Do Town Halls Rouse the Grassroots? 04 Mayor Rolls Out Budget 10 Midtown From 2,000 Feet Up 14
AT PACKED INAUGURATION, JOHNSON MAKES IT OFFICIAL Photo by Melissa Moore/ End Overdose NY
Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal speaks as a Jan. 31 press conference in Albany on reforming state drug policy.
Rosenthal Takes Lead in Drug Policy Rethinking BY NATHAN RILEY Upper West Side State Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal is emerging as a principal player among legislators aiming to unravel New York’s decades-old, counterproductive War on Drugs. From her influential post as chair of the Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Committee, she is lead sponsor on a bill offering care for drug users while they are using. “They need help, not our punishment nor our judgment” is the principle behind her proposal to legalize safer consumption spaces, facilities staffed by overdose prevention workers able to administer naloxone should a person using drugs bought on the street experience an overdose. “No one ever died in a safer injection site,” Rosenthal said at a Jan. 29 Albany press event. “Let me repeat that again, no one ever died in a safer consumption site.” Safer consumption spaces extend the logic of needle exchange programs, which provide injection drug users with clean syringes to prevent the transmission of HIV, hepatitis, and other blood-borne infections. Naloxone is a public health wonder. It restores normal breathing, and if you have guessed wrong and a person is drunk rather than high no harm is done. Users will overdose at safer consumption spaces, but they come out of the episode alive. Most importantly, naloxone is easy to use. It’s a nasal spray, so those aiding an overdose victim need merely stick the spray in that person’s nose and squirt. Only ROSENTHAL continued on p. 5
February 8 - 21, 2018 | Vol. 04 No. 3
Photo by Christian Miles
City Council Speaker Corey Johnson with Senator Chuck Schumer, who administered Johnson’s official oath of office at an FIT ceremony on Jan. 28.
BY EILEEN STUKANE Every seat in the Fashion Institute of Technology’s Morris W. and Fannie B. Haft Theater, capacity 700, was filled by the time City Council Speaker Corey Johnson’s formal inauguration opened on Jan. 28. In introductory remarks, Aleta Lafargue, president of the Tenants’ Association at Manhattan Plaza, said, “I know I speak for everyone when I say that if you’re on the West Side, Corey is much more than an elected public official. To so many of us across our district, he is a friend, a neighbor, a surrogate son, a mentor, a mentee, a role model, a fighter.” Mayor Bill de Blasio reminded the audience that after the Nov. 2016 election, “One of the people in this city who stood up the quickest, with the most fortitude, who started to organize his community to resist and to make sure values stay strong, was Corey Johnson.” He added that New York City was sending a message to the whole country “that an HIV-positive man is one of the great leaders of our city.” De Blasio talked about Johnson’s origins in a small town in Massachusetts and how 20 years ago he came out “in a world where almost no one did it, in a culture
and athletic culture that so tragically rejected people’s truth.” He referred to the close connection Johnson has to his mother who was unable to attend, and added, “Corey is not a moderate. You don’t do things in moderation. You do it with all your energy and heart and became an activist, a community activist, a fighter for LGBT rights, a civic leader, and the youngest community board chair in the city.” Before administering the oath of office, US Senator Chuck Schumer, like de Blasio, referred to Johnson’s childhood, specifically his upbringing in public housing. “His family struggled, and struggled, and struggled, but Corey had some inner strength, a great gift from God, and he became captain of his football team, and he came out and said, ‘I’m gay,’” Schumer said, lauding him as “a fighter to stand up for who we are and what we believe in.” Comptroller Scott Stringer, in what was perhaps a dig at the mayor, praised Johnson for his potential to make the Council a “Council of Independence.” Alphonso JOHNSON continued on p. 5
Preservationists’ Prediction Comes to Pass: Chelsea Market Poised to Flip in $2B+ Sale to Google BY WINNIE McCROY After years of local residents wondering about the future of the Chelsea Market, it now appears that Google will purchase the famous food hall from its current owner, Jamestown, for nearly $2.5 billion — in excess of $1,600 per square foot. In fact, Google Maps already lists 75 Ninth Ave. between 15th and 16th Sts. as the “Google Building.” On Tues., Feb. 6, The Real Deal reported that the tech giant was in negotiations to purchase the 1.2 million-square-foot complex. Google is currently the largest tenant in the building, having previously leased about 400,000 square feet of space. After all, it’s conveniently located right across the street from their New York headquarters at 111 Eighth Ave., which they purchased in 2010 for $1.8 billion. This move makes sense when looking at Google’s history at the Chelsea Market; for the past seven years, they have aggressively acquired office space at the location whenever a lease expired. In October 2012, they added 94,000
Photo by Christian Miles
Chelsea Market on the snowy morning of Wed., Feb. 7 — one day after news broke that Google is its likely new owner.
MAKE THE CITY YOUR CLASSROOM
File image courtesy Jamestown
This rendering of Chelsea Market (middle building) depicts a vertical expansion that has yet to happen.
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square feet to their 1.2 million-squarefoot holdings at Chelsea Market, then leased another 84,000 square feet at the location in 2013. The deal is expected to close within the next two months. Once it does, Jamestown will make a huge profit from their original investment of $225 million in 2011. This is the first billiondollar-plus trade to go under contract
this year in New York, and it is expected to give an early boost to the city’s investment-sales market. Back in 2011, members of Save Chelsea (savechelseany.org) expressed concerns that Jamestown, an Atlantabased German company, had planned to obtain the necessary zoning variCHELSEA MARKET continued on p. 12 NYC Community Media
Side Street Water Main Work Expected to End Before L Train Shutdown BY NATHAN DICAMILLO A project by the NYC Department of Design and Construction (DDC) to install new water mains from W. 15th St. to W. 18th St. between Eighth and Ninth Aves. began late last year and is scheduled for completion just as the L train’s shutdown is expected to put a strain on area side streets. Disruption of services and noise mitigation were among the concerns at a Jan. 31 town hall. Sponsored by the DDC, Council Speaker Corey Johnson, Community Board 4 (CB4) and the Meatpacking BID, the informational session took place at the Bayard Rustin Educational Campus, whose 351 W. 18th St. location puts its students within eyesight and earshot of the multi-year project, which started on Dec. 11, 2017 and is being carried out by J R Cruz Corporation. The department is removing the water mains — estimated to be 80 to 100 years old — and installing new ones of the same size (8, 12, or 20 inches). Existing gate valves will also be removed and replaced, as will fi re hydrants. Most of the work, the DDC noted, is underground and will not involve any sidewalk or curb restoration. “This is the type of work that we as New Yorkers never see,” said Norberto Acevedo, Jr., Deputy Director for the DDC’s Offi ce of Community Outreach and Notification. The work is going to be 15 feet off the east curb line. “It’s not exactly the middle of the street,” Acevedo noted, “but it is far off the curb where we are
Courtesy NYC DDC
A slide from the DDC’s presentation shows the scope of water main replacement work in West Chelsea.
going to be working.” The city will preserve pedestrian access as well as assign fl aggers for crosswalks. There will be periods of time where residential water service will be disrupted, as construction crews shut down an old main to replace it with a new one. Residents will receive WATER continued on p. 23
Photo by Scott Stiffler
Work began on Dec. 11, 2017 for the project, which is expected to take 18 months. Seen here, construction currently underway at W. 15th St. and Eighth Ave.
