October 2007 Community Report

Dear Neighbor:

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

Victory in Keeping the West Village Post Office a Full-Service Station:

After learning that the United States Postal Service (USPS) was planning to reopen the West Village Post Office, which is currently undergoing renovations, as an entirely automated facility, I, along with Congressmember Jerry Nadler, Assemblymember Deborah Glick, and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, held several meetings with USPS representatives to urge them to reconsider. I am thrilled to report that thanks to our advocacy as well as the outpouring of phone calls, emails, letters, and postcards to USPS from Village residents, the West Village Post Office will indeed reopen with full staff capacity. In order to supplement the staff service, there will also be an Automated Postal Center (APC) which will be available for use 24 hours a day. I continue to urge the USPS to move quickly to reopen this facility.

CB6 Public Hearing on Environmental Impact Study of the East River Realty Corporation:

On October 2, Community Board 6 held a public hearing to review and discuss the Environmental Impact Study (EIS) of the East River Realty Corporation (ERRC) regarding the former Con Edison Waterside sites. As I mentioned in my brief statement for the hearing, I believe that incorporating elements of the 197c Plan submitted by Manhattan Community Board 6 will lessen the impact mentioned in the EIS and will result in a better environment for both the present area residents and the future residents of the sites as well as the people who will be working there. I remain concerned that the high density ERRC development will result in a permanent increase in vehicular traffic to our already crowded streets as well as to the noise and air pollution that residents in that community already bear. ERRC must also consider the other needs of our community: an affordable housing for families, single individuals as well as those with special needs; a truly public open space; and the demand for a school in the proposed community facility.

Raising Awareness of Upstate-Downstate Agricultural Links:

On October 1, I welcomed State Senate Democrats from across New York State to the 29th District for a tour of the Union Square Greenmarket. Part of "Farm Days II," co-hosted by Senators David Valesky (D-Oneida) and Liz Kruger (D-Manhattan), the tour underscored the linkage between upstate agricultural supply and downstate consumer demand. As was the case with "Farm Days I," which Senator Valesky hosted in his Central New York District last month, "Farm Days II" was designed to educate elected officials about New York agri-business, and enlist their support in forging a strong network of commercial relationships among producers, grocers, specialty shops and restaurants in ways that benefit the economies and quality of life both upstate and downstate as well as the nutrition and health of New Yorkers.

Celebrating the Reopening of West 41st Street between 8th and 9th Avenues:

On September 19, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey ("Port Authority") announced that it would reopen West 41st Street between 8th and 9th Avenues, which runs underneath the Port Authority Bus Terminal and had been closed due to security precautions following the terrorist attacks on 9/11. The area immediately surrounding the Bus Terminal is one of the most overcrowded in Manhattan, and the closure of the street had only exacerbated its traffic problems. Reopening this street to ease traffic congestion has long been a goal of the Community Board, local elected officials, as well as the Hell's Kitchen Neighborhood Association and the Clinton/Hell's Kitchen Pedestrian Safety Coalition. In each of my conversations this summer with Port Authority Executive Director Anthony Shorris, I stressed how important reopening 41st Street would be for the Clinton/Hell's Kitchen community, and I was very pleased when he informed me that after many security upgrades and extensive consultation with the New York Police Department, reopening the street had been deemed feasible and safe. I believe this is another indication of the Port Authorityfs new cooperativeness with our community and look forward to working with it in the future to help resolve other outstanding challenges in our community.

Briefing on Manufactured Gas Plants Sites at Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village:

On September 17, I attended a briefing held by Con Edison for elected officials and leaders of the community to release the result of their remedial investigations at Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village. Although there were impacts mentioned, I was glad to hear that those impacts were not significant to affect public health. However, I encourage Con Edison to move as quickly as possible with their additional investigations and interim site management plans for both Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village, and in assessing remedial alternatives to protect human health and the environment, such as the East River, by finding the best way to remove or treat the "source materials." I also urge Con Edison to continue working with Tishman Speyer to ensure the safety of the residents of Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village.

