Gowanda board hears Urgent Care expansion plan

GOWANDA – The Gowanda Planning Board and residents attended a special meeting held recently to have questions answered about a proposed expansion to the Urgent Care facility. To their surprise, representatives from the Lake Erie Regional Health System of New York were not in attendance at the meeting.

Architect Dave Zielinski of Cannon Design attended the meeting to present site designs. Zielinski said the expansion will replace the temporary Federal Emergen-cy Management Agency trailers behind the permanent building at the site located at 42 Commercial St. The new addition will see an extra 5,100 square feet, five exam rooms and new services. Mammography, ultrasound and physical therapy will be offered and a new waiting room will be able to seat 30 patients.

An addition of eight parking spaces will be added, including three handicap parking spaces. Since the permanent building is not being touched, water and sewer lines will not have to be reinstalled, just moved on the property. The current ambulance drop-off site located in the back of the building will stay in the same area but will be moved further back. Zielinski estimated construction to take three to six weeks for site preparation and another three weeks to erect the building envelope.

The outside of the building will be built of hardie board, a similar substance to concrete with the appearance of vinyl siding. With an expanded building, there will be an increase in traffic along Commercial Street, which was a concern for board member Ralph Swanson.

“It is a very tight street. You’re looking at increased traffic,” Swanson said.

Residents asked if a one-way entrance and one-way exit circular driveway could be added. If a car is trying to exit the facility while one is coming in, a traffic jam is created due to the narrow driveway. Zielinski said with the grade of the property and a berm located on-site, a circular drive may be too expensive and not feasible at this time.

“With the grade change, it really doesn’t provide (space) for an additional driveway,” Zielinski said.

Funds for the project will be available through a HEAL grant from New York state. The project must be built before Dec. 31 to be qualified for the funding. Janet Vogtli, board member, had questions about the allocation of the funding. She had heard the funding was not available to LERHSNY yet. Zielinski said he did not have any knowledge of the funding. If the funding does not come through, LERHSNY would be responsible for construction costs. Zielinski said if plans are not set in place when the funding is allocated, the project may not move forward since funding expires at year end.

“Whenever it gets allocated, if everything is not in order, we might not be able to move forward,” Zielinski said.

The board also had concerns about the facility being turned into a place where patients stay overnight and be admitted. Brecker said it cannot be called a hospital and it would be improperly zoned.

“They can’t call it a hospital. It’s a first aid facility. (Patients) are treated and then moved,” Brecker said.

The planning board gave a list of items they would like to see from Zielinski and LERHSNY. The items were confirmation of no 24-hour construction days on the exterior, confirmation Urgent Care would stay as a permanent outpatient facility, proof of ownership of the site by LERHSNY, requiring the FEMA trailers to be removed by Oct. 31 and not allowing permanent storage in Gowanda, ensure there are a minimum of five handicap parking spaces, addressing the entrance issue with a circular driveway or expanding the current driveway and written confirmation if the project begins, it will be finished, even if the funding were to fall through.

Zielinski will come back to address the board’s concerns at a special meeting on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. Planning Board Chair Tim McKeever and Zielinski will both reach out to officials from LERHSNY and invite them to attend the meeting as well.

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