News from Helen
Councilwoman on the Corner
Next Wednesday, October 29th, I’ll be on the corner of 94th & Columbus from 5pm-7pm. Building on the success of last month, I’m doing one more “Councilwoman on the Corner” before the weather gets cold. Stop by to say “hello,” and let me know what is on your mind and how city government might be able to help.
How would YOU spend $1 Million?
Our very last brainstorming session for capital projects in the District will be on Tuesday, October 28th, from 6:30pm to 8:30pm. Any ideas you have for projects to improve public schools, parks, libraries, streets, and public housing are welcome and encouraged. (Even if they don’t qualify for participatory budgeting, we’d still like to hear your ideas!) The meeting will be at John Jay College, 524 W 59th Street, on the first floor of the new building. And stay posted — next week we’ll announce all of the ideas we’ve heard on my website!
Senior Food Bag Program
The Senior Food Bag Program season is coming to an end, and it was a great success. Thank you to Connie Cosner, Terry Kobel, Hyacinth Brea, Sarah Snook, Fran Chandler, our volunteers who spent hours packing bags (about 150 bags per delivery). Thanks to GrowNYC for selecting local growers for us to work with and to Shula from the Manhattan Borough President’s office for coordinating orders and produce guides.
Talking About the UWS on Public Television
This month I was lucky enough to be on three shows on the Manhattan Neighborhood Network (MNN) to discuss issues facing the Upper West Side. I spoke to Sonia Dueño about participatory budgeting and getting involved in our community on Dialogo Democratico; Carlos Cabrera and I spoke about Mayor De Blasio’s minimum wage Executive Order as well as participatory budgeting on Punto de Vista and I joined tenant activist Khadijah Canns to discuss affordable housing and the need to strengthen rent regulated tenant protections at the State level on Paul DeRienzo’s show Let Them Talk
Car-Free Central Park Loop Study
I have long been a proponent of a car-free Central Park Loop, and am, therefore, proud to have introduced, along with Council Member Mark Levine, a bill to ban cars in the loop for 3 months next year (June 24 – September 25, 2015). During that time the NYC Department of Transportation (DOT) will conduct a study on the impact on traffic in the surrounding area. (The study will have no effect on the park’s transverse roads, and some vehicles would be exempt.) You can learn more about the bill from press coverage including NBC, Pix 11, WNYC, and Streetsblog.
West End Avenue Redesign
The West End Avenue redesign is almost complete, and already cars are slowing down and driving more carefully. However, on Wednesday night a car crashed into one of the newly installed pedestrian islands at West End Ave & 97th Street. Thankfully, no one was hurt, but the crash underscores the danger to pedestrians at this intersection and the need for these islands.
I’ve been spending the fall visiting schools and speaking at parent association meetings, learning from parents about the issues that matter to them.
- Education Chancellor Carmen Fariña made quite a few changes to her public school superintendents staff. We are very fortunate that School District 3 Superintendent Ilene Altschul will remain superintendent for this district. Congratulations, Ilene!
- There are two more opportunities to meet Jessica Jenkins, Principal of the new West End Secondary School: Monday, November 3rd and Saturday, November 8th. If you are interested in applying to WESS, attending an information session is important. Learn more.
- Success Academy applied to open another charter school in Community School District 3, and I urged the SUNY Board of Trustees to reject that application. You can read my letter here.
- Primary Day is a rare exception to the normally stringent safety precautions our schools take; people who vote in a school can wander around unattended, which poses a threat to school children. I’ve submitted legislation to make Primary Day an optional professional development day for schools, so they can close school for children on that day and keep them safe.
- Gifted & Talented (G&T) Request for Testing Period: Families of students in pre-K through second grade who are interested in taking the G&T assessment should fill out a Request For Testing (RFT) form online, at a public school, or at CSD3 Enrollment Office – 388 West 125 Street, 7th Floor by Friday, November 7th. Learn more
New NYC Speed Limit: 25 mph
Reminder: NYC’s new speed limit of 25 mph goes into effect November 7th. It will affect all city streets (except where a different speed limit is posted), but it will not affect the West Side Highway or FDR Drive.
A Tenant’s Perspective on Airbnb and Illegal Hotels
Audrey, a senior living in midtown, has lived in her apartment for 40 years, but Airbnb gives her landlord an incentive to make an easy profit by turning apartments into illegal hotel rooms. Hear her story here. I am opposed to Airbnb because, according to NYS Attorney General Schneiderman, 70% of their rentals are illegal. The UWS is losing its prized affordable housing when unscrupulous landlords rent out their units illegally.
Medicare Enrollment Event
Learn about changes to Medicare in 2015 and programs that can help you pay for the Medicare costs. I’m hosting a Medicare Enrollment Event with the Medicare Rights Center on Thursday, November 20th from 5pm – 7pm at B’nai Jeshurun Synagogue on 257 West 88th Street (between Broadway and West End Avenue).
Apply for a $1,000 Grant to Improve Your Block
If you have an idea for how to beautify your block, apply for a $1,000 grant! Grantees will also receive city services from the NYC Department of Parks & Recreation, the Department of Transportation, and the Department of Sanitation. Applications are due November 7th.
The Department of Homeless Services is reducing its contract with Aguilar at Freedom House on 95th street, by 100 units. Therefore, these 100 units could return to rent stabilization. I’ve called on Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Lilliam Barrios-Paoli and Commissioner Vicki Been of the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) to require the landlord to revert those units to rent regulation immediately. You can read my letter here, and you can learn more about the issue on my website.
As Summer turns to Fall, I hope you have an opportunity to enjoy the autumn leaves.