Today’s news:

St. Barnabas breaks ground on parking garage

After 30 years of anticipation, the only hospital in the Bronx without a parking garage is finally getting one.

Ground was broken on Wednesday, June 29 on a six-story, 210,000-square-foot garage that will house 605 parking spaces for St. Barnabas Hospital. The garage is expected to be operational by August 2012.

The new project costs about $23.3 million, with $19.8 million coming in bonds financed by a subsidiary of the New York City Economic Development Corporation, and authorized under the federal stimulus American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

Mayor Bloomberg sent his personal best wishes, and in attendance were Scott Cooper, the president and CEO of St. Barnabas, Seth Pinsky, president of the NYC EDC, Senator Gustavo Rivera, Senator Jeff Klein, Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., and a representative from Councilman Joel Rivera.

“This is the fulfillment of a life-long dream,” Cooper said. “I am going back 30 years at the hospital and we always said ‘we are going to have a parking garage.’”

The project is the perfect example of public-private partnership from all levels of government at its best, Pinsky said, adding that it is a win-win situation for all involved as it will create badly needed construction jobs while finishing a stalled project.

Since health care is an economic engine of the Bronx, with more than one in three people employed in the borough in the health care field, both those seeking health care and those providing it will benefit, said Senator Klein.

“I am going to keep it simple,” Klein said. “What is good for the Bronx is good for St. Barnabas, and what is good for St. Barnabas is good for the Bronx.”

The last thing that people need when coming to the hospital for medical care is to have to worry about parking, Diaz said before the groundbreaking. The new garage should give patients and their families much-needed piece of mind.

The groundbreaking ceremony showed the importance of the federal stimulus funding in creating jobs, said Gustavo Rivera. Rivera has founded a new health care initiative called the Bronx CAN with help from St. Barnabas staff.

“In this case, this project is creating good jobs in the Bronx, helping St. Barnabas to continue to grow their outreach efforts, as well as provide better and more efficient care for their patients,” Senator Rivera said. “I want to congratulate St. Barnabas and their president, Scott Cooper, for getting this construction project off the ground and thank the wonderful staff of St. Barnabas for being wonderful partners on the Bronx CAN Health Initiative.”

A study showed that hospital parking has reached 130 percent of capacity.

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