Advocates Charge B, C Station Fixes Ignore Accessibility 05
Hell’s Kitchen Top of the Composting Heap 07
DE BLASIO OKAYS SAFER CONSUMPTION SPACES TO CURB OVERDOSES Photo courtesy of New York Public Library
Lincoln Center’s Library for the Performing Arts will receive technology upgrades through City Councilmember Helen Rosenthal’s participatory budgeting process.
UWS Participatory Budgeting Boosts Libraries, Schools, Firehouse BY SYDNEY PEREIRA Grassroots democracy can be seen in action on the Upper West Side. City Councilmembers Helen Rosenthal and Mark Levine announced winners of their respective participatory budgeting efforts where residents decide what’s to be done with around $1 million in discretionary funds in their district. Thousands of Upper West Siders voted this spring for projects ranging from technology upgrades at libraries and schools to window replacements at a firehouse. “This is always an exciting time of year,” Levine, who represents District 7, said in a written statement. “It’s truly amazing to see how our community comes together to get things done through this process.” Project winners in Levine’s district include $500,000 for external lighting at the New York City Housing Authority’s Grant Houses on Broadway in Morningside Heights; $60,000 for bus countdown clocks along Broadway; $200,000 for computers, printers, Wi-Fi, projectors, and audio systems at George Bruce, Hamilton Grange, and Bloomingdale public libraries; and a total of $400,000 for technology upgrades at M.S. 54 Booker T. Washington and P.S. 36 Margaret Douglas schools. “This year’s winners represent an incredible cross section of projects from across my district, from libraries at all three 7th District libraries to technology upgrades at VOTERS’ BUDGET continued on p. 4
May 17 – 30, 2018 | Vol. 04 No. 10
Photo by Donna Aceto
Demonstrators sat in on Lower Broadway near City Hall after a May 2 speakout on Safer Consumption Spaces one day before Mayor Bill de Blasio endorsed the concept.
BY NATHAN RILEY A multi-year push in New York City to offer drug users a safe place for consuming their drugs seems destined for success after Mayor Bill de Blasio announced his support for “overdose prevention centers.” Public health advocates voiced enthusiasm as the news spread on May 3 that the administration reached out to Dr. Howard Zucker, the state health commissioner, for a go-ahead to open four Safer Consumption Spaces in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and the Bronx. Brooklyn City Councilmember Stephen Levin, the chair of the General Welfare Committee who was arrested the day before in a sit-in on Lower Broadway opposite City Hall to push de Blasio to act, tweeted, “Where others look down upon our most vulnerable we will show love and a path towards recovery… This will save lives.”
De Blasio’s action came in the wake of a city health department study of this approach toward curbing drug overdoses funded by the City Council in 2016 and completed this past December. The mayor set conditions likely easy to satisfy. He sought support from the city’s district attorneys, and Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance, Jr., and Brooklyn DA Eric Gonzalez immediately signaled their endorsements via Twitter, with Vance writing, “We are proud to support the Mayor’s proposal to establish Overdose Prevention Centers. Thanks for your leadership.” In a written statement, Corey Johnson, the West Side City Council speaker who initially pushed the proposal in 2016 while chairing the Health Committee and getting $100,00 to fund the study, said, “We thank Mayor SAFER SPACES continued on p. 4
Department of Buildings Conference Cites Risk Reduction as a ‘Moral Imperative’ BY EILEEN STUKANE Twelve construction workers died in 2017, a fatality number that has remained the same for the last three years. “The 12 fatalities are unacceptable,” said Timothy Hogan, NYC Department of Buildings (DOB) Deputy Commissioner, Enforcement. He was speaking to over 350 building professionals at the DOB’s eighth annual Build Safe/Live Safe conference on May 10. Throughout the day, DOB’s specialists conducted educational seminars with PowerPoint presentations that would fulfill license renewal course requirements for Professional Engineers (PEs) and Registered Architects — but life-and-death risk was never far from minds. Whether the topic was structural stability, gas work, excavation or classifying housing, the emphasis never veered from what could be done to keep the almost 160,000 workers at our city’s construction sites from harm, not to mention the rest of us who walk under scaffolding and around big machinery every day. “While construction has long been one of the most dangerous jobs in America, we have a moral imperative to reduce the risks. Indeed, our goal has to be that no one loses their life on a construction site,” said Rick Chandler, DOB Commissioner, in his opening remarks. “To further this goal we’ve increased penalties and enforcement operations to send the message to everyone in the construction industry that safe-
ty must come first. We’ve quadrupled fines for the most serious safety lapses and we’ve hired more than 140 new enforcement inspectors.” In addition to fatalities, there were 666 injuries in 2017 and 184, or 29 percent, were due to workers falling. Deputy Commissioner Hogan gave examples of workers who did not tie off their safety equipment to proper anchors, or professionals such as the surveyor who walked onto a platform unaware that it had not been secured, falling five stories to his death. “Tie off,” counseled Hogan. “Ten deaths here were preventable if safety measures were taken. The individuals who died would be here today if they had tied off.” Another measure of safety which he felt was frequently forgotten was that cold-formed steel should not be moved until it is completely secured based on manufacturers’ recommendations. Such steel overloaded on a platform that cannot bear the weight can, and has, cracked and collapsed on workers. Due to a cold-formed steel load, Hogan noted, “Two workers fell through a fourth floor platform and were trapped. It took the fire department five hours to dig them out,” said Hogan.
LEGISLATING SAFETY Local Law 196 of 2017 was a star at the Build Safe/Live Safe conference. It took a
Photo by Eileen Stukane
SAFETY continued on p. 14
A flyer at the conference reminded attendees to stay alert and follow safety guidelines, even if they have years of experience.
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Sonel â€œSonnyâ€? Ramirez smiles with an employee at one of his two 10th Ave. businesses.
Photos by Dusica Sue Malesevic
Ramirez bought the meat market in 1991.
Sonnyâ€™s Secret to Success in Hellâ€™s Kitchen: â€˜Just Keep it Goingâ€™ BY DUSICA SUE MALESEVIC Longtime Hellâ€™s Kitchen business owner Sonel â€œSonnyâ€? Ramirez is a man of few words. â€œIâ€™m a quiet guy,â€? he told this publication last week at one of his two businesses on a stretch of 10th Ave. between W. 51st and 52nd Sts. Ramirez, 72, settled in Hellâ€™s Kitchen when he was young â€” around five or so â€” after his family immigrated from Puerto Rico. â€œ43rd and Ninth â€” been all my life at that corner,â€? he said. â€œI still live there.â€?
