OPINION: LICH players should act fast to prevent deterioration
The way things are now, with lawsuits and counter-suits, only a miracle can prevent SUNY from closing Long Island College Hospital on May 22. And if the past can ever serve as a guide, it could be vacant for months, maybe even a year or so, before a solution is reached.
What will happen for that period of time? You will have a few large vacant buildings in Cobble Hill and a lot of smaller vacant buildings. Just the sight of these buildings will bring a depressing dynamic to the neighborhood. Without even meaning to do so, neighbors will start walking down different streets to avoid the former LICH buildings.
Yes, the buildings will be heavily guarded – at first. But if buildings aren’t used on a day-to-day basis, things will inevitably start to go wrong. If a leak takes place in one of the sinks or from the roof, without constant monitoring, it could take weeks for it to be discovered. In the meantime, lots of damage could take place.
The same thing could happen with electrical fires. And don’t even talk about mold or vermin and rodent infestation. Eventually, mischief-makers could start breaking windows and writing graffiti on the walls, making the buildings a blight on the entire area.
There are plenty of examples of what happens when buildings or other physical structures aren’t used for a substantial period of time. Several structures were saved from the 1964-65 World’s Fair in Flushing Meadows. One of these, the United States Pavilion, soon fell into disrepair and became unusable. It was torn down in 1977, a mere 12 years after it had last been used.
While no one suggests that LICH will go vacant for that long, even a year without use of some type could result in substantial problems. The longer the buildings are vacant and unused, the more it could cost to renovate them, making developers think twice about purchasing the property if a solution isn’t found as soon as possible.
Another example is that of the old New York, Westchester and Boston Railroad, a branch of the New Haven that went bankrupt in the late 1930s. Year after year, politicians debated various schemes to save the railroad, all without success. In the meantime, grass grew on the roadbed, stations started crumbling and the rails started rusting. Eventually, only a small portion in the Bronx was saved, and the rest was scrapped during World War II.
Also, let us remember that lots of valuable medical equipment is inside LICH – X-ray machines, EKG machines, various testing machines and so forth. Without proper maintenance, these important medical devices could become damaged or inoperable.
For all of these reasons, we hope that the various parties to the conflict put aside their combativeness and their inclination to resort to lawsuits at the drop of a hat, and come to a solution as soon as possible. Otherwise, they are depriving the neighborhood and surrounding areas of a valuable resource.