EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is a letter written to Councilman Andrew Cohen regarding proposed expansion plans for the Hebrew Home at Riverdale.
Dear Councilman Cohen:
I am writing to urge that you not support the Hebrew Home’s request for a zoning waiver so they can build large apartment buildings on their current site, as well as the adjacent property they recently purchased.
As I am sure you are aware, Riverdale is a reasonably moderate-priced, diverse community that is known for its natural beauty and scenic vistas while providing shopping, medical services, good schools, and a variety of services for seniors. The current zoning is one of the main reasons for this community’s success.
My family moved to Riverdale several decades ago, and we have watched the Hebrew Home continuously build so that the view on their Palisade Avenue property is now nothing but buildings and parking lots. Traffic on West 261st and West 254th streets, has steadily gotten worse.
A zoning change could allow more large buildings on a now tranquil property, and would set an unfortunate precedent for the entire Riverdale community.
As the first executive director of Riverdale Senior Services, and in later years, a member of their board, I recognize that the Hebrew Home is an outstanding institution with multiple services for seniors, and an excellent reputation. It’s hard to believe that such a well-established, highly praised institution will go out of business, as they claim, if they don’t get a zoning change.
Their claim that a continuing care retirement community is needed here is questionable. I visited the home’s property on Johnson Avenue and saw lovely apartments for seniors and beautiful public spaces. I was told that residents would be guaranteed any Hebrew Home services needed as they aged, i.e., “continuing care.” The home later sold that property.
I sincerely hope that the public outcry and recent large attendance at Community Board 8’s meetings, and the board’s subsequent rejection of the zoning change request will convince you to adhere to the community’s wishes, and not support this request.