After high school, Ramirez started his first business, a grocery store at 751 10th Ave., in 1965. â€œI always wanted to do this,â€? he said. At the time, his grocery store was one of the few on 10th Ave. Around six years later, the city relocated his store â€” Sonnyâ€™s Grocery â€” to its current spot at 767 10th Ave. In 1991, he explained, he bought the meat market â€” now Sonnyâ€™s 10th Ave. Meat Market â€” across the street from the grocery store, at 758 10th Ave. A regular comes into the meat market
â€” where cuts of meat, slices of cheese, Goya products, and panettone are tightly packed â€” and Ramirez immediately knows his name and says hello. The customer, who declined to be named, called Ramirez the best and said everyone loves him. Classic pop music softly played while meat was loudly pounded, and Ramirez said the neighborhood has gone through changes â€” once gang territory and rife with drugs and prostitution. Both 10th and 11th Avenues have seen development with â€œall new build-
ings coming up,â€? he noted, where there once used to be parking garages and lots. (Ramirez also said that he owns the building at the corner of W. 52nd and 10th Ave., which currently houses a restaurant on the ground floor.) â€œThe city chased them out, bought â€™em out, relocated them,â€? he said. Ramirez said he was happy about the population influx and more customers. There is, however, more competition as well. SONNY RAMIREZ continued on p. 19
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VOTERS’ BUDGET continued from p. 1
M.S. 54 on the Upper West Side and P.S. 36 in Harlem,” Levine added. A record-breaking 2,079 District 7 residents voted this spring. In Councilmember Rosenthal’s District 6, a record 3,583 residents voted, nearly 500 more than last year. “P.B. is a chance for the community to partake in the democratic process in its purest form,” Rosenthal said by email. “People often feel their representatives are not listening to them. P.B. opens the door, giving them a chance not just to vote directly on, but to actually help come up with the projects that will improve their community and make it more vibrant.” The highest number of votes in Rosenthal’s district went to technology upgrades at three Upper West Side libraries: St. Agnes, Riverside, and the Lincoln Center’s Library for the Performing Arts. Voters allocated $200,000 toward selfcheckout kiosks, laptop and desktop computers, printers, and Wi-Fi upgrades. Between District 6 and 7, six public libraries will get $400,000 worth of technology upgrades. “The New York Public Library is honored that our branches have been selected by New Yorkers to receive vital funding that will support important technology improvements,” said a spokesperson for the library system. “In the spirit of such democracy, we thank our City Council Members and their constituents for this wonderful consideration. It remains our privilege and pleasure to serve the vibrant communities of this great city.” Rosenthal’s constituents also voted for $250,000 to purchase smart boards, Mac desktops, tables, and chairs for the technology lab and 12 classrooms at P.S. 166 | The Richard Rodgers School of the Arts and Technology; $42,000 to purchase 35 tree guards to protect Upper West Side sidewalk trees less than two years old; and $500,000 to replace windows at the Engine Company 74 Firehouse. The landmarked firehouse on W. 83rd St. suffers from windows that are are dilapidated — some propped up with blocks of woods, patched with card-
board, and their caulking likely asbestoscontaminated. The new windows will improve firefighters’ working conditions and be energy-efficient while maintaining the building’s historic character. The Participatory Budgeting Project, a nonprofit organization that supports governments and public institutions in launching such programs, has helped spread the grassroots budgeting movement across 1,500 cities in the US and Canada — including Chicago, Boston, and Greensboro, North Carolina. The effort caught fire in New York in 2014, driven especially by councilmembers first elected the year before, such as Rosenthal and Levine. The program involves team of volunteers developing proposals after consulting community groups and city agencies on the district’s needs. The cash — typically around $1 million — must go toward “brick and mortar” projects on city-owned property such as libraries, schools, and public housing, not toward salaries or services. “Participatory budgeting engages our community in the governing process by giving residents the ability to decide what improvements they want to see in their neighborhood,” Levine said. After a few seasons of participatory budgeting, Levine’s constituents are seeing their votes translated to action. This summer, Grant Houses, just below W. 125th St. on Broadway, will open a playground built with participatory funding secured back in 2015. Another halfmillion dollars will add external lighting at the houses. “I can’t wait to cut that ribbon,” Levine said. In 2015, Rosenthal’s constituents voted to fund a mobile food pantry for the West Side Campaign Against Hunger. “Through the mobile pantry and its other programs, WSCAH strives to ensure that our most vulnerable residents have options,” the councilmember said. “They can choose between a wide selection of healthy foods, and they have access to supportive services as well.” “This is a wonderful example of the community’s priorities in action,” Rosenthal added.”
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SAFER SPACES continued from p. 1
de Blasio for taking this brave, important, and necessary step.” Johnson often expresses sympathy for those suffering drug overdoses, mentioning his own history with alcohol and drug use, from which he has been in recovery for years. “Too many people have died from opioids and heroin,” he said. “These sites will save lives and connect addicts with treatment options and trained professionals that could lead them to recovery. This is an issue that has deep personal significance to me.” The US Justice Department has issued quasi-official opinions that Safer Consumption Spaces are illegal, but the mayor, by establishing the sites as temporary research programs, believes Zucker has the legal authority to approve their operation. In the de Blasio administration’s letter to Zucker, Dr. Herminia Palacio, the deputy mayor for health and human services, cited as precedent the pilot research that authorized needle exchanges whose distribution of sterile syringes brought dramatic reductions in new HIV infections among injection drug users. The plan has the strong support of West Side State Assemblymember Richard Gottfried, who chairs the Health Committee. “The Mayor’s announcement is an important step and a testament to the hard work of public health advocates on this issue,” Gottfried said in an email to Manhattan Express, adding, “Supervised injection facilities are an effective harm reduction strategy and a place where people can be connected with appropriate health care and social services.” A letter to de Blasio from Charles King, president of Housing Works, an AIDS services group, demonstrates the quiet persuasion — with loud protests from advocates, as well — that got city leaders behind this project. King was writing in his capacity as chair of Research for a Safer New York, Inc., a consortium of syringe exchanges that have found themselves treating overdoses in clients injecting in their facilities’ bathrooms. This consortium will be the contractor managing the overdose prevention
CONTRIBUTORS Sydney Pereira Donna Aceto Lincoln Anderson Nathan DiCamillo Bill Egbert Dusica Sue Malesevic Tequila Minsky Colin Mixson Scott Stiffler Eileen Stukane
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centers, with Dr. Holly Hagan, an epidemiologist at NYU, overseeing the research effort. NYU has agreed to have its Institutional Review Board evaluate the study design. The mayor acted after the four councilmembers where the initial overdose prevention centers will be sited had endorsed the idea. Johnson and Levin, in particular, had voiced considerable frustration with de Blasio’s slow progress on the issue. In Upper Manhattan, the Washington Heights Corner Project has agreed to sign a contract with the consortium. Upper West Side Councilmember Mark Levine, a SCS supporter who chairs the Health Committee, represents the district that includes the Corner Project. St. Ann’s Corner of Harm Reduction participated in the April 21 Bronx Opioid Community Summit. There, Councilmember Rafael Salamanca, who represents the district where St. Ann’s is located, gave a moving talk about growing up in the Bronx where drug use was common, emphasizing the opportunity to change people’s lives through love and compassion. His remarks, which included his endorsement of Safer Consumption Spaces, drew a standing ovation. The other participating needle exchanges are run by Housing Works, in Midtown West, in Johnson’s district, and VOCALNY, within walking distance of the Atlantic Avenue-Barclay Center subway complex, in Levin’s district. In February testimony before the Council’s Budget Committee, Dr. Mary Bassett, the city health commissioner, said the evidence these facilities stop fatal overdoses is “clear.” Drug users, especially those taking opioids, frequently overdose, but in Safer Consumption Spaces they receive assistance in breathing with doses of naloxone, a public health wonder drug. A plastic nozzle is used to squirt the medication into a user’s nostril and the opioid is inhibited and normal breathing is restored. In Safer Consumption Spaces in more than 100 cities worldwide, there have been no reported fatalities. According to Politico, the number of overdose deaths in New York City hit a record 1,441 in 2017, with 80 percent of them from opioids.
