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YOUR WEEKLY COMMUNITY NEWSPAPER SERVING CHELSEA, HUDSON YARDS & HELL’S KITCHEN

CHELSEA PARADES ITS PRIDE After Much Discussion, the Neighborhood Plays Host to Route’s Root. See page 16.

Photos by Christian Miles

© CHELSEA NOW 2018 | NYC COMMUNITY MEDIA, LLC, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

VOLUME 10, ISSUE 26 | JUNE 28-JULY 4, 2018


First-Ever Accessibility Chief: People with Disabilities Will Have a Say in MTA Decisions BY DUSICA SUE MALESEVIC Alex Elegudin, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s new and fi rst-ever accessibility chief, is ready to listen. “People with disabilities have, in the past, somewhat been left at the curb in terms of inadequate access to the system and also not [having] a seat at the table,” Elegudin, who uses a wheelchair, said. “That’s ultimately what we’re trying to change.” He added, “We’re bringing them in and we want to speak to them. We want to hear from them, and we want them to have a say in the decisions that are made for things that are being planned for them.” On Mon., June 18, the agency announced Elegudin’s appointment as the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) New York City Transit’s fi rst senior advisor for system-wide accessibility. “I think with the leadership of [NYCT] President [Andy] Byford, the morale and the mesPhoto by Dusica Sue Malesevic

ACCESSIBILITY continued on p. 17

Alex Elegudin during his second day as the MTA’s accessibility chief, at the agency’s offices in Lower Manhattan.

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June 28, 2018

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Neighborhood Street Fairs Fear Permanent Damage From Temporary Vendor Permit Policy BY RANIA RICHARDSON Bureaucratic red tape is threatening the existence of the small street fairs that enhance New York’s neighborhoods. In peril is the urban equivalent of the yard sale, where locals meet each other through the buying and selling of used household items (knick-knacks, clothing, toys, kitchenware), engaging in community life, and supporting local block and tenant associations at the same time. Now, new regulations from the city’s Street Activity Permit Office (SAPO) have some of these fairs questioning their future. Unlike the large-scale events operated by Mardi Gras Productions or Clearview Festival Productions that often take up multiple avenue blocks and sell ubiquitous cheap goods such as cell phone accessories and yoga mats, commercial merchants are excluded from these small street fairs. Nevertheless, all their sellers — even the senior resident finding a new home for her dusty wedding china — need a Temporary Street Fair Vendor Permit. The new SAPO regulations were rolled out with revised permit forms. Community Board 4 initiated a meeting for the agency to discuss changes with their Arts, Culture, Education, and

Courtesy of Manhattan Plaza Tenants Association

Scheduled for Sept. 8, Manhattan Plaza’s annual Block Sale is in an unsettled state. Organized by the Tenants Association, money collected from space rental is given back to the community — but new SAPO rules will result in less available funds for charitable initiatives.

Street Life Committee and pertinent community representatives. Navigating an application and information package almost a quarter inch thick from the Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA), one of SAPO’s supporting permitting agencies, starts the complicated process. It includes background

questions, employer information, a Child Support Certification Form, and a list of requirements, such as a photo ID and passport-size photo. Before the application can be completed, temporary vendors must have a New York State Sales Tax Identification Number that may take three weeks to

obtain through the online-only application. It is an odd requirement for sellers at modest neighborhood street fairs who do not own a professional business. In addition to sales tax, they pay $10 for the vendor permit and rental cost for a space, table, or tent ($20 to $60 in an unofficial survey) from the nonprofit that is organizing the event. “The city is pushing us into a category designated for commercial operations. It’s not appropriate for our event,� said Penn South Education and Communications Director Mario Mazzoni. The Parents Committee of the sprawling West Chelsea affordable cooperative housing community has run 34 editions of its spring fair, averaging about 200 sellers each time. This year, Mazzoni said what was once a simple process turned into 80 hours of work, as he submits the paperwork for all individuals. The 2018 event ended up being cancelled for multiple reasons, but the initial hiccup stemmed from the new permit situation. Another maddening issue that is not new this year is the fact that street fair approval comes one or at most two days before the event. This creates undue stress, SAPO continued on p. 23

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Make a Point of Seeing ‘INK MADE’ BY MION EDWARDS The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) held a June 14 reception where 2018 MFA in Illustration graduate students displayed their Visual Thesis Exhibition, which brought together the unique styles of seven artists into one harmonious expression of creativity. “INK MADE” not only serves as the name of the exhibition, but is an acronym representing each of their projects (In-Vogue, Nudes, Kittens, Mélange, Aliens, Dolls, and Earth). The artists let their lives fill the walls of the gallery, expressing their culture, heritage, and creative vision. Whether they used, ink, print, paper, or pixels, there was no shortage of imagination and vitality in the work. “Culture was my biggest influence,” said Hilary Hubanks. “I studied a lot of cultures for this [exhibition] — Egyptian art, Syrian ancient art, different tribal cultures in Africa. My family is Norwegian so I studied a lot of ancient Norwegian culture and tribal art.” Hubanks’ “Visions of Indigo” (aka “Aliens”) represents her fascination with the supernatural, nature, fantasy, and magical creatures. “I have to be true to myself,” she said, by wondering “what’s out there… Don’t stop imagining.” Hubanks, a print designer and illustrator by day (and by night and weekends, an MFA Illustration student), reflects the majority of the group, most of whom have full-time or freelance jobs outside of the program but manage to strike a balance between academia and employment. The artists involved all come from different disciplines. “We have designers, we have teachers, we have people from the fashion world, we have people with illustration

Photos by Mion Edwards

Sarah Wilmot in front of her “American Mélange.” Each scene begins with a clean line drawing and ends with the creation of an evocative image.

careers,” noted Brendan Leach, chairperson of FIT’s MFA in Illustration program. The thesis show is a combination of the students’ three years of study in the program. They have been working on this project since September, and created the title and theme for the show. “They’re all individuals with strong voices,” Leach said, adding that the group has become “a really tight unit, and functions as one.” Even though the majority of the stu-

John Jay Cabuay’s pop-up book, from his “Earth” project.

dents are professionals working in various fields, they still saw opportunity to sharpen their skills. Mark Higden was influenced by the historic temples of retail fashion known as The Ladies’ Mile Historic Shopping District, which was a prime shopping district in Manhattan at the end of the 19th century.

