2006-12-20 / Features

Liu: Gas Station Next To NYHQ A Danger

City Councilmember John Liu and Flushing community activists oppose the expansion of a gas station next to New York Hospital Queens, citing security and anti-terror concerns.

“These plans run directly counter to the best interests of the community,” Liu declared. “In this age of heightened security awareness, it is unacceptable to continue the operation of a gas station right next door to a major medical center so vitally important to New York City.”

Liu (D–Flushing) said that although the gas station has been at the location on Main Street immediately adjacent to NYHQ, the hospital is also undertaking a major expansion and has attempted many times in the past to acquire the property.

The owner of the gas station, the Amerada Hess Oil Company, has been unresponsive, “and instead pursues its own expansion without regard for the risks inherent in such direct proximity to a major hospital,” Liu said.

In a letter to Liu and the community last October 6, Amerada Hess official F. Borden Walker stated: “We do not believe, however, that gas stations/convenience stores are dangers to the community...in view of the importance of this station to our customers and our company, as we advised the hospital, the property is not for sale.”

But community leaders expressed strong reservations about the gas station expansion plans.

Myra Baird Herce, a member of the NYHQ Advisory Committee, said, “Basically, we consider it very unfair to the local community because it has the potential for a tragedy of unparalleled proportions in this area. Safety is our priority, and we feel that in order to be a good neighbor, you have to put safety before any other interest.”

Citing other concerns, John Byas, president of the University Park Tenants Council, stated: “The property is too near to the hospital; it’s a health problem and an environmental concern—even before Hess took it from Mobil. Location-wise, it is very bad for the hospital and the community. We’ve got fumes there, we got glass there, it’s very dangerous.”

Another member of the NYHQ Advisory Committee, Bessie Gasparre, said, “The gas station problem has been going on, and it seems to be a toy to the owner. This was tried about 13 to 14 years ago, and the owner doesn’t want to let go, and I think it’s terrible, because if there’s ever, ever an accident there, those patients have no chance at all.”—John Toscano

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