News | Upper West Side

Upper West Siders assail Jewish Home proposal at health department meeting

  • Luke Henderson / Senior Staff Photographer
    HOME SWEET HOME | State officials listen to criticisms of Jewish Home Lifecare's proposal to build a high-rise nursing home on the Upper West Side.
  • Luke Henderson / Senior Staff Photographer
    Toxic | CB7 member Madelyn Innocent said she knew people who had been affected by lead poisoning.

Upper West Siders loudly objected to a controversial proposal to build a high-rise nursing home in the neighborhood at a packed public meeting Tuesday night. 

Jewish Home Lifecare, which operates a nursing home on 106th Street, is planning to construct the new 20-story building on 97th Street, in the middle of the Park West Village housing complex. This summer, the company was ordered to complete an Environmental Impact Statement after a study conducted by opponents of the development showed the possibility of toxic levels of lead in the construction site, which is currently a parking lot. 

The meeting was held by the state Department of Health at public school P.S. 163, on 97th Street between Amsterdam and Columbus avenues, next to the development site. Known as a scoping meeting, it was organized to give members of the public an opportunity to comment on the scope of the EIS—how thorough it should be and what metrics it should encompass. 

Locals crowded into the hot P.S. 163 auditorium to discuss the proposal, as state officials listened to a long line of JHL detractors. Only a handful of people spoke in favor of the development, as opponents grumbled loudly.

Bruce Nathanson, JHL senior vice president, said that the development would be an upgrade over JHL’s “outdated” 106th Street facility. 

Nathanson said the project would be the first “Green House Model” nursing home—a progressive model intended to give nursing home residents more autonomy—in a major metropolitan area.  

“This model is all about nurturing elders” and providing quality care, Nathanson said

“The building will also be a gracious and welcoming place for residents,  families, volunteers and the community,” Nathanson said, adding that it would include a garden for community use and a rooftop garden for residents. 

But most attendees—including parents of P.S. 163 students, residents of nearby apartment buildings, and several elected officials—raised concerns about the project’s potential to increase noise and traffic levels, encroach upon open space, and disturb P.S. 163 students and staff.

Democratic District Leader Mark Levine, who won the Democratic primary to represent the area in the City Council last week, and City Council member Melissa Mark-Viverito, who currently represents the area, presented a joint testimony. They highlighted the proposed project’s proximity to P.S. 163, the business of traffic on the corridor, and the potentially toxic levels of lead in the parking lot.

“We simply cannot even entertain the idea of the project moving forward if there are any potential negative impacts on the health of the children of P.S. 163 or the residents of Park West Village,” Levine said, adding that the site is “one of the last vestiges of open space within the Park West Village community.”

Mark-Viverito called for an EIS that is comprehensive and “truly takes into account the voice of the community.”

State Assembly member Daniel O’Donnell, who represents the area, said he has serious concerns that he expects the EIS to address. 

“This proposal has potential to inflict serious harm on our community,” O’Donnell said to loud applause, adding that the project’s consequences “threaten to damage our community for years to come.”

City Council member Gale Brewer, the Democratic nominee for Manhattan Borough President, said she hopes the building isn’t built.

“These impacts will be very detrimental,” Brewer said, adding that the Department of Health should “reinvestigate” the project’s consequences.

Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, the Democratic nominee for city Comptroller, also called for a more comprehensive consultation, and members of Community Board 7 called for a more rigorous environmental assessment.  

 P.S. 163 parents, several of whom testified at the meeting, raised concerns about the potential health effects of lead toxins and the distractions of dust and noise.

“What permanent damage will we do physically, emotionally, cognitively and functionally?” asked Avery Brandon, whose daughter is zoned to attend the school. 

CB7 member Madelyn Innocent said she knew people who had been affected by lead poisoning, and that the project could “stifle the dreams and hopes” of kids and parents.

Not all of the concerns were quite as serious. Reverend Heidi Neumark, pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church on 100th Street near Amsterdam Avenue, said the proposed building would cast shadows on the “rare enamel and stained glass” windows in the Gothic Revival church.

Despite the litany of objections, JHL officials have maintained that they will resolve all environmental concerns that the study reveals, and it’s not certain that the review could derail the project.

CB7 chair Mark Diller said that despite an “initial bit of community restiveness,” he was proud that both sides listened to one another and hopes for a complete Environmental Impact Statement.

“I think it was a good turnout,” Brandon said. “I just hope they listen.”

The public will have until Oct. 4 to submit testimony, which the DOH will take into account when determining the scope of the Environmental Impact Statement. 

avantika.kumar@columbiaspectator.com  |  @avantikaku

Comments

Plain text

  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
Your username will not be displayed if checked
CAPTCHA
This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Image CAPTCHA
Enter the characters shown in the image.
Sylvia Friederich posted on

97th Street is a major westbound Manhattan cross street through Central Park providing access from the East Side to the Henry Hudson Parkway. Traffic on West 97th Street often backs up, sometimes all the way through Central Park and beyond into the East side, especially during the afternoon rush hour. At these times it is not possible for Emergency vehicles to move on West 97th street. Besides blocking Emergency vehicle access to a nursing home, the additional traffic burden engendered by such a facility at this location would exacerbate the already barely moving crosstown rush hour traffic in this part of Manhattan.

