Guthrie Cortland Medical Center plans to build a $10.6 million cancer treatment center in what is now its west parking lot as well as a new entrance and exit to the hospital that would close the east end of Alvena Avenue. But the project has a number of regulatory hurdles to clear before it breaks ground.
Wednesday night, it cleared the first, after receiving a recommendation from the Cortland County Planning Board.
Guthrie proposes building a 21-foot-tall, 10,825-square-foot steel-framed building at the northeast corner of West Main and Loope streets that would be used for medical oncology, infusion therapy and radiation oncology services.
The project would require the consolidation of nine Guthrie-owned parcels into one, as well as the demolition of two houses the hospital owns on Loope Street and a major overhaul of the existing 2.95-acre west parking lot.
The proposed cancer center would take up 143 of those spots. The hospital now has 673 parking spots in its five lots. The hospital proposes reconfiguring the west lot, which would cut the total number of parking spaces by 15 to 658. The new spaces would be 9 by 18 feet, the city’s minimum acceptable size. The hospital would also construct new paving, curbing, sidewalks, landscaping and storm water management.
New lighting is also proposed — 13 new 20-foot-tall light poles, which county planners required be aimed away from nearby residents.
Employees of the proposed cancer center would require 44 of these parking spots, while an estimated 100 spots would be available to others at any given time, according to the county planning analysis. The hospital plans to move existing staff parking from the west lot to the south and east lots.
The project now moves to the city planning commission; it will be considered at a Jan. 22 meeting at 5:15 p.m.. in the city court chambers. From there, the project will go to the city zoning board of appeals; the next meeting will be at 5:30 p.m. Feb. 10 in city hall in the mayor’s conference room.
But there’s still more: The hospital wants to close a section of Alvena Avenue and incorporate it into the hospital’s property, while converting the east end of Alvena Avenue into the main entrance and exit to the hospital from Homer Avenue.
The half-circle driveway at the main entrance to the hospital would be expanded into a traffic circle that would cut across Alvena Avenue and into the north parking lot.
The western side of the parking lot would create a dead end on Alvena Avenue. While no entrance or exit would be allowed on that side, a gated entrance would provide access to emergency vehicles.
The proposed changes will require additional county and city approval, which county Planning Director Dan Dineen estimates could take at least six months, including public hearings, approval by the city common council, and further approvals by the county planning board and the city’s planning commission and zoning board of appeals.
The new cancer center would be the latest project of about $100 million in promised investment that Guthrie announced it would make in 2017. Guthrie entered into a partnership with the hospital in 2017, and became its corporate parent on Jan. 1, 2019.