Teachers guide students into
Alfred E. Smith P.S. 163, on
Thursday in Manhattan. The
school is next to a parking lot
that may become a 20-story
(Benjamin Chasteen/The Epoch Times)
NEW YORK—A proposal to build a 20-story nursing home adjacent to an elementary school is causing unrest for parents and neighbors on the Upper West Side.
Representatives of more than half a dozen government agencies attended a town hall meeting to discuss the issue Wednesday. A winding line of more than 100 neighbors curled around the room—the majority of them expressing concern over the proposed nursing home.
The proposed developer, Jewish Home Lifecare (JHL), is planning to move from its 2-acre building at 106th Street to West 97th Street at Park West Village— currently a parking lot. The proposed site is next to PS 163 elementary school, and parents are concerned that noise from construction could obstruct their children’s learning.
Avery Brandon, a mother, lives across from the proposed nursing home site. Her daughter will begin kindergarten at PS 163 this fall. At the town hall meeting, Brandon read a letter outlining her concerns that construction could affect the development of PS 163’s children.
“How do you ensure these kids will not be subjected to sound levels so high that it will be impossible for them to hear their teachers—or just plain think?” she said.
Spokesman for the 160-year-old nonprofit nursing home, Ethan Geto, said JHL would do their utmost to communicate and work with the neighborhood’s concerns.
Projected nursing home. (Courtesy of The Working Group to Stop JHL at PWV)
"Most people don’t realize that we have also been working closely with the principal and the school,” he said. “We are limiting construction during certain hours, such as when kids are entering or leaving—even if it will make construction more expensive.”
The meeting was moderated by Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, who openly opposes the nursing home. “We are trying to put road blocks in the way of the project that I do not support,”
Stringer said. “I am not going to let them do anything to let them harm the children on their way to 163.”
Last November, Stringer’s office found a loophole that violates open space zoning regulations, which aim to conserve parts of open space in developments. Stringer said the Department of Buildings (DOB) will not evaluate the complaints until JHLsubmits a building plan for the 97th Street lot.
Geto said JHL submitted the plan to the DOB long ago. He said when Stringer expressed concern in November, DOB told JHL that open space zoning was not an issue for the 97th Street lot.
The DOB is still reviewing JHL’s final plan.
A public hearing with the New York State Department of Health about the new building is scheduled for September, Stringer said.
A Novel Nursing Home for New York
The new JHL building would be based on the “Green House” model, which avoids the enforced dependency found in most nursing homes. With personal kitchens and bathrooms, the elderly would be encouraged to live independently, while care would still be available if needed.
“This will be the least institutionalized setting for nursing homes in New York,” Geto said.
According to the “No JHL at PWV [Park West Village]” website, JHL applied to rebuild on its current site in 2008, but later looked into another site on 100th Street in conjunction with a developer. After JHL discovered the 100th Street site had zoning issues, the group started looking at the 97th Street parking lot site around the start of 2011.
JHL said the nursing home is moving because its out-of-date facilities are operating at “65 percent efficiency.” The current building was designed in the 1880s.
The nursing home said it cannot afford to design a new campus with the 106th Street building, and it wants to remain in the Upper West Side community that their seniors have made a home. The most inexpensive solution is to construct a new building on 97th Street, JHL said.