Equal time

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Equal time

No Hospice on Quiogue

The following was submitted by Cherie Magee as a Comment to August 24th's "I hate it when...," but is published here to make sure the "No Hospice on Quiogue" side gets a fair airing.

Ms. Mcgee, OtBB is yours:

Hi Dean –

Wish I had seen this post earlier – but in answer, yes, we have been doing our homework as much as people totally new to any battle such as this can.

We have spoken to local environmentalists, who both say that this is a very poor choice of site for this type facility. The wastewater (filled with toxic medicines like morphine for ex­ample) that will seep into the ground and then into the fresh water creek can begin its destructive end toward killing shell­fish, etc., within as little as six months.

Southampton Town seems to think it is okay to allow East End Hospice to build within 65 feet of the wetlands instead of 100... but as one of the Board members said, "well, you have to remember this is for a good cause."

Our waterways are a very good cause, too. This facility can be placed in many other more appropriate sites, but our natural fresh waterway can't be moved, now can it?

This doesn't seem to me like Southampton Town is showing much concern for our waterways.

Well, unless you or I were trying to build there... then I sus­pect they would look at this quite differently! New York State Department of Environmental Conservation might have other thoughts on that though.

As for traffic, we have visited other eight-bed facilities; the Northport facility has 24 parking spaces and each time we visited there were at least 18 cars in their lot and sometimes full. East End Hospice's plan shows only 12 spaces.

(Southampton Town's new code requires only one space per two patients [4] + 1 for each employee which East End Hospice claims will be six and they allowed two extra spaces.)

This means according to what we have seen as typical that at least six to eight cars would be parked up and down our residential street daily. What happens on holidays when family members come out in droves?

First of all although the facility is slated to be eight beds, they encourage having a family member sleep over, providing a pullout bed in each room for that purpose. That would often mean eight cars right there plus the six employees – that's more than 12 cars already.

I grew up here in the area, as did my father, grandfather and back many more generations. This is home – now I have grandchildren that are with me frequently and ride their bikes up and down Hampton Street, as do other children here.

Quiogue is a quiet, residential neighborhood that has pro­vided the peaceful atmosphere we know and love. This type facility, aside even from the parking issue, will bring too much traffic in the form of delivery trucks and ambulances (one of which already came too fast around the curve this Spring and hit a tree in our yard!)

There is plenty of other land available that is not in residential neighborhoods, which would be much more suited to this type facility. The old Pastor Chevrolet site is up for sale, there is a large parcel available next to Westhampton Care Center, or how about buying or even better yet for all, doing an exchange of property with Southampton Town, giving East End Hospice property across from Caso Basso at the old Bailey's Motel site.

Southampton Town just did a land trade with the Westhamp­ton Cemetery Association so they shouldn't have any object­ion to another five or six acres going to a worthy cause, and getting the Meeting House site to either sell for building sites, or place in Conservancy hands.

There are better solutions than placing this facility here just because the land was bequeathed to East End Hospice.

What does this mean for the future of Southampton Town? The zoning laws now allow for this type facility in any resi­dentially zoned area of the Town.

Yes folks, that means that they could decide to build next door to you and your neighbors!

We know this is a good cause, that is not the issue. A fair number of those who have signed the petition are actually donors and volunteers of East End Hospice.

The issue is that this is a residential neighborhood, and this type of 24 hour a day seven day a week facility does not belong in the middle of a residential neighborhood.

The zoning should never have been changed – hospice is not residential in character – it is much closer to a nursing home which is not allowed in a residential area.

Thank you for your Comment, Cherie... you present your views much more substantively than did that pedantic air­head who braced me on the Historical Society House Tour in May.

That said, I find the best part of your argument weak, your speculative math non-compelling, the ambulance incident anecdotal... wasn't serious enough to even appear on Patch... and the Pastor property suggestion callous.

A torope

And again I take issue with your characterization of Cranberry Marsh as a "fresh water creek;" while it is, along with random infusions of residual JP-4 av-fuel, spring-fed, it's brack­ish from salt-water Aspatuck Creek back-wash, and while water fowl nest in the area, about the only species which lives there is Chelydra serpentina serpentina, the near pre-historic torope.

In the final analysis, it remains over-wrought nimby-ism as revealed by your alarmist "Yes folks, that means that they could decide to build next door to you and your neighbors!"

We will have to agree to disagree on this issue.