NYC Community Media
Februar y 8, 2018
Resistance Town Hall Shows Tough Task of Voter Mobilization BY EDDY MARTINEZ Manhattanites packed an auditorium last week to listen as a state senator and a leading progressive policy advocate addressed how to craft an effective local resistance to the administration in Washington. But in the process, they found themselves searching for an answer to a question years in the making: How can Democrats increase voter turnout in one of the bluest cities in the country during the reign of Trump? Neera Tanden, CEO of the Washingtonbased Center for American Progress, and West Side State Senator Brad Hoylman hosted the Feb. 1 town hall at the CUNY Graduate Center in Midtown and were joined by City Comptroller Scott Stringer and Public Advocate Letitia James. While the remarks of each differed in focus, they struck the same tones of urgency and definace. “This is the most insane, radical, and extremist administration I’ve ever seen in my life,” Tanden said. The gathering, titled “Town Hall on the Resistance: How States Can Trump Washington,” explored paths the city and state can take to fight back against federal policies deemed harmful to New York. Everyone at the town hall agreed that voters need to make themselves heard. Stringer echoed Tanden’s remarks when he insisted that the city government would fight back by standing firm on its progressive values. “We are part of this resistance,” Stringer said to cheers. James, meanwhile, told the audience that her work as a public advocate has brought her face to face with the effects of federal policies. “I will never normalize crazy,” she said. “I will never normalize hate, racism.” But for one local Democrat, change has to start at the neighborhood level. “The work that needs to be done in the municipality is enormous; we should be working with our councilmembers more, we should be working with our state representatives,” said Tina DiFeliciantonio, a documenary filmmaker who lives in Chelsea. But though she identified herself as a registered Democrat, the “we” she referred to included progressive groups outside the formal political system. Closer coordination between elected representatives and the grassroots, however, likely depends on getting more registered voters to actually vote. In this past November’s election, Mayor Bill de Blasio won a second term by garnering the votes of just over 14 percent of the electorate. Hoylman acknowledged that
Februar y 8, 2018
Photo by Eddy Martinez
Neera Tanden, CEO of the Center for American Progress, addresses the Feb. 1 town hall.
reality, telling the crowed that New York State currently ranks 41st in the country in voter turnout. But, he argued, the problem is one of access, not enthusiasm. “It’s not easy to vote in New York,” he said. “We all were standing in line waiting to vote in the past election and it depresses turnout.” Local Democratic organizations are concerned with low voter turnout, but their efforts naturally prioritize the shoring up of support in the city rather than the rest of the state, which in many areas is far less blue. “We are focused on increasing Democratic turnout in our own county for the 2018 statewide elections,” Barry Weinberg, executive director of the Manhattan County Democratic Party, said in an email, adding that local Democratic clubs are working with Democrats upstate to increase voter outreach there. Weinberg did not respond to a follow-up question on how they the county organization would increase turnout in Manhattan. One local Democratic club, however, says low turnout is not a problem of access. “Rent in NYC is debilitating and not geared policy-wise towards young professionals, the subway system that we rely on is a monument to bureaucratic intransigence, and then we’re expected to attend nightly 3-hour-long meetings discussing issues that we don’t believe will impact our lives” said Malik Wright, head of the Manhattan Young Democrats, in an email.
The club, which pushes for greater youth involvement in local politics, has a different way of getting people engaged. Town halls are too big and too general to capture a political novice’s attention, according to Wright. The group instead introduces newcomers to Democratic district leaders who then connect them to local political clubs in their neighborhoods. Tanden acknowledged that voter turnout needs to increase to turn the tide against Trump. “My plea for you is to engage; my greatest fear is that people will become inured to the crazy,” she said during the town hall. In comments to NYC Community Media following the town hall, Tanden said that the Center for American Progress is working with local progressive groups on the ground to mobilize voters, yet the New York Progressive Action Network, a coalition of activists, said it has had no contact from CAP. The Working Families Party, the largest progressive party in New York that works to move the State Democratic Party in a leftward direction, did not respond to a request for comment about whether the Center for American Progress has coordinated efforts with that party. If Hoylman and Tanden offered no easy solutions to the voter turnout question, they were successful in energizing the crowd with a mix of calls for mass protests here and in Washington in the event special counsel Robert Mueller is fired and broadsides against the president and his team.
“Betsy DeVos is not very smart,” said Tanden, referring to the federal education secretary. CAP’s leader is known for an aggressive posture toward GOP leaders in her many media appearances. Hoylman, by contrast, spoke more to the shared values of New Yorkers that he aims to defend. “In New York, that’s not the way we want to do business,” he said of the Trump administration’s direction. From DiFeliciantonio’s vantage point, it is easy for politicians to ask that more people get out to vote. The tougher issue, she said, is that the 2018 elections will be decided in local districts largely outside New York City, which has only one Republican member of the House. “The problem is it’s hard work,” she said. “It takes a long time to make change and policy impact at the grassroots level.” Hoylman stuck more to the basics. At one point while speaking, he paused for a moment and raised up a booklet that combined the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, and said, “Everyone, raise your Constitutions.” The crowd roared back in cheers and applause. But as soon as the town hall ended, people filed out quickly from the auditorium, despite Hoylman’s staff urging them to break into smaller group discussions. As the state senator was making his way out, less than 15 people were still on hand. Tanden had left a long time before, and James and Stringer exited moments after they finished their speeches. NYC Community Media
JOHNSON continued from p. 1
David, counsel to Governor Andrew Cuomo, described Johnson as “the disruptor, the underdog, the fighter, and now the speaker of the New York City Council,” who “has never forgotten how important it is to remain humble, how important it is to fight for the things that absolutely matter.” Finally at the podium, Johnson, a second-term councilmember from the West Side’s District 3, took five minutes to offer thanks to a list of people that included a shout-out to each councilmember by first name. He then spoke of the 14,703 doors he knocked on during the 2017 campaign and how he continues to be inspired by those he met. “Each one of you has a unique incredible story and a unique set of life experiences and challenges that you’ve overcome,” he said. “You are what inspires me and motivates me every single day.” Johnson highlighted accomplishments, including a planned public park on W. 20th St., a new South Village historic district, 500 affordable housing units resulting from the Pier 40 negotiation, and a development with an indoor recreation facility and affordable supermarket. In spite of these wins, Johnson said, the city faces big challenges. “The affordability crisis that grips our city threatens the very existence of our neighborhoods,” he warned. “People who lived in the same community for their entire lives find themselves priced out, unable to afford their rent or even their groceries. Many working families are literally living paycheck to paycheck. One missed shift or one medical expense away from eviction or bankruptcy.” Johnson noted that the night before his inauguration ceremony, 61,000 people slept in shelters, 23,000 of them children under age 16. “We must do better,” he said, vowing to extend rent protections
and to work with state government “to finally once and for all close the loopholes that are allowing landlords to deregulate apartments.” Later, he noted that 22 percent of New Yorkers — 1.7 million people — are living below the poverty line. He made clear that affordable housing is a priority. He spoke out for small businesses that are unable to compete with “deep-pocketed chain stores,” subway riders who are experiencing “years of disinvestment in our infrastructure,” and also “shameful racial disparities that persist in nearly every aspect of life in our city, including life expectancy, health outcomes, criminal justice, and education.” Johnson himself then referred to his personal story, saying, “When I came out in 1999 in a small town of 5,000 people 30 miles north of Boston, when I came out to my family, when I came out at school, I was three months before that literally suicidal. I was clinically depressed and I did not want to live anymore because I couldn’t accept myself and I was scared the world wouldn’t accept me. But I came out and I got the support and love that I needed and ultimately I realized that I deserved. And that one moment of coming out was the chain reaction in a series of events.” Life events broadened Johnson’s perspective and brought him to New York. On this important mid-winter New York Sunday, he promised, “I will remember where I came from, I will remember the struggles that I faced, I will remember the adversity, and when difficult decisions have to be made, I will do it remembering all of you of course, but also the folks who aren’t here today, the single mom working two jobs, the public housing resident living in conditions that are not acceptable, the family whose landlord is harassing them, trying to deregulate where they live. I’ll remember these stories.”