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Advocates Complain B, C Station Fixes Ignore Accessibility BY SYDNEY PEREIRA The six month-long closure at Central Park West’s 72nd St. station began Monday, May 7 — making it the third station along the B and C lines on the Upper West Side to shutter for the summer. Transit groups, disability advocates, and State Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal rallied outside of the station, which was surrounded by a plywood gate blocking it off, construction workers already hammering away. The station closures are a part of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s “Enhanced Station Initiative.” For Upper West Siders, the renovations will bring welcome upgrades to stations at 72nd St., 86th St., 110th St., and 163rd St., including more countdown clocks, Wi-Fi, USB ports, and better lighting. But elevator installations are missing from the $111 million plan, and the MTA has no set plan or timeline for accessibility improvements along this section of the B and C lines. “The station behind me is being closed for 180 days,” Rosenthal said at last Monday’s rally. “The MTA will spend thousands of hours and millions of dollars renovating the station. Hundreds of days, thousands of hours, millions of dollars and not a single ele-
Photo by Sydney Pereira
The United Spinal Association’s Jose Hernandez — flanked to the right by Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal and to the left rear by TransitCenter’s Colin Wright — speaks at a May 7 rally outside the B, C subway station at 72nd St. and Central Park West.
vator to show for it.” The nearest stations along those lines with wheelchair accessibility are at 59th St.-Columbus Circle and 125th St. The
1 line has wheelchair accessibility at the 66th St., 72nd St., and 96th St. stations, which runs along Broadway serveral blocks west of the B and C lines.
Just weeks prior to the closures, some straphangers were unaware of the upcoming closures, as NYC Community Media reported last month. Currently, 110th St. and 163rd St. are closed until September, and the 72nd St. station until October. The fourth and final station due for an upgrade — at 86th St. — will close June 4 through October. The lack of awareness among riders is what Rosenthal, who represents the 67th Assembly District, aims to address in legislation introduced in March. The bill (A-10179) requires the MTA to hold public hearings when a station is due to close for longer than 90 days. Notifying community boards, said Rosenthal, is not enough. “It needs to be widely broadcast, and while the MTA says they notify the community board, we need a more widespread notification — plus, the MTA has to listen to the riders,” she said after the rally. “That’s who the MTA’s constituents are — the riders. And perhaps they would have heard an earful about how these stations need to be made accessible when major renovation takes place.” Advocates had three key demands for B, C STATIONS continued on p. 17
May 20 Means AIDS Walk New York BY PAUL SCHINDLER An event that Gay Men’s Health Crisis has produced for more than 30 years is due to hit Central Park again on Sunday, May 20. In AIDS Walk’s many years, just under 900,000 people have walked, raising nearly $150 million to combat HIV and AIDS. Though GMHC is the primary beneficiary, dozens of other groups in the tri-state area that are members of the Community Partnership Program also receive funding from the annual 10k trek. Last year, roughly 20,000 participants raised about $4.6 million. At last May’s AIDS Walk, Kelsey Louie, GMHC’s CEO, took note of the new political climate in the nation and the threat it posed toward the funding of critical health needs, saying, “We issued the call, and AIDS Walk participants responded by showing up — to help people living with HIV; to help people in need of food, housing, and care; and to help certain elected leaders see what compassion looks like.” Craig Miller, the event’s senior organizer, took more direct aim at NYC Community Media
Photos by Donna Aceto
Javier Muñoz, the out gay, HIV-positive actor then starring in the title role of “Hamilton,” at the 2017 AIDS Walk.
The crowd in Central Park for last year’s AIDS Walk.
Republican efforts at that time to dismantle the Affordable Care Act implemented during the Obama administration, saying, “The noise, negativity, and nonsense out of Washington cannot drown out this demand from New Yorkers: We refuse to allow healthcare discrimination against people with HIV, diabetes, heart disease, and dozens of other ‘pre-existing conditions.’ We are
fighting lawmakers that seek to strip away healthcare from millions. Our preexisting conditions of compassion and unity will overcome efforts to divide and exclude.” At this year’s event, sign-in begins at 8:30 a.m. in Central Park, and a 9:15 opening ceremony will feature Matt Bomer, Charlie Carver, Hunter Emery, Tan France, Annie Golden, Selinis
Leyva, Rosie Perez, Zachary Quinto, Andrew Rannells, Mercedes Ruehl, and Michael Urie, among many. The Post-Walk Show will include performances by the Pointer Sisters, “American Idol” Frenchie Davis, and half a dozen stars of “RuPaul’s Drag Race.” For complete information or to register, visit ny.aidswalk.net. May 17, 2018
‘Prelude’ Performers Set Tantalizing Tone for Programming at The Shed
Photos by Rania Richardson
Dancers in the ring battle performed astonishing feats.
The Shed is still under construction on the High Line, and will open next spring.
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BY RANIA RICHARDSON It was a beautiful evening — warm enough to hint that summer is on the way. I had reserved free tickets online for a couple of events at “A Prelude to The Shed,” the public introduction to a performance space that will open next spring as part of the Hudson Yards development on the far west side of Midtown Manhattan. Exiting Penn Station, I could see booming construction everywhere. Cranes and towers in progress blocked the view of the blue sky. What will the area be like when the buildup is finished? Will it feel energetic and exciting, or cramped and crowded? I walked along W. 31st St. to 10th Ave., and found a corner lot as yet undeveloped, where a smaller, temporary version of The Shed stood, while the real one was under construction — one block away on the High Line. There was no mistaking this space for anything permanent. From the gravel groundcover to the trailers and tents, the set up was raw and unadorned. Up a few stairs there was a seating area and a shipping container housing a snack bar. A pretentious (albeit mouthwatering) menu included a roast beef sandwich with truffle mushroom aioli, and fruity macarons with cream cheese buttercream. According to a server, this was a representative menu of the one to come. Tufted, padded benches encircled the mock Shed. A “Prelude Ambassador” stood at the doorway and directed audi-
ence members inside, warning us to be careful. I walked through the short tunnel and into the nightmarish scenario of a warm, pitch-black, enclosed space. There was a one-inch slit of light pouring in from the corner but it didn’t help. I heard chanting and running, then singing “Wannabe” by the Spice Girls. But where were the performers exactly? We, the audience members, kept bumping into each other. A few minutes later, my eyes had adjusted and I could see at least a dozen black silhouettes of bodies against a dark grey background, dancing freestyle. It was a beautiful sight. I walked the perimeter of the room to get a sense of the whole space, as I had realized that the audience was on the outside and the performers in the middle of the room. More dancing and singing ensued, and what seemed to be an improvisational discussion on the meaning of success. When I got back to the entrance, something unexpected happened. The performers and others began spinning the wall panels and opening sections to allow the audience members outside. The panels were on wheels, so they moved easily. Like this temporary venue, The Shed will be a flexible space, physically transforming to support different types of artistic work. It will have a telescoping outer shell. Very soon a crowd gathered outside, as the same group of performers conSHED continued on p. 12 NYC Community Media
Chelsea, Hell’s Kitchen Sitting Pretty at Top of Hudson River Park Composting Heap BY CWPA BOARD MEMBER DONATHAN SALKALN It takes a monumental commitment for people to separate food scraps, pack them up, and drop them off in the Hudson River Park composting collection bins — and that’s precisely what residents of Chelsea and Hell’s Kitchen did better than their counterparts in the areas of Battery Park, Tribeca, the West Village, Greenwich Village, and the Meatpacking District. This accomplishment and so many more were celebrated at May 9’s annual meeting of the Chelsea Waterside Park Association (CWPA), held at Chelsea’s German Lutheran Church of St. Paul. During the first year of the composting program, initiated by the Hudson River Park Trust (HRPT; hudsonriverpark.org), Chelsea processed 4,712 pounds, only outdone by the bin at Pier 84’s dog run (at W. 44th St.), which netted 5,797 pounds. And although Gristedes and Western Beef anchor Chelsea’s West Side, it is the shoppers at Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s who are composting champions, as reported by HRPT via Peter Kelly, Assistant Director of Horticulture. Kelly often gets his green thumbs smeared with muck while emptying the bags. “During the process, we separate the bags from the scraps. Paper bags are ripped up before joining the scraps, so they won’t jam the machine’s augers,” Kelly said, adding, “Please don’t use the small composting eco-green bags, as they also get caught in the augers and are a pain.” It is a testament to the work of NYC Council Speaker Corey Johnson that his district of Chelsea CWPA continued on p. 20
Photo by Donathan Salkaln
“If you’re going to increase density in New York City for residences, you should also be investing in green spaces,” said NY4P Executive Director Lynn Kelly, addressing the city’s new zoning plans.
