Meadow Park Rehabilitation Center, a 143-bed nursing home in Fresh Meadows, is looking to expand its space, but keep the same number of beds and staff. In order to do so, it needs a special permit.
At a public hearing at Hillside Manor on Tuesday night, Community Board 8’s Zoning Committee members listened to a presentation by attorney Jordan Most, who showed how the four-story building would expand into a horseshoe shape.
“If you were to build a building today, it wouldn’t have any of the conditions that are there today,” Most said of the grandfathered-in nursing home.
The facility at 78-10 164 St., has 12 of 16 rooms on each floor with three to four beds, and bathrooms that are shared between the rooms. The expansion would eliminate all three- or four-bed rooms, add a parking lot with 15 spots for visitors and emergency personnel, add a green space for the residents, increase the number of bathrooms and include a rear ramp for an ambulance.
The expansion for Meadow Park, which was built in the late 1950s, would meet city codes. The proposal was first brought to the board’s attention in 2011, and the Board of Standards and Appeals approved the size.But because the average number of nursing home beds per 1,000 residents is higher in CB 8 than in the city, with a ratio of 8.5 per 1,000 as opposed to 5.5 per 1,000 in the rest of the city, Meadow Park needs a special permit before the expansion can begin.
Meadow Park acquired four properties, three of which were homes, between 78th Road and 78th Avenue behind the rehab center to use in the expansion. Questions were raised about an additional floor, though “one floor doesn’t solve the problems,” Most said. “It’s better to have horizontal enlargement than vertical.”
Some board members and residents shared concerns about how the expansion would negatively impact the area.
“Four private properties were purchased solely to expand,” Kenneth Cohen, a former CB 8 member said. “These were homes we depended on to keep family life going.”
His son, Kenneth Cohen II, a board member, agreed, raising concern for the neighbors.
“Nursing homes are a part of the community, but at the end of the day, it is a business,” Cohen said. “I don’t want to set that precedent that the interests of business overrules the needs of homeowners.”
But board member Simon Pelman, who has been running nursing homes since the 1970s, said patients in the nursing home were once neighbors, and to avoid the expansion would be neglecting them.
“People who live in this facility are from the community,” Pelman said. “Their quality of life should be just as important as everybody’s quality of life.”
Despite concerns about parking and future numbers of staff members, CB 8 members voted 6-1 in favor of the expansion. A full vote will be held at the Community Board 8 meeting at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 15 at the Hillcrest Jewish Center, 183-02 Union Turnpike.
The community board vote is always advisory.