June 25 - City Council Hearing on Bill to Limit Construction Noise Near Schools

City Council to Hold Hearing on Levine Bill to Limit Construction Noise Near Schools


MEDIA ADVISORY FOR: Thursday, June 25, 2015

CONTACT: Tyrone Stevens 917-842-5748 / tstevens@council.nyc.gov

NEW YORK -- On June 25, 2015 the Committee on Environmental Protection Chaired by Council Member Donovan Richards will hold a hearing on Intro 420, a bill sponsored by City Council Member Mark Levine that would require mitigation of construction noise near schools. The bill would require noise from construction sites within 75 feet of any public or private school to not exceed 45 decibels (dBs) in any classroom during school operating hours. Currently, Intro 420 has more than 20 co-sponsors and has the support of concerned parents, as well as numerous health, legal and noise experts across the city.

Since 2011, construction has disrupted learning at more than 10 NYC public schools impacting more than 6,000 students. Right now, PS 75 and PS 163--elementary schools each serving more than 600 children on the Upper West Side--and the School of the Future, a well regarded middle and high school serving more than 700 students, all face the possibility of future years of loud and dangerous construction next door to their buildings. In 2014 alone, there were at least 880 individual schools located both within 100 feet of a tax lot containing a Building Permit and within 100 feet of a Noise Complaint during school hours.

What: Committee on Environmental Protection hearing on Intro 420 that would require noise from construction sites within 75 feet of any public or private school to not exceed 45 decibels (dBs) in any classroom during school operating hours.

When: Thursday, June 25, 2015 at 1pm

Where: Committee Room, City Hall

Who: Council Member Levine, Members of the Council Committee on Environmental Protection, medical, legal and noise experts, education advocates and concerned parents



Contact: Joel Kupferman, Esq. 917-414-1983 / joel@nyenvirolaw.org
Martin Rosenblatt 212-677-7729 / martinrosenblatt@hotmail.com

(April 13, 2015, NYC)

Nine residents of the Park West Village neighborhood on the Upper West Side of Manhattan have filed a lawsuit against the New York State Health Department to prevent it from giving approval to Jewish Home Lifecare (JHL) to construct a twenty-story nursing home on a parking lot on West 97th Street. The lawsuit challenges the Department’s handling of a State Environmental Quality Review (SEQR) proceeding, which was initiated after significant amounts of lead and other toxins were found at the proposed site.

The petitioners include two mothers, their minor children, six senior citizens, and other residents of the Park West Village neighborhood who live in buildings adjacent to the proposed site and will be exposed to toxic dust, excessive noise, and delayed emergency responses if the proposed project is allowed to move forward. Many of the petitioners have health conditions that will be harmed by the release of lead and other toxins from the proposed construction site, which also abuts elementary school P.S. 163.

The lawsuit was filed on April 9, 2015, in the New York County Supreme Court by Joel Kupferman, a highly regarded environmental attorney and Executive Director of the New York Environmental Law and Justice Project. The suit seeks an order vacating the environmental review conducted by the New York State Health Department, and an injunction against the Department to prevent it from granting any approval for the proposed project until the State has complied with the requirements of the SEQR law and the Public Health Law. The suit contends that the Department failed to comply with the law by not taking a “hard look” at the environmental dangers posed by the project, and by not presenting a “reasoned elaboration” for its conclusions regarding environmental impacts, mitigation measures, and feasible alternatives. The suit claims that the Department failed to apply measures to prevent harm from a project that should not have been treated as a typical construction project, but rather as a project involving significant contamination issues and intrusion upon very close sensitive receptors.

Kupferman said, “This community with a long history of exposure to dust, lead, and other toxins, have earned a healthy skepticism of questionable assurances that imminent exposure that is posed from a major construction project will be controlled.”

