And now we face Round 2


To the editor:

(re: “Home’s hi-rise hopes hit a hurdle,” June 21)

On behalf of the Sigma Place Homeowners Association, we want to thank the members of Community Board 8 who voted in strong opposition to the proposed Hebrew Home continuing care retirement community development, as it was presented recently.

While those in opposition may have had different reasons for turning the application down, it is believed that one of the one primary factors had to relate to the 197a Plan for Riverdale that had been produced collaboratively and organically by so many Riverdalians and elected officials some 15 years ago.

Clearly, preserving the character of Riverdale, its R-1 zoning and the integrity of the Special Natural Area District was and remains at the heart of the negative vote.

It should be made clear that there are no villains in the five-year long battle of opposing the construction of luxury and out-of-scale apartment houses in the R-1 and R-4 zoning districts. Dan Reingold, the chief executive of the Hebrew Home, was attempting to fill a mission and a vision that would perpetuate all of the good work that the Hebrew Home had initiated under his late father, Jacob Reingold, and the then Hebrew Home president, Irving Stolz.

CCRCs are an important and necessary future housing type that will provide and fill a great New York City need. But that need cannot and should not be unilaterally imposed, especially under the umbrella of “affordable housing.” 

Those of us who fought hand-in-glove over the last five years never opposed the CCRC, just its unfortunate building type and character for Riverdale. 

In addition to thanking Community Board 8 for standing with the 13 Riverdale organizations which worked to minimize the impact of the proposed CCRCs, special accolades must be given to two individuals who labored extremely hard in trying to find a middle ground.

Certainly, land use committee chair Charles Moerdler went well beyond the call of duty trying to meld a compromise that both the Hebrew Home and the Riverdale Community Coalition, the Riverdale Nature Preservancy and the Skyview Owners Corp., could agree to. His efforts actually set the groundwork for Councilman Andrew Cohen, who subsequently spent countless hours on the phone and meeting with both sides — and continues to do so, even as this document is being written.

Indeed there remains the possibility that the RCC et al., and the Hebrew Home can still come to a satisfactory compromise that CB8 would also embrace. They are literally a hair’s breadth away. 

Unfortunately, while RCC was ready recently with a more than reasonable “redline” compromise, the Hebrew Home and its counsel went silent and remained unresponsive to RCC’s compromises. 

Equally disappointing was the fact that CB8 was not provided the opportunity to see the final memorandum of understanding that RCC et al., had set forth under the guidance of its lead attorney, Albert Butzel.

Three days — the Saturday, Sunday and most of the Monday before the meeting — the Hebrew Home and counsel remained silent and unresponsive. As far as we know, neither Dan Reingold nor his counsel have reached out to us since the vote.

Our lines of communication remain open as we prepare for Round 2 with borough president Ruben Diaz Jr.

Martin Zelnik

Martin Zelnik