Home Manhattan 69th St. NIMBYs rear their ugly heads again

69th St. NIMBYs rear their ugly heads again

by Benjamin Kabak

Upper East Side NIMBYs are worried that shady folk might 'hang out' at a planned subway entrance at 69th Street and Lexington Ave.

Remember how the MTA wants to make the 68th St. station along Lexington Ave. ADA-accessible and easy to navigate by adding an entrance with elevators at 69th St.? And remember how a bunch of entitled East Side residents (along with their fireplaces) threw a fit about the plan back in October? Well, they’re back.

At last night’s Community Board 8 meeting, those overly elitist and out-of-touch residents of 69th St. once again spoke out against the MTA’s plans. This time, they brought along lawyers who threatened to defend their so-called “bucolic” lives on 69th St. between Lexington and Park Avenues in the very heart of the nation’s densest urban area.

DNA Info’s Amy Zimmer was once again on the scene. She wrote:

Residents on the tony block, many of which came to a Community Board 8 meeting Wednesday night, are worried the entrances would ruin their quiet residential enclave. “Sixty-ninth Street is a really bucolic street,” said Charles Salfeld, a resident of the Imperial House at the southwest corner of East 69th Street and Lexington Avenue. “But [by] putting this subway entrance in front of our building, you turn 69th Street into 68th Street, which is a busy commercial street…The idea of spending $57 million because you want to put in an elevator, and that elevator is going to change the character of our buildings, is madness.”

…Residents are teaming up — and hiring legal muscle — to stop the project. “The co-ops on 69th Street have gotten together and formed a block association and retained counsel,” resident Bill Roskin said, with his lawyer from Davidoff Malito & Hutcher sitting next to him.

Roskin told MTA officials that owners on the “pristine” block were hopeful to have a discussion about changing the entrances…Transit officials said it would be more complicated and expensive to build the entrances on East 67th or 70th streets, and that they have already spent a lot of time looking at alternative scenarios and narrowing them down to the most feasible ones.Roskin told DNAinfo he was particularly concerned that the unmanned station would “attract people looking to hang out.”

Few locals seemed to care about alleviating the crush of straphangers coming on or off the platforms. “So it’s congested,” Salfeld said. “Manhattan is a congested place.”

People might hang out. At a subway station. On Lexington Ave. and 69th St. If that’s not NIMBYism acting as a front for veiled classism or racism, I don’t know what it is.

According to sources who were at the meeting, this group of residents could charitably be described as an unpleasant bunch, and now they’re going to sue. Much like the residents of 86th St. who objected to subway entrances on their less “bucolic” and “pristine” block, they’re going to lose. They should be ashamed of themselves, but they’re not. It’s the ugly, ugly side of New Yorkers rearing its head. It’s NIMBYism, and it should not be tolerated.

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Lawrence Velázquez January 6, 2012 - 12:31 pm

“Sixty-ninth Street is a really bucolic street,” said Charles Salfeld, a resident of the Imperial House at the southwest corner of East 69th Street and Lexington Avenue. […] “So it’s congested,” Salfeld said. “Manhattan is a congested place.”

What this is, I don’t even…

Matthias January 9, 2012 - 11:45 am

That contradiction jumped out at me right away. Why anyone listens to them I don’t understand.

MaximusNYC January 6, 2012 - 12:36 pm

Big brass ones on these people. Next they’ll be asking the city to block off the street and let them put up a checkpoint, so they can only allow “the right sort of people” on their public sidewalks.

Seriously: Just move the f*** to Connecticut, crybabies. Leave NYC to those of us who aren’t scared of it.

pea-jay January 6, 2012 - 5:08 pm

Other than whining, suing and adding time and cost to the project, do the residents actually have a real shot at stopping the project or just bogging it down and making it more expensive than it already needs to be.

This city ought to consider an anti-nimby ordinance that would assess cost overruns attributable to unsuccessful legal challenges to the parties lodging those claims in the first place. Might cause some reconsideration to this sort of thing.

Chet January 6, 2012 - 5:29 pm

Can we get a “like” button? I’d like to be able click on it for Maximus’ comment.