Ms. Magee's Comment is presented as received, but for improved clarity with spelling errors corrected, acronyms spelled out, and, where appropriate, links added. – Dean


1. Gordie Howe said...

Saw this and since I have been following the activities, felt the need to respond.

Please, take a good look at the claim of environmental ruin if a hospice is built on the corner of Meetinghouse Road and Montauk Highway. If she had done the research, Mrs. Magee would know there are laws on the books prohibiting facilities from discharging medicines into wastewater systems. So unless she assumes the hospice will covertly flush medicine down the toilet, that argument is out.

Next, as you pointed out in a previous post, you can't compare this building's activities, including parking, to the East Northport hospice. Just with a little bit of research, I learned the East Northport building was designed to house the entire operation's administrative functions on the site! Looking at East End's drawing, I don't see offices, so that argument doesn't hold water either.

About parking along the streets, as someone who just drives throughu the area, it seems to me the activities at the boat yard are more of a problem. Take a ride any day of the week and more often that not, huge boat trailers are parked on the street. I am surprised with Mrs. Magee's stated concern for preserving the quality of life in her neighborhood she's let this go unchallenged for so long.

Sorry about her tree but having had relatives and friends cared for by hospice, there are no emergencies in hospice, so no need to worry about ambulances racing around the neighborhood.

Lastly, any property bordering Montauk Highway can hardly be categorized as a quiet, peaceful neighborhood.

Sure does sound like nymby-ism and maybe even a dose of fear-mongering; whatever it is, its unfortunate.

I am going to put my effort in to helping EEH raise the necessary funds to complete this project and thank God for such an organization!


In an E-mail late last evening, Cherie Mcgee hoped that this OtBB entry would start "a respectful dialog."

I trust that she will consider this in that spirit.
– Dean

2. EastEnd68 said...

In all due respect I totally support hospice being located in this or any other residental neighborhood.

Me too, but there are thems what don't and make a much more cogent case than the ladies Magee and/or Garbutt.
– Dean

3. Jeanne Speir said...

I have walked and biked to the area for many years. It is a beautiful, quiet street where I've never seen cars lined up. (Until the tag sale yesterday.)

It's just around the corner from Brook Road, one of my favorite streets. I understand now how close Montauk Highway is and where the property ends. The fragmites have hidden it from view all these years. Any facility built here will have an impact on the neighborhood.

For this business, (and I have begun to understand between friends and family who have or are using hospice how very big a business it is,) it will provide a sad and constantly changing parade of motor vehicles coming to say their last goodbyes with laughs and tears. Perhaps choosing this bucolic spot deeded to hospice is intended to comfort those who remain, for indeed those near death will draw little comfort from their surroundings. My concerns are for the living. All of them.

As with birth, not all cultures and people respond in the same way to dying. Ask any nurse who has helped the passage. Grief and relief can be expressed in many different ways. Since death doesn't care what time it is, this expression of a loved one's end can occur at all hours. Do the neighbors have to bear witness to this daily tragedy?

I have been a nurse for over forty years. I'm not a nurse of the hospice cloth. It takes all kinds of nurses to make people well, and also to help them on their last journey, (provided the dying have the time to say their goodbyes to those they leave behind.)

Using the pain of the hospice event on a sentimental level is a hard-nosed ploy to effect a business decision, just as that silly man appeals to us to let him use his property by the railroad for his supermarket.

Personally? I would wish the facilities of one of our local hospitals provide an area where Hospice can provide their specialized skills, should care be unmanageable at home. Hospitals made birthing rooms. Why not Hospice rooms? They're also not in the middle of nowhere, easy to find. Hospitals could use a piece of that 100% Medicare payment to support their bottom line. Further, the movement of the deceased to their interment is already in place in a hospital.

It's a messy business, death. I've lost many in the last few years, and had the opportunity to observe the comings and goings of various hospice groups locally and nationally.

I'm not really clear why this Hospice chose this spectacular piece of peaceful property for this use. Perhaps the gentleman who deeded it to them specified it was only for the dying. If the local powers-that-be decide to go ahead with these plans, I have some suggestions that may ameliorate the impact on the middle class neighbors whose property will be affected.

