Strong opinions voiced at city council meeting over Highland Hospital expansion


    On Thursday, people on both sides of the issue packed into a Rochester City Council meeting to have their voices heard during a public input session. (WHAM photo)

    ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHAM) -The expansion of Highland Hospital continues to be a highly debatable issue among some people in the neighborhood.

    Some residents have opposed the project for a while, saying it would not fit in with the historic look of the area.

    On Thursday, people on both sides of the issue packed into a Rochester City Council meeting to have their voices heard during a public input session.

    Some neighbors said if Highland Hospital wants to expand, they should look elsewhere.

    Eve Elzenga's solution is to build a new hospital. Her home sits just one house away from the hospital.

    "Highland Hospital has known for a long time that they are land locked, and they have no place to go beside up," she explained.

    She's lived in the neighborhood for more than 20 years.

    "I'm most concerned about the height, the building out to the actual edges of the neighborhood," she said.

    She's said she's even considered moving out of the area.

    On Thursday night, she joined a group of more than 20 people, most of them with strong opinions on the project's future.

    It's up to Rochester City Council to give the proposed project the green light. They would have to vote 'yes' to give the okay to rezone the property before the $70 million deal moves forward.

    Highland Hospital representatives say if passed, the plan is to add four floors to an already existing building.

    "I think the hospital has been a very good doing the best they could to make sure they are not impeding on the neighbors and neighborhood," said Karrie Laughton, who lives near the hospital.

    The expansion of the hospital would provide nearly all single patient rooms. Hospital officials say doing so could help reduce a patient's risk at getting an infection during their stay.

    "Having private rooms is the most important thing for quality of life," said Laughton.

    Some residents said the expansion won't fit in with the neighborhood's aesthetic.

    "We did shading studies to show the new tower will not impact homes," said Maureen Malone, Director of Public Relations for Highland Hospital.

    She said over the course of time, hospital officials and neighbors have met about 50 times to try and meet in the middle.

    "We are doing what we can to meet the neighborhoods needs. We also have a responsibility to modernize our facility to meet the mandate for public health," Malone explained.

    Malone said some parts of the hospital's campus are over 95 years old. She said the ability to modernize the location could help them keep up with demand in the future.

    City council is set to vote on the rezoning of the property on Tuesday, March 19.

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