Mayor Poised To OK ABTS Y Waiver
Ryan Whalen, the chief of staff for Deputy Mayor Howard Wolfson surprised locals by stating that Bloomberg is prepared to grant the necessary waiver to the development after “a few final details are worked out.”
Whalen told a Wave reporter that he expected the waiver to be granted before the end of October.
Community Board 14 District Manager Jonathan Gaska, who was at the Rockaway Task Force meeting where the announcement was made, said that he is buoyed by Whalen’s statement, but that the deal is still not done.
“There are still some things that have to be done before the mayor signs the waiver,” Gaska told The Wave on Wednesday morning. “There are conditions to the mayor’s approval, and those conditions can cost the developers some bucks. That still has to be worked out.”
He expects, however, that the deal will be done and construction work will begin as soon as possible.
Gerard Romski, the CEO for Arverne By the Sea said that he was “pleased” with the announce ment.
“We would like to see this happen in a week or so, so that we can get the foundation in the ground before winter hits,” Romski said. “That’s dependent on how fast the waiver process moves along.”
The mayor’s approval of a waiver to Local Law 86 is necessary because, in June the Y (formerly called the YMCA) discovered a new source of funding that allowed for an enclosed gymnasium, something that Rockaway residents have demand ed from the beginning.
Adding the roof to the gymnasium raises the cost of the capital project to more than $12 million, which automatically triggers Local Law 86, which was passed by the City Council in 2005 and took effect in 2007.
Local Law 86 says that capital projects that include city money 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 called LEED.
The original plans for the Y do not meet those national standards.
Romski says that the plans have already been changed to allow for a more “green” building – low flush toilets and eco-friendly paint, for example.
The failure of the mayor to approve the waiver of the local law would have added at least a year and possibly two to the construction of the project, officials said.
Now, however, those officials say that construction can start anew prior to the time the snow flies in Rockaway and can proceed in earnest in the spring.
— Additional reporting by Miriam Rosenberg.