Redevelopment Plan: Brooks-TLC, City Of Dunkirk Near Deal On Current Site
DUNKIRK — If a new Brooks-TLC Hospital System Inc. facility is built in Fredonia, the Dunkirk Local Development Corp. is in line to take over ownership of the current property at 529 Central Ave. The sale price: $1.
At a meeting scheduled for this afternoon, the city agency will meet to further discuss a potential deal for the property with Brooks-TLC. According to state, city and hospital officials, negotiations regarding the property have been taking place for the last six months.
“Last October, the public officials and health-care expert volunteers serving on a hospital commission issued their report recommending the construction of a new hospital in our adjoining Pomfret community,” said city Mayor Wilfred Rosas in a statement to the OBSERVER. “Their findings were shared with the New York state Department of Health. I have fought to continue the hospital in our city. Given the recommendations shared with the state Health Department, however, I have sought to make the best of our situation. Most important now is that we have a hospital somewhere in our northern Chautauqua County community.”
In reaching a potential deal, it appears that city officials are now giving their blessing to the relocation plan of Brooks-TLC to the village on East Main Street at the former Cornell Cooperative Extension location. The DLDC will get the Brooks-TLC property in Dunkirk only when construction is completed at the new location.
“We cannot afford to lose Brooks Hospital from our larger community as well as losing its presence from our city,” Rosas said. “With the board of directors committed to moving the hospital, and $79 million or more of New York state funding for a new hospital hanging in the balance, I have worked with an outstanding team of professionals to fashion a plan that benefits the city and its residents if the hospital is rebuilt elsewhere.”
Gov. Kathy Hochul, who was in Dunkirk on Monday to announce the delivery of $10 million for downtown revitalization for the city, indicated the new state-of-the-art facility is still in the works.
“We’ll be happy to give you an update soon, but this is very important to our health team and they’re involved in conversations about keeping it viable,” she said. “It’s important. It’s a job creator, but also you need a place to go get care when you’re sick.”
Rosas noted the storied history that goes with the health-care institution, noting the city gave birth to the Brooks Locomotive Co. and has benefitted for more than a century because of Horatio Brooks’ legacy hospital. Terms of the agreement, Rosas said, allows for “a portion of the redevelopment to include a pre-hospital acute care service to ensure that city residents, including those least able and least mobile, have ready health care services and immediate access to the relocated hospital as necessary.”
David Damico, councilman at-large, voiced his support for the agreement.
“I think I can speak for the council,” he said. “The city has worked hard to maintain the hospital’s presence in our city. Apparently, however, the hospital’s Board of Directors is determined to relocate its primary facility elsewhere. Our concern now is that we maintain a hospital for our larger northern Chautauqua County community; and that it be accessible to our city residents. Mayor Rosas has worked with other elected officials and the hospital administrators to ensure we have a hospital in our larger community.”
Rosas highlighted the efforts of Department of Development Director Vince DeJoy, former city attorney Richard Morrisroe, the Dunkirk Local Development Corp.’s real estate counsel Robert Murray of Harris Beach LLCP, and New York state Assemblyman Andrew Goodell for their work on the agreement. He also thanked Christopher Lanski, hospital board chair; Ken Morris, Brooks-TLC chief executive officer; and Marc Romanowski of Rupp Pfalzgraf LLC., counsel for the hospital.
“While I lament the hospital’s move, I intend to move forward to support the state funding for a new hospital and deliver the promised redevelopment and renewal of the hospital site for our city,” Rosas said.
Damico echoed the mayor’s sentiments.
“I believe that it is now time for all of us to come together and support a new hospital facility together with the promised redevelopment of the current hospital site and subsidiary medical services,” he said.