Friday, April 18, 2014
Planning Board Carries SED Application to May
About 50 residents attended the meeting at the Plainfield Public Library, examining displays of plans for the new SED and hearing testimony from JFK Health System's vice president for corporate facilities, Frank Tsemberlis; engineer Matthew Robinson; and architect Robert Ryan. The board also took questions from the public, but by the time a 10:30 deadline rolled around, it was too late to hear from a planner that attorney Wendy Berger said was the final witness on the application.
The Planning Board meets next on May 1 and May 15, and testimony and deliberations may span both meetings. No further notice will be given, so anyone interested in the case was advised to mark their calendars with the May dates. The meetings begin at 7 p.m. in City hall Library.
JFK Health System envisioned 600 apartments.
In public comment, resident Clare Zanfini gave a history of the hospital and alluded to "the upcoming atrocity." She recalled hearing that if the city did not go along with the plan for 600 apartments, there would be no emergency room. Now, she said, "We all know this is the opening salvo. They have not considered almost 4,000 people that might be moving in."
Planning Board Chairman Ron Scott-Bey banged his gavel to bring the discussion back to the application.
Among details elicited by other speakers, Tsemberlis answered Dan Damon's question on ownership by saying Muhlenberg owns the parcel but the SED operates under JFK's license "like a tenant." The two entities have common ownership and share a board, he said. The Community Hospital Group is the parent organization.
In answer to resident Nancy Piwowar's question on how the applicant proposed to educate the public about the relocation, Tsemberlis said there would be a print and digital advertising campaign to publicize the changes.
Resident Dottie Gutenkauf said she read that JFK Medical Center in Edison spent $30 million on their new emergency department and asked how much the Plainfield one will cost. The answer was from $2.5 to $3 million, but the annual volume in Edison was described as 70,000, in contrast to 17,000 in Plainfield.