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June 28, 2018

With vivid illustrations representing the Victorian era shoppers, Higden’s “Ladies’ Mile Historic Walking Tour” (aka “In-Vogue”) taps into new technology to bring this blast from the past to life. The “Ladies’ Mile Walking Tour” app uses location technology to provide INK continued on p. 21 NYC Community Media


A Boost for Moms Runing for Office BY SYDNEY PEREIRA A Federal Election Commission (FEC) decision to allow a congressional candidate to use campaign funds to pay for childcare services has inspired some city councilmembers to make that decision a reality in New York City elections. Upper East Side Councilmember Keith Powers and Majority Leader Laurie Cumbo of Brooklyn have introduced legislation that would authorize Council candidates to employ campaign funds to pay for such care. But after a hearing on June 19, Cumbo fears the idea could become just another feel-good initiative unless there is proper implementation. “It’s a great hashtag,” Cumbo said at last week’s hearing. “It makes the news media. But that devil in the details is where this could just be a sound bite. We’re trying to make it better for women to run for office.” One of Cumbo’s key concerns is whether the campaign funds used for childcare would count toward a candidate’s spending cap — which for the next election cycle would be $190,000 each for the primary and the general elections, according to the city’s Campaign Finance Board (CFB). Last week’s hearing was an opportunity for her colleagues on the Women’s and Governmental Operations Committees to probe what elements should be in a final legislative approach. As a mother, Cumbo recalled that she had to give up her full-time job ahead of her initial 2013 campaign and weeks before her 2017 primary she gave birth to her son. Childcare costs in Cumbo’s Fort Greene/ Clinton Hill district range from $2,000 to $3,000 per month, she said. During a campaign when volunteers stay up late canvassing to get a candidate elected, if childcare costs were applied toward the spending cap tough calls would have to be made between paying for volunteers’ food and transportation and using funds for childcare. “You have this option, but if you’re really an intelligent woman running for office you won’t take it,” said Cumbo, explaining the careful spending decisionmaking that goes into running a lengthy, competitive campaign. The spending cap requirement, she said, would keep candidates from using funds for childcare that would preclude that amount going toward other campaign needs. “It would be disingenuous to pass this bill if we didn’t have the ability for it not to count against the cap in a meaningful way,” she said. The CFB’s executive director, Amy Loprest, has recommended that the legislation only allow candidates to apply campaign funds to childcare during an election year. Cumbo said that to run a competitive campaign it requires more than one year to make sure voters know your name. For her, the year ahead of the election and the year of the election should count. Candidates would also have to file paperwork to receive approval from the board. Councilmember Kalman Yeger of Brooklyn detailed the cumbersome hurdles the extra back-and-forth between candidates and the CFB could impose. “You don’t have to say ‘yes’ or get to say ‘no,’” he said about what authority the CFB should have over using campaign funds in this way. “In the very, very rare case NYC Community Media

Photo courstesy of Council.nyc.gov

Councilmembers Keith Powers and Laurie Cumbo at a June 19 hearing on their bill to allow City Council candidates to use campaign funds for childcare expenses.

where a candidate has lied under oath, and you so discover, you refer them to the appropriate prosecutor.” Despite concerns members of the two committees in last week’s hearing voiced, the change-up, if passed and implemented well, could help cure the drastically low representation women currently have on the Council. In the past four election cycles, the percentage of women on the Council has dropped from about 35 percent at the end of 2001 to just 22 percent now. Currently, only 11 of the 51 councilmembers are women. “We are in a moment where we are talking about representation on the City Council,” Powers said. With just four of the 11 women on the Council eligible to seek reelection in 2021, he added, “It’s even more important we start talking immediately about factors that would drive somebody’s decision to run for office and run for City Council.” The Powers-Cumbo bill was inspired by an FEC decision in favor of Democrat Liuba Grechen Shirley, who is challenging 25-year Republican incumbent Peter King in the second congressional district on Long Island. Shirley had previously worked from home as a consultant while raising her children. In early May, as the June 26 primary loomed closer, she asked the FEC if she could apply campaign funds to pay for childcare services she wouldn’t otherwise have if she weren’t running for office. The FEC said yes, and Shirley won her June 26 primary. The FEC decision made national news, and a few weeks later Powers and Cumbo introduced their bill in the hopes it would increase women’s representation on the City Council. “For too long, childcare has been dismissed as an afterthought, rather than a necessity,” said Upper West Side Councilmember Helen Rosenthal, who chairs the Committee on Women. “As a mother who knows firsthand the magnitude of time and resources required to raise one’s young children, it is obvious to me that childcare is as vital to the smooth function of a primary caregiver’s election campaign as any other expenditure.” Since women are more often than not the primary caregiver of a couple’s children, the legislation would

be most likely to free up time for mothers hoping to run for office. “As I was running, I would consider all of these different factors as things that would impact both my willingness to run and my ability to run,” said Powers, who was first elected to the Council last year. “I think if you look at me versus some other folks who might run, [childcare] was not a factor I had to take into account.” He added, “After seeing this issue at the federal level, I thought it was something that the city should address as an additional benefit for running for office for the first time or as a first-time parent.” As written, the bill would allow candidates who are primary caregivers to use campaign contributions for childcare costs for children aged 13 and under. Asked whether they would be open to amending the legislation to include children older than 13 who need extra care due to disabilities, both Cumbo and Powers said yes. At the committee hearing, that specific issue wasn’t raised. The bill arrives at a critical moment in the national discussion about representation. The number of women running for the US House and Senate races has increased by 67 percent since 2016, Bloomberg News reported in early May. Concerns about adequate representation by women even exist in progressive locales like New York City. Last summer, a movement to elect 21 women to the Council by 2021 — called 21 in 21 — was launched by former Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito of East Harlem, former Queens Councilmember Elizabeth Crowley, and Effective New York, a statewide public policy think tank. In 2021, roughly three dozen councilmembers won’t be able to run for office again due to term limits. With a large number of open seats, the hope is that this bill will remove barriers some women might otherwise face in running for office. “It’s going to certainly be an opportunity to help all women across the board,” Cumbo said. “But it’s certainly going to be a huge leg-up and opportunity for single mothers.” June 28, 2018

5


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You Complete Me: Architects BY WINNIE McCROY On the morning of June 22, the architects behind the development of Manhattan’s newest neighborhood came together on the 24th floor of 10 Hudson Yards. They discussed how they designed their part of the 28-acre project to work together with the other elements, despite the fact that for most of the panelists, it was the first time meeting each other in person. “We modeled our buildings after Rockefeller Center, which was once called ‘a mountain range of steel and glass rising on the west,’ � noted Bill Pederson of Kohn Pederson Fox Associates, which designed 10, 30, and 55 Hudson Yards. “The [other] buildings are likened to mastodons, swizzle sticks, and a pineapple. But these tall buildings are like people at a cocktail party; they have the responsibility not to stand in a corner by themselves, but to gesture and talk to each other. My buildings are designed so that everything gestures toward 34th Street, via the atrium we created.� Joseph Giovannini convened a panel of architects including Pederson; Liz Diller of Diller Scofidio + Renfro, David Rockwell of the Rockwell

Photo by Winnie McCroy

34 Hudson Yards, with a reflection of 15 Hudson Yards (aka the “swizzle sticks�).

Group, Thomas Woltz of Nelson Byrd Woltz Landscape Architects, Thomas Heatherwick of Heatherwick Studio, David Manfredi of Elkus Manfredi Architects, and Kenneth Lewis of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. Directly behind 10 Hudson Yards sits The Shed, Hudson Yards’ entertainment complex. Diller quipped this megastructure is a “huge mastodon of a building that actually moves,� referring

        Miguel and Mary are advocates working with Teens for Food Justice and the American Heart Association to make healthy drinks the norm.