+1
-4
-1
Anonymous posted on

A fire combined with an electric failure would be a death trap for incapacitated patients on the upper floors.

+1
-10
-1
Nydia Leaf posted on

Thanks for covering this vital hearing where powerful citizen testimony helped educate the Health Dept. representatives as to the stakes. JHL officials spoke, somewhat piously, of the years they have worked on this project, but ignored the concessions made to them years ago to renovate on 106th Street. They changed to 100th Street, and then finally tried to shoehorn their supposed "Green" building onto 97th Street. I urge you: Please continue to follow this story, especially against the backdrop of "infills" at housing projects.

+1
0
-1
Fay Barrows posted on

My grandchildren attended PS 163. The open area next to the school was used for dismissal and was later used to run, play ball, and just sit and talk. Basketball was played and we sat with other parents just talking. Should the JHA buidling be approved, children would not be able to play, the noise would be deafening, students would not be able to study, to hear lesson assignments and the environment would be compromised through the digging up areas which are filled with asbestos and other carcinogents. I would never enrol any child to this school, nor would I live near this upheaval. Do the right thing and decline the use of this monstrous building which would not benefit its patience. If there was a power outage, how would they be able to evacuate people in wheelchairs, walkers, etc. JHA should stay at their existing 106 St. facility which has the benefit of a beautiful garden which extends to 105 Street.

+1
-3
-1
Anonymous posted on

The quality of life in the Park West Village has already been severely damaged by excessive construction. At one point I counted 11 cranes in my neighborhood, a buzz saw switched ON was left laying on an open driveway in a parking lot, and an entire 'holding wall' completely collapsed from the foundation of 372 Columbus Ave.
The noise pollution in this neighborhood is sickening. Two blocks of W100 St houses a fire dept, police dept, library, 2 private schools, and several early childhood facilities, not to mention two dozen retail businesses. The noise generated by huge truck deliveries, garbage pick-ups in the middle of the night, sirens from 2 medical clinics, fire house, police dept, along with unbearable traffic jams' honking and screaming, is nauseating.
Even with the windows tightly closed, a normal conversation is impossible in my own apartment. How is a teacher expected to communicate with students in this environment? Ambulences will constantly scream around the senior facility.
Asbestos, lead, medical wastes from the 'home' are givens. This was an unconscionable action from its genesis. It was a total 'BATE and SWITCH' in connection to the original W106th building, where the building actually belongs and was proposed . An expensive, high rental was actually planned by owners and city building agency. They were totally misleading the voters. All these newly-nominated politicians were present at several meetings I attended. They have done NOTHING, thus far to dissuade criminal contractors.

+1
-3
-1
Anonymous posted on

I suggest that the people who oppose this project take steps now to gather baseline information about traffic flow, congestion, noise, shadows and any other areas that they think will be negatively impacted by this project. In the end, if they are not able to halt this project, they should extract promises from JHL, and then if they feel that JHL is not living up to those promises, they will have the baseline information to prove their case and get redress.

+1
+7
-1
Anonymous posted on

I am totally opposed to the 26-story development. I have been a resident of PWV for 25 years. Since the advent of all the construction over the past several years, I have to dust my furniture every day as the thick dust that will accumulate is unbelievable. If it is accumulating on my furniture, it is accumulating in our lungs. Also, my son, 15, has developed a chronic cough since the mass area construction. Last, but certainly not least, this nursing home/hospital would cause many problems, i.e., additional crowding, pollution of all types, unsafe environment for our children, toxic waste, to name a few.

+1
+9
-1
Judith Baldwin posted on

Congratulation for this press cover and turnout, and "thank you" to those who have worked so hard to bring it to and keep it in the public eye.

+1
-4
-1
sandra serebin posted on

There is no compelling reason for this facility to be buildt at 97th street becasue the Home has ample space on 106th street to build a facility of the size they propose on 97th street. Why cant they consolidate the inhabitants at 106th and build there.
As for 97th street there is the lead issue,the traffic issue,the noise issue the light issue and the fact that a very tall institution is not a favorable place for seniors who might want to go outside.

+1
+1
-1
Doug LaBrecque posted on

The neighborhood has changed signficantly since the inception of this proposed building. All environmental concerns aside (which are alarming) we cannot handle any more congestion. I, along with thousands of my neighbors, cannot think of a single reason that this should be built. This is not a case of NIMBY, the case against this is thorough and well documented. As a community we are overwhelmingly against it.

+1
+5
-1
Richard Ferrone posted on

It is absolutely the worst kind of irresponsibility to proceed with a project when there is any..I repeat any...risk to our children's health never mind that of the adults in the neighborhood. If there is the LEAST possible risk of exposure to lead, this project should be cancelled.

+1
+1
-1
Manny Jakel posted on

PAUL BUNTON:
Please accept my most sincere apologies for the way i last spoke to you.
A true blunder if ever there was one. The "no build" caused me confusion.
I have been enlightened by our mutual friend Hillel.
Once again, i am sorry for the offense.
Manny Jael

+1
+5
-1