The suit also states that the State failed to take a hard look at the fact that Jewish Home Lifecare had received approval from the State Health Department in 2008 to construct a new facility at its existing location on West 106th Street, and that Jewish Home Lifecare claimed that the 106th Street project was designed to apply best practices from the “Green House” model and other innovative models that would provide significant improvements in the quality of life of the residents. In direct contrast, the so-called “Green House” proposed for West 97th Street would diminish quality of life by relegating mobility challenged nursing home residents to high floors of a twenty-story tower, and would be difficult to evacuate in the event of a fire or natural disaster like hurricanes Irene or Sandy.

April 13 - Participatory Budgeting in Districts 6 & 7 Begins

Make sure you get out and vote in this year's participatory budgeting!

PB lets the community participate in decision-making. It’s a yearlong process of public meetings, to make sure that people have the time and resources to make wise decisions. Community members discuss local needs and develop proposals to meet these needs. Through a public vote, residents then decide which proposals to fund. PB is a democratic process in which community members directly decide how to spend part of a public budget.

District 6 (Helen Rosenthal)

See District 6 Map
View All District 6 Projects
View All District 6 Voting Locations

District 7 (Mark Levine)

See District 7 Map
View All District 7 Projects
View All District 7 Voting Locations

Select Voting Locations in CFD's Catchment

District 6

Wednesday, April 15
8:30 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.
Broadway Mall Community Center
West 96th Street & Broadway

Friday, April 17
4:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Outside Council Member Rosenthal’s District Office
563 Columbus Ave.
(On the corner of 87th Street)

Sunday, April 19
12:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Community Board 7 Offices
250 West 87th Street, First floor
(Between Broadway & West End Ave.)

District 7

Monday, April 13
7:45 a.m. - 8:30 a.m.
PS 145, The Bloomingdale School
150 West 105 Street

Monday, April 13
10:00 a.m. - 3 p.m.
Morningside Library
2900 Broadway

March 20 - A CITY OF TENANTS - Bloomingdale Neighborhood History Group

Roberta Gold of Fordham University
will speak on


6: 30 pm, Thursday, March 20, 2014

Panelists include:
Jean Green Dorsey, President, Westgate Tenants
Nick Prigo, Co-chair, Housing Committee, Community Board 7
Jim Torain, 98th-99th Street Old Community

Winifred Armstrong, Moderator
Park West Village Tenants’ Association

at Hostelling International
891 Amsterdam Avenue (103rd St)

What roles have tenants and tenant organizations played in shaping class and racial politics in New York City? How has the concept of “community rights” been fostered in heterogeneous urban neighborhoods such as ours?

Co-sponsored by
Bloomingdale Neighborhood History Group

Columbus Amsterdam BID

Hostelling International

Roberta Gold’s just-published book “When Tenants Claimed the City” will be on display and available for sale and signing

Testimony Regarding JHL's Proposed Development on West 97th Street

Testimony of Nick Prigo before the
New York State Department of Health
Environmental Impact Statement Scoping Hearing for Jewish Home Lifecare's Proposed Development on West 97th Street.
September 17, 2013

I appreciate your willingness to reschedule this important scoping hearing to accommodate the impacted residents and parents at PS 163. I look forward to a thorough and impartial Environmental Impact Statement as this project touches on so many aspects of life on the Upper West Side.

While I feel like I could comment on just about each of the 23 tasks in the Draft Scoping Document, I have attempted to limit myself to those I feel are the most important or may not get the required attention from others submitting testimony. My lack of specific comment on lead contamination and transportation is not meant to imply that those are not critical items, only that I feel they will be better addressed by others.

Below are my comments on how the Environmental Impact Statement can be strengthened. I speak as a leader in the community and currently serve as the co-chair of Community Board 7’s Housing Committee and as a Democratic District Leader for the 69th Assembly District, Part B, representing the proposed development site and much of Park West Village.

No Action Scenario
On page four in the No Action Scenario paragraph we are given two choices: 1) Action Scenario - The project moves forward and JHL builds on West 97th Street, or 2) No Action Scenario - JHL stays on 106th Street and “would continue to operate inefficiently, housed in outdated buildings with a physical plant in need of major infrastructure replacement.”