Ron January 6, 2012 - 12:36 pm

Can we get everyone we know to start hanging out on 69th Street when they have nothing else to do?

chemster January 6, 2012 - 12:45 pm

If I had the money, I’d pay for a Veteran to set up a little stand on the sidewalk on 69th street which gave free stuff to people who hung around there. Just to piss these arrogant b**** off. Grrr…

(I mean, really, it’s just a subway station entrance, guys! It might even, you know, INCREASE the value of your property, because it’d be even EASIER to get to the subway that’s ALREADY there?)

Barnaby Houghton January 6, 2012 - 12:41 pm

Dear Mr. Kabak,

As an owner of two building on said city block, I must contend you are unable to see the other side of matters.
Perhaps an elucidation is in order.

Many of my colleagues would admit that we are not frequent users of the subway system. Any improvement of such system does not stand to benefit us and, in most cases, does not concern us. However, when the subway designers attempt to encroach on our own personal space we must act accordingly; suing is our only option. As you might see, as nonusers of the subway, the only outcome of such expansion is bad at best for us.

Please do not rush to conclusions about us; we are, after all, trying to protect our children.


B. Houghton

George January 6, 2012 - 12:44 pm

You are an arrogant schmuck!
want to own a block? Move to Shelter Island.


Benjamin Kabak January 6, 2012 - 12:45 pm

(PSST. That was a parody/sarcastic comment.)

The Cobalt Devil January 6, 2012 - 12:46 pm

Parody is a little less subtle than that. Next time, it should be a bit more obvious. PARODY FAIL!

Bolwerk January 6, 2012 - 8:42 pm

That it was subtle is what makes it good parody. It’s the type of thing someone like that would actually say in an anonymous forum, albeit without the pedantic Victorian overtones. Or, well….

Chris January 7, 2012 - 9:44 am

I think you’re wrong. That was obviously a parody.

Stu Sutcliffe January 6, 2012 - 4:13 pm

Seriously, I’d like some of these jerks on 69th Street to respond to what’s being said about them here. Maybe their butlers or batmen can read this website to them to get their reaction.

Farro January 7, 2012 - 9:25 pm


The Cobalt Devil January 6, 2012 - 12:45 pm

The PUBLIC sidewalk on East 69th Street is NOT your own private space. You may have spend good money on your apt, but the street outside is still public space. If you can’t see that, then you and your neighbors really need to move to Connecticut and buy up a ton of private land for yourselves.

Douglas John Bowen January 6, 2012 - 1:29 pm

Oh, man, oh, man, the “for the children” card is played. yipes.

“Our children” are threatened by (in essence) “those people.” Mr. Kabak is on the mark.

Douglas John Bowen January 6, 2012 - 1:30 pm

And, per Mr Kabak’s note, my bad and my apologies. I couldn’t “read” the sarcasm re “children.”

Still, the “those people” argument is in play. Sad, as others already have noted.

Jerrold January 6, 2012 - 4:38 pm

A repetition of some immortal words from Ave. B is in order: DIE, YUPPIE SCUM!

Larry Littlefield January 6, 2012 - 12:52 pm

People who can hire lawyers have rights in this city. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if one judge prohibited the MTA from putting in ADA elevators, while another — after lawsuits by advocates for the handicapped and seniors — hit the MTA with hundreds of $millions in fines for failing to do so.

And when service was slashed further to pay the fines, state politicians who appoint the judges would blame the “unaccountable MTA.”

Alex January 6, 2012 - 12:56 pm

So to summarize Barnaby’s statement: “Please understand our side. We don’t use the subway and don’t like the people who do. Therefore, we are justified in not wanting public space being allocated to a subway entrance on our block. This will protect our children from coming into contact with anyone who isn’t wealthy.”

Well it’s all so clear now. How could we have been so mean to such nice folks who simply want to keep the lower classes off their block? We can now see that “because we don’t want it” is a valid reason not to do something.

Alex January 6, 2012 - 12:58 pm

Ack, I was fooled too. But it says something that it’s completely feasible that someone on the block would write that.

