HUNDREDS TO PROTEST PLAN FOR MANHATTAN VALLEY HOUSING DEVELOPMENT AT CB7 MEETING WEDNESDAY, JUNE 15.
RESIDENTS INSIST THIS IS NOT “HOUSING VS. PARKING” BUT A POORLY CONCEIVED PLAN VS. COMMUNITY NEEDS.
NEW YORK, June 14, 2016 - Community Board 7’s Land Use Committee is holding its second
community meeting on the development plans for West 108th Street. It will take place at Booker T Washington Middle School, 103. W. 107th Street, which is situated in close proximity to the proposed construction site.
CB7’s first meeting addressing this issue, in March, drew hundreds of area residents in opposition to the plan, which they insist does not take into account the needs of their community as a whole.
“Making decisions for a community without collaborating with the people who live there is not only unacceptable but disrespectful,” says Glory Ann Kerstein, President of the Duke Ellington Neighborhood Association (DEBNA) and a member of Save Manhattan Valley, the leading activist coalition in opposition to this plan. Ms. Kerstein’s statement echoes the sentiment of not only Manhattan Valley neighbors but Mayor Bill de Blasio in an op-ed he wrote for the New York Daily News (May 4, 2016). Referencing the venerated 1960s city activist Jane Jacobs, he writes, “Jacobs argued that no one knows a neighborhood better than the people who live there, and so residents should always play a major role in deciding its future.” Adding, “These ideas seem obvious now….”
To be discussed is the proposal to raze the buildings that house Valley Lodge transitional shelter and three City-owned parking garages, that currently provide affordable parking for some 800 cars belonging to residents, neighborhood merchants, the Central Park Medical Unit ambulances (space given to them free of charge), St. Luke's Hospital workers, Columbia University staff, and many others.
They would be replacing them with an 11 story structure that would house Valley Lodge, permanent supportive housing, and affordable housing for families and older adults. The NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) and the NYC Department of City Planning (DCP) are willing to dispose of the City-owned garages and turn the land over to The West Side Federation for Senior and Supportive Housing (WSFSSH).
SAVE MANHATTAN VALLEY HAS MAJOR CONCERNS
ZONING: The proposal by WSFSSH for an 11-story building violates the R8B protective zoning law, which limits all new construction to seven stories on small side streets north of W 96th St.. That law, which Manhattan Valley’s then City Council member Melissa Mark-Viverito fully endorsed, has not been violated since it passed City Council in 2007. If the zoning variance is granted, it sets a dangerous precedent for all future construction in our community.
FAIR SHARE: Manhattan Valley is already home to close to 50% of the affordable housing on the
Upper West Side. This is more than its fair share requirement of affordable housing–and this statistic does not include temporary shelters and dozens of residential social-service support programs in the neighborhood.
ENVIRONMENT: Booker T Washington and large playing fields are directly across the street from the proposed construction, exposing the children and staff to all manner of hazardous toxins 24/7. Bill 420,which provides protection from all such hazards (and may advance from a distance of 75 feet to 200 feet) is in the works, but not yet passed. Before the City Planning Department certifies the project, a full environmental review should be made available to the Manhattan Valley community, including the schools’ parents and educators, for study and review.
LOSS OF PARKING GARAGES: The three 108th Street garages have been serving Manhattan
Valley’s lower-income and middle-class families, local merchants and surrounding businesses for 30+ years. With precious little street parking available, and the highly prohibitive costs at the few privately owned garages, the loss of 800 parking spaces will be devastating to these populations, as well as to all those currently parking their cars on the neighborhood streets. Competition for these spaces is already increased due to new bike lanes and CitiBike ports. Hundreds of additional cars circling local streets in search of parking will increase noise, traffic, double-parking, and will inherently harm the quality of life of Manhattan Valley residents.
ETHICS: WSFSSH, which has over 20 facilities in two boroughs, has never demolished an essential community resource to construct a new facility. Save Manhattan Valley finds it unacceptable that WSFSSH for the first time is endorsing removal of such a resource, without community approval,thereby establishing another dangerous precedent.
“Not only have the City of New York & the West Side Federation for Senior & Supportive Housing failed to collaborate with the Manhattan Valley community about this project: they have come up with a plan that pits deserving constituencies against each other. The City & WSFSSH must cooperate with our community to create a plan that leaves no one out in the cold,” says Glory Ann Kerstein.
Save Manhattan Valley is a neighborhood coalition in favor of preserving the integrity and livability of Manhattan Valley. Its members comprise this community and believe it is unfair, unethical and unnecessary to give to one aspect of the community at the expense of another. And its growing ranks are on the fast track to countering the current 108th Street development plan. They have established an online petition, a social media campaign, are meeting with government representatives and are retaining the services of a leading NYC land-use attorney.
People interested in information can email: info@SaveManhattanValley.org