This No Action Scenario must be modified to reflect that JHL had already planned and initiated the approval process to construct a new building on their existing land on West 106th Street. The No Action Scenario should recognize that JHL staying at 106th Street is a significantly more viable alternative than the quoted section above indicates.

Task 22. Alternatives
Along the same line of reasoning as above, I urge you to use the construction of a new facility on JHL’s existing land on West 106th Street as the primary alternative in this analysis. This plot of land is seven times as large as the proposed project site on West 97th Street and does not have anywhere close to the level of traffic, congestion, or existing density that make the West 97th Street location such a poor choice for this project.

Task 3. Socioeconomic Conditions
As co-chair of the Housing Committee at CB7 I have had the opportunity to work closely on the preservation of affordable housing in the area most directly impacted by the proposal. These buildings house a sizable population of vulnerable low- and moderate income residents that are often aging in place.

An indirect residential displacement analysis is a must for this Environmental Impact Statement Referencing the CEQR Technical Manual for Task 3, it states that a “project may either introduce a trend or accelerate a trend of changing socioeconomic conditions that may potentially displace a vulnerable population.” Columbus Square, the new development along Columbus Avenue between West 97th and West 100th Streets, has already caused indirect residential displacement. This new project will further that trend, resulting in additional and accelerated displacement.

Task 19. Neighborhood Character
Massive development has already all but surround the three Park West Village rental buildings, significantly increasing density, changing the commercial profile of the area, adding vehicle and pedestrian congestion, and overall impacting the neighborhood’s character.

The Park West Village superblock was designed intentionally in the Towers-in-a-Park style during the 1950s “Urban Renewal” period. Density was intentionally shifted upward with ample open space provided at the edges. Much of this open space has already been lost, and this proposal will only accelerate this trend.

One of the weakness of this Towers-in-a-Park style of development is that it did not predict a future where there would be this continuous effort to keep chipping away at the open space to build new buildings. This encirclement is already mostly complete and has a devastating impact on the character of the neighborhood. This project will push this trend even further and must be clearly understood as part of the Environmental Impact Statement long before any development goes forward.

Respectfully submitted,

Nick Prigo
Democratic District Leader, 69th Assembly District, Part B
Co-Chair, Housing Committee, Community Board 7/Manhattan

Bloomberg’s Parting Gift

This Op-Ed appeared in the West Side Spirit

A misguided effort to privatize our public assets, build new luxury high-rises

By Nick Prigo

Author's Note: Responding to tremendous community opposition, the Department of Education has announced that it will not be targeting the Upper West Side school sites for private development.

In this final year of the Bloomberg administration, the Upper West Side has been targeted for another round of massive development. Simultaneous proposals from the Department of Education (DOE) and the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) are looking to lease public land to facilitate the private construction of multiple new high-rise buildings. The agencies point to budgetary problems that necessitate the 99-year land leases.

When did we decide that we are no longer willing to actually pay for the programs we value most? For decades we have been decrying our deteriorating education system and our inability to protect our fast-shrinking stock of affordable housing. Now, instead of making the real investments in education and affordable housing that we need, the Mayor is wasting some of our most valuable assets to provide a temporary band-aid to our larger structural problems.

In a highly controversial move, the DOE initiated the possible demolition of PS 191 on West 61st Street, PS 199 on West 70th Street, or another school on East 96th Street. This plan would permit a private developer to build a high-rise tower with a new school included in the base of the building.

NYCHA is also pushing ahead against intense criticism to permit developers to build 14 luxury high-rises in Manhattan. Three of these buildings are slated to be built at the Frederick Douglass Houses between West 100th Street and West 104th Street.

Massive development touches on so many critical issues in our community. When high-rise residential towers are built, we all suffer from construction and safety issues, an overwhelming of our already strained public infrastructure, and the permanent loss of what little open space we have left.

