The petition is being delivered today to key decision-makers, a week before the hospital’s July 14 presentation to neighbors on its expansion plan.
A decisive 94 percent of Highland Park Neighborhood residents who were petitioned oppose Highland Hospital’s plan to expand its campus into the surrounding residential community.
The petition and its 1,658 signatures are being presented today (July 7, 2014) to about two-dozen decision-makers from Highland Hospital; its owners, the University of Rochester; and city and county government. It urges them to retain current residential zoning in the neighborhood and asks the hospital to refrain from acquiring residential property there.
The hospital will present a plan to expand in its South Parking Lot, to interested neighbors in an open meeting on July 14 at 5:30 pm the Olmsted Lodge at 171 Reservoir Avenue in Highland Park. The meeting is organized by Neighbors Building Neighborhoods Sector 6, a group of business and neighborhood leaders in southeast Rochester that focuses on planning and collaboration among neighborhoods, businesses and government.
The petition was initiated in response to Highland Hospital’s Jan. 15 purchase of a single-family home at 27 Bellevue Drive and public statements that it intends to purchase more neighborhood property for institutional purposes. “These statements have created a cloud of uncertainty over the future of this economically diverse, stable, desirable, tax-paying neighborhood, potentially affecting property values and residents’ motivation to invest in property upgrades and maintenance—and even their desire to continue to live in the neighborhood,” Michael Thompson wrote in his petition cover letter.
The petition signatures were collected in several efforts:
• Door-to-door canvassing—During late April and early May, canvassers had face-to-face contact with 250 households in Highland Hospital’s immediate neighborhood. Ninety-four percent signed the petition.
• A petition table at the June 7-8 Landmark Society House and Garden Tour of “some of the most distinguished homes in the area,” according to Landmark Society publicity—The table was on the same Bellevue Drive block as two homes on the tour and the now vacant house the hospital owns.
• A petition table during the Lilac Festival—The table near a property the hospital made an offer on in 2013, the bed and breakfast at 428 Mount Vernon Avenue and its1.8-acre wooded lot bordering Highland Park.
• An online petition
About 55 percent of the signers are City of Rochester residents. The rest are from Rochester suburbs and nearby cities such as Elmira, Buffalo and Syracuse. A few are from as far away as Florida and California.
“These results show overwhelming support for the positions we present in our petition,” Thompson wrote in his cover letter. “We urge you to honor the will of the people to keep the hospital within its current footprint in the Highland Park Neighborhood.”