Mendez hosting town hall with the mayor on October 12

Council Member Dan Garodnick with Mayor Bill de Blasio at a recent town hall (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

If you missed the recent town hall with Mayor Bill de Blasio hosted by Council Member Dan Garodnick, you can still share your thoughts with the mayor at another town hall on October 12 at 7 p.m. to be hosted by Council Member Rosie Mendez.

The event is intended for residents of the Council District 2, encompassing the neighborhoods of East Village, Gramercy Park, Kips Bay, Lower East Side, Murray Hill and Rose Hill. Along with Mendez, co-sponsors are Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer, Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh, Community Boards 2, 3, 5 and 6, Grand Street Settlement, Henry Street Settlement and the Loisaida Center. Along with the mayor, commissioners and NYPD representatives will be present.

To attend, RSVP by October 10 at 5 p.m. via email at manhattantownhall@cityhall.nyc.gov or by calling (212) 788-2781. Space is limited. Doors open at 6 p.m. and close at 7:30 p.m. at P.S. 188 The Island School, 442 East Houston Street. (Enter on corner of East Houston Street and Baruch Drive.)

Mendez, in an email to constituents, has also mentioned the following rules: Each constituent who is called on to ask a question will be able to ask one question. No signs will be permitted into the event. Chanting is not allowed.

 

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Opinion: Tech Hub another oversized development

May4 E 12th St buildings

These three 19th century buildings at 47 East 12th Street (left) and 827-831 Broadway are slated to be replaced with a 300-foot-tall office tower. (Photo courtesy of GVSHP)

 

By Andrew Berman, Executive director, Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation

Previously unheard of development is streaming ahead in the blocks between Union Square and Astor Place, Fifth and Third Avenues. A 300 ft. tall luxury condo tower is rising on University Place and 12th Street. A 300 ft. tall office tower is planned for Broadway and 12th Street. A 120-room hotel for party-hopping millennials is going up on East 11th Street. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Why is this happening in a largely residential neighborhood known for its historic character and modest scale? Mostly because the area’s zoning dates to 1961, when the neighborhood was largely commercial, and tall towers rather than contextual development were in vogue. And although virtually everyone in the affected community, including elected officials, supports a rezoning we proposed that would put reasonable height limits in place, reinforce the area’s residential character, and add affordable housing incentives, the mayor adamantly opposes it.

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Kips Bay dog run delayed due to city budget errors

Bellevue Park South (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

Bellevue Park South (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

A dog run for Bellevue Park South has been stymied by bureaucratic funding woes and miscommunications between the City Council and the Parks Department, Town & Village learned last week.

The Kips Bay Neighborhood Association had been working with City Councilmember Rosie Mendez on the project and last year, Mendez allocated $1.2 million for the new dog run. However, Mendez said she was later told by the Parks Department that the project would ultimately cost closer to $6 million.

She said officials at the city agency told her last May that the project wouldn’t be able to move forward unless it was fully funded and in the meantime, she learned that McKinley Playground on Avenue A and East 3rd Street needed about the same amount that had been allocated to the Bellevue South project, so before the city’s budget was approved in June, she decided to move the money to the McKinley project instead.

“I figured that I could either put the $1.2 million into the Bellevue South Park and have no projects move forward, or I could have another project get completed,” Mendez said. “I decided to move forward with the other project and that’s the decision I would make again today.”

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WIHS to get facade fixed and neighbors worried about noise

Councilmember Rosie Mendez

Councilmember Rosie Mendez

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

The School Construction Authority is planning a major project to repair and renovate the façade of the Washington Irving High School building and neighbors are already concerned about how long they’ll be dealing with noise from what is sure to be a lengthy project.

The neighborhood residents made their views heard at a meeting hosted inside the school on Monday by Council Member Rosie Mendez.

Due to the constraints on construction for schools, the work on the building can only be done on nights and weekends, which concerned residents who live on adjacent streets who have already been dealing with periodic construction noise from the school, even though this major project has not started yet.

Joseph Bova, chief project officer for the SCA, specified that nights and weekends meant 4 p.m. to midnight during the week and as early as 8 a.m. on weekends, although due to objections from residents at the meeting, he said there may be flexibility on the weekend start time and he noted that only clean-up would happen between 11 p.m. and midnight.

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Community celebrates National Night Out

Genesis Parra gets behind the wheel of a police car at the 13th Precinct’s National Night Out Against Crime event on Tuesday. (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

Genesis Parra gets behind the wheel of a police car at the 13th Precinct’s National Night Out Against Crime event on Tuesday. (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

National Night Out Against Crime, an annual event aimed at growing relationships between law enforcement agencies and the communities they serve, took place on Tuesday night.

The event organized by the 13th Precinct and the precinct’s Community Council, went off without a hitch at the M.S. 104 Playground, despite some blustery wind and clouds that looked to be threatening rain. Fortunately, after two weeks of scorching heat and rain, many attendees from the neighborhood commented that they enjoyed the rare breeze. Families from the surrounding neighborhoods mingled with the local cops and business owners who had booths at the event while chowing down on chicken and rice from the Halal Guys, as well as burgers and dogs cooked up on the grill by officers from the precinct.

