Peconic Bay CEO appeals to town to help with parking woes

TIM GANNON PHOTO | A loaded parking lot at Peconic Bay Medical Center Friday in Riverhead.
TIM GANNON PHOTO | A loaded parking lot at Peconic Bay Medical Center Friday in Riverhead.

Looking for a parking space at Peconic Bay Medical Center?

Good luck. Even hospital president Andy Mitchell acknowledges Peconic Bay has way too few parking spaces. And that the situation is likely to get worse once a proposed oncology center in the former P.C. Richards site opens next year

In an attempt to ease the parking burden, Riverhead Town is proposing to let Peconic Bay Medical Center use a parking lot behind the former armory building on Route 58 for employee parking, while having a shuttle take those employees to and from work at the hospital.

“Not ideal, but at this point, we will look at all options,” Mr. Mitchell said at a Town Board work session where he brought up the issue to board members Thursday.

“They have 1,200 employees and 400 parking spaces,” Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter said of the hospital.

“We need about 750 more parking spaces,” Mr. Mitchell said.

In recent years, hospital officials have talked about possibly building a tiered parking garage on top of the 270-space Roanoke Avenue parking lot it owns across the street from the hospital. But Mr. Mitchell said the hospital doesn’t have the money to do that now, although they’ve also talked about putting either assisted living units or affordable assisted living units on top of the garage to offset the cost.

One idea discussed Thursday was working out an arrangement with the owners of some of the bigger shopping centers along Route 58 to allow hospital parking, with employees or others being shuttled back and forth.

Most of the parking spaces nearest to Route 58 in the big shopping centers are empty most of the time, officials said.

“I think we have too much parking on Route 58 for these stores,” Councilman John Dunleavy said.

The hospital already has a valet parking service, and it leases 100 parking spaces from nearby McGann-Mercy High School.

Mr. Walter said the town can immediately allow the hospital to use the armory for parking. The town acquired the property from the state this year and intends to turn it into a police headquarters and justice court. But the building will need work before that happens, so the town won’t be using it immediately.

The supervisor also offered to talk to Route 58 shopping center owners about allowing the hospital staffers to use part of their parking lots.

Mr. Mitchell is hoping to start shuttling employees within the next six months. He said an arrangement with the owners of the TJ Maxx/Target parking lots for parking would work best because an easement can be established to link the lot with the hospital’s lot on the west side of Roanoke Avenue.

Mr. Mitchell said he knows that hospital employees are currently parking in  lots all over Route 58.

Mr. Walter said he wouldn’t want to establish an arrangement with a parking lot on the south side of Route 58.

“We don’t want to promote people walking across Route 58,” he said.

Peconic Bay Medical Center also is considering expanding to areas outside of its main campus and even outside Riverhead Town, Mr. Mitchell said.

The hospital already has a presence in a number of medical buildings on Commerce Drive in Riverhead and is looking to create another major satellite campus outside of, and west of, Riverhead Town, Mr. Mitchell said.

The hospital also owns 44 acres in Eastport on which it has considered building an assisted living facility, and may be looking to use, he added.

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