You can help.

  

        

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June 28, 2018

NYC Community Media


Discuss Hudson Yardsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; Interactivity to the retractable roof. She recalled its origins back in 2008 when the original request for proposal (RFP) was released, calling for a cultural parcel adjacent to the High Line. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We decided to think of what New York doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t have: a purpose-built institution for visual and performing arts under one roof,â&#x20AC;? Diller said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We wanted to be responsive to contemporary artists and the future of the arts by creating a flexible infrastructure that can change shape and adapt to the projects inside and out.â&#x20AC;? The Shed is able to serve any type of performance by creating any atmosphere, from daylight to blackout curtains. It can be configured into many different art spaces, or be conformed to accommodate a single, huge art event. The building cover moves â&#x20AC;&#x153;with the horsepower of one Prius engine,â&#x20AC;? Diller said of its retractable nature. She also collaborated with architects of 15 Hudson Yards, aka the â&#x20AC;&#x153;swizzle sticks,â&#x20AC;? a residential tower whose basement fulfills the back of house functions for The Shed.

THE PINEAPPLE To the north of The Shed sits the â&#x20AC;&#x153;pineappleâ&#x20AC;? shape that is Vessel, an interactive vertical plaza designed by Heatherwick, constructed in Italy and transported to the site on a series of barges floated up the Hudson River. Heatherwick had a plaza about the size of Londonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Trafalgar Square to work with, but wanted to keep his creation dynamic.

â&#x20AC;&#x153;Sometimes the danger is that you go too big to get the energy going,â&#x20AC;? Heatherwick said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I wanted to make a landmark and avoid that â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;turd in the plazaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; factor. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s easy to stand back and wonder why someone put a sculpture somewhere. I thought it would be better to build something that creates a chemistry between you and others. If thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a city thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s intense, itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s New York. It can take something intense like this.â&#x20AC;? Noting that presenting a vertical atrium comprised of 154 flights of interconnected stairs seemed to be the right way to create chemistry in a free piece of public art space. A sloping elevator affords those in wheelchairs â&#x20AC;&#x153;one of the best views in the place,â&#x20AC;? Heatherwick said, adding, â&#x20AC;&#x153;I put love into this and presented it for approval, and itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s astonishing that this project actually happened. I hope people will enjoy climbing the 16 stories.â&#x20AC;? Woltz was charged with landscaping the area around the â&#x20AC;&#x153;pineapple.â&#x20AC;? He had to be mindful that he was creating not only the area surrounding Vessel, but a front lawn for the many people who will call this neighborhood home. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I have a client with a strong vision of the well-being of the humans visiting this space, and how we flow with other personalities,â&#x20AC;? said Woltz. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I created a 21st century mandala. As the Vessel takes shape, it will lead you in ellipses to the other buildings.â&#x20AC;? The idea for the landscape hearkens back to the areaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s origins: a low, wet meadow that sloped down west toward the river. Back in 1908, when the milelong tunnel was dredged through the river to New

Photo by Winnie McCroy

At left, The Shed, with the copper-clad interactive Vessel to its right.

Jersey, people compared the endeavor to the creation of the Suez Canal. Now, these buildings sit on a huge platform atop of this tunnel. Woltz will landscape the area with all-natural materials, plus 200 trees, ferns, flowering perennials, and 4.5 acres of native granite, to avoid overpopulating every available space.

A SQUARE AND CIRCLE TOGETHER Working with Related to construct 35 Hudson Yards, the areaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s largest residential tower, was no HUDSON YARDS continued on p. 8

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EXPERIENCE THE MUSEUM AFTER HOURSâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;JUNE 29 Enjoy Tour Guide Talks, behind-the-scenes access to our collection, interactive demonstrations and planetarium shows at this free event for Museum members and their guests.

NEW MEMBER PERK Enjoy our Summer Movie Series from the comfort of the Cat Shot CafĂŠ. This members-only area on the port side aircraft elevator will offer aExplore fantastic the viewpoint for the movie, as wellof USS Growler        history and design as seating and drinks.

submarinesâ&#x20AC;&#x201C;in the context of the Cold War. Historical artifacts, oral histories and BECOME A MEMBER TODAY!             intrepidmuseum.org/membership

For more information on the exhibition and associated programs, visit INTREPIDMUSEUM.ORG/GROWLER. PIER 86, W 46TH STREET & 12TH AVENUE, NYC intrepidmuseum.org 2018 Š Intrepid Museum Foundation. All RightsPIER Reserved. permitted 86, WExcept 46THasSTREET & 12TH AVENUE, NYC under applicable law, this work may not be copied, published, disseminated, displayed, performed or played without permission of the copyright holder. intrepidmuseum.org

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2018 © Intrepid Museum Foundation. All Rights Reserved. Except as permitted                      displayed, performed or played without permission of the copyright holder.

June 28, 2018

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HUDSON YARDS continued from p. 7

easy matter, said Lewis of Skidmore, Owens & Merrill. His fi rm pitched one idea after the other, only to be told they hadnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t gone far enough. They ended up with a mixed-use building that meshed a square and circle together, using one main building material for uniformity. The challenge, said related, was to make that material stone. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We looked for a stone that had warmth to it for these residential setbacks; something that would look good on the facade and pull it together,â&#x20AC;? Lewis said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We made the stone flat at the bottom, and then going up into fins. It reads different from where you stand; you can see the limestone better from up high.â&#x20AC;? In what Pederson called â&#x20AC;&#x153;elephants dancing,â&#x20AC;? the architecture of the mostly residential 35 Hudson Yards (which also houses an Equinox, some office space and ground-floor retail), steps to the side for 30 Hudson Yards, the areaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s primary office tower. The entire structure is set atop the Eastern Rail Yards platform, which ranges from 18 inches to seven feet thick. The building has no basement, but large fans installed above the tracks

Photo by Winnie McCroy

L to R: Moderator Joseph Giovannini, Bill Pederson, Liz Diller and David Rockwell.

will help the building breathe and remove exhaust from the trains.

