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New Rally Emerges To Keep Brooks In City

It appears there will be two rallies with regard to the plight facing the Brooks-TLC Hospital System on Saturday morning.

While Brooks-TLC will be holding a rally inside the Clarion Hotel Conference Center to support rural health care, a group of city residents — including current First Ward Councilwoman Natalie Luczkowiak — will be holding what is being called a “counter rally” on the Lake Shore Drive East, opposite the facility. Brooks-TLC is hoping New York state and Gov. Kathy Hochul to release $74 million in funding so a new state-of-the-art facility can be built on East Main Street in Fredonia at the former Cornell Cooperative Extension site.

Those planning the counter rally are against Brooks leaving the city limits. “When Brooks-TLC was awarded $70 million, they became predatory,” Luczkowiak says in her Facebook post. “So did their board, who are mostly from Fredonia, but no one from the city of Dunkirk. They want a new building and the board wants it in their Village. They do not care about our city or its people. They don’t care about the history of Brooks, and how it began in the late 1800s, in Dunkirk. How the two daughters of Mr. (Horatio) Brooks of the famous Brooks Locomotive, gave their mansion to be used as a hospital.”

Former state Sen. Catharine Young is planning to attend the Brooks-TLC event. Chautauqua County Executive PJ Wendel, who originally planned on attending, said Friday afternoon in an e-mail he could not make it. Those in opposition plan to have signs — and a megahpone — to make their voices heard on keeping the hospital in the city.

Brooks-TLC, which was awarded the $70 million in 2016, has suffered fiscally for more than a decade. Over the last five years, deficits at the hospital have totaled $45 million and do not include another $25 million in New York state subsidies that have not even begun to stem the losses.

Additionally, the grant is for the building of a new facility — not maintaining or remodeling one that is outdated. Brooks-TLC board, as well as Kaleida Health, chose a location in Pomfret in 2017 that did not pan out before the selection of the current site near the Fredonia Central Schools.

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