I am New York State Senator Thomas K. Duane and I represent the area just to the south of the former Con Edison Waterside properties, including Waterside Plaza and Peter Cooper Village/Stuyvesant Town, and the part of the Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR) Drive bordering the sites. The Environmental Impact Study (EIS) of the East River Realty Corporation (ERRC) shows that the development will have a significant effect on the community immediately surrounding the sites. I believe that incorporating elements of the 197c Plan submitted by Manhattan Community Board 6 will lessen this impact and will result in a better environment for both the present area residents and the future residents of the sites as well as the people who will be working there.
The Manhattan Community Board 6 197c Plan outlines the most suitable ways to address the area's needs. The EIS acknowledges in its executive summary that the CB6 Alternative "would be compatible with surrounding land uses and densities, and its proposed zoning changes would not result in impacts." With this in mind, ERRC should closely model its development on the 197c Plan.
For example, ERRC must take into account the need for affordable housing in this community. While I understand from last week's Community Board 6 public hearing that ERRC is in consultations with the relevant government agencies about affordable housing, I was distressed that the current proposal still calls for "all market-rate dwelling units." While I recognize that ERRC has presented an affordable housing scenario "that includes the provision of dwelling units for low- to moderate-income households," any discussion regarding affordable housing must involve units for families, single individuals as well as those with special needs.
I also remain concerned about the effects of the increased traffic that the development will inevitably bring to the neighborhood, the need for a truly public open space, and the demand for a school at the proposed community facility. As we saw last week during the opening session of the United Nations General Assembly, our area already bears the burden of tremendous traffic congestion and any increase virtually paralyzes our neighborhood. The residents and businesses cannot bear the increase in vehicular traffic that the high density ERRC development would permanently bring to our already crowded streets, nor the additional noise and air pollution. What the residents of this neighborhood definitely need is a new school, both to serve the students who will be residing in the new developments and to alleviate the overcrowding in existing area schools.
East Siders also deserve a truly public, open space that is totally accessible to meet the tremendous lack of public space that is today's reality. In addition, there already is a shortage of open public space generally in Manhattan. While the SEIS "finds that that the Proposed Actions would not result in any significant adverse impacts to open space resources," and in fact, "would introduce approximately 4.84 acres of new publicly accessible open space," I nonetheless have grave concerns about the configuration of that open space, in terms of how publicly accessible it really is and how effectively it provides public access to and along the riverfront.
While in this simple and brief statement, I have only highlighted some of my concerns regarding major elements of the EIS and its place in the planning for the future of our community, there is much more to critique. However, overall, I encourage ERRC to consider and incorporate as much of Community Board 6's 197c plan as possible, as it provides for a responsible plan with a density that is in scale with the present and future neighborhood. This will serve to strengthen the vitality of any commercial development as well as the quality of life for the present and future residents of the East Side and our City.