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O'Neill: Hospital project on track

The councilman said he's not concerned by Fox Chase's saying it's making other plans.

City Councilman Brian J. O'Neill said yesterday that Fox Chase Cancer Center's planned $800 million, 25-year expansion was not threatened by delays that have pushed final passage of needed legislation into next year.

O'Neill said yesterday that he was not bothered by a statement from Fox Chase chancellor Robert C. Young on Tuesday that the country's first cancer hospital was "disappointed" by delays and was actively considering "alternative strategies for expansion."

"I have no problem with what they said," O'Neill said. He noted that Young also said he hoped to work out details of the complicated plan to expand the center into publicly owned Burholme Park with the new administration of Mayor-elect Michael Nutter.

O'Neill, whose district includes the center, last week gained Council approval for a bill rezoning 19.4 acres of Burholme Park for the hospital expansion.

At the hospital's request, he withheld the proposed lease agreement on the Burholme Park land and did not offer it at a special Council session yesterday.

"At this time, there are still several key points that have not been fully resolved. Having come this far, it makes sense to take the extra time and get it right," Young said in his statement. "We look forward to working with Mayor Nutter and his administration to move this forward as quickly as possible."

O'Neill said there were a number of details that must still be nailed down with the city. In the meantime, Young said, the hospital would keep its options open.

"We have said from the beginning that we want to stay where we are and grow as part of our community," Young added. "While we will continue to work to complete the Burholme Park agreement, we have no choice but to assess alternative strategies for expansion and are actively doing so."