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Glenn's DiResto’s comments on the Peninsula Hospital site plans,

This was original published in The Rockaway Times on Thursday, January 24, 2019, page 12 under the title Special Editorial: The Future of the Peninsula Hospital Site.


The City Planning Commission is considering rezoning and text changes to the former Peninsula Hospital site to allow for up to 2,200 units of affordable housing on ONLY 10 acres of land.   Myself along with many local residents are in opposition of the plan as currently proposed for the following reasons.


Density & Building Size

The city of New York and a developer want to put a large-scale development of 2,200 units of affordable housing on only 10 acres of land at the old Peninsula Hospital site. As residents of the community we all know that a project of this scale is too much housing for this area of our small peninsula, without the current or proposed resources and infrastructure to handle a large-scale development of this size that would have roughly 5,000 new residents.   The density of this development will have a negative impact on the quality of life for all current AND future residents throughout the community.  Let's put this proposed large-scale development into perspective to get a better understanding.  This development would make the area the most densely populated portion of the Rockaway Peninsula and is in close proximity to other large developments which are on a much larger land footprint.  


• NYCHA Ocean Bay Houses: 1,395 units and about 4,000 residents on about 35 acres


• Arverne View Apartments: 1,093 units and about 3,500 residents on 14 acres.


• Nordac Coop Building: 342 units and about 1,000 residents on around 7.5 acres


• Beach 41st St Houses: 712 units and about 1,800 Residents


The Arverne by the Sea Development which has been the most successful development to ever come to the Rockaways and has helped transform the Rockaways.  It has brought excitement and a mix of families to the community.  The Arverne by the Sea Development was also 2,200 units of housing but was on 120 acres NOT 10 acres.    


Currently the city is involved in the development of a couple other large-scale projects throughout the city and they are better planned out to ensure the communities do not become to densely populated and the area have a true mix of incomes.  These are just two of the current large-scale developments.  You can see it is much less populated and mixes incomes.    


Spaford Redevelopment in the Bronx

The Peninsula is a project that will include 700 units of affordable housing, ground-floor retail, light industrial manufacturing space and other amenities on 5-acres


Hunter Point South

Which is prime waterfront property in Long Island City will have up to 5,000 housing units on 30 acres of which only 60% will be affordable to low/moderate income.


Compared to the current housing in the Arverne, Edgemere area mentioned above along other proposed housing in other areas of the city this large-scale development proposed on the Peninsula Hospital Site would be much more densely populated compared to other areas.


Additionally, the size and heights (15 stories) of the proposed buildings are out of character with the beach community and overall neighborhood.


Affordable Housing

We all know rents have jumped throughout the city and there is no doubt a need for an affordable housing throughout the city.  However, The Rockaways has always bared the brunt of affordable housing and to make this large-scale development 100% affordable housing is NOT the answer.  Affordable housing mixed  with market rate or if 100% affordable need for higher AMI amounts.  Has the city not learned from past failures that it is very important to have a large range of a mixed income, affordability and market rate housing to balance out incomes and ensure the neighborhood becomes viable to live work and play. 


According to a report by the New York City Planning Commission from November 3, 2003/Calendar No. 2 C 030509 HUQ   Half of the subsidized housing in Queens was located on the Rockaway Peninsula and construction of additional low and moderate-income housing in Arverne would only increase the proportion.  


An additional report put out on April 2016 by the Mayor’s office of Environmental Remediation the following facts apply to the Rockaways. 


• Edgemere, Arverne, and Hammels is now home to a fairly dense community with a high proportion of low-income residents.


• At 16 percent, the unemployment rate of the Hammels-Arverne-Edgemere NTA is more than five percent higher than the rest of the peninsula, Queens (9.6 percent) and New York City (10.2 percent).


• Approximately 30 percent of residents in the Hammels-Arverne-Edgemere are living in poverty. This represents a much greater share of residents living in poverty than the rest of the peninsula and New York City (20 percent). 


• The median household income of residents of the Hammels-Arverne-Edgemere NTA is $39,373. This is significantly less than the median incomes of residents of the Rockaway Peninsula ($48,171), Queens ($56,780) and New York City as a whole ($51,865).


According the city’s own studies and facts this section of the Rockaways where this large-scale development is planned is already one of the poorest in the city and to continue to bring more lower income families to an isolated peninsula which lacks the infrastructure and services is Not the answer. There is a need for  mixed housing with higher AMI amounts of up to 120% to ensure residents have safe affordable places to live as well as residents will have disposable income to support the retail that is planned as part of the development.   Continuing to put 100% affordable housing with very low Area Median Income (AMI) amounts is NOT appropriate for a community that is desperate need of market rate and mix of affordable housing with higher AMI amounts of higher than the proposed 80%   


Environmental Study

The proposed large-scale development is on the old Peninsula Hospital site.  Currently there is a draft environmental impact statement being done.

However, this site was part of the the original Arverne/Edgemere Urban Renewal Plan.   During the original Arverne Urban Renewal Area Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) the site was a medical facility and was to provide medical care for the existing residents of the Rockaways in addition to all the new residents what would be moving to the Rockaways with the development of the Arverne Urban Renewal Area, (Arverne by the Sea & Arverne East).   Now that the hospital is closed which was part of the original Arverne Urban Renewal EIS and the current proposed plan is to build 2,200 units of housing was NOT part of the original EIS the current Draft EIS will not comply with the original EIS.  These areas must be studied together to fully understand the impact it would have on the community.  You cannot separately study the Peninsula Hospital Site and separate it from the remaining Arverne East area that is to be developed.   It needs to be studied together to get a true understanding of the impact 2,200 units of affordable housing would have on the surrounding neighborhood.  Not studying the areas together is a clear segmentation and any analysis would be flawed.


The Peninsula Hospital site is also in close proximity to NYC Beaches that are NOT open to the public due to endangered species that use the shore line for nesting purposes.   The Peninsula Hospital site should be studied together with Arverne Urban Renewal Area EIS to see how a large-scale development of this size which is 100% affordable would have on the community. 


1.The potential for significant impacts to social and economic conditions. (City is looking to once again Isolate those with little or no income away from good jobs and transportation)


2. The potential for significant impacts to community facilities and services. (Police, Schools,Traffic, Public Transportation)


3. The potential for significant changes to neighborhood character. (Put high rise buildings in an isolated Beach community with mostly residential homes or mid rise buildings)


4. The potential for open spaces and recreational facilities to be significantly impacted. (Currently beaches in area are closed and cannot open to public due to federal endangered wildlife)


5. The potential for significant changes related to shoreline erosion and sea level. (Putting 5,000 more residents with insignificant amount of parking for vehicles who will need to rely on public transportation in an evacuation zone, not good idea)


6. The potential for substantial changes to traffic and transportation. 

(The neighborhood is isolated from the rest of the city and has poor public transportation and they want over 5,000 new residents with only parking for just over 600 vehicles which is not all for residents. Part is for commercial use too)

 

The success and future of the Rockaways is at stake and we must ensure that this project is carefully thought out, planned and developed with significant community input to ensure the community stays vibrant.   As residents of the community we oppose the current plan of 2,200 units and demand this development be SCALED BACK to ensure the density won’t over burden the neighborhood.   We are also demanding that the Area Median Income (AMI) amounts be raised to ensure that more working class and middle-class families have an opportunity to be eligible to take advantage of this proposed development.


If you have any questions please feel free to contact me.


Glenn DiResto


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