By Sabina Mollot
It’s been said that all news is local and this year that could even be said about major news coverage ranging from the presidential election to a terrorist attack to a now infamous hate crime hoax.
Read on for T&V’s roundup of the top 10 local news developments (and stories with a local impact) of the year.
1. After rumors swirled of an impending closure, the administration of Mount Sinai Beth Israel announced that it would be downsizing the hospital, which has over 800 beds, to a much smaller one with 70 beds and an outpatient care model. The main campus across from Stuyvesant Town on First Avenue, deemed too old and costly to bring up to modern specifications (a renovation estimate was $1.3 billion) would eventually be put on the market. However, hospital brass has said this would only happen following the building of a new hospital adjacent to the Eye and Ear Infirmary on East 14th Street. The rebuild, estimated to cost around $500,000, is a process that has already begun with improvements to existing facilities like the ambulatory center in Union Square. In related news, Beth Israel’s president Suzanne Somerville recently stepped down, while a Peter Cooper Village doctor, Jeremy Boal, has been named the president of Mount Sinai Downtown. This includes Beth Israel and the Eye and Ear Infirmary.
2. For the first time in over 55 years, the community got a visit from a United States president. Bill Clinton stopped by the Stuyvesant Town community center in April to stump for his wife, doing the grip and grin and taking selfies with dozens of residents. The following week, Hillary Clinton also made a local campaign stop at Mikey Likes It, an ice cream shop on Avenue A and 13th Street.
3. Homelessness, on the rise throughout the city, became a top quality of life and safety concern for residents of Gramercy. This was in part due to use of hotels as shelters, the installation of wi-fi kiosks on sidewalks along Third Avenue, which quickly became homeless hangouts, and, as far as neighbors have been concerned, inadequate screening of individuals headed for area shelters.
4. An explosion rocked Chelsea, wounding 29 people, when a bomb went off on West 23rd Street. It had been put there, along with another unexploded device on 27th Street, allegedly by an Afghani native named Ahmad Khan Rahami. A resident of Elizabeth, New Jersey, Rahami was later shot and captured by police in Linden, New Jersey.
5. In January, the MTA announced that it would be shutting down the L train between Brooklyn and Manhattan, possibly for years, while repairing damage caused by Hurricane Sandy. Later, it was decided to do this over an 18-month period. Another option had called for a partial closure of the Canarsie tubes over a period of three years. Meanwhile, the agency has been seeking public input on ways to mitigate the loss of a major transit artery, with one much touted option being a car-free 14th Street with a beefed up bus fleet.
6. Tenants in rent stabilized apartments throughout the city got a second consecutive rent freeze, although only if they signed one-year leases. The two-year lease hikes were for 2 percent. However, this year’s freeze has been challenged by a landlord group and that matter is currently pending in court.
7. Donald Trump’s stunning upset at the polls sent the mostly-Democratic city — and the voters at the local polling district — into a period of mourning. This was followed by local elected officials blasting the president-elect as promoting a racist, anti-Muslim, homophobic agenda with his “alt right” cabinet choices and provocative campaign trail rhetoric. Hate crimes, they noted, have soared nationwide since the election.
8. However, this may have helped inspire a now-infamous tall tale of a hate crime at a Flatiron subway station. For those who’ve somehow managed to avoid all the coverage, here’s a recap. A Muslim Baruch College student falsely claimed three Trump supporters harassed her because of her religion while she was on a train at the 23rd Street/Lexington Avenue station. She also said not one person on the train did anything to intervene as she was being tormented. In reality she reportedly spun the yarn to distract her parents because she’d been out late drinking and had a Christian boyfriend. Suspicions about her story were raised after she suddenly disappeared, only to be found upstate at her sister’s home. Only then did she tell police the truth. She’s since been charged with a crime and her parents shaved her head as a punishment.
9. In a world where most sentiments are now expressed in an online format, Post-it notes became the surprising form of communication many New Yorkers turned to in order to express their feelings on the election results. The “subway therapy” Post-its, which were put up along the walls of the 14th Street tunnel between Sixth and Seventh Avenues as well as at Union Square, have since been removed but will live on as an installation above ground with the New York Historical Society.
10. With talk heating up about longtime City Councilman Dan Garodnick’s next move once term limited out in 2017, numerous people have stepped up to announce their interest in his Council seat as well as active campaigns. One early candidate, Stuyvesant Town Joshua Thompson, dropped out, however, to run for mayor. And considering what kind of year 2016 has been for Bill de Blasio, this may have actually been a strategically sensible move for Thompson.