UPPER WEST SIDE — Local parents are squaring off against senior citizens over a 20-story nursing home going up next to an elementary school, claiming that the dust and noise from construction will ruin their children's education.
"I find it disturbing when I hear situations where it sounds like poor, fragile elderly are being pitted against young children," Inyanga Collins, a member of Community Education Council 3, said during a Tuesday night meeting.
The voted unanimously Tuesday to join an amicus brief to support a 2015 lawsuit filed by parents of children at P.S. 163 asking Jewish Home Lifecare to redo its environmental review of the nursing home project at 125 W. 97th St. to reduce dust and noise.
"This is about fighting for the safety standards for our children," P.S. 163's PTA co-president Nicki Reidy said. "It's not about the money, it's about safety for our children."
But JHL said it is in full compliance with building regulations and offered a 10-point mitigation plan that includes the installation of noise-attenuating windows, air conditioners on the side of the school that faces the development, and a community air-monitoring plan.
After hearing both sides of the argument, CEC3 moved to side with the development's opposition by signing onto one of a series of amicus briefs to be submitted to the appeals court before Oct 3.
"This is something that affects hundreds of thousands of families potentially in the future," CEC 3 president Kim Watkins said of the project.
Rene Kathawala, the attorney representing the school's parents, said the construction would bring noise levels in the classrooms up to 80 to 85 decibels. The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health recommends workers in areas that hit 85 decibels to limit their exposure to prevent hearing loss.
JHL senior vice president Bruce Nathanson told CEC 3 members that the organization's board and senior management team is "absolutely committed to building this in accordance with every health care regulation" and that children's safety was an "absolutely priority."
"It's a huge opportunity, and I really welcome the community education council and the parents at P.S. 163 and the Department of Education to work together with the children and elders to build something that's really dynamic," he said.
In a statement, Nathanson added that JHL was sensitive to the concerns of P.S. 163, noting that its mitigation measures go beyond industry standards and respond to the issues neighbors and parents brought up.
Kathawala said they are expecting three amicus briefs for their side, one of which will be chiefly prepared by Borough President Gale Brewer's office. Kathawala said he couldn't elaborate on the authors of the other two amicus briefs.
The next appeals court hearing is scheduled for Nov. 16.