We are parents and teachers of children attending Public School 163 on West 97th Street in Manhattan, and we are residents and elected representatives of the surrounding neighborhood. Together, we are a coalition of community stakeholders, nursing home advocates, tenants’ associations, and other concerned citizens.
Proposed Construction Site Has Toxic Levels of Lead
Construction of a 20-story nursing home is proposed to break ground next door to the 3-story P.S. 163. Despite the fact this construction would expose the school children to airborne lead and dust, along with excessive noise and potential construction equipment hazards, there has been no environmental impact assessment, nor is there a plan for one.
As citizens, and as your constituents, we call upon you, Governor Cuomo, to assure that current laws are observed addressing the imminent danger posed to both the school children and the residents of the neighborhood. If we cannot trust our elected officials to put our health and safety first, whom can we trust?
Source of the Lead
The proposed construction site is a private parking lot that has been in use for more than 50 years. The cars and trucks that parked there used leaded gasoline, which was in use until 1996. Each time a car or truck engine was turned on or off, the combustion exhausted particulates containing lead that went through the tailpipes into the parking lot, and were absorbed by the soil, where they have remained for over 50 years.
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 scientific evidence is clear and unequivocal that the parking lot contains toxic levels of lead that if disturbed by construction and made airborne would be toxic to young children, pregnant women, seniors, people with respiratory problems and others. (Please note, Governor, that all of the supporting scientific data will be sent to you along with this petition.)
Specifically, we, the undersigned, call upon you, along with Commissioner Nirav Shah and Commissioner Joe Martens, to:
1. Direct the New York State Department of Health Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program and the Bureau of Community Environmental Health, and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Division of Environmental Permits, to conduct an environmental impact assessment as prescribed by (SEQR) State Environmental Quality Review 6 NYCRR Part 617, regarding the construction of a 20-story nursing home on West 97th Street adjacent to Public School 163, as this construction would release substances acutely hazardous to public health, safety, and the environment.
2. Order the submission of an environmental impact statement by the nursing home facility, Jewish Home Lifecare, as required by law and regulation, and require such remedial action as each agency deems necessary.
[Additional environmental factors in petition letter, below]