The NYS Department of Health has issued an Environmental Impact Statement that OKs the construction of a 20-story Jewish Home Lifecare facility on 97th Street between Columbus and Amsterdam Avenues. See the West Side Rag and DNAinfo articles.
DNAinfo reports, " Jewish Home Lifecare now has all the approvals it needs to begin construction on the tower. . . next to P.S. 163, in early 2015. Construction is predicted to last through 2018.
"The state acknowledged that the project will render balconies of two large buildings overlooking the site unusable, as well as cast large shadows on the nearby playground for several hours each morning in the fall, winter and spring."
Click here for the NYS Department of Health Final Environmental Impact Statement. A summary is below.
1. The project is consistent with other community facilities in the area.
2. The Happy Warrier neighborhood playground on Amsterdam Avenue would be in the shade for 2.25 hours more in the summer and 4.5 hours more in the winter (until 11 AM), as would St. Michael's church.That apparently doesn't bother the Dept. of Health, which assumes kids will play later. (They don't have small kids who get up early?)
3. The project wouldn't affect archaeological or cultural resources. (It's ironic that the report says "The Proposed Project would also not cast any incremental shadows on the stained-glass windows of Trinity Lutheran Church" when those windows had to be removed for the Stellar development on Amsterdam and 99th-100th Streets, and the church hasn't been able to raise the money to get them out of storage. At least that was the case when last heard about.)
4. The project would disturb toxins in the soil and below, but they could be handled with specified abatement measures. (Who will oversee this?)
5. Noise - there are specific recommendations for abating the noise (see pages 13-33 through 13-43) that would inevitably affect PS 163, the school next to the construction. Conclusion regarding the P.S. 163 trailers: "However, the operation would only occur for limited periods of time at a particular location and therefore would not result in any significant adverse impacts. In no case are significant adverse impacts from vibrations expected to occur".
But: NO WAY TO ABATE EFFECT ON BALCONIES OF NEARBY APARTMENTS.
"As described in Chapter 14, “Mitigation Measures,” a number of the potential impacts
identified for the Proposed Project could be mitigated. However, as described above, in some cases, project impacts would not be fully mitigated at the two (2) buildings with outdoor balconies. During the loudest periods of construction, balconies may experience significant noise impacts due to construction for limited portions of the construction period. There would be no feasible or practicable mitigation way to mitigate the construction noise impacts. Therefore, these locations would be considered to experience unavoidable, unmitigated significant noise impacts as a result of construction."
6. Construction would last approximately 30 months. (Interestingly, in the discussion of noise, the report says it would last 25 months.)
7. A sidewalk bridge 16 feet high (double the usual height) will be erected between the site and PS 163, along with a wall to dampen sound.
8. More beds can be installed in the project than if JHL stayed on 106th Street. The conclusion mentions the unfortunate long corridors in the 106th Street building as hard for wheelchairs to manage. It does not mention tall elevators in the new project as taking forever for residents to get outside.
And two more points:
From Jean Dorsey, president of Stonehenge/Westgate tenant association: A lousy public/private partnership using lots of taxpayer funds with no improvement of services for the target population. In effect, we will all be paying a lot more for a lot less to satisfy the greed of a few.
As a CB7 Board Member, I was part of the Zoning Task Force that allowed for the 106th street "carve out" because JHL said that the resultant building would be a green, garden-centered facility plus affordable housing for staff and nursing students all needed in our community. This new plan includes none of the aforementioned.