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Town Hall Tracks â€˜Challengingâ€™ L Train Project Issues BY SYDNEY PEREIRA Transit and transportation agency heads Andy Byford and Polly Trottenberg last Wednesday faced an auditorium packed with residents asking tough questions about what has been described as the cityâ€™s most unprecedented transit challenge in history â€” the L train shutdown. â€œI can say this is one of the most challenging projects Iâ€™ve ever seen,â€? Trottenberg, commissioner of the cityâ€™s Department of Transportation (DOT), told the May 9 town hall, at The New School, at 66 W. 12th St. â€œThis is one thatâ€™s fairly unprecedented, and I think both entities have agreed that we need some really unprecedented solutions.â€? Trottenberg, along with Byford, president of the New York City Transit Authority (NYCTA), and other city officials fielded three hours of questions about the shutdown plan. Under the plan, the L train would be shut down between Bedford and Eighth Aves. for 15 months starting in April 2019, so that the Canarsie Tunnel, under the East River, can be repaired. The cityâ€™s proposed mitigation plan, or â€œservice plan,â€? would
Photo by Tequila Minsky
The 14th St. Coalition was well represented at May 9â€™s town hall, along with residents from Downtown Manhattan and Brooklyn.
increase subway service on the J, M, G, and C lines; add ferry service from North Williamsburg to E. 20th St.; create high-occupancy-vehicle (HOV-3) car lanes and add three new bus routes over the Williamsburg Bridge, with 70 buses per hour crossing the bridge; install a two-way protected crosstown bike lane on 13th St.; and turn 14th St. into a â€œbuswayâ€?
between Third and Eighth Aves. Well-represented at the town hall was the 14th St. Coalition, an adhoc group of Chelsea and Village residents who recently sued the DOT, the NYCTA, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) and the Federal Transit Administration over the L train shutdown plan. The coalition is suing over the lack of an
environmental impact statement, or EIS, having been done, as well as the planâ€™s failure to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. In addition to the Village and Chelsea coalition members, residents from all over Downtown Manhattan and some from Brooklyn, too, showed up to ask questions. â€œWe were really glad about that,â€? said Judy Pesin, co-chairperson of the 14th St. Coalition. â€œWe were glad that the forum gave the MTA and DOT the chance to really hear the communityâ€™s concerns from them â€” not just from a few of us on the coalition.â€? Pesin and other coalition members have said the coalition has been mischaracterized as a handful of NIMBY residents. But for Pesin, who lives on 13th St., the town hall made her hopeful that transit officials will balance the needs of commuters and Manhattan residents. â€œThatâ€™s what weâ€™ve been asking for,â€? she said. â€œTheyâ€™ve told us the plans are not cut in stone. Weâ€™re hoping to see these concerns reflected in L TRAIN continued on p. 8
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May 17, 2018
His Show Will Only Go ‘Up’ If You Help Peter Michael Marino’s latest is a kid-friendly free-for-all BY SCOTT STIFFLER When a press release from Peter Michael Marino comes across your desk, it’s tempting to speculate that having a name with such awesome alliteration is all one needs to establish the appropriate rhythm a multidisciplinarian’s busy schedule demands — but the truth is, it’s not easy to accomplish every task at hand, especially when the very act of showing up presents its own challenges. The above-mentioned writer, director, producer, teacher, and all-around well-rounded performer was hoofing it back to his reportedly groovy pad in Chelsea when he answered the phone and spoke with us about a new project, one of several plates he’s committed himself to spin over the span of a three-day period. On the night of Friday, May 18, he’ll be in the wings — or at least on deck — for the premiere of a solo show he’s directing (Mindy Pfeffer’s triathlonthemed “There’s Iron in Your Future”). On Saturday night, Marino presides over an allstar reading of “Desperately Seeking the Exit,” his acclaimed comedic account of mounting a 2007 West End musical flop based on “Desperately Seeking Susan.” But it’s the middle ingredient of this show business sandwich that especially piqued our interest: On Saturday afternoon, Marino launches a kid-friendly version of the improvised performance this publication saw, to great enjoyment, at The PIT Loft (a W. 29th St. hub for every conceivable form of comedy). That 2017 production, “Show Up,” had Marino in disarming and breezy conversation with the audience, during which elements of their
May 17, 2018
Illustration by Eric Sailer
The illustrated man: Peter Michael Marino is poised to deliver a highly animated performance.
personal history and prior events of that particular day were summed up on very large Post-It notes tacked to the theater’s back wall — which eventually became plastered with plot points for an improvised satirical solo show that obligated the cheeky and capable Marino to incorporate every
suggestion into an increasingly absurd narrative (audience members had a hand in directing, by creating the set and providing music/lighting cues that took the performer in even more unexpected directions). Which brings us to his new project: “Show Up, Kids!”
“I had this notion,” Marino recalled, “that ‘Show Up’ would be fun for kids, because, like the adult show, it puts them in charge of the content.” Marino noted that his own experience with social anxiety — a thematic undercurrent of the adult show, is also a component, albeit an age-appropriate one,
of the family-friendly version. Youthful audience members, he said, will be contributing to the show’s content by sharing “things they are scared of.” The premise of the show, he told us, “is that the performer they came to see is not there, and SHOW UP continued on p. 13 NYC Community Media
Workers Can’t Live on Sub-Minimum Wages! By Stuart Appelbaum, President Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, UFCW
Photo by Eri Harada
Midori Takada is in performance at The Kitchen on May 21.