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ROSENTHAL continued from p. 1
an hour of training is needed to administer it correctly. The drug is, already, New York State’s response to the surge in opioid deaths. Emergency responders, homeless shelter staff and residents, and drug users and their friends and family can carry this kit to halt an overdose. That response, however, remains haphazard, depending on the lucky coincidence of a person carrying naloxone encountering the person overdosing. Cities all over the world have implemented a more organized response, allowing drug users to shoot up in clean, quiet surroundings using sterile equipment and having an overdose prevention worker steps away. These facilities conform to basic public health advice about heroin: “Don’t do it alone.” US criminal law, however, largely makes it unthinkable that drug users could legally meet up to shoot up. Their conduct is illegal, and landlords hosting such space could lose their building and health care workers could go to jail. There is no freedom of assembly for drug users even in a health facility. That is what Rosenthal’s bill, A.8534, would create by authorizing public spaces beyond the reach of the criminal law. It is macabre commentary on drug prohibition that proven public health policies are illegal without special legislation. There is an urgent need: By every measure deaths are going up. “Nearly 65,000 Americans died” — more deaths in one year than the total for the entire Vietnam War — Rosenthal said of the nation’s record level of opioid deaths, before decrying the drastic escalation of deaths locally in recent years. “Here in New York State, the overdose death rate increased by 32 percent,” she said of the increase from 2015 to 2016. “In New York City, it increased by an astounding 46 percent.” The city health department’s final count for 2016 overdose deaths was 1,347 — the sixth consecutive year of rising deaths from unintentional “poisonings.” “Safer consumption sites are neither controversial nor new,” Rosenthal noted, pointing out that the first one opened 32 years ago in Berne, Switzerland. “Since then they have opened in nearly 100 cities worldwide.” Rosenthal originally introduced her measure in 2016, but this year it is part of a concerted push to move legislation in the
CONTRIBUTORS Donna Aceto Lincoln Anderson Nathan DiCamillo Bill Egbert Dusica Sue Malesevic Tequila Minsky Colin Mixson Scott Stiffler Eileen Stukane
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Assembly that will help the state break free from the shackles of a prohibitionist policy, which has failed, while giving users a hasslefree space for consuming drugs safely. Rosenthal was joined at the press conference by several Assembly colleagues, including fellow West Sider Richard Gottfried, who chairs the Health Committee, and Crystal Peoples-Stokes from Buffalo, the lead sponsor of A.3506, which permits adult-use of marijuana as is currently the law in a growing number of states. A fourth member of the Assembly on hand created a stir when she told the audience, which included public health workers, advocates, and families whose children had overdosed, that safe consumption spaces would offer comfort and support to people who today are shamed and isolated — and therefore at increased risk for fatal mistakes. “It provides a positive touch point,” said Brooklyn Assemblymember Diana Richardson. “We are being progressive and providing a safe space for guess what? Something they will do anyway.” Saying she had visited such a space, Richardson said, “The individual came through the door and they were actually able to interact with someone. The person didn’t judge them, the person welcomed them.” Then, with a sly smile, she added dryly, “A person using many substances isn’t welcomed in many places.” After the friendly greeting, Richardson explained, a user is “given clean materials… now we are talking about preventing hepatitis and a whole other host of diseases.” The concern such facilities show for the health of drug users is unique and increases the likelihood that health workers will establish vital bonds of trust with those users. This approach contrasts sharply with the tough love prohibitionist approach, which relies on the notion that substance abusers must hit bottom before remedial steps will be effective. Safe consumption spaces, based on the harm reduction philosophy behind needle exchange programs, instead aim to break the grip of hopelessness weighing on this stigmatized group, helping users identify personal competencies that could increase their sense of agency in taking charge of their lives. Charles King, the CEO of the AIDS services group Housing Works, told the press conference that safe consumption spaces are “about saving lives, but just as important are about offering hope.”
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Fountain House Studio Has Sprawling Space for Artistic Growth BY DUSICA SUE MALESEVIC Sanctuary. Sustenance. Spacious. Sunny. Sacred. This is how artists described their new studio space, where work created there is now part of an inaugural show at the Fountain House Gallery in Hell’s Kitchen. Fountain House Studio was about three years in the making, Ariel Willmott, the gallery’s director, said. The around 2,000-square-foot studio opened at 37-24 24th St. in Long Island City in January last year. “We did extensive fundraising and programmatic development to… build the foundation for opening that space,” Willmott recently told NYC Community Media during a visit to the gallery (702 Ninth Ave. at W. 48th St.). Prior to the studio’s opening, she explained, artists from Fountain House — an organization that established the gallery as part of its mission to help those living with mental illness — “were mostly working independently in their homes and making artwork kind of on their own.” Robin Taylor, an artist who has lived in a small studio in Hell’s Kitchen since 2006, said while her apartment can be isolating, the studio is not. The experience of working at a studio surrounded by other artists has encouraged her to try new things, to “stick with my discoveries. I’m inspired by all the other artists’ work,” said Taylor, who has been Fountain House member since 2011. Karen Gormandy, the studio coordinator for Fountain House Studio, said the increase in space makes a difference. “When you’re a in small space, obviously, your creation is limited by just the physicality of where you are and the amount of materials you have,” she said. She added, “When we finally did get the studio and we had people coming in
Photos by Dusica Sue Malesevic
L to R: Karen Gormandy and Ariel Willmott are the curatorial forces behind the latest show at Fountain House Gallery.
“It’s always good to be in an art show,” said artist Marty Cohen, shown here with his work.
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for the residencies… we had a few artists who just sort of exploded in terms of, ‘Oh, I have all this space.’ ” Around the perimeter of the studio is space designated for the eight resident artists, with open tables in the middle and free supplies on hand, Willmott explained. The studio has drop-in hours for all Fountain House members — encouraging them to get out to Long Island City, she said, noting that is a big factor in deciding who gets a resident space next. “It’s an open space and no one had barriers,” Gormandy said. For example, Boo Lynn Walsh, who is also featured
in the show, decided to experiment with a resin coating, pouring the medium on large canvases and watching them drip, Gormandy explained. “The beauty of it is we have eight artists in that space, and when one artist sees somebody using a material,” she said, “they go, ‘Oh, I want to do that.’ ” Willmott added, “You see the crosspollination that is happening.” Artists are encouraged to do workshops to talk about their process and the results of their experimenting, Gormandy said. Eight years ago, Gormandy started an unofficial evening art program at Fountain House, saying the story was she was supposed to do one workshop. “After the third figure drawing class, they were like, ‘Are you going to be here next week because we’re not quite finished yet.’ It happened, obviously, in a very organic way.” An artist herself, Gormandy is currently working on some large drawings based on some historic AfricanAmericans. One piece is called “Tom’s Bounty,” a chalk pastel of what she imagines Tom — a slave who was traded by George Washington for lime, rum, molasses, and tamarind — looked like, she said. Gormandy said she started volunFOUNTAIN HOUSE continued on p. 16 NYC Community Media
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“More Parks Sausages Mom!” “Please!”
Mixed Reviews for Info Session
The open house featured agency staffers stationed by posters of the project. People were encouraged to come up and talk to the staffers. But some attendees said they would have preferred a free-flowing public discussion with a Q&A where everything was shared out in the open.
