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New St. Mary’s entry is unsafe: East Bayside

Renovations at St. Mary's Hospital in Bayside included a new entrance, now aligned with 29th Avenue for a clean drive into the facility. Photo by Phil Corso
TimesLedger Newspapers

The entrance in front of St. Mary’s Hospital for Children in Bayside was only moved over by a few feet, but some residents said it was just enough to raise concerns over what they contend is now a dangerous new intersection.

The entrance, across from 29th Avenue on 216th Street, makes for a more simplistic means of entering the facility, the hospital said.

Leslie Johnson, St. Mary’s’ director of communications and marketing, said the road change made entering the campus easier and ultimately safer.

But Bayside resident and East Bayside Homeowners Association President Frank Skala said the new intersection created new dangers for area drivers. By making it easier for drivers to enter the St. Mary’s driveway, Skala said he worried about cars driving too quickly through the residential area.

“The driveway itself should supposedly make it safer after it was straightened, but that might not be the case,” Skala said. “People might end up driving faster, which isn’t safe in a residential area surrounded by family homes.”

Johnson said, however, that by aligning the hospital’s driveway with 29th Avenue, vehicles no longer have to make the slight turn into the facility.

“It used to be a rather jagged entrance,” she said. “Now we have a much cleaner means to drive in and out.”

Johnson said the shifted entrance was more effective for both the visitors of the hospital and surrounding suburban community because it cleans up the process of entering and exiting its driveway.

“The old entrance wasn’t the best for traffic flow,” Johnson said. “It should be much safer now.”

The renovated entrance was a small part of a larger hospital-wide modernization plan that includes the construction of an entirely new building to increase space at the facility at 29-01 216th St.

And according to Johnson, it was only included at the community’s request.

“The reason why this was worked into the program was because of the people in the community,” Johnson said. “There will always be some with differing opinions, but the neighbors had requested it, so we built this into our building plan.”

Skala, who lives about a mile away from the entrance, said he had spoken with various neighbors closer to the development who were opposed to the effects of a new St. Mary’s entrance.

He also said they were opposed to the removal of tree life to create the new entrance. Johnson, however, said there were plans in place to beautify the spot with new plant life.

Concern over the creation of a busier, more dangerous intersection was understood and taken into consideration and even acted upon, Johnson said. A statement provided by St. Mary’s said the hospital was working with Community Board 11 and Bayside neighbors to advocate for a four-way stop at the new intersection.

“With the ongoing construction project, we recognize that at times the flow of traffic has been impacted,” the statement said. “We will continue to strive to keep any disruption to a minimum as we modernize St. Mary’s facility to better serve children with medically complex conditions.”

Reach reporter Phil Corso by e-mail at pcorso@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4573.

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