It was nothing like the Board 7 debate over Donald Trump’s Riverside South project a week earlier. There was little of the applause, hissing and booing that greeted many speakers at that meeting, and not one heckler. Yet the conclusions Board 4 reached on July 29 were similar to those Board 7 arrived at: The Riverside South proposal is unacceptable as it stands, and the board wants changes.
The calmer atmosphere may have something to do with the fact that none of the 76-acre waterfront site targeted for Riverside South falls within Board 4’s boundaries. “It was a lot quieter and less raucous than Board 7 because it’s not as directly affected,” said Stuart Fischer, a spokesman for the Riverside South project.
But because the southernmost end of the proposed Trump project at 59th Street borders the Board 4 area, some community residents fear the development will disrupt their neighborhood.
The board is particularly concerned about plans calling for the site’s sewage to be treated by the North River Water Pollution Control Plant, which board members say is already overloaded. The board opposes both of the proposed alternatives: to try to reduce the amount of sewage flowing into the plant by better controlling high-flow plumbing facilities in the surrounding area, or to build a new, independent treatment site in Riverside South.
“I don’t know the answer,” said Catharine Cary, the vice president of the Riverside South Planning Corporation, which developed the plans. “We have to look into it. We feel it needs to be addressed.”
The board also is worried about secondary displacement, that the upgrading of the neighborhood may force its poorer residents out. “We’re afraid that lower-income housing will disappear once the landlords see the opportunity to significantly increase rents,” said board chairwoman Alice Olson. “What we lose are the housing spots that enable working-class people to live in the area.”
The Riverside South proposal is currently going through the seven-month Uniform Land Use Review Procedure. Board 7’s role in the process is an advisory one, as is that of Manhattan Borough President Ruth Messinger, who is currently reviewing the Trump plan and is expected to issue an opinion Aug. 26. The proposal then goes before the City Planning Commission, which must approve the project before the City Council considers it.
Although Board 4 has no formal role in the approval process, neighborhood residents clearly want to make their positions known. “We add strength to Community Board 7,” Ms. Olson said. “We just bolster the strength of their voice.”