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BY DUSICA SUE MALESEVIC They came from as far as Canarsie and as close as the outskirts of Chelsea to the 14th Street Y near First Ave., with concerns about one thing: the L train shutdown. On the evening of Wed., Jan. 31, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) and the city’s Department of Transportation (DOT) held their second open house for transit riders and residents inside the Y’s gym, at 344 E. 14th St. Posters detailing the plan thus far for the 15-month closure of the Canarsie Tunnel lined the gym’s perimeter. Stationed beside them were employees from the two agencies. Anyone could ask them questions or learn more about the plan, with work to repair damage from Hurricane Sandy slated to start in April 2019. Some attendees said they were happy with the event’s format and satisfied with the information that was provided. But others complained they really would have preferred a Q&A session and a more public and free-flowing discussion. Ruth Vasquez, a Stuy Town resident of 43 years, said she came to the open house because she wanted to know how long construction would take. “The information has been helpful,” said Vasquez, 73. “I just don’t like that it will take so long.” Angel Lao, 64, who came along with Vasquez, said he was glad the tunnel repairs would be made, but noted it probably needed work before Sandy hit New York City on Oct. 29, 2012. “Sandy was the straw that broke the camel’s back,” Lao said.
Vasquez and Lao live on 14th St. between Avenues A and B, and wanted to learn about the plans to close the major crosstown boulevard to cars. As part of the city’s scheme, 14th St. — between Ninth and Third Aves. eastbound and between Third and Eighth Aves. westbound — will be transformed into a “busway” reserved for buses only during certain hours. “Fourteenth Street is congested already today,” said Choresh Wald, a seven-year resident of E. 11th St. between First and Second Aves. “The plan is not bold enough.” Wald, 40, said the city has been vague about the planned hours for the busway, and he thinks there should be a dedicated bus lane from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. He came to the open house, along with his daughter, Noga, 4, and his son, Ofek, 3, specifically to learn more about the proposed protected two-way bike lane on 13th St. Wald said that currently when he bike rides with his children, there is a danger of being hit by cars. “My family is living car-free,” he explained. “Finally, we’re going to have a way that is safe to go across the city.” Noga, wearing a bike helmet, chimed in, “I want to ride safely to my school but it’s really hard.” Other residents, however, took issue with both the meeting’s openhouse format and the proposed plan. “I think this whole project is going to be a disaster,” said Noreen Shipman, a 30-year Washington Square resident and a Washington Place Block Association member. “We’re as concerned about this project as people on 13th, 14th, 15th Streets.” NYC Community Media
Mirror Reception for L Train Shutdown Scenarios Shipman, who is a senior, said the cityâ€™s plan gives a lot of priority to cyclists. She said she is concerned about how trucks will make deliveries and about traffic that will be diverted from 14th St. to the surrounding side streets, saying itâ€™s possible that Eighth St., for example, will be affected. â€œIn a nutshell, it appears they have no rational plan for trucks, for the deliveriesâ€Ś and the impact itâ€™s going to have on the surrounding streets,â€? Shipman said. After the open house, Judy Pesin, who has lived on W. 13th St. between Sixth and Seventh Aves. for four decades, talked to NYC Community Media by phone. â€œI was surprised by the format,â€? said Pesin. â€œIt was like a show-andtell with junior staffers who were very nice but couldnâ€™t answer my questions. Weâ€™re not hearing peopleâ€™s concerns here.â€? The one-on-one conservations discouraged open discussion, as did the comment cards people were asked to fi ll out at the open house, she said. â€œHow does it tell me anyoneâ€™s reading the card?â€? Pesin said. â€œBetter
Photos by Dusica Sue Malesevic
Angel Lao and Ruth Vasquez came from Stuyvestant Town to learn more about the plan and how it will affect traffic on 14th St.
than nothing, but not much better.â€? MTA spokesperson Shams Tarek said in an email that personnel working on the plan read all the comment
cards, and that these are considered along with all the other public commentary that the agency is receiving in many different ways â€” such
as other meetings, correspondence, social media and public comment at MTA board meetings. As of this Tuesday evening, Tarek said 150 comment cards had been submitted between the fi rst and second open houses. (The fi rst open house was held the previous week in Williamsburg.) David Marcus has lived on W. 13th St. and Seventh Ave. for around 30 years. Speaking after the 14th Street Y open house, he said, â€œIt wasnâ€™t what we were expecting. We were expecting a dialogue and an exchange with the DOT that would be more substantive.â€? In short, Marcus was totally underwhelmed and said he did not fi nd the event informative at all. â€œItâ€™s nothing more than fancy placards listing various aspects of the plan,â€? he scoffed over the phone. Marcus said the plan is â€œbound to cause an exacerbation of an alreadyexisting traffic problem on the side streets. We feel it is a thoughtless plan,â€? he said. L TRAIN continued on p. 19
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Mayor Presents Increased Budget BY DUNCAN OSBORNE While Mayor Bill de Blasio is proposing to increase spending by roughly $2 billion in the city fiscal year that begins on July 1, cuts in federal and state support for the city may force the mayor to curtail those plans. â€œThis budget proceeds against a backdrop of tremendous uncertainty,â€? the mayor said during a Feb. 1 presentation of the cityâ€™s 2019 preliminary budget at City Hall. The proposed budget will spend $88.67 billion, up from the preliminary budget presented last year of just $86 billion. The mayor said the new spending was paid for with savings worth $900 million by city agencies in the current and coming fiscal years, reduced healthcare costs of $1.3 billion for city employees in both fiscal years, and $300 million in savings in both fiscal years resulting from a â€œpartial hiring freeze.â€? The city also recouped just over a $1 billion in taxes from audits, de Blasio said. The new spending will upgrade infrastructure in some of the cityâ€™s public housing, expand the signature mayoral Pre-K and now 3-K programs, and fund
Photo by Duncan Osborne
Mayor Bill de Blasio presented his preliminary budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1 at a City Hall event on Feb. 1.
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Governor Andrew Cuomo, seen here delivering the FY 2019 Executive Budget Address. State dollars could be reduced by as much as $700 million.
A NEW COMEDY by Isobel Mahon
additional efforts that de Blasio has championed since taking office four years ago. While the cityâ€™s tax base has swelled and the city is expecting to collect $27.6 billion in property taxes in the 2019 fiscal year, it relies on state and federal dollars to pay for roughly a quarter of city spending. In some city agencies, federal or state dollars fund nearly half of their budget and nearly all of certain programs. In his proposed budget for the state fiscal year that begins on April 1, Governor Andrew Cuomo proposed cutting state aid to the city or shifted costs of programs to the city by $400 million. State dollars could be reduced by as much as $700 million, according to the preliminary budget. While the city is claiming that as much as $700 million in federal dollars are at risk in the 2019 city budget, it is not at all clear how the city knows that. Republicans have been in charge of the White House and Congress for over a year and have yet to produce a budget for the current federal fiscal year, which began on Oct. 1 of last year. Since September of last year, Republicans have used a series of continuing resolutions to fund federal spending with the latest set to expire on Feb. 8. Other federal actions could also threaten the city budget. The federal tax reform law, which was signed into law in late December, allows taxpayers to deduct only the first $10,000 in state and local taxes on their federal returns. That could NYC Community Media
prompt some of the wealthiest New York taxpayers, who pay a large portion of city and state income taxes, to leave for lower tax states. â€œThe federal tax bill has made things worse all around,â€? the mayor said. â€œFundamentally broken policy and mistaken policy have very negative ramifications for the country and for the city before you even talk about what it means for the individual taxpayer or homeowner.â€? That law will add at least $1.4 trillion to the federal deficit over 10 years and that could prompt Republicans, who have long wanted to attack Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security, to take a budget axe to those entitlement programs. That could impact city agencies â€” such as NYC Health + Hospitals, which operates the cityâ€™s 11 hospitals and other facilities â€” that rely on Medicaid funding. All of the budget concerns have implications for non-profit organizations that serve the LGBTQ community and rely on Medicaid or contracts funded, directly and indirectly, with city, state, or federal dollars. â€œI think we can safely say weâ€™ve never seen anything like this before,â€? de Blasio said. â€œThereâ€™s a lot we are worried about.â€? Corey Johnson, the new speaker of the City Council, spoke with reporters prior to the mayorâ€™s presentation and voiced similar concerns. â€œThere are a lot of questions about loss of money from Albany, loss of money from Washington,â€? he said.
