital.
Assemblymember William Scarborough hosted a town hall meeting at the Robert Ross Johnson Family Center on the fate of the 55-acre site recently. Senator Malcolm Smith, City Councilmember Leroy Comrie and Brain Simon, a representative of Congressmember Gregory Meeks, joined Scarborough on the panel. Greg Mays, the President of the Addisleigh Park Civic Organization, moderated the event.
The meeting was standing-room only and gave many of the concerned members of the community a chance to voice their opinions. Mays viewed the meeting as a success because it brought all levels of government together and on the same page on the issue.
In October 2007, the U.S. Veterans Administration released a proposal to renovate the campus, which met with resistance from the community. The proposal includes demolishing the current hospital and building a new facility on 30 of the 55 acres of the property.
The remaining 25 acres are to be sold to a developer to build new rental housing units.
Of the proposed plans, the most controversial includes constructing 4,000 new housing units on the site. Residents worry that this would overwhelm the current infrastructure due to the existing number of units in nearby Rochdale Village.
The developers could not be reached for a comment.
The community has taken a strong stance against any construction of non-veteran housing on the site. Many residents did not want the building demolished and proposed that the current veterans’ hospital be retrofitted in order to be more energy efficient.
Other alternatives were also suggested, such as giving the veterans hospital landmark status.
One group suggested that the building should be demolished but the materials be recycled and used in the building of the new structure. This would potentially save millions in costs and would make the project greener than a structure with all new materials, they suggest.
Veterans groups have voiced that they want a full-service hospital in St. Albans so local veterans do not have to travel into Brooklyn or Manhattan for care.

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