An Upset Black Man January 6, 2012 - 1:11 pm

If the rich Upper Eastsidders don’t want imrovements to their neighborhood by adding an ADA accessible entrance, then don’t give them one. Why not make subway improvements in the outer boroughs? Especially Queens, where most residents have to add a bus ride just to get to the train station. Or Staten Island even.

Bolwerk January 6, 2012 - 8:47 pm

I’d agree, but Hunter College is right there. It’s a school of ~20k, many of them working class minorities doing their damndest to get an education. It’s very worthy of an ADA-compliant entrance.

(The UES twits should try to get Hunter moved. It’s a prestigious minority magnet!)

Patrickonius Maximus I January 6, 2012 - 1:39 pm

Be forewarned: God has a twisted sense of humor and boy will he be laughing his ass of when someone on 69th Street finds themselves handicapped and too poor to afford limos.

I, on the other hand, am more compassionate and will be glad to help said person down the stairs over on 68th Street.

Todd January 6, 2012 - 1:43 pm

“They should be ashamed of themselves”


Scott E January 6, 2012 - 1:46 pm

I think Chemster is on to something… but maybe the residents of 69th Street should take the money being spent on the legal challenged and instead hire a private security guard to make sure people don’t loiter and create a nuisance in front of the elevator. It creates a job or two (for someone who really needs it), it saves the MTA and the court system tons of valuable time and money, and allows transit access for folks who need it. It’s a win-win-win.

Plus, if they put $10,000 being spent on legal representation into an interest-bearing account yielding just 0.5% today, it would be worth $6.5 billion by the time the subway entrance opens. A win-win-win-win. (Note: this last paragraph is sarcasm)

Noah January 6, 2012 - 2:02 pm

They will be spending a lot more than 10K…

Noah January 6, 2012 - 2:00 pm

This is all just utterly ridiculous. I don’t live up there, but I go to Hunter as a Post-Bacc, and I can tell you the station needs more access, not for the residents alone, many of whom are rich enough to have private drivers, but for Hunter students, employees, faculty, and all of the many businesses there that cater to the area, buoyed by Hunter. Further 69th st is very far from being “bucolic”, it is generally a relatively dark and noisy block, though there isn’t much retail to speak of, it is always busy. The man who lives on the “southwest” corner doesn’t even seem to know where he lives as that is a Hunter building, so the entrance is in front of a Hunter building, not a residence. The Southeast building, as the image shows is mixed use and the corner does not have anything close to a residential feeling.

The station is greatly in need of repair, I hope that if they were to shut down the station for a year to install the additional entrances they would completely renovate the station.

Chris January 6, 2012 - 2:08 pm

If you don’t believe it should be tolerated, you should focus your attention on the enabling legislation, not the NIMBYs themselves. If we write laws sponsoring meetings where local cranks can come and speak their mind, we shouldn’t be too surprised when the local cranks actually show up. If we pass laws under which the north side of 69th street (which is pretty damn unexceptional) can be named a “historic district” subject to preservation, don’t be surprised when people use that notion to try to preserve the area. And so on.

There will always be local cranks, that’s unavoidable. The question is whether we listen to them. And New York law gives them the biggest megaphone possible.

nycpat January 6, 2012 - 2:08 pm

If I lived in one of those buildings I would not want those entrances either.

John January 6, 2012 - 2:26 pm

Move the entrances onto Lexington Avenue at 69th Street, or point the top of the stairways towards Lexington Avenue instead of towards Park and Third avenues. Either would make people less likely to use the 69th Street block, but of course, lowering the percentage to anything but zero isn’t what the NIMBYs want.

I can see a little bit of their complaint about the ADA elevators being at 69th Street though, since to do that would make that entrance the default main 24/7 entrance to the station, and it would have to remain fully operational at all times, as opposed to an off-hours Metrocard-only entry, the way some secondary entrances on other Manhattan local stops are (and odds are in the future if the elevator’s at 69th and the MTA decides the station doesn’t warrant two 24/7/365 fully opened entrances, 68th Street would become the Metrocard-only entry at nights).

