The neighborhood has reached a critical stage in the fight against the proposed St. Louis project on 94th Street, and we need your help and support to retain an attorney to stop the proposal as it heads for final review by NYC Board of Standards and Appeals. Our issues with the facility, stated simply are:
- The introduction of a population that is both severely mentally ill and has drug/substance abuse problems in a residential community with major schools-PS 75, Riverside Montessori, West Side Montessori is unacceptable.
- Many experts in the social services field have called a project of this size objectionable-it’s as large as two hospital mental wards with round the clock services; it is 140% larger than anything the program operator Fountain House now runs with this population
- Supervision is limited to 9 to 5 most weekdays, there are very few weekend hours-so there is no one on hand to deal with decompensations most of the time, which may impact the community and other building residents
- The housing is substandard. This is the 21st Century and residences-without-bathrooms for people with these issues is an outrage and could precipitate more problems in the community. This inadequate arrangement is the brainchild of Councilperson Gale Brewer. It is a way to buy the consent of existing SRO residents with “an upgrade,” while helping a project that costs too much by city standards, save money on the backs of the most vulnerable
- There are 13 community board districts in Manhattan. CB 7-UWS is already home to 21% of all supportive housing units in Manhattan. There are 1,978 in CB 7, while the Upper East Side where Elliot Spitzer and Mike Bloomberg live, has 93. The impact on the streets has degraded the quality of life and compromised the safety of individuals. The number of police in the 24th precinct is 25% of the number we had 20 years ago. Can we say enough?
- Lantern Group as a developer has no track record in demolishing a building while tenants continue to live there. This is a complex project and the lives of people in the building and in the immediate area, as this is a physically fragile structure with mold and asbestos, hang in the balance
- The precedent set by allowing three additional stories mid-block threatens the architectural environment of the neighborhood, violating the basic tenets in the zoning law-low rise midblock; high-rise buildings on the avenues to protect air and light
- The zoning attorney representing Lantern did not notify two major schools in the area-PS 75 (K-5) and its Academy (6-8), and the Riverside Montessori School on 93rd Street, a requirement of the city zoning law
After nine months of efforts to stop this proposal, countless meetings with elected officials, two committees of CB7, the Full Board of CB 7 and the BSA, including the presentation of a petition with more than 800 names opposing the St. Louis, we believe that the legal route is our best and most viable option. It is clear that reason, logic and the will of community hold no weight with our elected officials and many members of Community Board 7.
If we do not defend our wonderful residential neighborhood against the St. Louis, and against the potential for other SRO hotel conversions throughout our neighborhood, we fear that the neighborhood could backslide into the chaos, drugs and crime of 15-20 years ago. The ability to walk without harassment on Broadway, to safely enjoy Riverside Park, the ability to allow citizens of all ages, especially kids and elderly to stroll our streets without fear, is at stake.
We therefore ask you and our other neighbors to make a financial contribution to the legal fund of Neighborhood In The Nineties Inc. Please consider writing a check for:
$10___, $25___, $50___, $100___, $250___, $500___, $1,000___ or $_______
Checks may be written to: Neighborhood In The Nineties, and sent to our treasurer:
Ms. Barbara Wallitt
310 West 94th Street #1A
New York, NY 10025
This fund raising drive will continue through Tuesday, October 23rd. We will keep you informed of our progress. A big thank you to those who have already donated generously.