Community Discussions for Union Hospital Property Begin

In April the Lynn City Council voted in favor of changing zoning to establish a Medical Village Overlay District on all of the land lying between and bounded by Lynnfield St., Dartmouth St., Anchor Road and Woodland North. The vote paved the for North Shore Medical Center (NSMC) to close the 20-acre Union Hospital campus and replace it with a five to six-acre $23 million medical village.

NSMC, a member of Partners HealthCare, plans to build the village on a quarter of the 20-acre site and sell off roughly three-quarters of the reaming land.

On Monday at the Knights of Columbus Hall in Lynn Partners HealthCare and Lynn city officials held a meeting to jumpstart the community process of developing the remaining site. City leaders are conducting a study, facilitated by Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC), to better understand the community’s preferences for developing the remainder of the property and to recommend changes to the zoning on the property.

Monday’s meeting was the first in a series of planning meeting with NSMC, the City and MAPC to discuss what Lynn residents and neighbors of the property would like to see developed on the remaining land that won’t be part of the medical village.

Prior to the meeting Lynn residents were asked to respond to a survey via text to get the ball rolling and brainstorm some ideas for the reaming 16-acres.

Results of the survey that were revealed at Monday night’s meeting showed that many residents are leaning to the development of small, single-family homes and senior housing on the remaining land. The development of multi-family homes or apartment buildings was strongly opposed, according to the survey.

“Discussions with the community, and analysis of the site, will yield suggested opportunities for reuse of the property,” said MAPC Senior Regional Planner Josh Fiala in a statement. MAPC is the regional planning agency that supports Lynn and the 100 other cities and towns across Greater Boston. “These opportunities will then be structured into zoning recommendations that could set the stage for reinvestment in the property by future owners with new uses.”

NSMC needed a zoning change for Union Hospital back in April because the neighborhood is currently zoned to allow only residential single-families and a ‘Hospital.” The zoning change to allow for a hospital was done back in the 1950s through a special permit so Union Hospital could be constructed. Because the medical village is not technically a hospital special zoning was again needed.

Further zoning changes may be needed for the remaining 16-acres depending on what city leaders and residents decide upon for future uses.

NSMC’s Senior Vice President Mary Jo Gagnon said the new medical village facility would house urgent care, lab services, outpatient services, radiology services, as well as primary and specialty care physicians. To quell the fears of some residents that the loss of Union Hospital would be detrimental to the health and well-being of patients here, Gagnon pointed out that most people currently visiting Union Hospital will have the same level of services. Gagnon said some may point out that if they have a heart attack they won’t have a hospital in the city to go to in order to receive care. However, Gagnon said currently heart attack patents and some others are already being sent to NSMC’s Salem campus because that facility is better equipped to deal with those types of emergencies. Gagnon insisted for the average Union Hospital patient not much will change by changing the facility from a traditional hospital into a medical village.

“The meeting was very informative meeting with many engaged Lynn residents, where a variety of options were considered,” said At-Large City Councilor Brian LaPierre. “This is the beginning of what I feel will be valuable input from our residents most impacted by any changes. I look forward to working with my colleague, Ward One Councilor Wayne Lozzi and Mayor McGee to continue to listen, learn and see what the future holds for the site.”

A second meeting to further discuss plans for the Union Hospital parcel is scheduled for Monday, Sept. 17, at 6 p.m. at the Knights of Columbus located at 177 Lynnfield St. in Lynn.

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