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Mayor's Support of Controversial Nursing Home Developers Angers Locals

By Emily Frost | April 14, 2016 12:24pm
 Elected officials and locals are disappointed by what actions by the mayor that they view as siding with Jewish Home Lifecare and supporting its 20-story nursing home.
Elected officials and locals are disappointed by what actions by the mayor that they view as siding with Jewish Home Lifecare and supporting its 20-story nursing home.
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JHL; inset: DNAinfo/Ben Fractenberg

UPPER WEST SIDE — Local residents are calling on Mayor de Blasio to withdraw a legal brief his office filed in support of the developers of a controversial nursing home project — saying the move is a major "disappointment" to those who have fought the project for years.

The Mayor's Office of Sustainability filed an amicus brief stating the State Supreme Court overstepped its role by forcing the state to redo portions of its environmental review of Jewish Home Lifecare's proposed 20-story nursing home before construction of the West 97th Street project can begin. 

In a recent letter, Community Board 7 criticized the mayor for turning his back on the community in their more than 5-year-long fight against the development, adding that his office repeatedly refused to get involved in the issue earlier despite their repeated requests.

"We are deeply disappointed and puzzled that your Administration would side with developers in an instance such as this where a respected State Court Judge held that a New York State agency, charged with protecting the public’s health, failed to adequately follow state law," the letter states. 

The mayor's brief argued that overturning an environmental review sets a bad precedent; Community Board 7 members argued in their letter that the judge was ensuring that the review account for the project's proximity to the elementary school P.S. 163. 

"The impacts on the school must be seriously analyzed, considered, and appropriately mitigated, in order to safeguard the health and education of the children," the letter states. 

Board members are calling on de Blasio to meet with them and elected officials to consider an alternate location for JHL's nursing home and to withdraw the amicus brief. 

Elected officials have also expressed disappointment and anger at the mayor's decision. 

"The mayor's decision to weigh in against this ruling baffles me," said Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer in a statement. "[A] state Supreme Court judge found this environmental review was botched and ordered it redone, to ensure P.S. 163's students get adequate protection from hazardous materials in the soil and disruptive noise."

City Councilman Mark Levine, who has fought to stop the nursing home and introduced legislation that would curb construction noise next to schools, also registered disapproval.

"I’m shocked and disappointed by the Mayor’s decision to file an amicus brief in support of JHL Tower,” said Levine in a statement. 

A spokeswoman from the mayor's office said in a statement that "the city’s brief is solely in regards to the technical standards used to evaluate potential environmental impacts, and is not indicative of support of construction. We take the concerns of the parents and community very seriously."

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