To the editor:
(re: “Hebrew Home, neighbors come to agreement over expansion,” Aug. 6)
I am writing in response to the Aug. 6 article on The Riverdale Press website concerning the agreement that was recently reached between the Hebrew Home and four community groups regarding the Hebrew Home’s proposed continuing care retirement community.
The article notes that Community Board 8, at its June 18 meeting, voted against the project, implying that CB8 voted to reject an agreement that had been reached among the parties at the time of the meeting.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Although there had been substantial negotiation among the parties leading up to the June 18 meeting, as The Press noted in its June 22 article on this topic, no agreement had been reached at that point. While I can hardly speak for all of the board members, I know that many members were expecting that by the June 18 meeting, there would have been an agreement in place.
Moreover, I know that if there had been such an agreement, many board members would have voted to approve it.
Unfortunately, the clock ran out on the negotiations, and faced with a project that had met with significant community opposition — including over such issues as likely increases in traffic on small local streets, excessively large buildings that were out of character with the rest of the neighborhood, blocked views and concerns over the impact of construction — many board members felt that they needed to vote to disapprove the proposed development.
Nevertheless, it is worth noting that many community leaders believe (and one of them was quoted by The Press in its July 30 online article on this topic) that CB8’s rejection of the proposal ended up being a catalyst for the agreement that was ultimately settled upon.
But at the time of the vote, board members did not have the luxury of hindsight, and in light of the failure of the two sides to reach a fully agreed-upon compromise, CB8 stood with the community it represents and voted “no” on the project as presented by the Hebrew Home.
The suggestion that our vote was a rejection of an agreement that was in place at the time completely distorts what occurred during that meeting.
The author is vice chairman of Bronx Community Board 8.