A MARRIAGE OF RETAIL AND TECHNOLOGY Charged with creating a million square feet of retail space, Manfredi of Elkus Manfredi Architects is smack dab in the middle of crafting what will become one of the areaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s biggest shopping destinations, The Shops and Restaurants at Hudson Yards. â&#x20AC;&#x153;This will be two and a half times bigger than Time Warner Center,â&#x20AC;? Manfredi said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;It is a revolution, the marriage of

retail and technology, with an abundance of dining and retail options. The challenge is to create a social space. Because we can all shop from home, but what we yearn is a social connection.â&#x20AC;? Manfredi is looking at the retail component of Hudson Yards as a vertical network for bringing people together for an organic mix of uses. He is envisioning the shopping arcades as two sides of a busy New York street that are not at all the same, each with unique offerings. â&#x20AC;&#x153;There will be open space in the atrium, bringing shoppers back to an oasis in the center,â&#x20AC;? Manfredi said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;It will have none of the traditional thinking on where the stores and restaurants

go. They will not be clustered together or predictable; the design is intended for you to make the connections.â&#x20AC;? Neiman Marcus will anchor the top of The Shops and Restaurants at Hudson Yards, and terraces will allow people to get a different view and change their perception of Hudson Yards. This panel was the first chance many of these architects had to discuss how their buildings interact, and many shared their thoughts. Lewis said that 35 Hudson Yards moves to its side, toward the water. Pederson said that he initially thought Heatherwickâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Vessel was â&#x20AC;&#x153;jarring,â&#x20AC;? but lauded him for the courage to having, â&#x20AC;&#x153;the audacity to make something no one has ever seen before.â&#x20AC;? Said Heatherwick, â&#x20AC;&#x153;The Vessel gestures to the atrium, and itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s pineappleshaped because I wanted to pull its bum in, to allow for more space in the plaza. It can take hurricanes, cold, or heat. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a very participatory building. You are not in there to buy anything, youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re just there to act on your curiosity in this Escher-esque space.â&#x20AC;? The buildings of Hudson Yards, including The Shed, will open through 2019. Phase 2 of Hudson Yards, over the Western Rail Yards, will continue through 2024.

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June 28, 2018

NYC Community Media


ADVERTORIAL

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

NYC Community Media

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.

June 28, 2018

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City Greenlights Sutton Place Megatower BY SYDNEY PEREIRA A city agency has given the go-ahead to developers building a 64-story tower on the Upper East Side. The Board of Standards and Appeals (BSA) decision arrives after years of advocacy against the tower — including a communitybased rezoning effort led by the East River 50s Alliance (ERFA) in an attempt to halt the project. The board’s June 26 decision in favor of the developer effectively exempts the tower at 3 Sutton Place — also known as 430 East 58th St. — from a 10-block stretch of rezoning in the East 50s. “They [the developers] trumped the democratic process,” Michael Hiller, ERFA’s lawyer, said after a public hearing last Tuesday, June 19, anticipating that the BSA decision would favor the developer. “I just think that’s outrageous.” ERFA plans to take the decision to court. The organization said in a statement that the BSA decision was no surprise. “The East River 50s Alliance will now take the community’s fight against this monstrous, out-of-place megatower to the courts and away from a city agency,” the group said in a statement. “Unfortunately

Via erfa.nyc

for the community and the City at large, the [BSA] abrogated its responsibilities under the Zoning Resolution, including especially its obligation to independently assess the invalidity of ill-gotten, afterhours work variances and alleged street closure permits that allowed the tower’s developer to engage in a race to complete the foundation. The Board committed multiple errors of law based upon a misapprehension of what the Zoning Resolution provides.” The developer, Jonathan Kalikow of Gamma Real Estate, did not respond to multiple requests for comment. The decision hinged on whether substantial foundation work on the site at 3 Sutton Place had been completed by Nov. 30, 2017 — when the Sutton Place rezoning was approved by the City Council. Opponents of the Gamma Real Estate tower, including East Side Councilmember Ben Kallos, said the permits to close the streets and work after hours from the Department of Buildings and Department of Transportation were fraudulent. To obtain these permits, there had to have been a public safety threat to

An East River 50s Alliance rendering of the impact of the 3 Sutton Place megatower on the neighborhood skyscape.

MEGATOWER continued on p. 20

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BMCC Pantry Helps Food-Insecure Students BY LAURA HANRAHAN Tucked away inside Borough of Manhattan Community College’s Single Stop — an on-campus student resource center — there is a small room that is having a big impact on students’ lives. The Panther Pantry, a new initiative from the Single Stop office, at 199 Chambers St., is providing students who experience food insecurities with essential grocery items. Launched in April, the pantry itself is small in size, but is pristinely stocked from floor to ceiling with boxes of pasta, beans, canned fruits and vegetables, cereal, tins of tuna and chicken, and milk and milk alternatives. “Students come and we sit with them,” said Deborah Harte, director of Single Stop. “We have on a sheet of paper all of the items that are in the pantry, so students have a choice. You can escort us to the pantry and actually see the things, or you can check it off in the office and we’ll go pack a bag for you.” Dr. Marva Craig, BMCC vice president of student affairs, said the need for a program of this nature was extremely apparent. In recent years, BMCC has assisted more than 600 students with food insecurities, either by helping to apply for New York State’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or giving them gift cards to local supermarkets, provided by the school’s emergency fund. For many students, coming from a public high school — where meals are often provided for food-insecure students — to a college campus where they are left to fend for themselves, can be a shock. “When they leave the high school and they come to us, we’ve decided we don’t handle food insecurities, which is irresponsible because we know it has to do with retention and graduation,” Criag said. Harte added they hope to be able to impact the students’ lives beyond a temporary food fix. “Our goal is not only to address the immediate hunger issue,” she said. “We also want to be sure we’re helping the students to devise a more sustainable plan. So that the pantry is used on an emergency basis, as opposed to something that’s regular every month. Sometimes it’s unemployment that put them in the situation, so we put them in the career development department.” Surprisingly, the one item in the pantry that has been largely passed over is generally a staple of every college student’s diet — peanut butter. NYC Community Media

Photos by Louis Chan

The BMCC mascot is a cheerleader for the college’s new Panther Pantry.

L to R: In the new BMCC Panther Pantry, Deborah Harte, director of Single Stop; Marva Craig, vice president of student affairs; Karrin Wilks, provost and senior vice president; and BMCC President Antonio Pérez.

