Good Samaritan Hospital Medical Center's proposal to build a three-story generator plant has dismayed some of its neighbors in West Islip.
At an Islip Town planning board meeting Thursday, hospital officials said generators that can survive flooding are critical to the safety and well-being of patients during storms like superstorm Sandy.
"This hospital backs up to the Great South Bay. It's very vulnerable," Richard Bie, the hospital's assistant vice president of facilities, said at the public hearing.
Six of the hospital's current seven generators are ground-level, Bie said.
The hospital has applied to Islip for permission to construct a 14,000-square-foot plant rising 55 feet, for three emergency diesel generators on the east side of the hospital campus, which lies south of Montauk Highway. The new generators would replace the hospital's older ones.
The proposed plant needs town permission because it exceeds code height limits of 35 feet. To protect them from potential flooding, the generators would be housed on the second story, with the top floor dedicated to noise suppression and particulate filter equipment, according to hospital officials.
The West Islip Chamber of Commerce supports the application. Chamber vice president Maria Figalora read from a statement: "Good Samaritan provides valuable service to both the community and the patients. They have proven to be a good neighbor in support of many programs in West Islip."
But several residents told the planning board they were worried the plant would spew fumes and loud noises.
"No one can debate the need of these generators," resident Jim Miraval said. "But Good Samaritan Hospital is not in a critical flood zone." He added, "This is a hospital that someone decided to put on top of the bay and that's not our problem."
Resident Michael Coppola said he supported the hospital's presence in the community, and that his children were born there. But he questioned the plant's location.
"There should be an alternate plan. The location of these generators could be on the top of the main building," away from homes, he said.
Planning board member Kevin Brown asked Bie if alternate locations could be considered farther from the residential neighbors.
Bie said the plant has to be close enough to electrical sources to operate. "It's the best location for us, and we feel it's the best location for the residents as well," he said.
The planning board reserved decision, pending further review of the application.