Midori Takada at The Kitchen Given the towering plumes of toxicity spewing into the American political atmosphere as of late, one could argue there’s probable cause to critique the current presidential administration as using “its energy and spirit towards instigating an outward-bound offensive and a course of domination, not a spirit based on building one’s inner self.” But the author of that quote was actually referring to Western classical music, whose doctrine stands in stark contrast to her own approach. Working from the perspective of what the press material notes is an “encyclopedic knowledge of Asian and African percussive traditions and a clear kinship with Reich and Glass,” Japanese percussionist, composer, and theater artist Midori Takada
arrives at The Kitchen on May 21 for a solo performance. With the marimba as her anchor, and a variety of other instruments spread across the stage, Takada creates a form of minimalist music whose looping melodies and slowly building rhythms combine to create a hypnotic state that could very well be your gateway to much-needed contemplation and clarity. Mon., May 21, 8pm at The Kitchen (512 W. 19th St., btw. 10th & 11th Aves.). For tickets ($25), visit thekitchen. org or call 212-255-5793, x11. Facebook: f a c e b o o k . c o m / T h e K i t c h e n N YC Twitter: twitter.com/TheKitchen_NYC. Instagram: instagram.com/TheKitchen_ NYC. —Scott Stiffler
o worker should earn less than the minimum wage, ever. But in many low-wage industries, including car wash, where many workers are represented by the RWDSU, that’s what has been happening for years. Now, however, there’s hope that this will change, and that countless workers in New York state – including car wash, restaurant, nail salon workers, and parking attendants – will be guaranteed to take home at least the minimum wage for their hard work. The RWDSU and other unions and worker-advocates are leading the charge to get rid of the so-called “tip credit,” which has allowed operators to pay workers well below the minimum wage on the theory that tips will more than make up the difference. In reality, however, this system has created a confusing web of different minimum wages that often provides employers with an outrageous license to steal. In many cases, including car wash, a mind-boggling morass of differing sub-minimum wages – which can change weekly – leaves workers scratching their head over what their actual minimum wage is supposed to be. Hearings, ordered by Governor Cuomo, are being held throughout this spring and summer in Buffalo, Syracuse, Long Island, New York City, and Albany. Department of Labor ofﬁcials are hearing ﬁrst-hand about the struggles workers affected by sub-minimum wages are experiencing. Workers have testiﬁed about the inability to live in dignity because they can’t afford decent housing for their families, and how they can’t look for other work because they cannot afford adequate transportation. Workers struggle with paying their bills and putting food on the table. For the car wash workers in New York City – especially those without union representation – sub-minimum wages are a vehicle for wage theft and systemic underpayment. Investigations have shown that employers don’t always make up the extra pay for workers when tips are short, and car wash workers don’t always receive the tips customers presume are going into their pockets. We shouldn’t be giving unscrupulous employers additional opportunities to underpay their workers, and that’s exactly what tip credit does in the car wash industry and many others. Car wash operators have been ﬁned and directed to make restitution for wage theft to the tune of millions of dollars. In many industries, immigrant workers are particularly susceptible to tip credit-aided wage theft. Nail salon workers, deliverymen, car wash workers, restaurant workers; all are affected by wage theft and the sub-minimum wage loophole that makes it easier for employers to underpay them and even steal from them. The ongoing hearings are an important next step in ensuring that 5,000 car wash workers in New York now have a chance to earn fair wages for their work, and that no worker in the Empire State is underpaid and impoverished. It’s time to get rid of the tip credit, eliminate legal sub-minimum wages, and raise wages to make sure that all workers have a chance to thrive in New York.
www.rwdsu.org NYC Community Media
May 17, 2018
SHED continued from p. 6
tinued their avant-garde work, “This variation,” by Tino Sehgal. Next up, an MC took over and a DJ rolled out his turntables. The MC, programmer Reggie (Regg Roc) Gray, introduced a series of young dancers competing in the “D.R.E.A.M Ring” dance battles. With eye-popping twists and turns, the participants performed “flexn,” a dance style with roots in Jamaica. One appeared to have no bones in his body, one turned into an alien through facial expressions, and another bent in half backwards. They bested each other individually and then expanded their repertoires in groups. As they sprung and contorted to an enthusiastic crowd, smartphone cameras were out in full force. At times, fans jumped up and down and screamed in approval. After seeing so much talent, many in the audience were eager to participate in some instruction themselves, stepping to the beat as the dancers demonstrated easy moves. The dance lesson put us in a great mood. Teri-Ann Carryl, a stage manager at Brooklyn Arts Exchange (BAX), told me that she loved the performance. “It recreated the atmosphere of club dancing in an open space and involved an audience that might not experience it otherwise,” she said. Later, with folding chairs set up and the benches spun inside, the now brightly lit interior space was ready for speakers. Dan Doctoroff, chairman and president of The Shed, explained that the venue needed to be unique and on the leading edge of culture. Besides visual art and performance, it would include other disciplines. To that end, he introduced Kevin Slavin, the organization’s officer of science and technology, who spoke on the makings of healthy environments. He relayed an incident from a few years ago in which bees mistook syrup at a maraschino cherry factory for nectar and produced a gooey red
Photos by Rania Richardson
Putting aside all fears, the audience entered the pitch black performance space through a short tunnel.
Performers moved tufted seats to reconfigure the space.
The Shed’s Kevin Slavin presented slides, including one of bees in a maraschino cherry factory.
A crowd of fans expressed their exuberance during a dance battle.
stood before me, next to Vessel, the steel observation tower that resembles a skeleton. Many structures in the area are spectacular, even as works-inprogress, and tourists were busy taking photos. Like Dumbo in Brooklyn, with
such an array of visuals, the area is a big lure for Instagram users who are fans of architecture. They will have even more to capture next year, indoors and outdoors, with performances and events at The Shed.
substance instead of honey. On that note, I exited the space, still listening to Slavin from the outside speakers. I crossed 10th Ave. and ascended the stairs to the High Line, where The Shed, shiny and silver,
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SHOW UP continued from p. 10
I have to fill the time. To do that, Iâ€™m going to have to face my fear and create a show, using them as the inspiration for the settings and costumes and plot. So I get examples of their own issues. It starts off with things theyâ€™re afraid of or donâ€™t like to do, and transforms into things they love or want to accomplish.â€? Gently plucked from the crowd (Marino excels at getting what he needs in a non-confrontational, audience-empowering manner), two kids, he noted, will be in charge of moving the set, and another kid will be tasked with choosing props â€œfrom a bin of things like ridiculous wigs and hatsâ€Ś and I have one parent and a kid running the iPad, to pick out the sound effects.â€? Marino said his first inkling of how â€œShow Upâ€? might translate to a younger demographic came when he was on the street selling his show to potential audience members just prior to a performance at the 2017 Orlando International Fringe Theatre Festival. A mother wanted to take her 14-yearold son, but, Marino recalled, â€œI wasnâ€™t sure they should see a show talking about adult issues and using adult language. But the kid told his mom after the show, â€˜I have social anxiety, and that guy has social anxiety â€” and if he can do a show about it in front of people, I can do anything.â€™ â€? That comment came to Marino in the form of a social media post from the mother, and â€œkept me afloat for, like, six months,â€? Marino recalled. â€œIt was the best gift I
Photo by Peter Michael Marino
Audience members gather for a group photo at the end of the show they had a hand in creating.
could get from a show, and I think â€” I hope â€” that â€˜Show Up, Kids!â€™ will do the same thing. I hope they [kids in the audience with social anxiety] see this guy whoâ€™s never done a kidsâ€™ show and think, â€˜I can do something like that. I can do show and tell. I can do public speaking.â€™ â€? â€œShow Up, Kids!â€? has a running time of 50 minutes and is appropriate for kids ages 4-10 and their guardians. Semi-written and performed by Peter Michael Marino. Directed by Michole
Biancosino and the audience. At 12pm on Sat./Sun., May 19 & 20; Sat., June 16; and Sat./Sun., June 30 & July 1. At the Kraine Theater (85 E. Fourth St., btw. Bowery & Second Ave.). For
tickets ($15 for adults, $5 for under 10-years olds), visit tinyurl.com/kidskrainetix. For the show website, visit showuptheshow.com. For artist info, visit petermmarino.com.
