To the editor:
(re: “Dialogue is good,” Feb. 21)
In February, Mr. Mitch Perle and Mr. Jeff Torkin — principals of 2395 Palisade Avenue LLC and developers of the property known as Villa Rosa Bonheur — had a letter published in The Riverdale Press. This piece was a follow-up to a meeting held Feb. 7 as requested by the community, the first public meeting of the Spuyten Duyvil community directly with any of the principal developers of 2395 Palisade Ave.
The concerns and suggestions of the meeting participants included hiring a site safety coordinator, aesthetic issues regarding the property, as well as serious fabric and safety issues impacting the neighborhood.
At the meeting, Mr. Torkin represented himself a Riverdale neighbor. Those in attendance pointed out that a considerate neighbor would never consider seriously degrading the enjoyment of other neighbors in the use of their own property or negatively affect local property values.
Mr. Perle and Mr. Torkin promised to take our concerns and suggestions into consideration and promised to promote increased transparency and communication with the community. While community members left the meeting feeling a guarded optimism, there has been no further communication from the developers.
Therefore, we were stunned when Sam Spokony, spokesman for Timber Equities, told Bronx 12 at the time of the Rosa Vigil on Feb. 10 that “everything it has done so far has been by the book.”
Mr. Spokony made this characterization while standing in the shadow of Villa Rosa Bonheur, which had already accumulated eight violations by the buildings department alone.
Four of those violations are “Class 1” (immediately hazardous), and three of which are “Class 2” (major) offenses.
Such a statement shows continuing disrespect to our community since the objective facts do not support their representation. We invite Mr. Spokony, Mr. Perle or Mr. Torkin — or indeed anyone associated with the development company or owners — to elucidate how this could be possible, given the existence of these documented violations. Engaging in alternative facts will not improve “relations with our neighbors,” a goal Mr. Perle and Mr. Torkin have asserted repeatedly.
Moving forward in a spirit of honesty and respect will be more productive.
Since the meeting, we have not heard back from Timber Equities or its representatives. Currently, a partial stop work order still exists on the property, along with four open Environmental Control Board violations.
Spuyten Duyvil may seem quiet and dormant after a long winter, but community concerns about Villa Rosa Bonheur have not dissipated. We are still waiting to see the demonstration of “commitment to increasing communication” from Timber Equities, so we can move forward in a manner that advances the well-being of our community.