“It’s a great source of protein, but the manner in which we pack the bags, which is according to the USDA ‘balanced bag,’ you can only have one peanut butter as protein, as opposed to two or three other protein items,” Craig noted. Craig and Harte are still working out the kinks of this new venture and plan to revisit the way the foods are categorized, so that they will be the most beneficial to students. One aspect of the program they will continue with is asking each student how large his or her household is, and allocating food based on that number. “A mother may come but it’s not the mother alone who’s hungry in the household,” Craig said. “One student may be walking out with two bags and one may be walking out with a half-bag

because of the household.” A focal point when creating the Panther Pantry was to reduce the stigma that is so often associated with having to stand in line at a public food bank. “We enjoy food, we love food, but when we’re in need of food, it’s not a comforting feeling,” Craig said. “There is no pride in not being able to afford it. So what we’ve done is we’ve brought everything to the college campus where there’s no stigma.” For Mia, a recently graduated theater student, the pantry not only helped provide her with food, but taught her how to prepare meals with higher nutritional value. “I’ve struggled with the fact I could either pay for my tuition or eat,” she said. “I would do this trick where I would just have water and bread. Having the pan-

try, I’ve now learned how to make food that could last for three or four days.” This is the first food pantry Mia has felt comfortable enough to take advantage of, having often been discouraged by the long lines at pubic food banks. Now, she said, she often recommends the pantry to other students at BMCC. “Sometimes they get scared,” she said, “but I’m like, the one thing that you have there is privacy and they’re not going to judge you.” For Panagiota, an early-childhood education student, the pantry helped her through a recent financial emergency. When she unexpectedly had to move, and put down a deposit and rent on a new apartment, she found herself with little money left over for food. “It became a very tight budget,” she said. “Obviously, the food pantry didn’t cover my whole month but it gave me my breakfast. It gave me juice for a week. It gave me pasta and some vegetables I could use. So it gave me a little bit of room not to worry about ‘Am I getting some food?’ ” Craig hopes to eventually expand the Panther Pantry to incorporate other areas of the Lower Manhattan college, citing the nutrition department as one example, as well as neighborhood stores like Whole Foods, Pret A Manger and Target. For now, they are focused on setting up a donation website to keep the program growing. The pantry is open for BMCC students Monday to Friday, from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Students can find out more information at bmcc.cuny.edu. June 28, 2018

15


Despite New Route, Parade Topped Nine Hours Again BY DUNCAN OSBORNE A controversial Pride Parade route that was intended to reduce the time the annual event takes to complete shaved just 24 minutes off the march compared to last year’s march and it was still longer than the 2016 and 2015 parades. “I have to say that the rationale for the route was an insidious collusion between the organizers of the Pride Parade and the NYPD,” said Natalie James, who led the organizing for a Resistance contingent in this year’s parade. “I think it’s very much an idea of crowd control from the NYPD.” This year’s route was staged in Chelsea then headed south on Seventh Ave. then east on Christopher and Eighth Sts. then north on Fifth Ave. to end at 29th St. Heritage of Pride (HOP), the group that organizes the annual parade and related events, offered various explanations for the new route, which was roundly opposed by LGBTQ activists. Among those reasons was the need to reduce the parade’s duration. The parade steps off at noon. This year, NYC Community Media publication Gay City News first briefly followed some of the early groups on Seventh Ave., then the Resistance contingent for the entire length of the route, and then returned to follow the final group in the parade. That last group, YAI, which works with people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, arrived at the parade’s end at 29th St. at 9:14 p.m. The 2017 parade, which went from Midtown to the West Village, ended at 9:38 p.m. The 2016 and 2015 parades took eight hours to complete. HOP has said that this year’s route was a test in anticipation of the expected larger crowds for the 2019 march, which will mark the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots that mark the start of the modern LGBTQ rights movement. New York will also play host at the same time next year to World Pride. Since the first march in 1970, the parade routes have traveled from the West Village to Central Park for a rally, or from Midtown to the West Village. The sole exception was the 1994 march, which marked the 25th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, that traveled on First Ave. past the United Nations building. Because it ended at a location with no particular significance in LGBTQ community history, the 2018 route was derided as a march to nowhere. “For all the bad blood and tension and unnecessary time waiting that Heritage

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June 28, 2018

Photo by Donna Aceto

A portion of the Resistance contingent protested the requirement that marchers wear official wristbands.

of Pride caused each of our community groups with wristbands and fretting about a march route that went nowhere, the fact that we saved 24 minutes is shocking,” said Ken Kidd, who led the organizing for a Resistance contingent in 2017. As always, the June 24 parade was an exuberant and colorful event that showcases the LGBTQ community’s diversity and its political views and successes. Gay City News interviewed an entirely unscientific sample of viewers. They mostly approved of the new route though they consistently reported learning about it only recently, with some saying that they found a place to view on Seventh Ave. by following the crowd. “The problem was even the cops couldn’t tell us where to stand,” said Shirley McKinley as she watched with friends. Judging by the crowd size on Seventh Ave., it appears that the late notification to the LGBTQ community about the change did not affect turnout. It certainly did not affect the cheering by the crowd. David Steeil and Anthony Ginexi, who were recently married, have watched the parade together in the West Village for five years. Typically, the contingents were less spirited by the time they arrived, they said. “We always stand around this area so we always see it last,” Steeil said as they watched the first groups go by on Seventh Ave. “I like it,” said Ashley Marchlinski as she stood on Fifth Ave. “It makes no difference at all. I’m just happy to be here.” A few said they were reserving judg-

ment on the route. Some opposed it. “I don’t like it,” said Steve Henaghan, who has attended the Pride Parade since 1976. “It’s too short and it doesn’t end in the West Village or Central Park… It has no reason to end [at 29th St.].” HOP first began discussing the new route in December 2016. It engaged with further discussion with city agencies, including the NYPD, starting in August 2017 with the NYPD, which issues the permits for marches. Choosing from among six choices offered by HOP, the NYPD selected the route on Jan. 22, 2018. The LGBTQ community was informed much later, with many attendees saying they learned about the route the day of the parade. In 2010, the NYPD sought to reduce the cost of policing parades and required all parades to last five hours or less. While the Pride Parade may have lasted that long in its early years, it has not been close to five hours long in years. The Pride Parade is among the four largest events that the NYPD polices and it is the only one of the four that is organized by a non-profit. The other three — New Year’s Eve, the Fourth of July, and the Thanksgiving Day Parade — are commercial ventures. It is not clear that the NYPD actually cares about the Pride Parade’s time. “This is one of the largest parades in New York City,” said James Kehoe, the executive officer in the Patrol Borough Manhattan South, during a June 22 press event at NYPD headquarters. “It is one of the largest street events that we do… If it goes long, it goes long.” Asked if the NYPD’s position was that the Pride Parade was not required to last