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CHELSEA MARKET continued from p. 2
ances for the building only to sell it. Longtime member David Holowka said that the group strongly opposed granting Jamestown the right to vertically expand to build a tower that would cast shadows over the High Line, a public park. “It sounded like bullshit then, and it still does. We all suspected that Jamestown, originally a retirement fund investment, was only interested in increasing the value of their property so they could cash out on that increased valuation,” said Holowka. “And the fact that they haven’t built vertically shows that they were only after additional profit. I suspect that they always had Google in mind.” Holowka argued that if Jamestown needed to vertically expand the building simply to accommodate their workforce, it should be done at the Ninth Ave. side, which is closer to the subway and Google’s current building, rather than construct a huge tower on 10th Ave., which will cause shadows to loom over the High Line. “It is so transparent that they are looking to cash in on the views up and down the High Line and Hudson River. And what irks me is that the value of the air rights above Chelsea
Februar y 8, 2018
Photo by Christian Miles
Looking Downtown, a view of Ninth Ave. sees Google’s current building on the left and Chelsea Market on the right.
Market at that end were enhanced by public money intended for a park,” said Holowka. “Also, Chelsea Market is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. You don’t lightly change zoning
to allow buildings to be built on top of historic places. But all these things came to pass. The local community board got behind their proposal, and I hope they don’t feel like fools now.” Bill Borock, President of the Council of Chelsea Block Associations (CCBA), echoed this sentiment, saying, “This is exactly what we told the Community Board that Jamestown would do, but they felt if they didn’t compromise and approve it with stipulations, they would get it anyway.” By 2012, Community Board 4 (CB4) had indeed approved Jamestown’s plan to add Chelsea Market to the Special West Chelsea District as a mechanism to permit building up to 250 feet above the market. At that time, Michael Philips, then Managing Director of Jamestown, said they had no plans to sell, pointing to their long-term, $380 million mortgage as evidence of their long-term commitment. Waterfront activist Bob Trentlyon predicted at that time, “I do not believe they are going to get the rights to build the building and then not sell to someone else. Their history is to only stay a few years, then flip it.” Jamestown has a track record of purchasing notable commercial properties (including the General Motors Buildings and 1290 Avenue of the Americas) solely for the short-term maximization of return for its investors, selling the property in an average of five years. But CB4 Chair Burt Lazarin was
nonplussed that Google could undertake the vertical expansion Jamestown had secured, saying, “It’s approved, so I wouldn’t be surprised that they did. If I was in real estate that’s one reason I would want to buy that building, because you don’t have to go through the rezoning process. It was done four years ago, and was very controversial at the time.” “Everybody in Manhattan plays real estate; they don’t keep it for the rest of their lives. Eventually they move out,” added Lazarin. “And Jamestown is a German company. I don’t care if it’s based in Atlanta, they’re only here to make money. I don’t know if this move will be for the better or worse, but I would like Google to honor their community commitments. And I assume they will keep the retail portion. It would be a pretty stupid public relations move to eliminate the Chelsea Market.”
IMPACT OF THE SALE While Google is expected to keep things running as they are in the retail portion of Chelsea Market and the recently-renovated lower level (aka The Chelsea Local), it is unclear yet as to how this will affect upstairs tenants, including the Food Network and Major League Baseball, which has a lease through 2022. It’s also unclear as to how this will affect the community “gets” that CHELSEA MARKET continued on p. 23 NYC Community Media
Chana Widawski and Stephen Fanto of the West 45th/46th Street Block Association organized the Jan. 29 celebration. According to Widawski, the message on the Arnold Belkin mural, “We the people demand control of our communities,” symbolizes the spirit and commitment of Hell’s Kitchen Commons.
Photos by Rania Richardson
Residents from Manhattan Plaza included performers Michele Berliner and Virginia Seidel, longtime renters dedicated to the Hell’s Kitchen area because it nurtures Broadway theater talent.
Hell’s Kitchen Commons Concentrates on Community BY RANIA RICHARDSON On Mon., Jan. 29, an enthusiastic group of neighbors congregated at the Landmark Tavern (626 11th Ave., at W. 46th St.) for the 11th Annual Winter Gathering and Celebration of Hell’s Kitchen Commons, hosted by the West 45th/46th Street Block Association and the Mathews-Palmer Park A ssociation. “C om munit y, Collaboration, Enhancing our Parks and Public Spaces” is the slogan for Hell’s Kitchen Commons, an affinity of local groups with shared goals, including block, park, and other neighborhood organizations. About 50 members and other residents from the West Side attended the festivities and enjoyed the friendly atmosphere and lively conversation, with beverages and complimentary appetizers on hand. The evening coincided with the Landmark’s weekly live traditional Irish music, which added to the celebratory event. New and long-term residents discussed the latest goings-on in the neighborhood. There was excitement about the New Irish Arts Center (West 51st St. NYC Community Media
Ashley, president of the West 44th “Better” Block Association, shared community news.
& 11th Ave.), which will adjoin the existing historic location in a merging of old and new architecture. Groundbreaking could come as early as this spring. For several years Hell’s Kitchen Commons has focused on the restoration of Arnold Belkin’s 1972 populist mural, “Against Domestic Colonialism” overlooking Mathews-Palmer Playground (W. 45th St., btw. Ninth & 10th Aves.). There is currently a delay in the project as parties assess funding to
repair and resurface the wall so muralist Denise Penizzotto can begin painting. The target is for completion in time for the spring reopening of the playground, now under construction by the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation. Visit crowdrise.com / mathewspalmerplaygro1/fundraiser/allisontupper to help raise funds for the mural project. Also visit mathews-palmer-playground-mural-arts-program.com.
The Landmark Tavern provided a warm and comfortable space for socializing. In 1868, before the existence of 12th Ave., the new pub opened on the shores of the Hudson River.
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Looking Down From 2,000 Feet Up Daring aerial views reveal man-made patterns, cycles
© Jeffrey Milstein, courtesy Benrubi Gallery
“NYC Fifth Ave” (2016. Archival pigment print. 40.5 x 54 in.).
