One step closer to being one step closer. That is one way to look at the issue of the parking lot Brooks Memorial Hospital is proposing for the corner of Fifth Street and Central Avenue in the city of Dunkirk.
The city's Zoning Board of Appeals met Tuesday to rule on a variance requested by Brooks that was needed because the parking plan didn't meet city zoning regulations. Representing the hospital were Plant Operations/Security Supervisor - Safety Officer Frank J. Schneider, along with Rodney Drake of Habiterra Architects in Jamestown.
Drake explained the plans for the newest lot, including fencing, lighting and the need for the additional parking.
Photo by Al Liedke
Pictured is the part of the former church facility at the corner of Fifth Street and Central Avenue in the city of Dunkirk that has been demolished to make room for additional parking for Brooks Memorial Hospital visitors and staff.
"We would gain a little more than 60 parking spaces by the time we get it laid out ... this is basically visitor parking, visitor/employee parking," Drake stated.
One entrance and a barrier will be moved north from current locations, allowing for some 60 new spaces that will be 19-feet long and 9-feet wide with the aisles measuring 24-feet in width. A visitor/employee sign will mark the new lot.
"You have to give the employees a definite line of where they cannot park," Schneider stated. "If the employees are parked in the visitor's lot there's repercussion and disciplinary action. If you don't have something defined to tell the employees, don't park beyond here, that's where we ran into trouble."
Schneider added the signage will be changed to alert people to the parking areas available for public use. He also explained the need for fencing around the hospital campus, saying with the Dunkirk Middle School across Eagle Street from the hospital, there have been issues with vandalism and damage when students come and go from the school.
"We'd love to save the money and not have to put a fence up," he stated, adding the hospital will extend the fencing beyond the new project as financing allows.
Beautification plans were sought by the board, with Drake providing the details proposed.
Building and Zoning Officer Alan Zurawski reminded the ZBA issues about the design of the lot and incidentals such as shrubbery will be considered by the planning board, as the site is in a historical district.
One person had concerns about the proposal.
"My concern is the hospital hasn't kept its part on the Fifth Street part of that parking area they did several years ago," stated Fifth Street resident Christa Kelley. "It's very dumpy, the trees haven't been kept up. ... They push snow through that fenced-in area.
She added the current fence would not match the new one and make it look worse.
"That area is just looking pretty ragged. ... I'd like to know it's going to be kept up," she said, adding she has lived at her current address for 44 years. "I've watched every house go down and I don't want to see it just keep running down more."
Kelley added as far as she was concerned there was more than enough lighting in the lot already.
The board adjourned for deliberations but resumed the meeting to revisit snowplowing concerns. Schneider said a new contractor is being hired for this season and plans call for piling the snow away from the lot corners. The snow is removed later if the piles get too high.
The board voted 4-0 to approve the variance, with Commissioner Laura Beehler abstaining as she works at the hospital. In granting the variance the board had several stipulations.
The hospital must comply with all testimony and information presented; all snow must be kept on hospital property; fencing must be maintained; wattage of lighting will not be increased or increased in height; and parking lots shall be landscaped and maintained as proposed subject to planning board approval.
The board's findings of fact in making its ruling included: hardship has been exhibited due to the need for additional parking; it will alleviate the on-street parking in the neighborhood; and it is a continuation of the existing parking usage.
The planning board meeting to take up the parking lot issue, among others, has been postponed from Thursday to Nov. 1.
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