This irresponsible development can also end up inadvertently shifting costs from one city agency to another. For example, if NYCHA’s plan moves forward, the back of the envelope calculation is that 80 new school seats are needed to accommodate the residents of the new buildings. These seats would have to be located in a district so crowded that students are already taking classes in trailers in school parking lots.

At the absolute least we need to make sure that any development on publicly owned land goes through the existing Uniform Land Use Review Process – known as ULURP. This process was designed specifically to ensure that the community has a voice in what is being built. Currently, neither proposal is required to fully go through ULURP.

Outside of these requirements, we need to realign our public policy to match the values that we hold dear. If education and affordable housing are actually our priorities, then we should be willing to make a real and lasting financial commitment.

With historically low interest rates and an economic recovery only benefiting the rich, there is no better time than now to make investments in our city’s infrastructure. NYCHA especially should consider other revenue generating measures besides simply handing over our land to private developers. If NYCHA would meaningfully engage and actually listen to their tenants and community stakeholders, then maybe there could be a proposal that would address their budget deficit, protect affordable housing, and improve life on the Upper West Side.

Nick Prigo co-chairs Community Board 7’s Housing Committee and is a Democratic District Leader.

Lever Machines Might Be Back: But Chaos Still Reigns in How We Vote

We want to thank the more than 650 Upper West Siders that signed our petition to help address the unacceptably long lines, jammed ballot scanners, and chaotic poll sites many of us experienced on Election Day. Voting reform in New York City has quickly become one of our core issues, and we are working to improve the process of voting in our community.

One of the most common refrains we keep hearing from West Siders is the desire to return to the tried and true lever machines. Bizarrely, it looks like we might get our way, at least temporarily. It turns out it takes longer to count the votes from the new electronic machines than it does with the lever machines. This year, with a tight Mayor’s race we are likely going to have a run-off election three weeks after the September 10th primary election.

Three weeks isn't enough time to count the vote and prepare the electronic machines for the run-off. So the state legislature passed a law allowing New York City to temporarily use the lever machines. It could be we return to the new scanning machines as early as the General Election this November.

The CFD District Leaders also testified at Councilmember Gale Brewer’s Committee on Governmental Operations. She held a hearing in the wake of the election to brainstorm ways to improve Election Day administration. Both Joan Paylo and Marc Landis presented testimony.

Overall, we’ve been pursuing two types of reform. The petition is advocating for improvements to our state’s voting laws, including the adoption of early voting, same-day registration, no-excuse absentee voting, and non-partisan election administration. Many other states have implemented these and other reforms already with success. Washington and Oregon have gone as far as to conduct their entire elections by mail.

At the same time we’ve been working to improve the specifics of poll site operation on the Upper West Side. We held a forum with 70 hard working, local poll workers and developed a 29 point plan to improve poll site operation. We produced a report synthesizing our findings.

Petition on Toxic Lead in Parking Lot Next to PS 163

CFD is standing in solidarity with the Park West Village Tenants' Association against the stunning over-development threatened by Jewish Home Lifecare.

Please read the note below and take 30 seconds to sign a critical petition protecting the health of everyone who lives near 97th and Columbus.


Petition to Tell Governor Cuomo: West 97th St. Construction Requires Environmental Impact Study

Dear Neighbor,

On April 24, 2013, The Park West Village Tenants’ Association held a community meeting on the toxic levels of lead that exist in the parking lot proposed for development next to P.S. 163.

More than 200 people – including Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito, Chair Community Board 7 Mark Diller, District Leaders Joan Paylo and Nick Prigo, Celine Mizrahi representing Congressman Jerrold Nadler and Rebecca Godlewicz representing Manhattan Borough President Scott M. Stringer – joined in a conversation to demand Gov. Cuomo to require the State Health Department and the State Department of Environmental Conservation to perform an environmental impact assessment as required by the State Environmental Quality Review regulations (SEQR) before ANY ground can be broken at the site. (Materials discussed are available at nojhlatpwv.com)

Our petition calling for the environmental assessment was signed by attendees at the meeting. Please add your voice to the demand for action to protect all of us against lead toxicity by joining the petition online at:

The lead levels found are frightening and we must demand the State live up to its responsibility to protect its citizens from environmental hazards.

