There are no City Council Committee Hearings in July and August, so summer is a great time to visit our neighborhood programs and service providers including senior centers, summer camps, police precincts, green markets, and supportive service facilities. Summer is also a great time to delve into policy issues, and my focus continues to be on permanent solutions to tenant harassment as well as human service provider contract reform. Read below about new legislation, introduced in July, to address the use of video recordings of police encounters.
Mayor Bill de Blasio high fives Helen for her persistent advocacy to open the school at Riverside Center as soon as possible (opening September 2017). Also onstage, from left to right: Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, NYC Schools Construction Authority President Lorraine Grillo, NYC Department of Education Deputy Chancellor Elizabeth Rose, and PS 191 Principal Lauren Keville. Credit: William Alatriste for the New York City Council.
I was thrilled to join Mayor Bill de Blasio today when he announced that PS/MS 342 will open one year sooner: in 2017. This brand new public school space is being built in the base of a new residential building – something we’ve never seen on the Upper West Side. Nearly two decades of unbridled residential growth left our community struggling under the weight of school overcrowding. This Mayor listened to and addressed the needs of our community. With Panel on Education Policy approval, PS 191 current students, teachers, and administrative staff will move into the new space.
Community support for PS 191 continues to pay off. Last week the NYC Department of Education (DOE) announced that the NYS DOE removed PS 191 from its “persistently dangerous schools” list, which is a testament to the hard work of its Principal Lauren Keville, her faculty, and school families. In addition, PS 191 fifth-grade teacher Stacie Lorraine was nominated for a New York Daily News Hometown Heroes in Education award!
Like you, I get frustrated when a small business closes, only to be replaced with another bank, drugstore, or coffee chain. When it’s time to renew the lease, commercial landlords often raise the rent by amounts that an independent business owner is unable to pay. Businesses in Manhattan between 96th Street and Chambers Street also face an additional tax that no other businesses face. I wrote about these issues and free services City agencies offer to small businesses in my latest op-ed in the West Side Spirit. My office and the Department of Small Business Services held a free forum for small business owners last month, and we plan to hold more of them in the fall. If you are a small business owner and you’d like to be added to my small business mailing list to learn of upcoming events, contact Ned in my office at firstname.lastname@example.org or (212) 873-0282 x.206.
Helen, 20th Precinct Captain Levon Holley, and Officer Nefta Richards at National Night Out (August 2, 2016)
National Night Out is a great event where the community celebrates the hard work of their local police precincts with food, music, and awards. Congratulations to our local police officers recognized in this year’s events: Officer Nefta Richards and Community Council President Erica Ehrenberg from the 20th precinct, Community Affairs Officer Stephen Jones from the 24th precinct, and Officer David Collado and Detective Cordell Cheatham from PSA 6. Thank you for all that you do!
I have heard complaints about booksellers who do not follow City rules for years. They are a recurring topic at the monthly precinct community council meetings, and residents have personally lobbied me about them too many times to count. Book vendors do not need to have a permit with the City, but they do need to follow the law. City law requires all street vendors to be present when they are selling their wares – they cannot leave their goods unattended. While many book vendors abide by the law, the booksellers at 73rd and Broadway and at 68th and Broadway leave their books unattended overnight on a regular basis. The 20th precinct has issued a number of violations for leaving goods unattended to both booksellers.
Top left: Movie Night at the West Side Community Garden (August 5, 2016). Top right: Making watermelon pizza with GrowNYC at the West 79th Street Greenmarket (August 7, 2016). Bottom left: Tenant Association leader Gerri Collins, Helen, and other residents at the Goddard Riverside Annual BBQ (August 3, 2016). Bottom right: Helen and the Ladies Who Hoop at their basketball tournament (August 6, 2016).
There are many activities that bring our community together. The Green Markets on 97th Street (Fridays) and Columbus Avenue (Sundays) are bustling, and I enjoyed making “Watermelon Pizza” with GrowNYC this past Sunday. Goddard Riverside celebrated with its 22nd annual summer barbecue. Ladies Who Hoop play weekly, and local kids come for lessons. Our community Beacon program serves low income families with afterschool and summer programs. The West Side Community Garden has a free series of outdoor movies. And, we celebrated Mathilde Freund, a vendor at the Grand Bazaar who turned 100 last week!
There’s a lottery for middle income housing with 50 available apartments in a new building at 55-75 West End Avenue. If you fit the income requirements and want to apply, be sure to submit your application soon – the deadline is August 31st.
Local senior center DOROT is hosting an Ice Cream Social for seniors on Wednesday, August 17th. It’s a great way to learn about DOROT’s programs, meet seniors who live in the community, and have a free ice cream sundae. You can RSVP here.
A TKTS booth is in Lincoln Center for the next three months, making it easier for Upper West Siders to get discount Broadway and Off-Broadway tickets. The pop-up is in the David Rubenstein Atrium on 62nd Street between Columbus and Broadway, and it’s open Tuesday – Saturday from noon – 7pm. Let me know if you see anything good!
You can recycle your electronics at a drop-off location on Saturday, August 20 from 10am-4pm at Harborview Terrace, 530 West 55th Street (at 10th Avenue). They accept working & nonworking computers, monitors, printers, scanners, keyboards, mice, cables, TV’s, VCR’s, DVD players, phones, audio/visual equipment, and cell phones. As a friendly reminder, electronics recycling is required by New York State law as of January 1, 2015. See the flyer.
Helen, Council Members Ydanis Rodriguez, Jumaane Williams, and Mark Levine, and advocates at a rally for the Right to Record Act (July 14, 2016)
We are at a seminal moment in history: our country is reeling the recent loss of seven people needlessly shot and killed. Having footage of these events allows us to better understand the nuances of each situation. We no longer have to rely on someone’s memory of an incident; technology allows us to know exactly what happened. I’m proud to co-sponsor the Right to Record Act with Council Member Jumaane D. Williams that would reaffirm the right to record police activity and to sue the City if that right were breached. You can learn more about the bill from news coverage in the New York Daily News, New York Observer, Pix 11, and City Limits. Knowledge is power and is the first step in reform.