Op-Ed: Pearsall Project – What Is It? By Anessa V. Cohen



For those of you that missed last week’s standing only Village of Cedarhurst meeting which took place at Lawrence High School, it was a real eye opener.

Pearsall Project – a project being submitted by a developer for approval on Pearsall Ave between Washington Ave and Rockaway Turnpike in one of the most condensed traffic areas of the Five Towns, consists (as per their renderings) of approximately 3 buildings over 4 floors high containing about 112 apartment units – both rental and coop, all to be built on Pearsall Ave, a narrow two lane street that on most days is already gridlocked in traffic feeding out from both Rockaway Turnpike on one side and the Gourmet Glatt parking lot on the other side on Washington Ave. Can the nightmare get any worse?

I laughed out loud reading the developer presentation calling this project “an oasis”. It is not enough that he wants to build this monstrosity on this tiny street offset by little dead end streets in center of Pearsall, but he additionally wants to add a 317 car parking lot, shul, pool, playground, mikvah, fitness center and coffee shop – all built behind these building abutting dozens of 1 family homes backing Summit Ave so all those homeowners can also be suffocated with 4 floor high apartment buildings, the noise of community playgrounds, parking lots, swimming pool etc., essentially changing a side of Pearsall that is a residential area into a commercial high traffic (both car and pedestrian) public space.

Their lawyer got up and wanted the crowd to compare this proposed project to “The Regency” in Lawrence. For those of you who are unaware, “The Regency” is a condo project that was built on Broadway that replaced an unused public school building with parking lot backing the railroad tracks and the cemetery, and sided with other pre-existing apartment buildings as well as the library next to it – a really far cry from the project they are proposing which would up end the entire Summit Ave, Avery Place, Fair Oaks Place etc not to mention that side of Pearsall Avenue which is residential homes –with the noise and crowds of 112 apartments utilizing a 317 spot parking lot, communal playground and pool all sitting back to back with these homes completely overturning their right of the original zoning code pre-existing giving them “quiet enjoyment”!

Essentially the public in the Five Towns would have to deal with the added traffic this complex would create in the front, and the homeowners around it would have to deal with the noise and crowds created behind it. Forget about how the roads from Rockaway Turnpike, Pearsall and Washington would need to be regularly closed for the several years it would take them to build this project since all those roadways would need to be dug up just to redo the infrastructure and utilities to take on this kind of project. Amazing how the developer’s “oasis” fails to address the burdens he is adding to the community.

At least one official from each of the communities of the Five Towns came to the meeting to talk in opposition to this project including the mayor of Lawrence who spoke of the adverse effect this project would create even in Lawrence with the advent of huge addition of traffic to the already crowded streets and parking lots of the 5 Towns.

Murray Forman came down to push for the denial of this project on the grounds of the burden the additional children from these 112 apartments would place on the Lawrence School District. Since the apartments being built are in the 2-3 bedroom size with amenities to attract young families, additional monies would either have to be allotted to the school district to handle the influx of major numbers of new prospective students to the school district or new school taxes added to address this influx.

Cedarhurst Mayor Ben Weinstock declared that the Village stood to make an additional $131K in new taxes if they approved this project, but his numbers really stand in question when you do the math and see that from those figures of $131K you need to subtract the additional thousands that are needed for new student influxes to school district so even if you figured an addition of 20-30 new students as a result of this project, that $131K would actually re-compute to a negative figure and end up creating a deficit not an addition to Cedarhurst taxes. In fact, if the Village of Cedarhurst actually turned down the project and replaced it instead with a line of one family homes, they would actually realize more in Village of Cedarhurst Taxes when all the actual school costs were subtracted. Definitely not a plus for approving this project.

We next heard from their Traffic Study person who was very amusing in her traffic projections. She spoke about Pearsall Avenue only carrying about 13 cars per hour amongst some of her other calculations. Just about everyone present said the same thing – was this taken in the middle of the night on Shabbas? What about the traffic feeding in and out when the Yeshiva (MAE) is in session and then later when they have dismissal and all the traffic – nothing was even mentioned about this – another ghost in the traffic study!

Think about the traffic we all know about there presently. Thursday, Friday, and Sunday the gridlock on Washington Avenue, Pearsall Ave (as through street) and Rockaway Turnpike is presently impossible to navigate – it sometimes takes as much as an hour to go 6 blocks on those days. Can you imagine adding a parking lot of 317 cars to this traffic, not to mention the additional delivery trucks, maintenance trucks, employee vehicles, sanitation trucks, school buses – all the new traffic that would be created by this new project? What will be left of our neighborhood with this? They will change our name to the “Rush Hour FDR Drive Two” I keep hearing the traffic study woman as well as the developer’s lawyer talking about the new parking lot of 317 cars that they are building like those cars in that parking lot will evaporate the minute they feed out to the street and not be noticed.

By the way folks – the traffic study the developer ordered did not do a traffic study on Summit Ave, nor do I think they did a comprehensive study on Rockaway Tpke or Washington Ave during normal hours (not to mention rush hours).

The piece de resistance was the traffic study person claiming that most of the people in the
project would not even be using their cars since most places were walking distance from the buildings and they would not need the cars. Yeah, I guess that is why the developer needs to build a 317 car parking lot and use it for his marketing strategy – because most of the people moving in there will be walking right?

In addition to the negative reaction to this project engendered by nearly everyone who attended and spoke up, some of the present homeowners alongside the lots which the developer is planning to use for this project got up to speak about how frustrated they are by the huge amounts of garbage that presently exist on those lots and the indifference the developer has shown after numerous complaints begging him to clean it up and the health hazards the garbage creates by not be cleared out. If the developer cannot even show enough good will to keep those lots clean – in particular after so many complaints from the surrounding property owners, what will actually take place if he actually is allowed to go ahead with any kind of project on that property no less a monster project!

Anessa Cohen lives in Cedarhurst and is a Licensed Real Estate Broker (Anessa V Cohen Realty) and Licensed N.Y.S. Mortgage Banker (FM Home Loans) with over 20 years of experience offering residential, commercial and management real estate services as well as mortgage services. You are invited to visit her website at WWW.AVCREALTY.COM . She can be reached at 516-569-5007 or Readers are encouraged to send any questions or comments by email to [email protected]

*NOTE: The views expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of 5 Towns Central.

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