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Mr. John B. Swartwout, P.E. Section Chief New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Division of Environmental Remediation Remedial Bureau A, 12th Floor 625 Broadway Albany, New York 12233-7015 RE: SGT Joseph Muller United States Army Reserve Center, 555 East 238th St., Bronx NY Dear Mr. Swartwout: As elected officials representing portions of the City of Yonkers, we write to express our concern regarding adequate environmental remediation at the proposed homeless shelter to be located at the SGT Joseph Muller Army Reserve Center at 555 West 238th Street in the Bronx. The site is a short walk to one of Yonkers‟ main business and residential communities located along McLean Avenue and as you know, is strongly opposed by our Yonkers‟ constituents. We have been informed that the Department of Defense transfer of the Muller Armory is imminent. However, we believe there are outstanding issues regarding the required environmental remediation at the facility. Specifically, in your letter dated May 7, 2013, it was noted that section 4.6 of the draft Finding of Suitability to Transfer (hereafter “the Draft FOST”) stated that “the transferee does not intend to use the property for residential purposes in the future” despite the well chronicled intent of the City of New York to convert the premises to a homeless shelter. In the Army response, it notes that the Muller Armory will be used “by transient adults” and “does not constitute a „residential property‟ subject to the requirements of the Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act” and “will be available for short-term occupancy (less than 100 days).” We believe that it appears that the Army is unappreciative of the realities of the homelessness epidemic in New York City. On August 22, 2012, the Wall Street Journal reported the average length of stay at New York City homeless shelters continued to increase for both families and for adults: “For families with children, the average length of stay is 337 days, but for adult families, the average is 414 days—more than a year—an 18.6% jump from the previous fiscal year. For single adults in shelters, the average stay is 270 days, an 8% increase from the previous fiscal year.”
Moreover, this discrepancy was also raised in letters from Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., Congressman Eliot Engel, State Senator Jeffrey Klein, and Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz. Lastly, it is noted in the Army response that the adjacent property continues to be treated for previous petroleum discharges and that Hess, the property operator, has yet to complete required environmental vapor and soil investigations. Given the totality of the circumstances, we urge the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to intervene before the transfer is completed. The community opposition to this project in both the Bronx and Yonkers has been overwhelming, and these unresolved environmental concerns raise serious questions about the proposed use of this site. We stand with our colleagues in elected office against this project and recommend an alternative use of this site should be implemented. Sincerely,
Hon. Shelley Mayer
Hon. George Latimer
Hon. Ruben Diaz Jr., Bronx Borough President Hon. Eliot Engel, New York State Congressman Hon. Jeffrey D. Klein, New York State Senate Hon. Jeffrey Dinowitz, New York State Assembly Member Hon. Ruth Hassell-Thompson, New York State Senate