five hours, Kehoe said, “I would say that is not the position. We want to make sure that it is a successful event. We would like the parade to mirror those of the other parades, but we understand it is a large event.” Activists, who were organized as the Reclaim Pride Coalition, also demanded that HOP rescind its requirement that all parade contingents have 200 members or fewer and that all marchers wear HOP-issued wristbands. The Coalition also wanted the policing to be restrained and that the use of police barricades be reduced. A faction in the Resistance contingent, which formed last year as a response to Donald Trump winning the White House, protested the wristbands policy by showing up at W. 17th St. and Eighth Ave., where the Resistance was staged, without wristbands and demanding to be allowed on the block. The group was followed by a man who appeared to be an undercover police officer from where protesters first gathered to the staging block. After a physical struggle over the barricades on the block between HOP volunteers and the protestors, that faction removed them and tossed them aside. Later, at Fifth Ave. and Eighth St., that group tore up a large mock-up of an HOP wristband and chains made of wristbands and threw them at the judges on the reviewing stand there. Conflicts over the march and rally have been a common feature of the annual events since the earliest days of the movement. HOP did not respond to a request for comment. NYC Community Media


ACCESSIBILITY continued from p. 2

sage have changed. The MTA has said words publicly like full accessibility, things that as a disabled user myself and as part of the community, we haven’t heard,” he told NYC Community Media during an interview on Tuesday at the MTA’s offices at 2 Broadway. As co-founder of the nonprofit Wheeling Forward in 2011, and as the former accessibility program manager at the city’s Taxi and Limousine Commission — he left that position earlier this year — Elegudin has been working on accessibility issues for some time. “I sustained my disability when I was 19 in 2003,” he recalled. “I went to law school and kind of fought really hard to get my life back together and my own independence.” Elegudin started in his new role on Monday, saying, “It was very actionpacked. I came here understanding that I was here to work on some challenging issues, and, you know, they let the fi re hose go on the fi rst day.” In late May, the agency and Byford released “Fast Forward: The Plan to Modernize New York City Transit,” which prioritizes accelerating the system’s accessibility. Part of that plan includes more than 50 new accessible stations “within five years, so all subway riders are no more than two stops from an accessible station.” Currently, 118 out of 472 stations are wheelchair accessible, according to the agency. The MTA’s capital plan for 2015-2019 “includes $479 million to replace 42 existing elevators and 27 escalators,” and the Fast Forward plan “proposes the addition of 180 elevators over the course of 10 years,” according to the press release announcing Elegudin’s appointment. Elegudin said one of his goals — and also as outlined in the Fast Forward

plan — is to train frontline employees who are dealing with people with disabilities across buses, trains, and paratransit such as Access-A-Ride. “We’re already working on a revised curriculum, more sensitivity, better etiquette training,” he said. “We’re revisiting our policies to make sure that, you know, they’re in line with what people with disabilities need.” The training should be up and running to some degree by the end of the year, and, moving forward, for it to be a routine part of training, he said. Communication with riders is another area he would like to tackle. “How do we communicate better to… passengers with disabilities on an array of issues, whether it’s when there’s a broken elevator to make sure that they don’t fi nd out about that when they arrive, but how do we tell them that in advance so they can make alternative plans,” Elegudin explained. He said the agency is looking at maps and at other ways to communicate better about fi nding ways through the system. “Certainly at paratransit Access-ARide, how do we make people more informed and empowered about their trips?” Elegudin asked. The MTA is testing out an app called MyAAR — My Access-A-Ride — with Elegudin saying that on Thurs., June 28, the fi rst 100 users will be giving feedback. NYC Community Media publications recently chronicled some complaints — long delays and inflexibility — about Access-A-Ride, and other issues riders with disabilities and those visually impaired have had using both the subways and buses: the difficulty of scooters getting on trains, the possibility that wheelchair lifts on buses are out of order, and, sometimes, the lack of announcement of a stop.

Elegudin said the agency is working on improving Access-A-Ride in areas like routing, making sure there are more direct trips, and less shared rides. “That’s already been improved,” he said. “I believe last year… 72 percent were shared rides and that number [has] gone pretty significantly down through things like more efficient scheduling, the e-hail programming [and] taxi usage.” Outreach to the disabled community and passengers as well as advocacy groups are also a part of his agenda. “I also think a lot of meetings we’ve had in the past are, ‘Hey come and talk to us about the New York City Transit’ — that’s just too big, there are too many different parts,” he explained. He added, “We need to break this up into paratransit, subways, and buses, potentially even more granular, and invite advocates as well as just passengers with disabilities to come talk to us. We really need to take in all that feedback, suggestions and complaints and make into a formalized kind of catalogue of what we’re trying to do and what we need to address.” He said he also wants to have more local meetings in the boroughs.

“I have every intention of us getting out there and going to the consumer and the passenger,” he said. Elegudin said that he has meetings concerning the upcoming L train shutdown as work to fi x damage from Hurricane Sandy is slated to begin in April next year. “When it comes to service outages… or maintenance that’s coming up, we need to take that seriously,” he said. “People still need ways to get around.” Locals and politicians have expressed concerns for those who have mobility issues and what kind of access they would have when the city turns 14th St. into a “busway” during the shutdown. The city’s Department of Transportation announced this week that the hours for the busway would be from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day, the New York Daily News reported. Reportedly, locals and visitors still will be able to use the avenue for pickups and drop-offs. For his part, Elegudin said, “I’m incredibly excited about the changes that are forthcoming but ultimately we understand that it is the delivery of all that that we’ll be judged upon and we have every intention of delivering that.”

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Something New for a ‘Change’ Games for Change Festival looks back, ahead, inward

Via playstation.com

“Jupiter & Mars” lets players control a virtual dolphin.