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Seen in silhouette, but hardly in the dark: Peter Michael Marinoâ€™s improvised solo show is poised to transition into a kid-friendly version. NYC Community Media
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Over 350 building professionals — owners, developers, contractors, architects, engineers, construction companies — filled a W. 46th St. venue for the DOB’s annual Build Safe/Live Safe conference. SAFETY continued from p. 2
while for the bill that would create this law for safety training to be approved by the New York City Council, since there was opposition from the real estate industry, contractors, and immigration advocates. Initially it was felt that the extent of the required safety training favored union members and would jeopardize the jobs of minority and nonunion workers. Eventually, a consensus was reached, and the approved bill was signed into law by Mayor Bill de Blasio in October 2017. A task force of 14 members — seven appointed by the mayor and seven appointed by the Speaker of the City Council — created the curriculum for citywide safety training. (Of the City Council appointments, six were made by then-Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, with the seventh appointed by Corey Johnson after he became Speaker in January 2018). The law, designed to save lives, has some daunting requirements. It was the job of Patrick Wehle, DOB Assistant Commissioner, External Affairs, to bring everyone in the conference up to speed. Wehle began by reminding everyone that much of the training in the curriculum already existed. “The problem we have today is not lack of availability of quality training, it’s lack of workers who are availing themselves of that training,” he said. The new law mandates construction and demolition
May 17, 2018
Rick Chandler, Commissioner, NYC Department of Buildings, spoke to the industry crowd about the department’s determination to change the culture of construction sites.
workers on large building construction projects where licensed safety professionals are required, to undergo specified hours of safety training. Permit holders of a building project must now keep a log, subject to DOB inspection, that identifies workers and supervisors on the job, and their proof of training. The Local Law 196 safety training follows Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) guidelines, which are being undertaken in phases. By May 1, 2019 workers at designated job sites will have received 40 hours of safety training and safety
supervisors, 62 hours. In March 2018, workers began a minimum of 10 hours of OSHA training (but could also have signed up for OSHA’s 30-hour training or a DOBapproved 100-hour training program). By December 2018, 30 hours of OSHA training are needed, and, by May 1, 2019, a minimum of 40 hours of safety training. (In-person and proctored online training courses are available.) By 2020, all construction sites should be employing people who have completed 40 hours of safety training. The days of falling cranes and suspended
scaffolds breaking loose — potential accidents that frighten New Yorkers and make them scurry across the street to distance themselves from construction sites — should, ideally, be over (or most certainly, greatly reduced). DOB inspectors will show up at construction sites to see whether workers have training, and for every worker who does not have proof of training, there is a violation with a fine of up to $5,000 each for the owner of the site, the permit holder of the job, and the employer of the untrained worker. The fine will hold for each untrained worker. There is also a violation with a $2,500 penalty if the permit holder of a job fails to keep a site safety log of the proven safety training every worker has completed.
OLD BUILDINGS STILL ALIVE The story of New York City buildings was told through the seminar “Classifying NYC’s Housing Stock: Clarifying a Difficult Issue,” conducted by Timothy Lynch PE, DOB Chief Engineer, Enforcement, and Jill Hrubecky PE, DOB Executive Engineer, Investigative Engineering Services. The two engineers offered the news that the DOB is building a census of every building in New York City, all 1.1 million of them. There is no complete, centralized source for records of every building — its age and structure — in any city NYC Community Media
Photo by Eileen Stukane
They may be DOB engineers, but Timothy Lynch and Jill Hrubecky are also top-notch detectives on the case of NYC’s housing history.
agency, yet the DOB’s housing data goes back to the 1600s. From 1950 on, the DOB’s building records are catalogued. Prior to 1950, housing records, if they exist, are scattered. Lynch spoke like a detective, tracking down the profiles of buildings through historic codes, zoning, the Landmark Preservation Commission’s 40,000 buildings, and most fruitful for him, the NYC Department of Finance (DOF). “The DOF is constantly scrubbing our data because their revenues depend on buildings,” he said. “There’s a known DOF classification that nearly never changes and we use it as one of our bases and reconcile around it.” Lynch is down to about 100,000 of what he calls “mystery buildings” that he is working to find and analyze, buildings that are at least 150 years old, probably of unreinforced masonry. Whenever the mystery is solved, the asset to builders will be in knowing whether a construction project will include such old buildings with their frail structures and safety issues. Then plans can be created to prevent collapse. Asked for his perspective, Andrew Berman, Executive Director, Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation (gvshp.org), noted in a May 15 email to this publication that he had not yet heard about the project. “If done accurately, it sounds like it could be a great resource,” Berman said, but expressed concerns that a “census of buildings with inaccurate information about date of construction could do more harm than good.” Nevertheless, such a resource seems poised to be of both interest and use to numerous city departments and neighborhood preservation groups.
FOR NEW YORKERS When talking safety, Joe Solvedere, DOB’s Assistant Commissioner, Communications, advises that the takeaway from the conference should be for construction workers to be alert to the need to wear safety harnesses connected to anchors. He reminds that if any New Yorker sees work on a construction site that appears to be unsafe, he or she should call 311 to report it. “We will route inspectors to take a look and take enforcement actions if we need to,” he said. There are over 7,000 sidewalk sheds citywide, taking up almost 270 miles, which he counsels are “perfectly safe,” and can be located on a real-time map via www1.nyc.gov/assets/buildings/html/sidewalk-shedmap.html. NYC Community Media
May 17, 2018
L TRAIN continued from p. 8
revisions.” However, some said the event offered nothing new and that concerns without a factual basis were repeatedly raised. “The redundancy is incredibly frustrating,” said Philip Leff, a North Brooklyn volunteer activist for Transportation Alternatives (TransAlt). “Wednesday night did not move the debate at all. It was just another rehashing of tired, old stereotypes,” he said. “We just need DOT and MTA to stick to the real data and make a plan that benefits the 400,000 New Yorkers that rely on the L every day.” Doors opened for the meeting at 5:30 p.m. and it began around 6:30 p.m. Some residents had to wait until 9:30 p.m. to ask their questions. Village and Chelsea residents were particularly concerned how restricting cars from the 14th St. dedicated busway would affect the one-way side streets to the north and south of the crosstown corridor. “My concern was that, with all of that increased traffic, what will the MTA and DOT — really, the DOT — be doing to mitigate some of that local impact on our side streets,” said Mike Hartigan, a 15th St. resident and member of the 14th St. Coalition. Hartigan, among others, noted that the area’s side streets are already overburdened and dealing with traffic issues, including a lack of enforcement against trucks illegally parking and driving on them. Fourteenth St. being the borderline between a number of police precincts, Hartigan said, puts the surrounding area in a “limbo zone.” Several times during the town hall, Inspector Dennis Fulton, from the Police Department’s Transportation Bureau, said he would report the trucks-enforcement issue on 15th St. to the local precinct. Trottenberg said the DOT is still determining exactly what the agency would do to mitigate traffic impacts north and south of 14th St. She stressed that the plan’s fl exibility would allow changes to be made during the shutdown, such as to ramp up changes or scale them back. For Hartigan, however, Trottenberg’s answer did not reassure him that the agencies would take action if the plan turns out to be a disaster. Trottenberg several times noted, without too many specifi cs, that the DOT has a “toolkit” of trafficmitigation measures. Hartigan said
May 17, 2018
Photo by Tequila Minsky
L to R: Inspector Dennis Fulton, from the Police Department’s Transportation Bureau, DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg, and Eric Beaton, DOT Deputy Commissioner for Transportation Planning and Management.