The louder our voice, the better our chance of being heard so please also circulate this information to your contacts, and use your network (via facebook, twitter, etc) to shine a spotlight on this threat to our health!

Residents Rally to Save Food City

April 16 - West Side Spirit

April 17 - West Side Rag

Last Sunday, hundreds of residents gathered outside of Food City at 705 Columbus Avenue, joined by City Council Member Gale Brewer, members of Local 338 Retail Wholesale Department Store Union and United Food and Commercial Workers (RWDSU-UFCW), to show their support for the grocery store with over 40 years of doing business on the Upper West Side. Food City has not been given a lease by the owner of the building since 2004 and may be forced to close as a result.

"It's hard to believe that in this community which is still largely home to working families and retired elderly, we are threatened with the loss of yet another accessible source of affordable food and fresh produce," said Nick Prigo and Joan Paylo, local Democratic District Leaders from Community Free Democrats. "We ask the LeFrak Organization to be the best of good neighbors by offering a reasonable, long-term lease to Food City so that it can update its equipment and services to our community."

Photo by Matt Jiggins.

The Community Needs a Voice in Redevelopment

Over recent weeks, I have heard from parents, teachers, tenants and other activists who are concerned about two sets of redevelopment proposals that could have a significant and potentially harmful impact on our Upper West Side neighborhoods.

The NYC Department of Education (along with two related government agencies, the NYC School Construction Authority and the NYC Educational Construction Fund, NYC DOE) solicited and is now reviewing proposals to completely demolish P.S.191 on West 61st Street and P.S. 199 on West 70th Street, with an eye toward building residential towers with replacement public schools located in the base.

Similarly, the New York City Housing Authority (―NYCHA‖) has a plan to invite developers to build high-rise apartment towers within existing public housing projects. On the Upper West Side, the proposal is to construct four luxury high-rise towers at the Frederick Douglass Houses on Amsterdam Avenue.

The NYC DOE and NYCHA proposals have a great deal in common. Both agencies are under great financial strain – NYC DOE has lost critical funding to meet student needs, while NYCHA lacks the resources to complete routine repairs, let alone addressing critical infrastructure needs. Both agencies are seeking to address these financial strains by ―monetizing‖ the value of publicly-owned real estate assets through long-term agreements with private developers.

Unfortunately, NYC DOE and NYCHA have something else in common. Both agencies’ proposals are exempt from the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP), which means that the voices of residents, neighbors, parents, teachers, students and others are discounted or disregarded.

The purpose of ULURP was to establish a standardized procedure for public review of applications affecting the land use of the city, especially development projects of some magnitude and projects which involve the sale or lease of public assets. However, neither NYC DOE nor NYCHA is legally required to submit these proposals to ULURP.

Both agencies are exploiting municipal ULURP exceptions that should not apply to these proposals. ULURP exceptions should apply only to projects that are within the normal scope of an agency’s activities, such as NYC DOE building a school, or NYCHA building more public housing. Our elected officials, including Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, Assemblywoman Linda B. Rosenthal and Council Member Gale Brewer, have expressed concerns about the lack of public review and input for the NYC DOE proposals.

I call upon both NYC DOE and NYCHA to submit these proposals through ULURP, to provide for a full analysis of the environmental impact of each proposal, and to abide by any ULURP determinations. These proposed developments are likely to increase traffic, create additional demand for seats in already-overcrowded local schools, and impact the character of the neighborhood. Both proposals will inevitably reduce open and green spaces. Some sites may require environmental remediation; the NYC DOE projects also require finding safe, convenient temporary school locations so that educational activities are not disturbed – which will be next to impossible to find!

Going forward, we must ensure that any future proposals of this type and magnitude are required to be subject to ULURP, so that the general public, community boards and elected officials can do their jobs by having a full and fair opportunity to review, comment upon and approve or disapprove of future proposals.