Day 102 & 103 – Once again the weekend is here and even though the strike continues on unabated, there is not much to report from the strike line.
I would like to extend a big thank you to Captain D’Adamo for personally visiting me on Sunday to offer his apology for the incident on Friday with the police car shining their lights in our windows. I realize that the Captain has a very busy schedule and to take time out for what most would think is such an inconsequential problem really makes me think this Captain cares about his command and how it is being run. A big hats off to you Captain D’Adamo!
Since last weeks posts brought up some questions about FIPNA and what we stand for, I thought it would be nice to address what we have been through with the nursing home since Helen took over and also what we have done for the neighborhood around us, look for other posts in the future that tell what else we have done that doesn’t involve the nursing home.
We are the Fort Independence Park Neighborhood Association (FIPNA), a community association of homeowners, tenants, and cooperators who live in and around Giles and Cannon Place, Sedgwick Avenue, West 238th Street, and Fort Independence Street, in the Bronx. We have a web site located @ www.fipna.org, which currently has a daily blog. FIPNA was formed to help our community fight for important quality of life issues from the local nursing home, to saving Jerome Park Reservoir, or stopping a developer from obfuscating the law! FIPNA has been successful in every fight we entered, and our list of successes will be presented over the next couple of post in this series.
One of our neighbors is the Kingsbridge Heights Rehabilitation and Care Center. Since Helen Sieger has taken over said home, the neighborhood has had many difficulties and disagreements. The nursing home is a community facility which should fit into the neighborhood as if it were a home. Our community is a one-way street lined with one-family homes peppered with anchor apartment buildings. The nursing home has been in the community for almost forty years going from a 12-bed facility to a large institution of 400 beds – the size of a large hospital in rural areas of upstate New York. The vehicular and foot traffic from the nursing home’s staff, visitors and doctors is a terrible impact on our community all day long. Deliveries start early in the morning and garbage pick up is in the middle of the night. All in all it is difficult. Over the years, FIPNA has scheduled meetings with Ms. Sieger and although she would agree to changes that would address our issues, none were implemented with any consistency.
Under the supervision of the current owners and operator, the nursing home initiated a systematic plan to purchase and tear down our lovely row of one-family homes. In all fairness, when they purchased the nursing home, it included the adjacent property home – vacant but standing. Historically, the nursing home had an ongoing need for parking for staff, doctors and visitors. According to the zoning code, they were not able to do what they wanted, no matter how many lawyers and consultants they hired. (They could have included it in their original plans rather than build to the max and get an exemption!)
Still, they insisted on tearing down the adjacent home to build some kind of medical facility. They dug a big hole and left the site with no plans for more than a year, until the City (HPD) had to come and fill it in. Just recently these Emergency Repairs from 2001 were paid by the owners at a cost of some $46,000. Despite our neighborhood pleas, the owners would not respect our neighbor’s request to hold off on the demolition of the adjacent house. The demolition took place Christmas week while the neighbors had family visiting for the holidays from Europe. How ridiculous is it to demolish a building at the beginning of the winter? Outraged by this action, neighbors united to research the home and visit the Department of Buildings.
It did not stop there, as Ms. Sieger continued to threaten to tear down yet another home (purchased from homeowners who could not take the delivery truck noise and disruption every day), to make way for a parking lot. Everyone knows you can not just put a parking lot between two private homes! We were forced to organize and get media attention for these callous acts. It is known that a community facility must put parking on vacant adjacent land (which they cleared in that Christmas attack), and that is what we told them.
In addition to the ordinary disruptions, and the leveling of one-family homes, we are now in the middle of a very disruptive strike at the nursing home. We have already passed more than one hundred days of this strike. As the strike progressed the operator of the home tormented our neighborhood with loud noises (above 90 dbs for two months) running generators, bright lights (similar to daylight) in our windows all night long, and many other inconveniences. Once again, FIPNA has taken a position with the strikers since day one and plan to win this fight, as well.
The home on the block that they own for more than ten years has been vacant and is in severe disrepair and needs to either be repaired or it needs boarding up of the windows and doors. FIPNA will be reporting the condition of this blight on our community to 311 and the Buildings Department for action. We will monitor the agency response, and keep you informed. Did you know that there was a tree growing out of the chimney at this house? This is an example of selective un-management!
The State Department of Health and the Federal Labor Regulators seem incapable of insuring the quality of care in the home or of bringing Helen to the bargaining table. They have allowed her to allay them with one ridiculous excuse after another and left honest working people completely at the mercy of someone who seems to be devoid of any basic decency. We are in need of some action to allow us all to get back to a normal life. Our community needs some peace and a return to an improved quality of life.
Next topic in this series: The contractor who dreaded the day he picked the Giles Place site to construct a building. And, honorable mention to the Cannon Place demolition of the project built out of conformance to our new zoning law.
Till tomorrow, STAND STRONG!