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Residence for LGBT youths opening on East 13th Street

Residents of other Ali Forney facilities and staff members as well as local elected officials and members of the Cooper Square Committee gather at the Bea Arthur Residence. Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

Residents of other Ali Forney facilities and staff members as well as local elected officials and members of the Cooper Square Committee gather at the Bea Arthur Residence. (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

On Monday, a groundbreaking ceremony was held at the location of what will be a new 18-bed residence for homeless lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth at 222 East 13th Street. The residence will be named for the late television and Broadway star, Bea Arthur, who was especially sympathetic to the plight of LGBT young people.

When she died in 2009, Arthur named the Ali Forney Center, an organization that helps LGBT youths, as a major beneficiary in her will, leaving $300,000 to the center. Executive director Carl Siciliano wrote in a column posted on Huffington Post on Tuesday that the center, then struggling due to the recession and a lack of donations, and the money helped them make payroll for months. Siciliano had pledged that if the Ali Forney Center ever owned property, he would name a building after her, and he will soon be able to fulfill that promise, thanks to the $3.3 million city-funded project.

The building on East 13th Street between Second and Third Avenues is a former single-room occupancy and notorious crack house that had been vacant for almost 20 years. Following a recommendation from Community Board 3 in 2011, the city-owned building was transferred to the Ali Forney Center in partnership with the Cooper Square Committee. The City Council awarded the two organizations $3 million for the project and then-Borough President Scott Stringer funded an additional $300,000 in 2012.

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Neighbors stand firm on hatred of sanitation garage

Garodnick, Mendez echo residents’ concerns at meeting

Residents of Waterside, East Midtown Plaza, ST/PCV and nearby co-op buildings filled out the audience. Photos by Sabina Mollot)

Residents of Waterside, East Midtown Plaza, ST/PCV and nearby co-op buildings filled out the audience. (Photos by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

Residents of buildings located near the planned sanitation garage on East 25th Street took turns ripping into city officials last Wednesday at a raucous meeting that was aimed at getting public feedback.

Over 150 people attended the scoping session, which was at the garage site, the current CUNY Brookdale campus. Many of them were leaders of local tenants associations and co-op boards who’ve joined the recently formed Brookdale Neighborhood Coalition, which opposes the garage. The garage plan has been deeply unpopular since it was announced in 2013, and, just like at previous meetings, tenants voiced their concerns about potential impacts on air quality from truck fumes, odors, vermin and added traffic congestion that could delay ambulances at local hospitals. Many also argued that a garage for 180 sanitation trucks just seemed out of place on First Avenue’s science/medical corridor.

This time, however, a few elected officials also showed up to the meeting, and two City Council members, Dan Garodnick and Rosie Mendez, called on the city to be more responsive to residents’ concerns.

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New lighting planned for Kips Bay around homeless shelter

Council Members Dan Garodnick and Rosie Mendez outside the 30th Street men’s shelter Photo by David Kimball-Stanley)

Council Members Dan Garodnick and Rosie Mendez outside the 30th Street men’s shelter (Photo by David Kimball-Stanley)

By Sabina Mollot

City Council Members and Dan Garodnick and Rosie Mendez are hoping to shed a little light on the subject of resident safety in Kips Bay.

The plan is to have new lighting installed on the streets around the Bellevue shelter on East 30th Street and First Avenue. Additional lighting is also planned for a nearby playground, Bellevue South and possibly other playgrounds.

The project is in response to concerns by neighbors of the shelter, who, as Town & Village reported last week, feel that the city-run facility’s 850 residents have gotten out of control with aggressive panhandling, loitering, fighting, public urination and sometimes worse.

On a recent evening Garodnick and Mendez took a stroll through the neighborhood along with employees of the Department of Transportation’s lighting division to see which streets could use more visibility.

Though Garodnick said all the exact locations have not yet been determined, the block of the shelter, from 29th to 30th Streets along First Avenue, will be included as will 30th Street between First and Second Avenues. The manager of the residential building located there has said men have used that block as a toilet and the ledge of the adjoining garage wall as a bed.

“We are exploring funding those initiatives as soon as this month in the city budget which we are about to pass,” said Garodnick.

He added that he doesn’t know yet what the project will cost since it hasn’t yet been determined if the lighting will be standard DOT issue or a “less ordinary solution.”

Another safety improvement planned is to cut back any overgrown trees along 30th Street between First and Second Avenues which have been impeding light.

East 13th St. tenants accusing landlord of harassment

Residents demonstrated outside their building last Thursday to protest aggressive buyout tactics and other ways they say the landlord is harassing them. (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

Residents demonstrated outside their building last Thursday to protest aggressive buyout tactics and other ways they say the landlord is harassing them. (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Residents at 444 East 13th Street have been without cooking gas and hot water for over a month, but, as the rent-stabilized tenants in the building said during a protest on Thursday, that’s not their only concern.

