Petition to Deny the Non-Contextual Expansion of Grand Prospect Hall

PETITION TO DENY THE NON-CONTEXTUAL EXPANSION OF GRAND PROSPECT HALL (here on referred to as GPH) We the residents, and homeowners of South Park Slope and all surrounding and affected areas, respectfully request that any proposal for an expansion of GPH that goes beyond the scope of the building code and the zoning resolution be denied based on the following. The proposed expansion will increase the current GPH to a size that is completely out of context with the rest of the neighborhood. In 2005 this neighborhood was re-zoned to R6B zoning which caps building heights at 40 feet at the street wall and 50 feet after a setback. GPH’s proposal, as it stands, will have a building with a height of at least 110 feet, nearly three times the height and five times the bulk allowable by law. In addition, GPH claims that there will be benefits to the community, primarily in the addition of 400 parking spots that will be available some of the time, (when they are not being used by GPH), to the local community. This claim is unsubstantiated, and is not viewed as a benefit by many in the community. We feel that the benefit of occasional parking will be more than outweighed by the downside of having such an enormous structure in a quiet residential neighborhood. Specifically: - TRAFFIC: As currently planned, the ingress and egress from the parking garage and hotel, including heavy delivery trucks, would be on 16th Street, which is unfortunately already on it’s way to becoming a thorough-fare for trucks and other large vehicles. Due to the influx of development in the area before it was re-zoned, 16th Street between fourth and sixth Avenues has seen a tremendous increase in car traffic from the off-street parking lots that were built to accommodate some of the larger residential developments. Any parking garage that is built will increase (in this case by at by least 400), not decrease, the already overburdened traffic situation for the surrounding area with added pollution, noise and traffic, not to mention possible safety issues for pedestrians and bicyclists. Adding to this will be the inevitable large delivery trucks that will be necessary to service a mega-hotel. This will be an exponential increase in wear and tear to the surrounding streets. - VENTILATION AND NOISE POLLUTION: How will GPH account for the dramatic increase in venting/exhaust needs that are inevitable with such a large structure, including air-conditioning for 150 rooms? Currently, when GPH turns on their exhaust/ventilation system for an event, the sound that emanates and bounces back and forth between the surrounding buildings resembles a hovering helicopter. With a hotel and parking garage that will need constant ventilation, the non-stop noise pollution will be unbearable. - WATER PRESSURE: The infrastructure of this neighborhood was built to sustain small homes, and it has not been improved or expanded to accommodate the increase in development. The addition of water usage from 150 hotel rooms, along with the thousands of people anticipated to be in and out of the GPH at any given time, will decrease the already strained water pressure for all in the surrounding area. - SEWAGE: Again, as the infrastructure has not been expanded with the neighborhood, 150 bathrooms, along with the thousands of people anticipated to be in and out of the GPH at any given time, the effect on an already strained sewage system will be significant and hazardous. - SANITATION AND HEALTH SAFETY: While it would be nice to assume that GPH would attend responsibly to the waste/refuse disposal from 150 hotel rooms, current experience does not attest to such a positive outcome. On windy days, a significant amount of trash, (Sysco boxes, food wrappers, etc.) blows down the existing parking lot into the adjoining parking lot on 16th Street and then out onto the sidewalk. In addition, neighbors of the GPH have filed complaints with the Board of Health because they do not have their trash picked up in a timely manner after events hosted by GPH, and the stench from this rotting trash permeates the area including people’s homes and backyards. There have also been sightings of rodents among the trash. If dumpers were to be located behind the 150 room mega-hotel, we can only assume that the population of vermin would increase accordingly. We are also concerned about the run off trash of thousands of people coming in and out of the GPH, who will not leave all of their garbage in the facilities of GPH. Mega-hotel customers will inevitably walk out to the streets, where garbage will be dumped in already overflowing street receptacles. Our taxes will have to be used to further subsidize the Department of Sanitation in it’s already backed up efforts to keep up with the over-flowing sanitation situation in this area due to the over-development that took place before the rezoning. In conclusion, while we are not opposed in concept to GPH’s owners improving or looking out for their financial future, we are seriously concerned about the possible deleterious effects of their plans. If this project were to move forward, it will only do so after all the above concerns are properly and satisfactorily addressed, and after many more open and honest meetings with the community are conducted. That is, there might be many ways for the GPH to expand and thrive, which we welcome, without being done so at the expense of the surrounding community. We also request that the Environmental Impact Studies be conducted by an impartial engineering firm, which though paid for by GPH, would be chosen after review by one or more of the community groups that would be affected by the project. Concurrent with our specific concerns regarding the effects of this project on our community, is a general feeling that any allowances made that go beyond the current building code and zoning resolution, be it spot-rezoning or variance, etc., would do nothing more than allow one entity to flout the hard-fought down-zoning laws for the sole benefit of said entity and will set a precedent for similar modifications to existing zoning laws state-wide or nation-wide. Most communities in this city have fought long and hard for rezoning which would prevent rampant non-contextual over-development. It will seem that some allowances, especially spot-rezoning, can be invented specifically to let those who are politically connected to flout the laws by which everyone else has to abide. We sincerely hope that this is a case where the merits of the argument, as opposed to connections and campaign contributions, will be the deciding factor that will benefit all those involved and affected.

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