Andes Clinic construction in full swing

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Staff Report
Construction on the 2,800-square-foot Andes Health Center is well underway. However the $700,000 project on lower Main Street, which sits on just over an acre of land, is running a few months behind schedule.

The primary care facility, which is to be run by Dr. Susan Fiore of Bassett Heathcare, is not expected to be ready to open its doors until January. 

O’Connor Hospital, which is part of the Bassett Healthcare network, is building the clinic. The original plan was for O’Connor to turn the keys to the clinic over to Bassett by September. “We were not able to start the building project until August 22nd with minor delays,” said Mike Howard, O’Connor’s project manager. “Waiting for Andes Planning Board approval, CWC Watershed approval and DEC (State Department of Environmental Conservation) approval.”

According to Howard, the foundation and all site work has been completed. Black top will put down and sidewalks are to be installed later this week. They’ll be ready to take delivery on the modular, Greek Revival building in a matter of weeks, he said.
Then carpenters will build the porch and the handicap accessible entrance.

Community support
“It will be good for the community,” said Andes Supervisor Marty Donnelly, who is also on the hospital’s board of trustees.  

Most residents agree that it will be great to have a clinic in town. Many are also glad about the return of Dr. Fiore, a popular physician, formerly employed at Margaretville Hospital. However, the project has sparked controversy, because of its location. At least of portion of it is in the flood plain and the entire site was under two feet of water during the 1996 flood.

Site controversy
When the town planning board sought his advice, Commissioner Wayne Reynolds of the Delaware County Department of Public Works repeatedly suggested that the clinic should be built elsewhere, because the flood problem is getting worse.

“Society needs to get smarter and not build in flood plains,” he said. “I won’t say, ‘I told you so.’ I hope the building serves for a long time.” Despite Reynold’s advice, the planning board approved the project. To reduce the risk of flood damage, the building is to be raised three feet and flood vents were added to the foundation to allow water to flow through.

In addition to flood concerns, neighbors complained of the anticipated noise and the glare of lights from the parking lot. Hospital administrators explained they are making every effort to be good neighbors.

Neighbors’ concerns
“To the point of addressing the neighbors concerns, we are doing everything asked of us from the planning board and the Watershed to ensure there is no impact to others property,” said Ed McGrath, O’Connor Hospital’s chief operating officer. Still, Marcello Reale who lives next door is saddened by the changes underway. “They have fulfilled their promise and planted trees as a buffer but the peaceful, residential feel of Lower Main Street will never be the same,” Reale said.