Board 8 Says Yes to New Cancer Center

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The cancer and educational center moves one step closer to completion

This past week, despite concerns from the community, Community Board 8 voted in favor of approving the zoning amendment sought by Memorial Sloan Kettering (MSK) and the City University of New York (CUNY) needed to build a new cancer and educational center on East 73rd Street between York Avenue and the FDR Drive. The local community has been fiercely debating many aspects of the nascent project, and at the committee level, the board had previously voted against approving the zoning change request, citing concerns over traffic, decreased open space, pollution and noise that some say the massive building would bring to the Upper East Side.

At the public hearing last week during the land use committee meeting, cancer survivors and patients testified, urging the community to support the cancer center. In the previous vote, the MSK-CUNY task force committee, led by chair Nick Viest, had turned down the zoning text amendment, but this vote means full approval from the board. Now the project's Uniform Land Use Review Process application moves ahead for consideration by the Borough President's office.

The first resolution approved the sale of the site and the zoning map change which would allow the hospital and school to build the new complex in the middle of a previously-industrial zoned area. The board also approved the special permit needed for an accessory parking garage and allowance of sign modifications. The parking garage, according to Sloan Kettering, would create less traffic on the streets as patients and visitors looked for parking spots. In a close vote, 24 board members voted yes, and 17 voted no.

In the second resolution, the community board came up with an alternative text to the zoning text amendment.

The substitute motion, which passed with a slim margin of 23 yes to 20 no, specified the improvement of the Andrew Haswell Green park near the 59th Street Bridge along the FDR Drive. The community board also approved the bulk modifications of the building, which would allow the MSK building to tower 23 stories, and the Hunter building to rise 16 stories tall, under the stipulation that Andrew Haswell Green Park will be the recipient of the proposed improvements. This is an especially important issue for Upper East Siders, who recently learned that their community has some of the least open space citywide.

The recent approval also means that the project's Uniform Land Use Review Process application moves ahead for consideration by the Borough President's office.

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