NEWS AND ISSUES


August 2007 Community Report

Dear Neighbor:

The following is a summary of some of my office's activities since my last community report:

Voting for a New York City Traffic Congestion Mitigation Commission:

As you may know, both the New York State Senate and State Assembly came to an agreement on congestion pricing during a Special Legislative Session on July 26, 2007. I was pleased to vote for the bill that established a gNew York City Traffic Congestion Mitigation Commission,h and ensured New York Cityfs eligibility for hundreds of millions in federal aid from the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT). In fact, an award of $354.5 million in federal funds for New York City was announced in mid-August (details are available at www.streetsblog.org).

While I supported the concept of congestion pricing from the time Mayor Bloomberg proposed it, I had concerns about certain aspects of its implementation, including accommodations that could be made for disabled commuters for whom accessible public transportation to and within Manhattan is extremely limited; what efforts would be made to deter increased traffic and parking in areas immediately outside the congestion pricing zone; how to account for cars within the zone being moved to comply with alternate side of the street parking rules; and whether special accommodations could be made for observant Jews seeking to leave the congestion pricing area before sundown on the Sabbath, among many others.

In fact, I received many detailed, personal appeals from constituents both for and against the Cityfs plan, and I believe that the bill that we passed will satisfy those on both sides. The commission that the legislation authorized will conduct hearings on the Mayorfs proposal, take testimony and review recommendations regarding traffic congestion so that the details that are of such great concern can be properly vetted and addressed in the traffic mitigation plan to be voted on by the Legislature by March 31, 2008.

I encourage you to participate in the public hearings and to continue to share your thoughts with me and other City and State legislators.

Protecting Our Cityfs Most Vulnerable Residents:

On July 2nd, the New York State Court of Appeals upheld Local Law 44 of 1993, legislation that I authored and shepherded through to passage when I was a member of the New York City Council. The Courtfs unanimous decision holding that rent-stabilized landlords are not permitted to opt out of the federal Section 8 rent subsidy program is a great victory for some of New York Cityfs most vulnerable tenants. Please see my press release.

Supporting CB4's Resolution on General Theological Seminary:

On July 10th, I testified at the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission's Public Hearing regarding the General Theological Seminary's development plan. While the Seminary's preservation plan has dramatically improved since first being proposed almost two years ago, and I can strongly support several elements of the plan, I continue to have reservations regarding other aspects of the planned buildings. Please see my testimony, where I second many of the same points made in CB4fs excellent resolution.

Reiterating My Opposition to the Privatization of Union Square Park:

On July 16th, I submitted testimony before the New York City Art Commissio's Public Hearing on the New York City Department of Parks and Recreationfs planned renovation of the North End of Union Square Park. While the renovation and expansion of the playground area are greatly overdue, I am still critical of several elements of the plan which, I believe, have only been included to accommodate a concession use of the Pavilion. The Union Square neighborhood, which includes Community District Four to its West, has precious little open space, and what space there is should be used for desperately needed playground space and not yet another restaurant.

Monitoring the Proposed Fan Plant On or Near Mulry Square:

In mid-July, MTA-NYC Transit held a public meeting to take comments on its draft scoping document for a proposed fan plant on or near Mulry Square (at Greenwich Ave. and Seventh Ave. South). When my office heard from CB2 that NYC Transit had not posted sufficient notifications about the meeting in the area, I responded by having my office create and post my own notices in the days prior. Unfortunately, turnout at the meeting was still rather low. I encourage anyone concerned about the issue to submit comments in writing to the MTA before the July 26 deadline. This is the final opportunity to weigh in on the proposed locations, though the MTA will return to CB2 by the second quarter of next year for feedback on an EIS (if one is required) or design work. Please feel free to contact Adam Riff in my office for more information about this, or view the Scoping Document yourself at: mta.info/mta/news/hearings/8avp_dsd.pdf.

Helping Secure $125K to For Revitalization of East 4th Street:

Please see the press release announcing the Cooper Square Committee's (CSC) New York Main Street grant award of $125,000 for its "East 4th Street Cultural District Program." In March, I sent a letter of support for the grant, which will fund much needed improvements and enhancements to cultural buildings on East 4th Street between Bowery and Second Avenue..

Hosting Informational Forums for Senior Citizens:

I was pleased to host two recent informational forums on issues of special concern to senior citizens, on July 24th on the West Side and July 26th on the East Side. On both occasions, packed rooms of senior citizens listened to presentations from, and asked questions of, a variety of panelists representing the Medicare Rights Center, New York State Elderly Pharmaceutical Insurance Coverage Program (EPIC), New York City Transit, Access-A-Ride, New York City Department for the Aging, and more. I thank all those who attended, both presenters as well as those in the audience, and especially appreciate the assistance of New York City Council Member Dan Garodnick, who moderated the East Side forum on my behalf because the State Legislature was called into a special session in Albany that day.

West Side Tenants' Conference in October:

AI am proud to be a sponsor of the Third Annual West Side Tenants' Conference, to be held on Saturday, October 13th from 10 AM to 4 PM at Fordham University at Lincoln Center. Lunch will be provided free of charge. Workshops will include: Finding an Affordable Apartment; Staying Out of Housing Court and What to Do When You Get There; NYCHA Matters!; Flexing Your Tenant Muscle; Becoming Active in Your Community and Many More! Please contact Ivette Nunez at Housing Conservation Coordinators at (212) 541 5996 ext.24 or inunez@hcc nyc.org for more information.

WNYC Radio Rookies Coming to SoHo:

Radio Rookies, a favorite program of mine, is an initiative by New York Public Radio to train teenagers to tell stories about themselves and their communities. The program holds workshops in neighborhoods around the City, and culminates in Rookiesf stories getting aired during peak listening times on WNYC. Radio Rookies is holding the next workshop at The Door, a youth center in SoHo, starting in August, and the stories will air on WNYC radio in the Spring. If you know of any interested youths who live in Manhattan, have them email radiorookies@wnyc.org. For more information, please visit www.wnyc.org/radiorookies.

Watch My Program on MNN :

Be sure to tune into my television show, "Tom Duane in the Neighborhood" on the Manhattan Neighborhood Network (Time Warner Cable Channel 34 and RCN Channel 82). My next episode is "Welfare Rights Initiative: Education is the Key", which will air on August 24th at 12 noon and August 28th at 7:30 P.M.


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