Larry Littlefield January 6, 2012 - 2:58 pm

My guess is 69th Street was the most affordable option. The MTA cannot afford to pay more to satisfy these cranks, and shouldn’t have to.

Joe Steindam January 6, 2012 - 6:07 pm

According to the plans released in October, the ADA elevators would be at the 68th Street entrance, not at the new 69th Street entrance. As far as I know (and it’s not clear from any of the articles cited), that’s still the planned site of the elevators, the 69th Street entrance is solely additional access to a station that is overwhelmed at any point in the day when Hunter College is inbetween classes. 68th Street will remain the main station entrance.

I personally don’t find anything bucolic or quiet about being across the street from a large college. I’m frankly surprised people with this much disposable income and disregard for anyone making less than 500K per annum even tolerate being next to one of the largest public colleges in the country.

Thomas Belmont January 6, 2012 - 2:56 pm

“Protect our children” that is the biggest load of horse sh*t ive ever heard of. You just dont want any homeless or person of color walking down your little beautiful block. Get the f*ck over yourselves and realize you live in new york city where everyone has to share the burden of construction.

Al D January 6, 2012 - 3:50 pm

Why aren’t they petitioning for gates at both entrances to their bucolic, pristine block. Yes, keep out all the creeps and outsiders. Oh, wait, but now how am I going to get everything delivered to my doorstep by all these miscreants!

Jerrold January 6, 2012 - 4:50 pm

And let’s not forget the rich bankers and the Wall Street crowd who got our economy into this mess. Maybe some of them live there on East 69th St. And now they are fighting hard to give us an ultra-right wing President like Santorum or Gingrich who would just f— everything up even more for the poor and the middle class.

Winners and Losers | Mobilizing the Region January 6, 2012 - 5:03 pm

[…] Opponents of station improvements—Some Upper East Side residents have banded together to oppose the construction of two new entrances to the 68th St./Hunter College station. The improvements would also include an elevator, which would make the station ADA-accessible, but one resident protested that “[by] putting this subway entrance in front of our building, you turn 69th Street into 68th Street, which is a busy commercial street.” Ugh. […]

Bob Loblaw January 6, 2012 - 5:08 pm

Forget about the rich and poor argument, the $7 million to help what, the three handicap people that use it each year, is silly, why not just let the money side into social programs as per usual, I’m sure the money could be better used helping others more effectively.

Peter January 6, 2012 - 5:34 pm

Bucolic = white.


Paulie3jobs January 7, 2012 - 3:12 pm

Got me too. If it was signed “M. Flanders”, I would have understood immediately.

Gentlemen (and ladies) three words……. “Occupy 69th Street.

Alon Levy January 7, 2012 - 5:39 pm

When I lived on the UES, my local subway stop was 68th/Lex. The platform crowding levels were not really in crisis, but the station could stand to have an extra stop, to distribute the load and slightly cut trip times for people who live north of 68th.

Matthias January 9, 2012 - 12:06 pm

An extra stop between 68th and 77th? Not a good idea. Extra stairs are much needed, however. The times I’ve used that station during peak hours, there is no room to stand on the platform and I fear for the people near the edge.

68th Street Rehab (NIMBYism at its Finest) - Page 24 January 9, 2012 - 7:11 am

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crescent January 9, 2012 - 2:47 pm

Let them sue.

They have no legal case.

They are just using whatever leverage they have (threat of a suit) to try to stop the project before it starts. Makes sense if it is them. If it goes to a case, the plaintiffs have far less resources than the MTA, and what lawyer would take this case on contingency- the winnings would not be monetary.

TERRANOVA47 January 24, 2012 - 3:58 am

This NIMBY fight is quite amusing. For nearly 30 years I lived at Second Avenue and 27th Street. When the buildings on the east side of the avenue from 26th to 29th Street were built in the late 70’s they were set back from the intersections to allow for a future Second Avenue Subway Station. The joke is that the line as now planned has no stop there to service Bellvue Hospital!


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