BY CHARLES BATTERSBY The Games for Change Festival has always been ahead of the game, in terms of the social impact of video games. Each year, its panelists and curators examine how games can be used to promote positive change in civics, education, and health. With its 15th installment taking place June 28-30, the festival looks back at its own history, while looking to the future. Attendees will be able to play cuttingedge games and virtual reality, as well as see innovative technology at the festival’s marketplace — and in a new feature this year, fledgling game designers will be able to meet potential mentors in a “Mentor Lounge.” Games for Change (G4C) is especially relevant this year, with one of the panels set to feature a discussion about the recent addition of “Gaming Disorder” to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) International Classification of

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June 28, 2018

Diseases. G4C was already planning on discussing the matter before the WHO made their decision to classify video game addiction as a disease. This panel is taking a rounded view, according to G4C’s lead curator, Alexander King. “The reason we wanted to have it be a panel, specifically, is to hear about the issues and the different pros and cons,” King told us. “It’s not like [The WHO] are saying ‘Games are bad!’ and we’re going to discuss how they’re good. There are definitely some potential benefits to people taking gaming addiction seriously. But there is also some potential for overstep.” King elaborated: “This is breaking news in the games and health world, so we wanted to bring together some people who could tell us what’s going on and help inform our audience.” In addition to such hot topics, the festival will also have a set of “Well Played” panels that look in-depth at some older

games, to measure their lasting effects. “At the 15th year,” King explained, “we wanted to include some programming that was critical assessment of things that happened, not things that are coming in the future.” “Brain Age” is a venerable Nintendo franchise, and one of the early games that was thought to benefit the mental health of players. They’re entertainment puzzle games, but some neuroscientists claimed that playing them could help fight dementia and other conditions. Thirteen years after their launch, a “Well Played” panel will evaluate the series’ legacy. “September 12,” a 2003 indie game that was made to examine wars in the Middle East, also gets its own “Well Played” panel. In it, players fire missiles into a virtual town to blow up terrorists hiding among civilians. It’s impossible to not incur some degree of “Collateral Damage,” and the game proposes that

brute force can never stop terrorism. “It’s curious, what [September 12] means to us today,” King pointed out, “looking at it as a historical artifact... and how it stands on its own merits, stripped of that context.” Is this an alltime classic, or is it of its time? King wondered. “What does ‘September 12’ tell us about the games for change that we’re making today? In 10 years, will they be historical artifacts, or things that speak across the ages?” Even some of the big commercial game franchises are included in the festival’s mission. “Assassin’s Creed: Origins” is set in ancient Egypt, and the recent “Discovery Tour” content pack for it lets players explore the historical setting in an educational manner. The developers of the “Assassin’s Creed” games will be doing a keynote address about the project as part of the Games for Learning Summit at G4C. We spoke to Rebecca Rufo-Tepper who NYC Community Media


Via gamesforchange.org

“September 12” was released the year of the first Games for Change Festival.

co-curates the educational programming along with Arana Shapiro. She explained that “Assassin’s Creed: Origins” is “an entertainment game, but it is educational. Even though its main goal wasn’t necessarily to be used in schools, but it actually is a game that has been used in classrooms to impact learning engagement.” Rufo-Teppler also noted there has been “a movement in the past 10 years around teachers using games that weren’t originally designed in an educational context… The more engaged you are, the more you learn, because engagement is part of learning.” New to this year’s festival is a full-day event (Sat., June 30) devoted to Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality. The “X” in XR for Change stands for the combination of “Virtual” and “Augmented.” While VR has been growing in popularity, Augmented Reality, which uses “smart glasses” to superimpose content over the real world, has been lagging behind as an art form — until recently. Ryan Seashore curated the XR for Change Summit. Although many of the projects deal with environmental issues, he said that this wasn’t a deliberate decision. “It was just some of the most stunning, breathtaking, amazing work that we came across were focusing on [the environment],” he told us. Among the 360-degree VR movies are ones that are shot in the middle of real wildfires, or underwater with sharks, and on the edge of glaciers that are melting. The VR experiences also include a dolphin simulator, and a separate mermaid sim, which both deal with environmental matters. One of the unique things about a VR experience is that it can literally give the user the POV of another person. Among the empathy-generating projects at XR for Change is one that put players in the shoes of a TSA agent (“Terminal 3”). Seashore also recommends attendees experience “She Flies By Her Own Wings,” which he describes as being about “a transgender service member... It gives a window into another situation that people wouldn’t normally be aware of.” Many of the projects seen at G4C will be available to download after the festival ends, and some are on virtual shelves right now. People who miss the festival can also keep an eye out for their year-round Student Challenge, which runs in several cities, including New York. The Games for Change Festival happens June 28–30 at the Parsons School of Design at The New School (66 Fifth Ave., at E. 13th St.). Festival passes for individual days or the entire event range from $179—$499. Special discounts for nonprofit employees, educators, students, and indie developers. Our readers can get a 20 percent discount by using the code NYCCM18. Visit gamesforchange.org, call 212-242-4922, or email festival@gamesforchange.org. Social Media: #G4C18. NYC Community Media

Courtesy of Games for Change

The new “Assassin’s Creed” game adds educational elements to its historically accurate adventures.

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leaving the construction incomplete, but Kallos and ERFA activists insist there was no public safety threat justifying the permits. “I think after-hours variances are a bane in the existence of every New Yorker who wants to get a good night’s sleep or enjoy their weekend,” Kallos said. “It’s bad enough that the Department of Buildings is granting them for the wrong reasons.” If the DOB gives out such variances “like candy,” the councilmember argued, the BSA vote could have at least sent the message that such variances cannot be used to fast-track foundation work. “I’m disappointed by the fact that they said this was for public safety but by closing the street it actually endangered people’s safety,” Kallos added. BSA chair Margery Perlmutter said at last week’s public hearing that disputing the DOB permits would set a dangerous precedent when the department issues such permits to protect public safety quite often. It would stifle construction work, particularly when there are varied and complex reasons for why contractors would need after-hours permits, she added. The BSA did not respond to a request for comment.

Photo by Jackson Chen

City Councilmember Ben Kallos at a 2016 rally held by the East River 50s Alliance in support of the neighborhood’s rezoning initiative.

The board’s announcement came just one week after the New York Daily News reported that the law firm representing the developers, Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel, had lobbied Mayor Bill de Blasio’s two top aides to push the City Planning Commission (CPC) to vote in favor of exempting the developers from the community-based rezoning efforts. De Blasio also owes the firm $300,000 for his own legal fees in connection with 2016 and 2017 federal and state probes into his fundraising practices. The mayor denied any conflict of interest, telling NY1’s Errol Louis that he would pay back the fees if the City Council created

a mechanism for him to legally raise the defense funds. The CPC approved the rezoning last fall, but grandfathered the Gamma project from the new zoning. The City Council approved the rezoning without the grandfathering clause, sending the ultimate decision to the BSA. The BSA approval of the developer’s appeal is a loss for ERFA’s organizing in the community, and opponents of the tower feel the decision will send a negative message to other neighborhoods advocating for zoning that meets residents’ needs. ERFA attorney Hiller added that the group went through a lengthy

CELEBRATING JEROME ROBBINS : FROM STREET TO STAGE AT THE INTREPID MUSEUM

democratic process to fight against the tower and was still thwarted through this latest decision. “It is not just galling but outrageous that the citizens of the East River 50s Alliance did exactly what they were supposed to do,” Hiller said. “They contacted their public officials. They did it by the book. They got the zoning change.” Though groups including ERFA are often written off as NIMBYs, ERFA activist Lisa Mercurio said the group has never said they don’t want the developer to build at all. The key issue, Mercurio said, is the vulnerability left open by outdated zoning and loopholes in the zoning text for developers to build megatowers. “Again, this community never said you can’t build, we just said build it right,” she said. “It would be very much embraced if this developer would come up with a gorgeous boutique hotel for this site.” She added that an Ian Schrager-type hotel would be coveted by the community, since it would likely bring new shops, restaurants, and younger people to the neighborhood. “That would keep things lively and that would bring a younger community up and in,” she said. “Can’t [the developers] open up [their] mind to the other relevant possibilities that would be revenuegenerating forevermore?”

