Traditionally, when a building is fifty years old, it can be considered a historic resource, worthy of protection. In the case of 30 Prospect Avenue, the former Eden Park Nursing Home, constructed in 1971, fifty years marks the end of its useful life. The third project considered by the Planning Board on Tuesday was the proposal from Columbia Memorial Health, the current owner of the building, to demolish it to create fifty parking spaces for hospital staff.
Staff parking at the hospital has been a perennial problem. CMH prioritizes parking for visitors and those seeing doctors in the medical center. As a consequence, hospital staff park on neighborhood streets, taking spaces that residents consider to be theirs. In 2015, the Common Council voted to enact a law that would provide parking permits for residents and would make anyone parking on the street in the area without a permit subject to ticketing. The legislation passed with barely a majority, and it was vetoed by Mayor William Hallenbeck because, even though the parking permit scheme had originally been his idea, he claimed the Council Legal Committee had "turned it into a monster" by expanding the scope of the legislation.
Apparently not knowing this history, Planning Board member Larry Bowne questioned if CMH has established the need for parking. "My bias," said Bowne, "is we don't tear down a building for a parking lot." He noted that the building was "one of the few mid-century buildings in Hudson" and added, "We don't know what the future is going to love."
Planning Board chair Betsy Gramkow attested that she had worked in the building for twelve years. "There's nothing nice about that building," said Gramkow. "It doesn't even feel safe anymore." Tim Moot, representing CMH, maintained the building "has met its life expectancy."
Bowne insisted the board needed more information about number of employees, how many of them drive to work, and where they park now. Gramkow enumerated concerns about storm water runoff, landscaping, lighting, and a crosswalk to the hospital.
A public hearing on the proposed project was scheduled for Tuesday, April 13.
For some perspective, this is how the site once looked.