Letter to the Editor: William Gaston on the Hazards of the Marbledale Road Hotel Project

The Marbledale Road
Environmental Coalition

From MyhometownBronxville.com
Nov. 23, 2016

Dear Editor:
As a concerned parent and neighborhood resident, I feel compelled to respond to Linda Shaw’s letter (11/9/16) in which she accuses me of being “sadly misinformed” about the myriad environmental perils surrounding the Marbledale Road Hotel Project.

In point of fact, Ms. Shaw is herself guilty of misinforming and misleading your readers. In her letter, she coyly describes herself as a “project attorney intimately familiar with the issues at hand,” but fails to disclose that she is actually the attorney hired by the developer for the project. Also, as her own website www.nyenvlaw.com indicates, Ms. Shaw is an active lobbyist for the state DEC’s Brownfield Cleanup Program law, which benefits developers. That Ms. Shaw would neglect to mention these obvious connections should immediately raise red flags about her credibility.
In addition to this oversight, Ms. Shaw, with breathtaking chutzpah, writes “the safety and wellbeing of this community have been and continue to be the project’s highest priority.”
Tell that to the citizens of Tuckahoe and Bronxville! They know that Bilwin Development Affiliates, and Ms. Shaw, acting as a paid consultant for Bilwin, have stonewalled efforts from the very beginning to bring some measure of transparency to this ill-begotten project. They know that Bilwin’s goal is to build their hotel as quickly and as cheaply as possible, collect the tax credits and other remedial costs, and walk away from any liability should anything happen on the site.

As we all know, Bilwin stands to profit handsomely from this project, but the community will be left holding the bag should any toxic horrors happen to ooze out from under the ground from then on. I hardly think citizens find that scenario reassuring.

Ms. Shaw’s efforts to misinform don’t stop there. Ms. Shaw writes that “the Marriott Hotel project is not large enough to trigger an EIS,” suggesting that it is entirely a state matter. In reality, the Tuckahoe Planning Board could have required an EIS from the developer (routine in most places for a 5-story hotel) for the quarry landfill site, though it failed to do so. Ms. Shaw claims that the Fareri site in Bronxville was “far more contaminated” than the Marbledale Road site, but offers no evidence for that statement.

Ms. Shaw dissembles that “if the project goes away, the full cost of clean-up will ultimately fall to local taxpayers.” In actual fact, if the entire quarry dump, encompassing the Brownfield site as well as the lots directly north and south of it (which are already declared “P” sites) were reorganized as a single potential “P” hazardous waste site, the DEC would investigate it as a single state Superfund site. Though taxpayers would pay the vast majority of the costs under the Brownfield program, under the broader hazardous waste classification, the state would go after the dumpers (“principal responsible parties”) to pay at least part of the cleanup costs.

Ms. Shaw would have you believe Bilwin went “above and beyond the State’s environmental and clean-up requirements” with “extensive rounds of supplemental testing.” What she fails to note is that none of these additional tests would have been conducted were it not for the efforts of the Marbledale Road Environmental Coalition exerting pressure on the village and DEC to force the developer’s hand.

It is only as a result of persistent community pressure that Bilwin has conducted these supplemental tests, although it is important to recognize that these tests to date are not nearly enough to allay the concerns of the community given the small part of the waste site that is being tested and remediated, not to mention the other half of the dump (the P site) which has yet to be tested and remediated at all.

Assurances to the contrary from the Tuckahoe Mayor and village Planning Board, it bears mentioning that this project has been riddled throughout with innumerable conflicts of interest, which has only benefited the developer. Ms. Shaw falsely asserts that Bilwin has “done everything in its power to allay the concerns of the community.” In fact, the community has been left in the dark on everything from vapor monitoring to dynamic compaction and the level of toxins at the site.

People are understandably angry. They demand a far more stringent level of testing, and to insist that this testing be conducted by independent and objective parties, as opposed to the “respected environmental specialists” on the developer’s payroll.

Finally, Ms. Shaw asks us to “embrace the facts, accept the validated data, and stop calling this site toxic.” We will be glad to embrace the facts, and accept the results, once they come from a comprehensive and impartial EIS, and not through the empty reassurances of a developer whose sole motive in this sordid project is profit at the expense of our community’s health and wellbeing.
William Gaston

Editor’s note:  MyhometownBronxville does not fact-check statements in letters to the editor, and the opinions do not necessarily reflect the thinking of its staff. Its objective in publishing letters to the editor is to give air to diverse thoughts and opinions of residents in the community.
Linda Shaw’s Letter To The Editor from 11/9/16.

Bill Gaston’s 10/19/16 Letter To the Editor:

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