Yorkville High-Rise Sues MTA Again Over Second Avenue Subway Entrances

By Victoria Bekiempis on March 25, 2013 7:26am 

 Yorkshire Towers, located at 315 E. 86th St., doesn't want the MTA to install two mid-block Second Avenue Subway entrances.
Yorkshire Towers, located at 315 E. 86th St., doesn't want the MTA to install two mid-block Second Avenue Subway entrances.
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DNAinfo/Amy Zimmer

YORKVILLE — A sizable neighborhood apartment complex is suing the MTA to stop the transportation agency from placing two Second Avenue Subway entrances in front of the soaring 21-story, 698 unit building, according to court documents and attorneys.

Yorkshire Towers, 315 E. 86th Street, claimed in a recently filed federal lawsuit that the MTA's plan not only contradicts the agency's own environmental review of the public works project, but also violates municipal guidelines regulating the placement of transit hubs, according to court papers and Joseph Ceccarelli of Ceccarelli Weprin, who's representing the building.

Ceccarelli also said that the MTA has refused to provide opponents of the two-entrance system all of the pertinent environmental review documents.

"They're just sweeping that under the rug," Ceccarelli told DNAinfo.com New York. "They're not even listening to their own people."

This is the second such lawsuit that the Towers — home to more than 2,000 residents and which claims to be the largest building impacted by Second Avenue Subway Construction — has filed against the MTA and others involved in the project. In February 2011, Yorkshire made similar claims but ultimately withdrew the suit.

Residents in a 260-unit building on 72nd Street recently brought a similar suit against the MTA, as they too opposed a mid-block entrance in front of their high-rise. That plan was eventually scrapped after further environmental review.

In the March 15, 2013 court filing, the development's attorneys protest what they're calling the MTA's "failure to go forward" with investigating whether a different design — a "one-entrance, three escalator" entrance at the northeast portion of the intersection supported by one of the projects former architects — is viable.

Yorkshire Towers, along with a coalition of Upper East Side electeds, prefers this design, which they claim will pose fewer threats to the safety of residents and pedestrians, as well as be less of a structural danger to the building.

They specifically worry that the present plan will place entrances too close to the Towers' driveway and garage exit ramp, which is located in front of the two-building complex.

"The MTA is siting the Midblock Subway Entrance Kiosk merely six feet from the entry to the circular driveway to Yorkshire Towers," the suit claims. "At minimum, the sidewalk clearance area to create sufficient sight distances to protect pedestrians from turning vehicles, needs to be more than a three times greater distance away, or a minimum of 19’ 7” between the siting of the Second Midblock Kiosk and the entry to the circular drive."

The suit also claims that the kiosk will create a blind spot, preventing turning vehicles from being able to see and stop for pedestrians — which have been estimated to number 3,600 during the morning rush.

"The structure itself which is an obstruction to pedestrians passing behind the structure. The
granite base of the entry kiosk is 3’ 6” tall and the metal and glass entry kiosk is 6 feet high in
the back facing the circular driveway," the suit further alleges. "This obstruction will block the sight lines of a driver entering off of East 86th Street to the Yorkshire Towers’ circular driveway and risk serious accidents occurring on the 86th Street sidewalk."

Yorkshire Towers also fears that above-ground blasting associated with the construction of these entrances could put their buildings — including their 80,000 gallon swimming pool — in danger and is demanding in the suit that the MTA investigate this.

"Any loads or stresses that can be mitigated to reduce the risk of the pool structure from cracking and causing leakage and potential flooding, because of the extensive cut and cover construction and blasting required to build the MTA’s Two-Entrance, Midblock Scheme needs to be pursued," the suit claims.

Also, residents worry that "Water escaping from the pool can lead to soil erosion, and water becoming trapped in the foundation. This puts not only the structural integrity of the building’s two residential towers at risk, but the MTA’s planned [Second Avenue Subway] excavations."

The MTA refused to comment on the lawsuit.

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