  1. We all love the endless fragmites view from Brook Road. I hope that does not go away. It gives all of us peace.
  2. Regarding the traffic; now that I know where the property is, there could be a greatly increased motor vehicle impact impact on Montauk Highway. I have a hard time coming around that curve, and some family full of relatives is going to get T-boned or rear ended on their way to the proposed facility. Try making a left turn there!
  3. If the plans go through with the dogged determination thus far demonstrated, the neighbors of that quiet little street should make the sacrifice to make their Hampton Street one way, thereby barring hospice traffic from entering from Meetinghouse Roaqd. There will be additional traffic. It's only natural.
  4. If there is a need to use the property as a hospice-related entity, could it not be used an an inn to house the living who have travelled great distances to be with their family? To counsel and provide a beautiful shelter for family members?
I, for one, have a difficult time understanding this choice of venue.

Good luck, all.
And here I thought I was the contrarian in the family!
– Dean

4. Nutbeem said...

I don't have a strong opinion on the hospice, but maybe I can do a bit of record-straightening.

Most importantly, it is absolutely untrue that Southampton Town has changed the zoning on Quiogue. Instead, the Town has introduced a Special Exception ('SE') zoning use which applies to the whole town – not just Quiogue, and as I understand it would be best described as an invitation for land users to apply for a pre-approved variance. SE uses are conditional, and come with a strict set of rules. This means that an application for a hospice would have to pass a higher threshold than an application by rights - such as a single family house.

One of the SE requirements for a hospice is to ban parking within the required 50 foot front yard – which in my opinion effectively makes hospices unbuildable on most R-20 lots, and thereby the great majority of Quiogue. If you live on Quiogue (as I do), take a look around you. Any large lots among your neighbors? No? Phew!

Another requirement of the SE rules is that the Town holds a public meeting at some point after receiving the application. So there's an opportunity for Ms. Magee and allies to make themselves heard.

And I agree wholeheartedly with Mr. Howe that new construction these days is very closely regulated – especially within spitting range of a wetland. So I think we can lay the pollution argument to rest.

The bigger picture here is whether a hospice belongs on Quiogue. For one thing, nimbyism is not always a bad thing – sometimes good people with the best intentions try to build the right building in the wrong place. Misguided projects should be resisted.

Secondly, I would argue that the SE rules don't adequately protect neighboring residential uses against noise and light pollution. Quite close to my house there is a residential care facility that pollutes in precisely both those ways, and it's hard to do anything about it. The staff shifts change in the middle of the night, and they need lights so they don't fall down in the dark while looking for their keys. The facility has been there longer than I have, and they are unfailingly polite, so I'm not a victim by any means. But I can understand Ms. Magee's concern, and I believe the Town has let her down by neglecting to write noise and light pollution into the SE rules for hospices.

Jeanne's eloquent E-mail touches on an issue that plagues American towns and cities that continue to develop according to zoned master plans. Some uses, such as hospices, just don't fit easily into categories. Are they residential? Not really – not with midnight shift changes for a dozen staff. Should they be grouped with hospital buildings? Who wants to die in a medical park? I don't see any volunteers.

Let's hope the professional planners on the Town staff have some answers to questions like these.

This seems very much in keeping with the "respectful dialog" which Mrs. Mcgee was desirous of having.

An important question... what other hearings are scheduled to be held on this project, and before what bodies?
– Dean

5. Cherie Magee said...

Several points to answer here –

One again, and for the finale time, Cherie Mcgee's comments are a separate OtBB entry.
– Dean

6. EastEnd68 said...

I read Jeanne's entire piece. She really knows her subject well when she contributes to this blog. Her mention that Hospice has become "big business" will make me rethink my position. 30 years a family used a hospice that was a wing in the local hospital. Thinking back Jeanne's comments make an awful lot of sense. Thanks for such an informed contribution.

JAY-sus, man! Don't encourage her... she's tough enough to live with as it is now!

7. Kathy said...

East End Hospice is not for profit.

The correct designation for East End Hospice is that it is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation, which does not make it any less of a "big business" as two previous commenters suggest.
– Dean

8. Jeanne Speir said...

I did a little looking. It may be of interest to Kathy that the East End Hospice Corporation, a non-profit, (which serviced 500 clients in 2008,) according to their 2010 Form 990 (Return of Organization Exempt From Income Tax) gave a pay and benefit package to their CEO worth $265,920 that year. East End Hospice's other paid staff is comprised of thirty-five members. There are 160 volunteers.

I say bless the volunteers, indeed.

Um, okay....

9. Cherie Magee said...

With two other staff members at approximately $142,000 and $125,000, that's a total of almost $550,000/year in Administrative salaries. Rather hefty for a non-profit.

Compared to what?

Again, I see a fundemental confusion over the classification "non-profit," #1, and, #2, what does it have to do with land use and nimby-ism?
– Dean

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