BY NORMAN BORDEN Talk about having a point of view. Jeffrey Milstein has taken aerial photography to a new level in “Leaning Out,” and the results are stunning, fascinating, and mesmerizing. The 14 large format images in this exhibition of cityscapes, airports, power plants, train yards, and other industrial and transportation sites reflect the artist’s life-long love affair with flying, and with the way things look from the air. “I started when I was 16 when I was learning to fly in Los Angeles at Santa Monica airport,” Milstein recalled. “I had an 8mm movie camera and used
Februar y 8, 2018
to fly around LA taking movies from the air.” About seven years ago, the artist (who received his BA in architecture from UC Berkeley in 1968) decided to “turn the lens downward from up above” and began photographing sites in Los Angeles and New York from the air. Many of the pictures he shot are in his recently published book “LANY: Aerial Photographs of Los Angles and New York.” Some are also in “Leaning Out” along with new work that has never been exhibited before. When asked how he decides what sites to photograph, Milstein explained, “I concentrate on how things look from the
air, mostly on the man-made landscapes. As an architect, I’m interested in cities and how they form — what is the geology and geography, their development, structures, and open spaces.” In looking at how things connect from above, he mentioned the image “NYC Fifth Avenue” that he photographed in 2016 from a small plane, 2,000 feet up. “The picture has some of the same features you’d find on a computer board where information is traveling along highways,” Milstein said, “but instead it’s taxis traveling down roads instead of electrons down pathways… Certain things happen at different levels and I’m
kind of fascinated with that; I kind of look for patterns and geometry, things you wouldn’t see from the ground at all.” Looking closely at this image, the cruciform of St. Patrick’s Cathedral stands out as one of the more identifiable landmarks (it helps to orient the viewer to the other buildings). The other way to enjoy this photograph — and to better appreciate what the artist saw from the air — is to step back and view it from about six feet away. When Milstein decided to photograph New York City from above, he and a MILSTEIN continued on p. 18 NYC Community Media
Valentine’s in a Time of Trump What’s love got to do with it? BY MAX BURBANK Valentine’s Day is about a week away, and it’s going to go badly for you. Sorry to be a “downer,” but I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know, or at least strongly suspect, am I? The preponderance of research I pretend to have read reveals that Valentine’s Day ends up being a pleasant experience for about three out of every 1,000 people. Are those good statistics for you, personally? And don’t bother telling me you’re from Virginia. The state slogan, “Virginia is for Lovers,” was originally “Virginia! Marginally Better Than West Virginia, If You Like Speed Traps, Venomous Snakes, And More Deer Ticks Than There Are Stars In The Sky!” — but that made for an unreadably tiny font on the bumper sticker. It’s not your fault. Valentine’s Day only works out for a very select group of couples, where each partner loves the other exactly equally, and both are exactly equal in their ability and skill to select (and succeed in acquiring) a pleasing gift and card that in no way exceeds the pleasingness of their partner’s gift and card. Any difference, no matter how seemingly insignificant, means one partner “wins” Valentine’s Day and the other “loses.” Veiled feelings of shame and disappointment are gifts you should feel lucky to end up with, as these emotions easily snowball into anger, resentment, depression, confirmation of a deep-seated belief that your life has been a series of terrible mistakes too late to go back on, breakups, divorce, homicide, and, this year, possibly nuclear Armageddon. Did you like that clever segue to the national stage? Because I don’t want to name specific names, but a certain celebrity turned bizarrely unqualified most-powerful-man-on-earth and his Slovenian mail-order bride are very likely heading for a “Stormy” Valentine’s Day. See what I did there? Of course you do. It was easy. You could have done it yourself, but you don’t have a column. Let’s just say that the nice heart-shaped box of chocolates Hope Hicks picked out for Melania from Donald? It better cost more than the sack of hush money his lawyer gave a certain leading lady of the adult film industry whose legal, nonworking name turns out to be Stephanie Gregory Clifford. Oh, damn, I named a bunch of specific names there, didn’t I? I guess now it NYC Community Media
Dublin, unless they’re just kidding and it’s, like, the drumstick half of an old Buffalo Wild Wing. See, Claudius II, emperor of third century Rome, had this idea that married soldiers were less likely to make the ultimate sacrifice and more likely to desert than single soldiers, so he passed a law saying young, able-bodied gentleman below a certain income could not wed. Valentine was all about the love connection, though, and secretly performed weddings, but not secretly enough, as he was soon caught and got “tossed in the pokey.” That means “thrown in jail.” The other thing you’re thinking of is incorrect and might account for why your Valentine’s Day is going to end so badly. While incarcerated, he promptly fell in love with the warden’s daughter, as prisoners often will. Legend has it he signed the love letters he wrote her “Your Valentine” — giving rise to the tradition we celebrate to this day. Maybe, but my guess is his mash notes were less romantic than your standard “Roses are red, violets are blue” and tended more toward “Please try super-duper hard to get your dad to not cut my Illustration by Max Burbank head off.” Apart from the absurdity of a romanthey said nice things about but clearly didn’t want, to being required to give tic holiday being inspired by a grueevery kid in your class a crappy little some tragedy, February 14 is just halfdollar store valentine illustrated with a way through what’s already the shortmovie that was popular six years ago, to est month of the year! That’s very little whatever semi-adult fiasco you engage time to plan, and if you’re like me, you’re still hung over from New Year’s. in annually now. Looking at how things worked out for It’s a set-up, and secretly everybody Saint Valentine, it’s difficult to imagine wants to chuck the whole thing! So how this whole holiday dealio ever took here’s what you do: Have a nice sitoff in the first place, as it’s a somewhat down with your significant other, force less charming tale than you might imag- them to read this delightful column, ine. Long story short, and spoiler alert, and come to an agreement that neither it ends with Valentine’s head and body one of you will do a damn thing for being too far away from each other for Valentine’s Day. Then get them something really nice. comfort and one of his desiccated severed fingers on permanent display at It’s not like the day was ever going to go Whitefriar Street Carmelite Church in well. You might as well win. that he was scared silly of pictures of sharks on TV. If you voted for this man and you are not a Russian, you need to take a good, long look at your decision-making process. My point is, if the leader of the free world is going to have a crap Valentine’s Day, why wouldn’t you? And me. I’m not excluding myself here, because it’s all of us. Be honest. Take a moment and review every Valentine’s Day you ever had, from making stuff for your folks
goes without saying that the card better have nicer poetry than an interview detailing how the president enjoys to be spanked with the issue of Forbes magazine that has his family’s picture on the cover. Also, he’s terrified of sharks. There’s no real way to parallel that with some aspect of Valentine’s Day and I’m not even going to try — I just think it’s hilarious. I mean, it’s not as if there were real sharks around for him to be terrified of, because can you picture Trump in the ocean? You certainly can’t, because first you’d have to picture him in a swimsuit, and that’s more than enough for most folks. No, it was “Shark Week.” Donald Trump admitted to a porn star he was trying to seduce
Februar y 8, 2018
FOUNTAIN HOUSE continued from p. 6
teering at the gallery, and then running the art workshop at Fountain House because her son is a member, and “the only way I could think to give back, the only thing I had to give was my art.” She still runs the workshop because it acts as a transition for many who say they can’t do art. “Because this is all outsider point of view… you don’t have to have any schooling, you know, you just have to have a curious mind. That’s where we start.” It’s been “amazing” to see the show at Fountain House Gallery, Gormandy said, seeing the work from its inception to hanging on the walls. About the studio, Willmott said, “I think it’s been transformative for the members and for our community because now it feels more holistic. We can offer them everything from the creative inception to exhibiting. It’s kind of the A to Z of being an artist — at least that’s what we hope for.” Taylor, one of the artists in the show, said Fountain House encourages work ethic and creativity, and got her to sculpt, paint and draw. Another artist, Marty Cohen, agreed with Taylor, saying, “Fountain House is a very nurturing place and it gets you to… take care account of your life, you know, and gives you enough room to have freedom to choose what you want to do, get back into life because a lot of the members, especially me, had a very rough time before we got to Fountain House.” Cohen, who has lived in Hell’s Kitchen for over 11 years, said he grew up watching his father paint in their basement. He said he was influenced by Picasso, Matisse, and Braque, and studied art at SUNY Purchase, then earned his master of fine arts from Carnegie Mellon. At one point, in the 1990s, he was running an art gallery in the East Village, but difficulties ended up leading him to Fountain House, where he has been a member since 1995. Working at the studio, he said, has also inspired him. “It gets me to grow as an artist. I mean, not only for myself,” he said, “but I love to see how other artists progress.” In addition to Cohen, Taylor and Walsh, work by L.B. Berman, Bernadette Corcoran, Stephanie Freader, Ashwood Kavanna, A. Lutz, Anthony Newton, Julie Orton, Angela Rogers, Barry Senft, Susan Spangenberg, and Alyson Vega are also featured in the show. The Fountain House Studio Inaugural Show is on view through Feb. 21. For more information, visit fountainhousegallery.org.
Februar y 8, 2018
Photos by Dusica Sue Malesevic
Artist Robin Taylor says she tends to gravitate toward faces and masks in her work.
