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Kaleida must do better on redevelopment plan

At the time Kaleida Health announced its million-dollar competition for redeveloping the former Millard Fillmore Hospital at Gates Circle, the expressed purpose of the contest was to “get the best ideas and the most capable developers to do something great.”

When Kaleida selected the Chason Affinity team last August as winner of the competition, I doubted that the chosen developer was up to the task of converting the Gates Circle site into a veterinarian teaching hospital and, in doing so, attaining Kaleida’s laudable goal.

My doubts appear to have been confirmed by Kaleida’s recent announcement that it will reissue a request for proposals to develop the former hospital. But The News’ troubling report, describing the “bedlam” at Erie County Medical Center’s psychiatric emergency room following Kaleida Health’s June 14 closing of Buffalo General’s behavioral health unit, convinces me that it is Kaleida itself that needs to “up its game” if the health and well-being of patients and neighborhoods are to be preserved.

A decision to “relocate” health services from existing operations, whether it’s the Gates Circle complex, Buffalo General or Children’s Hospital, will significantly affect nearby residents and businesses. A responsible landowner and neighbor would not do what Kaleida reportedly has done at Gates Circle, that is, attempt to leave behind “parcels considered brownfields, with steep environmental cleanup costs involved.”

The identification and cleanup of any contamination should be Kaleida’s responsibility.

Nor would a conscientious landowner and neighbor select a developer that offers a mere one dollar to purchase property as prominent as the Gates Circle site, as Chason Affinity did, and hope to quickly walk away from responsibility for the property’s redevelopment.

As Western New York’s largest health care provider, Kaleida Health owes this community a higher level of performance than it has shown to date when deciding to relocate its facilities.

Arthur J. Giacalone

Attorney

East Aurora