Home Second Avenue Subway NIMBY suit opposing 86th St. entrances dismissed

NIMBY suit opposing 86th St. entrances dismissed

by Benjamin Kabak

These proposed entrances for the Second Ave. Subway on 86th St. were the subject of a federal lawsuit.

NIMBYs, NIMBYs, wherefore art thou, NIMBYs?

While not quite the question posed by Juliet to Romeo, I often find myself asking why NIMBYs are constantly opposing any new public transit projects in New York City. A Transitway on 34th Street? That’ll cause a wall of buses. A train to LaGuardia that skirts around the edges of Astoria? That’ll disrupt a peaceful residential neighborhood. Subway entrances on 86th Street and Second Avenue? They’ll interfere with our precious driveway.

The final excuse was, as you may recall, one of the drivers behind a lawsuit filed earlier this year by a group of residents from 86th St. near Second Ave. These residents claimed that the MTA had “arbitrarily and capriciously” chosen to place new subway entrances on their blocks. The influx in pedestrians — who would be pointed away from the driveway — would harm Yorkshire Towers and its inhabitants, and the MTA, they claimed, did not properly assess the environmental impact of the entrances as they failed to consider new information as it emerged.

Luckily for the MTA and those eagerly awaiting better subway access, a judge earlier this month granted a motion to dismiss the complaint. Judge Thomas Griesa’s 16-page decision is available here as a PDF. Essentially, he granted the defendants’ motion to dismiss on a legal technicality. The Yorkshire Towers residents had 180 days from the government’s finding of no environmental impact on the MTA’s decision to locate the station entrances along 86th St., but they filed their lawsuit eight months late.

In reply to such an argument, the Yorkshire Towers plaintiffs attempted to claim that the MTA had an obligation to consider new information. As Judge Griesa dryly noted, however, the plaintiffs failed to present this new information in their complaint. Had the complaint not been time-barred, though, it seems as though Griesa would not have been too sympathetic to the claims set forward by Yorkshire Towers. But it matters little; they waited eight months beyond the statute of limitations, and the station entrances will go ahead as planned.

The staircases at Entrance 2 have been designed to minimize passenger flow in front Yorkshire Towers by siphoning riders away from the active driveway.

So the MTA can now move forward with work at 86th St. for these station entrances, and that happens not a moment too soon. A recent report to the MTA has found that the project is inching ever closer to its contingency timeline. Right now, the MTA has only 66 days’ leeway but five years of construction remaining until SAS Phase 1 hits revenue service. With the lawsuit out of the way, the MTA and its contractors can move forward at 86th St. without further delays.

Meanwhile, the NIMBYs lose. It’s a battle in a bigger fight for better transportation, and it’s part of living in a city. People will walk down your block, and the subway — a truly desirable thing — will open its doors down the street. Life will go on.

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29 comments

JE December 27, 2011 - 1:37 am

On an unrelated note, the canopies in the drawing above do not appear to fully cover the subway entrances. Let’s hope that’s not the case, as DC-area commuters would be happy to discuss the reliability of exposed escalators at Metro stations.

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John December 27, 2011 - 10:02 am

Yeah the look of the entrances leaves something to be desired.

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Scott E December 27, 2011 - 10:35 am

I think there are large panes of glass on the sides, in addition to the smaller panes forming the curve on the top. I’m not saying I particularly like the aesthetics (I don’t), but in the absence of a wind-driven rain I think it serves its purpose to protect the escalator.

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Chet December 27, 2011 - 8:42 am

And the people who are whining about all this stupidity, are the same people who will whine when the train is late, or the bus is stuck in traffic, or when there is no public transport at all.

In short, these people want to have their lunch and eat it too.

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SEAN December 27, 2011 - 12:31 pm

Sometimes the NIMBYs are intentionally trying to be disruptive. If they could be sewed for there actions, these problems would almost go away.

Let me be clear about something – not all nimbyism is nessessarily bad, however this type ends up becomeing quite distructive & everyone suffers for it.

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Bolwerk December 27, 2011 - 12:55 pm

NIMBYism is pretty much an expression of narcissism, and it is therefore more or less universally bad. If there are times that it results in a good outcome, that’s probably exceedingly rare.

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Jerrold December 27, 2011 - 2:17 pm

Do you want to take a needle and thread and SEW up their big mouths? You meant SUED, right?