Work by artist Ashwood Kavanna.
This sculpture by Stephanie Freader started because there was a call for work that was fashion-related, Gormandy said. NYC Community Media
From Whence We Come by Maurice W. Dorsey A story about a gay African American man born to a Catholic father who accepts his son unconditionally and a Methodist mother who is homophobic-- tells her son throughout his life that she never wanted to have him. Seymour reﬂects on 3 generations of emotional insecurity and feelings of being unloved and unwanted. At the end of his mother’s life, Estelle, through her years of malcontent, has him come to terms with mother and family history. This book is ﬁctitious but based on a true story. Available on Xlibris.com or Amazon.com
NYC Community Media
Maurice W. Dorsey
Maurice W. Dorsey
Februar y 8, 2018
MILSTEIN continued from p. 14
pilot friend started flying to the city and around the airports. “My friend would fly my Cessna 182 so I could do the shooting if we got permission,” the artist recalled, “or we’d go above the restricted area if we didn’t. He would make steep turns so I could shoot down through an open window. I wanted to photograph New York City but to do that, you need a helicopter or fly 7,500 feet above the control area.” Eager to continue shooting, Milstein began renting small helicopters and had the pilots remove the doors before they took off so he’d be leaning out. “I have a small gyroscope attached to a high resolution digital camera so I can shoot without it shaking too much.” He characterized it as a “big heavy camera that costs as much as an SUV,” but that’s what he needs to make large gallery prints. In fact, six images in the show are 52 1/2 x 70 inches and have an amazing amount of detail. One of them — and one of those never exhibited before — is “Bayview Auto Wreckers, Staten Island, 2.” Who would have thought a junkyard could be so artful or symbolic? A close look reveals rows and rows of car doors and bumpers, a dumpster filled with engines, as well as the requisite piles of assorted auto junk. From the air, the site may appear to have a certain amount of random artfulness, but Milstein explains that one of his interests in photography is how everything, including our bodies, eventually decays, try as we may to avoid it. Referencing another image, “Toyotas, Port of Long Beach,” he said, “The beautiful shiny new cars are unloaded and lined up perfectly… and they eventually end up as wrecks, some of them to be ground up and crushed or shipped back overseas to be reincarnated. It’s the cycle of life and death and I find a strange beauty in the decay state — nature always has its way.” As another example, the artist mentioned “NYC Coney Island Subway Yard,” a tableau that includes some rusting subway cars parked literally at the end of the line. He explained, “The train parts are lying on the ground with weeds growing in them and train cars are filled with garbage bags. Everyone has a closet or garage like that, with stuff we no longer use but don’t get rid of.” With airplanes and airports being Milstein’s life-long passion, it’s no surprise that his two favorite images in “Leaning Out” are “Gatwick 2 Planes” and “Newark #8, Terminal B.” What’s interesting is how different these two airport photographs are from each other — to me, the beauty of the Gatwick picture is its utter simplicity; the two almost toy-like jet planes are perfectly positioned, complementing the geometry
Februar y 8, 2018
© Jeffrey Milstein, courtesy Benrubi Gallery
“Gatwick 2 Planes” (2016. Archival pigment print. 52.5 x 70 in.).
© Jeffrey Milstein, courtesy Benrubi Gallery
“Bayview Auto Wreckers, Staten Island, 2” (2017. Archival pigment print. 52.5 x 70 in.).
of the mosaic runway and surrounding grass. In contrast, the Newark image is complicated, with five airplanes parked at the terminal’s gates like spokes in a hub. The baggage carts are barely visible, but are parts of the whole; the shadows
add another dimension. Despite flying with his plane’s window open or the helicopter door off, Milstein says “I’m not a daredevil. I love flying, I love being up in the helicopter at night with the door off. Between pictures, I just
look out at all of it and think like this is in a dream.” Through March 17 at Benrubi Gallery (521 W. 26th St./2nd Floor, btw. 10th & 11th Aves.). Hours: Tues.–Sat., 10am–6pm. Visit benrubigallery.com. NYC Community Media
on the north- or southbound avenue and walk into the block. That’s OK for people like me, but there are people for whom 10 extra steps is not possible,” she said. “I mean, are we asking elderly people to be shut-ins for 15 months? I don’t think that’s acceptable.” While Glick said she would support a dedicated bus lane, she said passenger vehicle traffic cannot be eliminated from 14th St. “You will only make the side streets a parking lot,” she warned. Aaron Sugiura, DOT director of transit policy, said at the open house that it’s all a question of “balance.” “When the busway’s in effect,” he said, “some of the traffic will wind up on the side streets. We’re
trying to balance moving as many people as we can on the buses with managing the shifts on the side streets.” The shift to the side streets is “not something that DOT would ideally want to have happen,” he said. “This is in response to a subway closing down. Some of that pain borne by the local residents is additional traffic on the side streets. So, you know, we don’t see that being a forever condition.” When asked what mitigation plan the DOT has in place for the side streets, Sugiura said, “We’re at the outset of the discussions about what we’re going to be doing for the side streets.” The DOT will present the plan to the commuL TRAIN continued on p. 21
Photo by Dusica Sue Malesevic
Choresh Wald brought his son, Ofek, 3, and daughter, Noga, 4, to hear more about bicycling-safety improvements the plan will include, notably the two-way crosstown protected bike lane on 13th St. L TRAIN continued from p. 9
The side streets are not built to handle increased traffic, said Marcus, who is a member of the West 13th St. 100 Block Association. “You’re trying to stick a size 12 foot into a size 7 shoe — it’s not going to work,” he said. Similarly, Pesin said she has many concerns about the proposed plan, including where traffic will go when it is not allowed on 14th St. during the times it is a busway. “We anticipate that there will be more traffic on 13th St.,” she said. Pesin and her neighbors — as well as other residents on the surrounding side streets — have been asking why a promised DOT traffic study on 14th St. has yet to be released to the public. The DOT did not respond to questions about the traffic study. Another concern for Pesin is the proposed twoway bike lane on 13th St., which will narrow the traffic lane. “How are they going to pick up garbage?” she asked. “How does an ambulance get through? How’s it going to work? I just truly can’t figure it out.” For her part, Assemblymember Deborah Glick told this publication at the open house that the proposed two-way bike lane on 13th St. “will never have my support.” Glick said the L shutdown is “going to be difficult in any event. There are clearly going to be problems.” She raised the issue — as did Ruth Vasquez, the Stuy Town resident — about where people who live on the 14th St. will be dropped off when taking a cab or car. “I mean,” Glick said, “I suppose that from the DOT’s point of view, people could be dropped off NYC Community Media
Februar y 8, 2018
TOP DRIVER DISTRACTIONS Using mobile phones Leading the list of the top distractions behind the wheel are mobile phones. Phones now do more than just place calls, and drivers often cannot pull away from their phones, even when driving. According to the California Department of Motor Vehicles, studies have shown that driving performance is lowered and the level of distraction is higher for drivers who are heavily engaged in cell
Februar y 8, 2018
phone conversations. The use of a hands-free device does not lower distraction levels. The percentage of vehicle crashes and nearcrashes attributed to dialing is nearly identical to the number associated with talking or listening.
Daydreaming Many people will admit to daydreaming behind the wheel or looking at a person or object outside of the car for too long. Per-
haps they’re checking out a house in a new neighborhood or thought they saw someone they knew on the street corner. It can be easy to veer into the direction your eyes are focused, causing an accident. In addition to trying to stay focused on the road, some drivers prefer the help of lane departure warning systems.