she could have elaborated on that more, but added, “I am thankful that they are doing more community outreach.” In his question to Trottenberg, Hartigan pointed out the MTA estimates there would be a 33 percent increase in the number of cars on 12th, 13th, 15th and 16th Sts. if the busway was implemented on 14th St. between Third and Eighth Aves. between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. The same traffic analysis, published in February, states that if just 3 percent to 5 percent of morning peakhour bus riders opt for cabs or Ubers should 14th St. buses get stuck in traffic, making no changes to existing 14th St. transportation usage could be worse for side streets than the proposed busway. On the other hand, crosstown travel delays would drop by 51 percent during morning and evening peak rush hours with the busway versus doing no changes on 14th St., according to the report. The MTA’s traffic analysis considered the overall picture of Manhattan streets, with a particular focus on travel times rather than specifi c increases of the number of cars. The analysis determined that a 14th St. busway between Third and Eighth and Ninth Aves. would be most efficient. Residents repeatedly raised environmental and air-quality concerns about the proposed increase of buses along the routes from the Williamsburg Bridge through Downtown and the Village to 14th St. The coalition’s lawsuit includes some of these con-
cerns, as well. Some 200 buses were purchased for the shutdown, only 15 of which will be electric buses. At the town hall, Byford said he would look into increasing the number of electric and natural gas buses for the L train mitigation plan. Residents have complained that commuters’ needs have been prioritized over their own, and that residents’ concerns have not been heard or incorporated into the plan in a meaningful way. “I don’t understand if this is a recovery effort or city planning — where you’re ramming something down our throats and sidestepping an environmental impact statement,” Susan Finley, co-founder of the Flatiron Alliance, said at the town hall. Finley, also a member of the coalition suing the agencies, reiterated concerns about historic, narrow side streets and old underground infrastructure being unable to handle the increased car and bus traffic, and fears that the temporary plans would become permanent after the shutdown. “No one wants to ram anything down anyone’s throat,” Trottenberg responded, apologizing that the city needs to repair the L train after it was inundated with saltwater during Hurricane Sandy. “We didn’t just dream this all up for no reason.” Rather, she said, some 400,000 L train riders — 225,000 of whom go through the Canarsie Tunnel every day — need a new way to commute. “We’ve said here that we think everything is going to be temporary,” Trottenberg said, adding that at the
project’s end, the transit and transportation agencies could re-engage the community about what could possibly stay permanent. Yet, at the same time, she assured, “But the things we’ve said are temporary, they are temporary.” Though residents are concerned about the buses’ environmental impact, Byford reiterated that buses would be more efficient than cars. Although a majority of the buses in the mitigation plan would be diesel, buses hold 60 to 70 people, which would be more efficient in terms of environmental impact than, for instance, 60 or 70 individual cars would be, he noted. “Reading into the room a little bit, the notion came out, time and time again, that buses were somehow going to be more environmentally degrading than private cars,” Chelsea Yamada, a Manhattan organizer with TransAlt, said after the town hall. “It led me to ask a question, which the president of New York City Transit, Andy Byford, answered: The buses will be more efficient than doing nothing. “There was a lot of fear about environmentalism being spun into really an efficiency question that the president answered very simply: Busways are the way to go,” she added. Daily cycling volume is expected to double if the L train shuts down between Brooklyn and Manhattan, according to the MTA. To handle the expected increased volume of cyclists, L TRAIN continued on p. 18 NYC Community Media
B, C STATIONS continued from p. 5
the MTA. “We’re here this morning with a clear message for the MTA,” Colin Wright, the advocacy associate at TransitCenter, said at the rally. “Stop overhauling stations without adding elevators, and show riders a plan for 100-percent accessibility.” He explained that his group is demanding the MTA make a plan for systemwide accessibility, spelling out which stations will be prioritized as well as an aggressive timeline; make accessibility the core of every major renovation; and improve elevator performance. Wright added the few elevators at the 72nd St. station on Broadway were closed for days and weeks at a time.
Photos by Sydney Pereira
On May 7, workers were already busy beginning renovation of the 72nd St. station.
Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal, who sponsors legislation to require public hearings before lengthy subway renovations are started, speaks to the rally.
“This is unacceptable,” he said. Nearly three decades after the federal Americans with Disabilities Act was passed, the city’s subway system lacks elevators at nearly 75 percent of its stations. “The MTA has ignored the disabled community time and time again,” said Jose Hernandez, program specialist at NYC Community Media
the United Spinal Association. “The MTA has closed 72nd, 86th, 110th, and 163rd St. to make all of these renovations and has not made one ADA- compliant station. You would figure one out of the four maybe, but not one of the four are going to be made accessible.” Elevators at subway stations are just one half of the problem — the other half is ensuring elevators are operational. Hernandez recalled a time he was returning home from Washington, DC. After arriving at Penn Station, he took the subway to three different stations with elevators; the first two stations’ elevators weren’t operating. Rather than a 30-minute commute from Penn Station to his home, it took an extra two hours. The fear of broken elevators can keep wheelchair users from using the subway altogether. Madeline DeAddio, a Bronx resident who attended the rally with the Brooklyn Center for Independence of the Disabled (BCID), said she hasn’t used the subway system in five years. Instead, she relies on bus service — which often doesn’t move much faster than a person walking — and Accessa-Ride, a van service the city provides that often leaves residents waiting hours and requires advance planning. Using the subway isn’t worth the trouble for DeAddio, since she often won’t know if the elevator is out of order until arriving. “It’s a nightmare,” DeAddio said, adding that it’s scary and a total nightmare. “We’re supposed to be such a great city, but it’s not that great.” If someone in a chair gets stuck below ground, the Fire Department has to come and carry the person up the steps. With power chairs, which are much heavier than manual wheelchairs, that isn’t even possible, added Tonya Capers, a Manhattan resident who also attended the rally with BCID. “That’s why we’re also here,” said the United Spinal Association’s Hernandez. “We want to be able to to go to movie, grab a drink, and get to a local subway station and not worry about it being broken — and more importantly — about it being accessible.” Right now, those opportunities are lacking, he said. “I can’t have a nightlife,” he said. “I can’t have a life period. Because if I work and get to work late too many times, I’m going to get fired.” Hernandez added that the MTA board needs more diversity in terms of physical disabilities. “If there’s someone with a physical disability speaking up, then they can’t ignore us,” he said.
May 17, 2018
L TRAIN continued from p. 16
the DOT plans to install a two-way protected bikeway with a bike-parking hub on University Place between 13th and 14th Sts. Residents asked how bicyclists’ bad behaviors would be reined in — saying they were afraid of being injured or even killed by rogue bike riders. In the evening’s fi rst question, a man asked Trottenberg how DOT would help train cyclists to keep them from killing him. Another man said his nose was broken when a cyclist struck him. One woman said the Flatiron District is being “terrorized” by cyclists. In response, one cyclist later said that she bikes very slowly and is not a terrorist. Trottenberg said there are about 200 total roadway fatalities each year, and less than half a dozen of those are from a bicycle hitting a pedestrian. She added, though, that she does understand pedestrians’ fear about some bicyclists engaging in dangerous behavior. Advocates for the mitigation plan, however, said it’s too late now to start tinkering. “At this point, it’s like climate change denial,” said Leff, the TransAlt activist. “At this point, with less than
Photo by Tequila Minsky
Philip Leff, a North Brooklyn volunteer activist for Transportation Alternatives, said, “We just need DOT and MTA to stick to the real data and make a plan that benefits the 400,000 New Yorkers that rely on the L every day.”
