2010-07-23 / Top Stories

Sanders To Bloomberg: Grant Waiver For Rockaway Y

By Miriam Rosenberg

Councilman James Sanders Jr. has called upon Mayor Michael Bloomberg to grant a waiver to the developers of the Rockaway Y, located at Arverne By The Sea on Beach 73 Street, so that construction of the building would not be held up by a local environmental law that could stop building for close to a year.

“While we all support a cleaner, greener city through sustainable development, we must not let New Yorkers suffer by forcing the Arverne YMCA to comply with a law that did not exist at the time the project was initiated,” said the Councilman in his letter to the Mayor.

Sanders announced, this month, an allocated $1.87 million toward an indoor gymnasium for the facility. That money, added to $3 million secured earlier this year for the indoor gym, sends the costs of the project to more than $12 million. Local Law 86, as originally reported by The Wave last month, was not included in the original plans for the facility. The law states that capital projects involving city funding with an estimated construction cost of more than $12 million and less than $30 million must be designed and constructed to reduce energy costs by a minimum of 20 percent as prescribed by a very strict set of national standards.

Earlier this month, Kevin Shermach, a Y spokesperson, and Gerard Romski, the project manager for Arverne By The Sea, said they’re currently in the process of confirming the City Council funding and will move forward from there.

To prevent any delays, a waiver of the law, from the Mayor’s Office, is required. Without the waiver, construction could be held off for a year while new plans that include the changes are submitted and go through the process of approval.

In 2007 the City Council – whose Rockaway members at the time were Sanders and Joseph P. Addabbo Jr. – allocated $1 million to the Rockaway Y. At that time there was controversy when Sanders claimed he had been responsible for the whole allocation. While that was shown to be a misstatement, Sanders has been involved in the project’s planning for some time. Jonathan Gaska, the district manager for Community Board 14, said the Councilman has advocated for the facility, and Sanders or his staff has attended various meetings – including at Borough Hall.

“Let’s face it, the city is not going to put in money unless the Council people are involved,” said Gaska, adding that it was the combined efforts of Sanders and Ulrich that has now added almost $2 million to the project’s budget.

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