SUNY Downstate is gearing up to appear in state Supreme Court Tuesday, following a Friday breakdown in talks to settle a lawsuit that has blocked the institution from selling the troubled Long Island College Hospital.
Judge Johnny Lee Baynes, a former labor union attorney, will preside over the case on Tuesday, in the latest chapter in an ongoing battle between SUNY Downstate and opponents of the Cobble Hill hospital closure. The hospital, according to SUNY officials, has hemorrhaged over $100 million since July and even a sale estimated to rake in $280 million would not fully recoup the facility’s losses.
“This has been very costly for us,” H. Carl McCall, chairman of SUNY’s board of trustees, told Crain’s. “It was a mistake for SUNY to buy [LICH].”
In recent weeks SUNY has undertaken a final bidding process and whittled development proposals down to those of four potential buyers who would turn the site into condominiums and medical offices. But none of the proposals opt to return the space to its former state as a full-service hospital — a demand opponents have set as a condition for settling their lawsuits objecting to the sale.
SUNY trustees, led by McCall, have been the object of particular ire among opponents, who have dragged the university agents into court on criminal contempt charges. The aim of Tuesday’s hearing will be to push the four bidding developers to make concessions to their original plans, in hopes of seeing another full-service hospital materialize on the site. [Crain’s] — Julie Strickland