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SEAN December 27, 2011 - 7:55 pm

Yes I did, but either way works for me.

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Terratalk December 28, 2011 - 2:48 pm

Oh Jerrold … picky, picky, picky … we all “new” what he meant … LOL!

Hank December 27, 2011 - 9:00 am

Good news. I actually had an interesting conversation with a Yorkville Towers resident last week on this topic and he said that he felt pressured to support what he essentially viewed as a bunch of cranky old people fearing any change.

I know this point has been addressed previously, but why no entrance on the west side of 2nd Ave at the 86th St. station?

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Joe Steindam December 27, 2011 - 11:44 am

I don’t recall much of the station structures planned for SAS, but what is the ancillary space designated on the west side of 2nd Ave going to be used for?

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John December 27, 2011 - 3:18 pm

I would think on a winter’s day, the ability to walk right out of your apartment building and drop down into a deep cavern subway station that’s going to be far less affected by the outside weather than your average cut-and-cover station will be seen as a major plus for the majority of Yorkshire Towers residents who have to go to work every day. But if the “cranky old people” are retirees, fighting the positioning of the subway station may just be the urban version of the “Hey you kids! Get off my lawn!’ image of the suburban cranky geezer.

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Asher December 27, 2011 - 9:04 am

Too bad that NIMBYs can’t be sued for filing false claims forced to compensate for lost time on projects, legal costs, etc.

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JB December 27, 2011 - 9:39 am

When NIMBYs fail, an angel gets its wings.

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Lawsuits: A judge has dismissed the lawsuit… - The Broker Buddy December 27, 2011 - 10:10 am

[…] A judge has dismissed the lawsuit filed by a group of Yorkshire Towers residents against planned Sec… The residents claimed the MTA’s environmental review of the subway entrances hadn’t been thorough enough and that the entrances would harm the building’s residents. The judge actually dismissed the lawsuit on a technicality—the Yorkshire Towers residents had a 180-day window to file their lawsuit and were eight months late. But in the world of the Second Avenue subway, that’s practically early. [SAS; previously] Monthly Archive […]

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Scott E December 27, 2011 - 10:43 am

NIMBY’s are everywhere, and they always make fools of themselves. And it’s not just the little, local residents. Where I live, there’s a debate over a proposed new 500-kV power line across PA and NJ which would sit atop an existing 250-kV line and effectively double the height of the towers that support the wires.

I was reading this in a local paper this morning. In addition to local opposition, the NATIONAL PARKS SERVICE reviewed all the project alternatives and chose the “no-build option” because it is the only one that “causes the least damage to the biological and physical environment and best protects, preserves, and enhances historic, cultural, and natural resources.” Forget whether or not the benefits outweigh the negatives (as I believe is the legal criteria). The best way to preserve what’s there is to do nothing — without a reference to the whole purpose of the project. Whether with electricity, subways, or anything else, locals as well as national government agencies come out and make fools of themselves.

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al December 27, 2011 - 2:20 pm

I guess this means either higher electric costs and greater risk for power disruption as demand grows, or the utilities and govt needs to step up incentives and initiatives to reduce demand through efficiency and off peak use. Locally sited power or onsite CHP might be another route. Another is buying an old ship, parking it by an unused dock, and packing it with ISO container sized batteries for a base to peak store/shift arbitrage system.

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TP December 27, 2011 - 10:46 am

They shouldn’t even have a driveway there. Two curb cuts right next to each other, so close to an intersection of two major streets? Should never have been allowed in the first place.

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SK December 27, 2011 - 3:29 pm

I’m glad that someone has raised the issue of no exits on the west side of Second Avenue.
We saw the earlier version of the 63rd Street subway as the subway to nowhere.
This subway is the one is “The Subway with no stations.”
Notice that this line in contrast with every other Manhattan station has the audacious limitation of stations to every 13 to 17 blocks (42nd Street, 55th, 72nd, 86th stations in the 1% neighborhood, as compared to the hoi polloi of 11th Street). How’s that for NIMBYism?

We should have a discussion of how pre-1980 stations in the city have generally followed a four exits plan: Northwest, Northeast, Southwest, Southeast. Now we just have Northeast?! (I do not count the Southeast elevator. I’m not one to opt out of exercise or opting into waiting for elevators when I can walk. And that “ancillary space??” Is that merely an emergency exit or an exit for air?)

