This letter is part of an ongoing conversation around the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation (GVSHP) and the closing of St. Vincent’s Hospital. The initial letter to the editor on this topic, from Dr. Alec Pruchnicki, appeared in the December 2016 issue of WestView in response to a November 2016 letter by Gary Tomei.
Dr. Pruchnicki admits that St. Vincent’s closing was the result of mismanagement and a failure of government oversight and support. But he persists in claiming that the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation (GVSHP) must also take some responsibility, saying, “if various community groups and individuals had come out as strongly to support the hospital—if not the exact Rudin plan—as they did to pick apart one detail after another,” maybe the hospital could have been saved.
That’s exactly what we did. Right out of the gate, GVSHP put forward a “community alternative plan” which would have allowed the hospital to modernize and rebuild without the massive speculative real estate project they were proposing, while also preserving and protecting the scale and history of the Greenwich Village Historic District. We hoped that this would be a starting point for a conversation about a realistic and reasonable path forward for the hospital.
Instead, the proposal was met with outright hostility by the hospital administration, as well as elected and government officials, who refused to consider any alternatives to the original unrealistic and oversized plan. It was incredibly clear from the beginning, as with so many other giant real estate development plans put forward during the Bloomberg-Quinn era—like the NYU Expansion Plan—that the fix was in from the beginning. There was no interest in doing anything other than playing with the deck chairs of the Titanic, even if it meant the demise of the hospital.
GVSHP is more than willing to take responsibility for our failures, inadvertent or otherwise. In regards to supporting the hospital to the best of our ability, this was simply not one of those failures.
—Andrew Berman, Executive Director, Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation