To the editor:
My wife and I grew up in the same South Bronx neighborhood and watched in horror as it became enveloped by crime, decay, destruction and despair. Both my wife’s home and my home no longer exist.
We have now lived in the same house here for 46 years, raised our six children here, and are very happy with our neighborhood.
Then we became aware that a builder planned to erect an 11-story building with 120 apartment at 5278 Post Road, the bulk of which would be built on Broadway. The only reason I learned of it was that the builder was seeking variances from zoning restrictions to increase the height by two stories, and the number of apartments from 96 to 120.
I was surprised to learn he already had a building permit for 96 apartments, which I though would have been too big.
In any event, the builder applied to Community Board 8 for variances. I and my neighbors opposed, but so did others on the board. That is when I first met Laura Spalter and Damian McShane, co-founders of Broadway Community Alliance, which is a watchdog organization dedicated to protecting the Broadway corridor. Damian was a member and past president of CB8, and Laura was still a board member.
With their opposition and the opposition of Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz and Councilman Andrew Cohen, the community board unanimously rejected the application for variances.
I then learned that that was not the end of the story as the developer could, and did, appeal the denial of variances to the Board of Standards and Appeals.
The community board submitted a brief in opposition to the developer, written by Charles Moerdler, counsel to the community board and chairman of its land use committee.
As a former building commissioner of the city, Mr. Moerdler donates his time, talent and vast experience to this community, and his brief oral presentation to the board of standards was very compelling. Laura Spalter, on behalf of her organization BCA, also made a very persuasive written and oral presentation in opposition to the project.
Also present for the hearing was current CB8 chair Rosemary Ginty and immediate past president, Daniel Padernacht. Assemblyman Dinowitz filed a letter in opposition, and had a representative there, as did Councilman Cohen.
In an era when one hears plenty about crooked politicians and “pay-to-play” schemes, it is very heartening to know that this community is blessed with a community board that is honest, vigilant, extremely competent and diligent in protecting this community from “hit-and-run” developers that try to fly in under the radar to drop their bombs, and then leave the community with their messes.
Hats off to our community board, and also to our two dedicated local elected officials. Who knows how many other potential disasters to this community they have been able to avoid.