The problems with their gas, they said, are just one of many that tenants see as harassment aimed at driving them out of their long-time homes.

Stephanie Rudolph, an attorney with the Urban Justice Center, represents the tenants and filed a lawsuit on their behalf last Friday, also requesting – and getting — an injunction, which prohibits any contact by the owners.

There are currently nine apartments in the building that are occupied out of 15 and Raphael Toledano, who bought the building at the beginning of this year, has been using relocation specialists who’ve been offering tenants buyouts from $30,000 to $60,000.

Rudolph had also previously sent the management company a cease and desist order on May 15, telling them to stop contacting tenants about surrendering their apartments and she said that not long after, tenants were showered with gifts from the management company with an apology about the lack of gas in the building.

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Pols lead East Village shopping crawl to support businesses impacted by fire

Councilwoman Rosie Mendez and Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito at a stop along the Follow Me Friday shopping crawl

Councilwoman Rosie Mendez and Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito at a stop along the Follow Me Friday shopping crawl (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

In a bid to help the businesses in the East Village that that been destroyed or damaged by the gas explosion at the end of March that killed two, a few elected officials led neighborhood residents on a small business crawl last Friday.

The event was part of an initiative known as Follow Me Friday, which was launched by City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito in 2014 and which the speaker uses as a way to communicate directly with constituents. She worked with Councilmember Rosie Mendez’s office for the East Village crawl in order to bring attention to the businesses on Second Avenue.

“Despite the horrible tragedy that occurred in this neighborhood recently, the East Village remains a vibrant and lively destination in New York City,” Mark-Viverito said. “The whole Council stands with the residents and business owners of this community in encouraging all New Yorkers to visit and enjoy all that the East Village has to offer.”

Businesses along the route included Moishe’s Bake Shop, New Yorker Market, Café Mocha, Bar Virage, Himalayan Vision, Enz’s and Jimmy’s No. 43.
Mariann Marlow, the owner of the clothing store Enz’s, said that it’s been hard since the store was closed for two months after the explosion to do repairs and restock the inventory, most of which was destroyed, but since reopening, hasn’t had any problems getting business.

“People couldn’t wait for me to reopen,” she said after multiple prospective customers came into the store within five minutes of each other, looking for items she used to have in stock before they were temporarily closed.

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Pols push for Ave. A entrance to L station

Council Members Rosie Mendez and Dan Garodnick at the First Avenue L train station

Council Members Rosie Mendez and Dan Garodnick at the First Avenue L train station (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

As crowds spilled into the First Avenue L train station during rushhour on Monday morning, two local City Council members stressed the need for an additional subway entrance on Avenue A.

While last December, the MTA announced that a new entrance was part of its capital plan, Council Members Dan Garodnick and Rosie Mendez said that they want to make sure the project remains a priority for the agency.

“We are raising our voices to make sure it stays in the capital plan. It deserves to stay,” said Garodnick. “Nothing is done until it’s done,” he added.

Late last year, the MTA drafted a $32 billion capital budget, which was rejected by a state board, and it’s currently facing a $15 billion deficit.

Mendez noted that a new entrance has been a priority of hers since she worked for her predecessor in the Council, Margarita Lopez, who also had pushed for it alongside then-State Assembly Member Steven Sanders. On Monday, as commuters continued to file into the station, Mendez gestured their way, saying, “You can see it’s very well needed.”

Due to the growing population in Williamsburg, in recent years ridership on the L line has soared. Since 1998, there’s been a 98 percent increase with 300,000 straphangers riding the train every day. Over 49,000 of those straphangers use the First Avenue or Bedford Avenue station.

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All sex offenders moved out of Bellevue shelter

Planned legislation would make this permanent by closing loophole allowing them to stay there

Councilmember Dan Garodnick spoke at Tuesday’s 13th Precinct Community Council meeting, which drew  a large crowd concerned mainly about the Bellevue shelter for men.

Councilmember Dan Garodnick spoke at Tuesday’s 13th Precinct Community Council meeting, which drew a large crowd concerned mainly about the Bellevue shelter for men. (Photos by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Residents concerned about the recent rape of a woman in a bar on East 27th Street and subsequent arrest of a man who had been living in the nearby Bellevue Men’s Shelter for the crime learned that all sex offenders have since been moved out of the shelter.

Matt Borden from the Department of Homeless Services made the announcement at the most recent 13th Precinct Community Council meeting on Tuesday, which was held at the Epiphany Parish Hall instead of its usual spot in the precinct because so many from the community were expected at the event. Councilmembers Dan Garodnick and Rosie Mendez were also at the meeting to discuss legislation that would put tighter restrictions on who is allowed at the shelter.

While the regular monthly meeting would usually consist of a report from the precinct’s commanding officer about recent crimes overall, new Executive Officer Paul Zangrilli, filling in for the new Commanding Officer Brandon Timoney, instead focused on the reason that meeting attendance had quadrupled to about 100 area residents.

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