Eating Those who haven’t quite mastered walking and
chewing gum at the same time may want to avoid eating while driving. The majority of foods require a person’s hands to be taken off of the wheel and their eyes to be diverted from the road. Reaching in the back seat to share some French fries with the kids is also distracting. Try to eat meals before getting in the car. For those who must snack while en route, take a moment to pull over at
a rest area and spend 10 minutes snacking there before resuming the trip.
Reading Glancing at an advertisement, updating a Facebook status or reading a book are all activities that should be avoided when driving. Even pouring over a traffic map or consulting the digital display of a GPS system can be distracting.
NYC Community Media
Photo by Dusica Sue Malesevic
Artists Iku Higuchi, 67, left, and Chantal Hardy, 42, seemed to be taking the L shutdown scheme in stride. Higuchi was even looking forward to taking the ferry and bus on her trips to Brooklyn. L TRAIN continued from p. 19
nity boards it will affect — including Community Boards 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 — he said, and “from there [will see] what can we do to make… the conditions more workable for locals.” Andy Byford, the new president of New York City Transit, was at the open house. “I think it’s very important that we do events like this,” he said, “because at the end of the day, we’re here to serve the traveling public, but also we should be aiming to be good neighbors.” He noted that the agency has no choice: It must close the tunnel to repair the severe damage wrought by Sandy. “So,” he said, “it’s absolutely right that we should present a plan, a credible plan, but not a fi nished plan to the residents and to the riders of the L line, such that they can influence that plan and help us to refi ne it.” Byford said the agency has received feedback about the busway’s hours of operation — which are still under consideration — more transportation provisions for the East Side, such as between First and Third Aves., and concerns “about traffic dispersal onto 13th St., which we’re aware of, and we need to get that right.” “The good news,” he said, “is everyone gets the need to do it. We’re determined to get this right. There’s still a year to go.” Artists Chantal Hardy, 42, and Iku Higuchi, 67, came to the open house to fi nd out more information about the closure. Higuchi lives in Stuy Town but her studio is in Greenpoint, and she also currently has an exhibition in Brooklyn. A frequent L train user, she sees the shutdown as an artistic opportunity. In general, she is looking at it — literally — on the bright side. “I really want to enjoy using the ferry and bus,” she said, noting that during the subway shutdown, she will have a chance while commuting to enjoy the view aboveground. NYC Community Media
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Februar y 8, 2018
NYC Community Media
WATER continued from p. 3
a 72-hour advance notice, with a 24-hour advance confi rmation of that notice when water shutdowns are going to occur. The construction crews will work Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. on streets, and from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. on avenues. For water shutdowns, the crews will work 9 p.m. to 5 a.m., with water shutdowns happening ideally while residents are sleeping — but no noisy operations are allowed after 10 p.m. The crew will work weekends 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Working hours and days are confi rmed by the Department of Transportation, and information on the schedule can be obtained by going to CB 4’s home page (nyc.gov/mcb4) and clicking on the link under the heading “Trunk Water Main Project (MED642).” No streets will be shut down and traffic will be uninterrupted by the project, Acevedo said. The crews will shut down street parking in some areas, however, with a 72-hour notice. Express, private, and local bus stops in the district may be temporarily relocated. “The number of lanes of traffic will be the same,” Acevedo noted. “It’s just a shift in the pattern
Photo by Nathan DiCamillo
At a Jan. 31 town hall, the DDC’s Norberto Acevedo, Jr. offered assurances regarding advance notice of water shutdowns, traffic flow, and noise mitigation.
where people are driving.” The project, ideally, will not confl ict with the closing of the L train, which is expected to begin in March 2019. “In theory, we’re all done by then,” Acevedo said. “This is an 18-month contract [whose Notice to Proceed date was Oct. 2, 2017], and I don’t kid anybody by saying that we will be done in exactly 18 months.” Paul Groncki, president of the 100 West 16th Street Block Association, told this publication by phone that
having the city work on replacing the water mains now is better than the alternative — a water main break. “We’ve seen the reactive project,” Groncki said, recalling the water main breaks on Fifth and Seventh Aves. “I’d rather work proactively on this than reactively.” At the town hall, one resident who lives on W. 16th St. and Ninth Ave. expressed frustration over having brown water, no water or low pressure water for three years while the
CHELSEA MARKET continued from p. 12
Jamestown had previously negotiated with CB4, among them a one-time capital improvements payment of $17 million to Friends of the High Line (who declined to comment on the matter), promised hotel jobs, and a passel of community programs — some of which Jamestown has already fulfilled. Said Borock, “It will be interesting to see if the High Line says, ‘We’ll take the $17 million, and we’ll take the shadows.’ ” In the past seven years, Jamestown has made significant financial contributions to at least a dozen local projects — including a food worker training program in Long Island City, a food incubator space, a nutritional program at two local schools, landscaping and displaying public artwork on the Chelsea Market concourse, sponsoring Fulton Houses’ holiday party and several $10,000 Thanksgiving turkey giveaways. Their donations include $100,000 to the James Beard Foundation, $36,000 to the Wellness in the Schools program, $1,500 to PS11’s Annual Gala, $1,000 to the Corlears School, and $50,000 to Friends of the High Line. And in 2016, Jamestown did launch their promised TechUp program, a bi-weekly, seven-month technology literacy program for youth aged 16–24 at Elliot Chelsea Houses and Fulton Houses, which teaches skills to work in marketing, publishing, nonprofit, and media. The program was a partnership between Hudson Guild and The LAMP, and fulfills Jamestown Properties’ goodwill promise to provide NYC Community Media
Photo by Christian Miles
Ownership by Google calls into question the future of Chelsea Market’s retail tenants. CB4 Chair Burt Lazarin said their elimination “would be a pretty stupid public relations move.”
city worked on the Ninth Ave. main. “Periodically you’ll get one building or another,” he said. “It’s never all the buildings at the same time… It happens on and off.” If residents experience any brown water from the project, they should not worry, Acevedo said. “When we’re working on these old pipes and we start moving them around, sediment starts to come loose,” he noted, adding, “When you put a new lane of pipe in, we may have disturbed sediment from what we’re attaching it to which is the old pipe. Since the city can’t get to every single street all the time, this is sometimes what happens. It’s not dangerous, it just needs to be run and flushed.” A teacher from Bayard Rustin questioned Acevedo about the school’s test times for SATs, Regents, and midterms, wondering how construction noise might interfere with testing at the school. “For some of these kids,” she noted, “noise can unsettle them.” Acevedo said that the city has already begun contacting schools about test days and is willing to fi nd ways to mitigate the circumstances. “We’re happy to know what the needs are,” he assured. “If we need to stay off the lot, we’ll take that into consideration.”
educational resources for area teens. Perhaps ironically in hindsight, the program received generous assistance from Google, which reportedly paid for all of the technology in the center, including computers and smart boards. Now, Chelsea residents are left wondering if these programs will continue. Paul Groncki, president of the 100 West 16th Block Association, said, “They’re supposed to give money to the High Line. And there’s the TechUp center at Hudson Guild — does this sale put that in danger? Also, Jamestown was involved in helping save the mural from Greenwich Savings Bank. What will happen with that? There’s a lot more questions than answers about the implication of this sale.” The CCBA’s Borock said that while an influx of Google workers could establish Chelsea as a tech sector and be good for area businesses, the move to permit vertical expansion “wasn’t good in terms of protecting a historic district that the community fought for years to protect.” “I would also say it’s disappointing because since the big fights the community had in 2011 about expansion of the Chelsea Market, Jamestown has actually been very proactive about their role in the community in positive ways, and redeemed itself a bit in the eyes of the community,” said Groncki. “Now to find them flipping and selling and walking away from Chelsea is very disappointing.” NYC Community Media reached out to Jamestown and Google for comment, and will keep readers apprised as to developments in this deal. Februar y 8, 2018
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