a year to go before the L shutdown, there have been more than enough public meetings for everyone to have their say. We cannot shut down a city for a few people.” Leff said the statistics on cyclists are clear: Motor vehicles are far more dangerous in terms of roadway fatalities. In addition, some residents whose
buildings only have entrances on 14th St. voiced concern about accessing the street when they need to use a car due to mobility issues. “I am not an old woman,” said Betty Sternlicht, who works as a regional brand manager and said she is not associated with any group or coalition. “But I occasionally have
arthritis pain, and if I’m coming home from work and I can’t bear to take the subway station stairs, I’ll take a cab home, precisely so it will leave me in front of my building.” The answer she has been given is that she could take a cab to the corner of Fifth Ave. and then walk down the block to her home from there. “If I could walk from Fifth Ave., I would take the subway,” she said. Access-a-Ride isn’t an option for her, she told Trottenberg. The DOT and the MTA still have not made fi nal decisions on several factors regarding the busway. Trottenberg said she is still considering what type of vehicles could be allowed on 14th St. besides buses, including emergency vehicles, Access-a-Ride or even trucks and cars that are for 14th St. residents only. Additionally, how many hours per day the busway would be in effect is still up in the air. However, last week, Mayor Bill de Blasio said he does not support a 24-hour-a-day busway. Though residents, particularly coalition members, are skeptical of a busway, transit advocates argue that without a 24-hour busway, the traffic issues residents fear would come to L TRAIN continued on p. 23
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NYC Community Media
SONNY RAMIREZ continued from p. 3
“Now, there’s more competition plenty — they’re open 24 hours a day, they stay open. But I’m not 24 hours,” he said, noting the grocery store is open 8 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Ramirez’s sister, Penny Troyano, helps out running the store, and his brother also helps out occasionally. “We change — sometimes I go there, sometimes she comes here,” he said, saying he needed to wrap up the interview to get to the bodega. Sonny’s Grocery was recently featured in season two of the Netflix series “Jessica Jones.” The shelves — filled with standard bodega fare like chips, water and beer, are also stocked with more unusual goods such as a wide variety of beans and mix to make flan — were emptied, stored, and replaced with bottles of alcohol, transforming the grocery into a liquor store. Ramirez told this publication in March that it was not the first time his store had been used for a production, noting that one of the “Spider-Man” movies also filmed there. When asked what’s the secret to his business’ longevity — over 50 years — Ramirez, who stopped the interview to do inventory at the grocery store, said, “Just keep it. Just keep it going, running.”
Photos by Dusica Sue Malesevic
“Jessica Jones” and one of the “Spider-Man” movies have filmed at Sonny’s Grocery.
Seasonings, slabs of meat, cooking bases, and cheese are for sale at Sonny’s 10th Ave. Meat Market.
Plantains, flan mix, numerous types of beans as well as drinks and chips are sold at the grocery store. NYC Community Media
May 17, 2018
Robert Trentlyon, presented with a letter of lifetime achievement from Governor Andrew Cuomo, is flanked by his wife Betty (right), and Zazel Loven (CWPA president and the eveningâ€™s program director). CWPA continued from p. 7
and Hellâ€™s Kitchen would be leading the composting charge. It was he who kicked off the inaugural campaign last year with a free Composting 101 workshop. If you missed that educational opportunity, there is good news, as Anna Koskol, HRPTâ€™s Environmental Educator, informed those at the May 9 gathering. â€œIf you want to learn about composting,â€? she said, â€œplease join us
on Wednesday, May 23 at Pier 66 for our second annual workshop.â€? Also celebrated at the meeting was Robert Trentlyon, 88, founding president of CWPA. He was presented with a letter of lifetime achievement from NY Governor Andrew Cuomo. â€œRobert Trentlyon had the opportunity to bring his ideas to fruition as a member of the task force formed in 1986, to make recommendations for replacement of the unrealized Westway plan,â€? Cuomo
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May 17, 2018
Photos by Donathan Salkaln
Coyotes are â€œfellow New Yorkers,â€? noted Arturo Romua, of the NYC Department of Parks & Recreationâ€™s Wildlife Unit.
wrote. â€œFor decades, he has been devoted to bettering the quality of life in Chelsea and making it one of the most beautiful areas of Manhattan.â€? For those of us who revel in the blooming of daffodils each spring, New Yorkers for Parks (NY4P) was present at the meeting. Their â€œDaffodil Projectâ€? has donated thousands of bulbs to Chelsea Waterside Park, and over seven million bulbs to green spaces across the five boroughs. Joked NY4P Executive Director Lynn Kelly, â€œI often say that a daffodil is the gateway drug for us to get communities involved. Who doesnâ€™t love planting a bulb and seeing a daffodil the next year?â€? As an over 100-year-old independent organization, NY4P gathers data and research and then uses that information for green space advocacy. Kelly spoke of their website (ny4p.org), which contains a trove of maps and data on green spaces for each NYC Council District. At a quick glance, our District 3 only has one park per 1,000 residents â€” compared with 2.9 parks in districts citywide. It also only has nine percent of residents under 18, compared with 22 percent citywide. A current challenge for NY4P is Mayor Bill be Blasioâ€™s controversial rezoning plan, with his motive to get more affordable housing for the city. Said Kelly, â€œIf youâ€™re going to increase density in New York City for residences, you should also be investing in green spaces in those neighborhoods, or in some cases, new parks!â€? Many have heard of the Wolf of Wall Street, but what about the Coyote of Pelham Bay? Arturo Romua, of the NYC Department of Parks & Recreationâ€™s Wildlife Unit, presented a study on the eastern coyote (although its should be noted that the Unit also champions
â€œIf you want to learn about composting, please join us on May 23 at Pier 66 for our second annual workshop,â€? said HRPT Environmental Educator Anna Koskol.
our cityâ€™s white-tailed deer, raccoons, red-tailed hawks and piping clovers, among others; see nycgovparks.org/ events/wildlife for more info). Romua, who noted that the eastern coyote has been spotted more regularly in recent years, was passionate in his determination to see these animals safely coexist with the human population. It is only, he insisted, â€œIf you see a coyote is stumbling and coming towards you, that you should be alarmed,â€? adding, â€œThey are fellow New Yorkers!â€? It was announced that the CWPA Annual Picnic will take place on Pier 64 (at W. 24th St.) on the evening of June 12, and the annual CWPA Clearwater Sail on the Hudson River will be on July 25. All attendees left the meeting with a â€œZero Waste by 2030â€? tote bag, courtesy of Andrew Hoyles, Senior Manager, Organics Outreach for the NYC Department of Sanitation (nyc. gov/dsny). For more information on the Chelsea Waterside Park Association, including how to join, visit cwpark.org. NYC Community Media
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L TRAIN continued from p. 18
pass and create a “nightmare scenario.” Specifically, if the L train shutdown plan does not address commuters’ needs 24 hours a day, they would turn to taxis and ride-sharing car services, advocates predict. TransAlt estimates 40,000 additional car trips each day into Manhattan if the MTA doesn’t create a 24-hour L train shutdown plan.
NYC Community Media
On Wed., May 16, the DOT and MTA held another town hall, in Brooklyn. “I think this was actually a very telling moment, whereby the city replied to one of the 15th St. residents to the question ‘What is being done for 15th St.?’ ” TransAlt’s Yamada said. “And they said, ‘We’re going to keep having a conversation with you.’ ” Yamada said she hopes that con-
versation can be more public — between residents and advocates — to explore the so-called “toolkit” Trottenberg spoke of. “The vast majority of people who use the street will never get a say,” Yamada said, concerned that resident groups alone will influence DOT decisions on side-street traffic patterns. “I’m interested to see if that’s going to be a transparent conversation.”
May 17, 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
May 17, 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
May 17, 2018