Update on the Poisonings and Deaths of Dogs at Chelsea Waterside Parkfs Dog Run:

On September 6, one day after reporting to this Community Board that over the summer there had been several incidents of dogs falling ill and dying after visiting the Chelsea Waterside Park dog run, Dr. Michael Farber at the West Chelsea Veterinary Hospital called my office. Dr. Farber was responding to the letter that City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and I had sent to neighborhood dog owners and animal care practitioners regarding this terrible situation. He reported that toxicology work done at the Fifth Avenue Veterinary Specialists on a patient of his, a dog that unfortunately soon passed away, had indicated the cause of death as amphetamine poisoning. In response, I called Deputy Inspector Stephen Hughes, the commanding officer of the New York Police Department's 10th Precinct, and asked for a full investigation since it had been determined that narcotics were the cause of the animal's death. Inspector Hughes has since dedicated several officers to the investigation and increased patrols of Chelsea Waterside Park. I want to thank the 10th Precinct for its rapid response to the results of the toxicology report, the Hudson River Park Trust for its vigilant efforts on behalf of the users of the dog run, and the Chelsea Dog Owner's Coalition for keeping Chelsea dog owners aware of the situation and involved in the investigation. I will keep you updated as I continue to receive more information.

Continuing Calls to Designate a South Village Historic District:

On Columbus Day, I joined the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation (GVSHP), as well as community, business, and religious leaders, area residents and others at a celebration in Father Demo Square that honored the South Villagefs Italian-American heritage and called upon the City to designate a South Village Historic District. I applaud GVSHP staff and volunteers for their tremendous efforts, and urge the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission to act quickly with a historic district designation to save the South Villagefs many remaining historic buildings from demolition.

Demanding Fairer Labor Practices and Healthier Work Conditions at Nail Salons:

On September 16, I, along with other area elected officials, joined the Chinese Staff and Workers Association, 318 Restaurant Workers Union, and National Mobilization Against Sweatshops to protest the exploitative and harmful work conditions at 167 Nail Plaza Salon on the Upper West Side and 68 other Nail Plaza salons across the City. The owners have been depriving their employees of basic worker rights by denying proper meal and break times, overtime pay, and healthy work conditions. Due to a lack of breaks and poorly ventilated environments, many workers have also reported serious skin and eye irritation, respiratory illnesses and even miscarriages and infertility caused by prolonged exposure to acrylic powders and chemical-based nail glues and gels. I hope that you will join us in demanding fair labor practices and safer environments for these workers. I believe that by boycotting and publicly demonstrating against businesses that engage in unjust labor practices, we can force change.

Town Hall Meeting on Amsterdam Houses and Addition Issues:

I will be holding a town hall meeting to address Amsterdam Houses and Addition residents' concerns about crime, safety and quality of life on Thursday, October 25th at 2:00 P.M. at the Lincoln Square Neighborhood Center (250 West 65th Street between Amsterdam and West End Avenues). Representatives from the New York City Housing Authority, Amsterdam Houses Management, local law enforcement agencies, the District Attorneyfs office, tenant associations, and neighborhood organizations will be present to address issues and answer questions. Please tell anyone you feel would have an interest in attending the forum. Everyone is encouraged to participate and to lend his or her voice!

Expressing My Deep Concerns About the Fordham Expansion Plan:

On September 10, I joined Congressmember Jerry Nadler, Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal, and Assemblymember Dick Gottfried in submitting testimony before the New York City Planning Commission at its first scoping session on the proposed expansion of Fordham University. We raised our deep concerns over the sustainability of the plan in the neighborhood, since it will likely add thousands to the areafs population, exacerbate traffic congestion, overwhelm already-strained community facilities, and have other negative impacts. We also reiterated our opposition to any plan that enhances the "fortress-like" nature of the campus, and further separates it from the community at large.

Hosting Forums on College Financial Aid:

On September 25 on the West Side, and October 2 on the East Side, I hosted forums to inform students seeking to enter college and their parents about available avenues of financial aid as well as how to apply, when to start, and what to watch out for. There were presentations from many of the key agencies and organizations that deal with allocating funds and helping students apply. If you were unable to attend and would like a guide to college financial aid opportunities for low-income New Yorkers, produced by me and my Senate Democratic colleagues, as well as other materials, please contact my office at (212) 633-8052.

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