Jewish Home Lifecare, a nursing home on 106th street that plans to build a new home on West 97th street, will conduct an environmental assessment of the site after nearby residents said they found lead toxins there. The state ordered the review on May 6. The site is currently a parking lot but could become a 20-story building. Groundbreaking is set for 2014, and the building is expected to be completed by 2017.
Borough President Scott Stringer sent a letter (pasted below) announcing the review. If problems are detected, the construction would have to go through a much more thorough environmental assessment.
Update: This article has been updated to include the fact that JHL was ordered to conduct the review (it initially said they had ”agreed” to it), and to include Martin Rosenblatt’s comments below.
Residents in Park West Village and parents and teachers at nearby PS 163 say that the lead would be disturbed by construction. No JHL at PWV, a coalition fighting the development, said they had the construction site tested and found elevated levels of lead, which “if disturbed by construction and made airborne would be toxic to young children, pregnant women, seniors, people with respiratory problems and others.”
“In 2012-13, a lead expert tested 100 samples of soil from this parking lot and 11 NYCHA parking lots, citywide. Analysis revealed that the highest lead level of all of the soil samples was in the 97th Street parking lot, as well as six of the highest top ten lead levels of all the parking lots tested throughout New York City,” the group said on a petition asking the governor to force an environmental review. That petition has more than 1,300 signatures.
Ethan Geto, a spokesman for Jewish Home, said the center plans to adhere to the highest environmental standards:
“The Borough President is correct in stating that the preparation of an Environmental Assessment Statement is now underway. As Jewish Home Lifecare has publicly stated several times in the past few weeks, no matter what level of State/City environmental review is required we in any case will remove contaminants that may be found in the soil according to the highest standards of safety to protect our neighbors. You should know that virtually every parcel of land in Manhattan tests positive for some level of lead contamination, and lead and any other contaminants are routinely removed from virtually every construction site without harm to neighboring properties.”
Martin Rosenblatt, a resident who lives nearby the proposed construction site, said that Jewish Home had been unwilling to conduct testing until they were ordered to do so: “All of a sudden showing their good will and cooperation, JHL spun a tale about their good intentions,” he told us. Rosenblatt also said that Stringer’s letter was disingenuous in that it implied JHL had decided to conduct the study “on a cooperative note.”
The Borough President’s letter is below (click to enlarge):