Celebrate the centennial of Jerome Robbins’s birthday aboard the historic aircraft carrier Intrepid. Join us as we explore Robbins’s enduring legacy through firsthand stories, archival film footage and live dance. THURSDAY, AUGUST 9, 2018 7:00pm Doors Open 7:30pm Live Performance on Flight Deck 8:00pm Program in Theater $40 General/$32 Members

PURCHASE TICKETS ONLINE! intrepidmuseum.org/robbins Celebrating Jerome Robbins: From Street to Stage is generously supported by the Jerome Robbins Foundation. This program has also been made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

Photo:Joan Joan Marcus Marcus Photo:

PIER 86, W 46TH STREET & 12TH AVENUE, NYC

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a window into history (the app is available in the Apple store). “I teach in the fashion business management department [at FIT],” Higden said. “So many of our students don’t really understand or even think about in terms of what retail was over 100 years ago and what the experience was. I thought this would be a good way beyond a textbook and a lecture [to engage them].” The artists drew from more than just their educational background in illustration — some explored new ventures. “I’ve always been interested in art history,” said Edgar Alanis, “and this was a way for me to explore that passion. I thought, what better subject to pick than nudes, because I can be tongue-and-cheek with it.” Alanis’ “Nudes, Nudes, Nudes (In Art History)” has a wall display in addition to a graphic novel. “I wanted people to smile and make people laugh” and “get to know their favorite pieces from art,” Alanis said. Some in the exhibition, like Alanis, seek to evoke emotion, while others illustrate how art can imitate life. “I wanted to show the everyday person going through their daily activities” and “show that we may look different but we are all the same,” said Sarah Wilmot, whose “American Mélange” has a patriotic tone that represents the different cultures in America. “It’s a reflection of your life,” Wilmot said, regarding her illustrations and animated scenes. Her artwork depicted the cultural melting pot that is America — specifically, New York. Walking through the exhibit, visitors will see the assortment of skills, cultures, and environments. “It’s incredible how it comes together and only we know how they came in,” said Melanie Reim, currently the acting associate dean for FIT’s School of Art and Design. “We see the evolution of where they are at now. They’ve launched into really successful careers.” The INK MADE exhibition will be on view through July 7 at The Museum at FIT’s Gallery FIT (Seventh Ave. at W. 27 St.). Admission is free. Gallery hours are Tues.–Fri., 12–8pm and Sat., 10 am–5pm. For more info, visit fitnyc. edu/museum/exhibitions or call 212217-4558. For social media of the participating artists, visit HilaryHubanks. com, edgaralanis.com, thefashionistoprofessor.wordpress.com, JohnJayArt. com, and, on Instagram, @Wilmot. Sarah, @Awsemonyari, and @juhye. cho. NYC Community Media

THE WEST SIDE’S COMMUNITY NEWSPAPER

PUBLISHER Jennifer Goodstein EDITOR Scott Stiffler ART DIRECTOR John Napoli CONTRIBUTORS Lincoln Anderson Sam Bleiberg Stephanie Buhmann Mion Edwards Dusica Sue Malesevic Winnie McCroy Christian Miles Mark Nimar Sydney Pereira Puma Perl Rania Richardson Tabia C. Robinson Paul Schindler Eileen Stukane Photos by Mion Edwards

Awsemon Yari’s “Dolls” (aka “White Dream”) features dolls created by the artist to tell the stories of her life.

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Edgar Alanis in front of work from his graphic novel, “Nudes, Nudes, Nudes (In Art History).”

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since the fair has to be advertised and ready to go before official confirmation. “It impacted us terribly. They want us gone,” said block association chair Linda Ashley, after the disappointing outcome of the West 44th Street Better Block Association/Friends of Pier 84’s 42nd Annual Garage Sale on June 2. “SAPO didn’t take into account the little mom-and-pops. We’re like Judy Garland saying, ‘Hey, let’s put on a show,’ not one of the juggernaut festivals.” The fair took in $2,845 from the table and tent charge to sellers, down from $4,600 in 2017. Many locals did not want to go through the rigmarole of a temporary vendor permit. The profit shrinks with the subtraction of $25 for the street festival permit, and 20 percent that goes to city and state agencies, according to Gordon Stanley, the block association’s treasurer. “It’s as if they want only professionals, but we do things the city can’t, to improve quality of life,” he said. This year’s Manhattan Plaza Block Sale, scheduled for Sept. 8, is in an unsettled state, according to Aleta LaFarge, president of the Tenants Association. Billed as bringing “a small town feel to the big city,” the event, like the others in this report, uses money collected from space rental to give back to the community. Among other initiatives, the Tenants Association supports high schoolers in need of funds to tour prospective colleges. “It’s a frustrating process, not clear or transparent, and it cuts into the time we should be organizing the event,” LaFarge said. “We are considering not doing it or doing it in another way, such as indoors, which would upset many people.” As a naturally occurring retirement community (NORC), the residential complex has many participants who are elderly and have mobility issues. The new regulations may be a disincentive to many, but especially those who do not want to go through the process of requesting disability-related accommodation. It must be noted that closing off a street, an aspect that defines a street fair, is not without cost to the city. It can affect the NYPD, traffic, and parking revenue. Many street fair organizers have contacted the City Council requesting help. According to City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, in a statement to Chelsea Now, “Our local block associations and tenant associations have really been struggling with the street activity permit process this season. For decades, these groups have held street fairs to promote community and raise revenue for important causes, all while contributing to the local economy.” Johnson, whose Council District 3 area of coverage includes Chelsea and Hell’s Kitchen, also noted his office “has spoken with SAPO about the problems these groups are encountering and we will be meeting with the agency to discuss how we can best support these local street fairs. I am deeply worried about any unnecessary barriers that would discourage these groups from having these important events that mean so much to our community.” The meeting is planned for early July, with invitations to other local electeds: Congressmember Jerrold Nadler, Assemblymembers Deborah Glick and Richard Gottfried, State Senator Brad Hoylman, and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer. NYC Community Media

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