New York City Eye

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SK December 27, 2011 - 3:40 pm

Whoops, let me make the edit, “in contrast to every other Manhattan subway line.”

And please don’t feed me this lame line about the line being a “hybrid line.” This is a sleazy papering over the fact that the MTA is reneging on past pledges to have the line be part of express service to the Bronx.

The residents and workers in the upper east side need rapid transit. (Has anyone noticed how many over 20 story skyscrapers there are on 2nd and 3rd Avenues??) Without stations to relieve the crush on the 6, the Q/T will make nary a dent in the 6 train crush.

And this line will be “The line not for Queens residents west of Jackson Heights,” as there will be no transfer opportunities from Queens lines (no 59th or 53rd street transfer stations), save for the F, unless one counts the switchback at 57th Street to get up to the upper east side.

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tk December 28, 2011 - 3:55 pm

good point about the west side only access. the diagram only lists “entrance 2.” where is entrance 1?

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tk December 28, 2011 - 3:55 pm

*east only

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UESider December 27, 2011 - 4:28 pm

what a bunch of cranks looking for leverage and whatever they can extort out of the city/mta as ‘compensation for their pain and suffering… too bad the city cant claim the capital gain these residents are going to enjoy when their property values skyrocket on RD1

these guys are just sore that there’s no red carpet entrance from inside their own lobby

I was at one meeting where a resident was promised a tax abatement because she complained there was a noisy crane outside her building

sure, these guys are enduring some inconvenience from the construction mess but they are the ultimate benefactors. too bad we dont hear about those stories…

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UESider December 27, 2011 - 4:31 pm

does the judge’s ruling leave the door open for an amended complaint? or was she nipping a frivolous suit in the bud?

seems odd that they wouldnt have sited the gravitous new information the mta so egrigiously ignored

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Chris December 28, 2011 - 6:03 pm

In my view, you need to complain about the EIS system, not complain about people for using it. There’s a legal requirement for the MTA to analyze these absurdly specific issues. When we write laws like that, what do we expect? The reality is that we all have some little issue that especially concerns us – the person who complains about these NIMBYs is perhaps the person who believes in holding up a high speed rail line for years because some mostly inconsequential species would be endangered, or perhaps the person who demands millions be spent to accomodate various disabilities. It’s easy to say “my issue is real and important and yours is not” but then again, it’s easy for someone else to say that as well.

We used to have a system where little complaints were often ignored wholesale. It brought us among other things, Robert Moses, transcontinental railroads, etc – things with lots of good qualities, built quickly, but lots to complain about as well. Now we’ve agreed on this system that lets every little complaint be heard… hearing them through is just part of the process and isn’t anything to get too worked up about. At some point we’ll all have our little issue and be happy it has a voice in the process.

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Nathanael January 2, 2012 - 1:45 am

I think the thing which most transit advocates would like is a declaration that loss of general-purpose public parking and reduction of traffic speed are simply not cognizable harms under NEPA. That would eliminate most of the stuff which drives us nuts.

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Second Avenue Subway Blasting To Move From 72nd to 86th Street | Top News Online January 28, 2012 - 4:44 pm

[…] A complaint th&#1072t Yorkshire Towers h&#1072d filed t&#959 &#1109t&#959&#1088 th&#1077 MTA fr&#959m slapping two Second Avenue subway entrances f&#959r th&#1077 86th Street station &#1110n front &#959f th&#1077&#1110r 21-t&#1072l&#1077 building w&#1072&#1109 dimissed last month. […]

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The Yorkshire Towers Edition of Great Moments in MTA Statements :: Second Ave. Sagas June 18, 2013 - 6:08 pm

[…] losing one law suit over the 86th St. station entrance locations and getting threatened with legal sanctions over a […]

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NYC Can’t Afford to Build the Second Avenue Subway, and It Can’t Afford Not To | MetroTransitBlog - MTA News, alerts, and real-time bus & train info. | MetroTransitBlog – MTA News, alerts, and real-time bus & train info. July 17, 2014 - 10:15 am

[…] high price tag on overstaffing due to onerous union requirements, the environmental review process, NIMBY opposition, the cost of working in New York, and the number of eligible contractors. The dollars present a […]

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