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Photo by Sam Bleiberg

On Friday, Aug. 17, about 50 cyclists gathered for a memorial ride on Central Park West to honor Madison Jane Lyden, an Australian cyclist killed one week earlier.

PROTECTED LANE AROUND CENTRAL PARK DEMANDED AFTER CYCLIST’S DEATH BY SYDNEY PEREIRA In the nearly two weeks since the death of 23-year-old Australian cyclist Madison Jane Lyden on Central Park West, City Councilmember Helen Rosenthal has been calling for a twoway protected bike lane circling around all of Central Park. Lyden — a tourist whose death has rallied cycling activists in their demands that the city do more to protect riders — was biking north on Central Park West on Friday, Aug. 10 in the late afternoon. A livery car was

in the bike lane near W. 67th St., which forced her to swerve into traffic. A private sanitation truck hit and killed her. The driver of the truck, 44-year-old Felipe Chairez, was arrested on a DWI charge, but the livery car blocking the lane was not charged. “It’s a tragedy — it’s a horrible tragedy,” Rosenthal said. “And we need the police to enforce the law that cars not park in the bike lane. But I understand they can’t be everywhere, so having a protected bike lane is the easiest answer to the dangers of riding on an

August 23 – September 5, 2018 | Vol. 04 No. 17

unprotected bike lane.” Rosenthal added, “Because there’s no protected bike lane, she swerved into traffic and a truck hit her and killed her. A two-way protected bike lane would solve that problem.” Peter Frishauf, a lifelong Upper West Sider who is the founder of StreetsPAC, a political action committee focused on improving street safety, said Rosenthal’s call for protected lanes circling around all of Central Park is “very, very significant.” The existing bike lanes on Central

Park West are far less safe than protected lanes, according to Rosenthal and cycling activists. Along Central Park West and the northern border of Central Park at 110th St./ Cathedral Pkwy., recently installed painted bike lanes delineate a space for cyclists, but leave them vulnerable if double-parked cars block the lanes forcing them, like Lyden, into traffic. Fifth Ave., on the park’s east side, and Central Park South do not curCYCLIST’S DEATH continued on p. 21


Park-Starved Hudson Yards to Get Three New Green Acres

Photos by Michael Rock

An old repair shop, one of the many shuttered businesses located where parkland will be established.


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Hassan operates a halal stand on 11th Ave. and W. 36th St., just across the street from where some of the new parkland will be.

BY MICHAEL ROCK When the final crane comes down and its construction phase ends, Hudson Yards will bring a massive influx of office workers, new residents, tourists, and shoppers to a part of the West Side that can still seem unfamiliar and unwelcoming. Despite being the location of Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, a number of transit bus stops, and spectacular views of the river from which the rapidly emerging neighborhood takes its name, abandoned buildings, vacant lots, and minimal mass transit access can easily undermine the area’s appeal. “We are in desperate need of more open space in our crowded neighborhoods,” State Senator Brad Hoylman told NYC Community Media.

Fortunately, long-term efforts to redevelop the neighborhood as a major commercial and residential hub have been especially fruitful, especially after the de Blasio administration made an Aug. 8 announcement that funding for the “City’s Master Plan for Hudson Yards” (also called “Phase II”) was approved. One particular element of the approved plan — the addition of three acres of parkland to span 10th and 11th Aves., from W. 36th to 39th Sts. — resonated with those who’ve long sought to increase the area’s amount of public green space. Robert Benfatto, President of the Hudson Yards / Hell’s Kitchen Alliance (hyhkalliance.org), which is dedicated to the development of both neighborNYC Community Media

hoods, welcomed the announcement. In his time as a District Manager for Community Board 4 (CB4), he played a key role in founding Hudson Boulevard Park. “The creation of a park and boulevard — Hudson Park and Boulevard — was contemplated in the 2005 Special Hudson Yard District rezoning,� Benfatto said in an email. Despite these proposals, the money necessary to complete Phase II had not been secured until the Aug. 8 announcement. “Now that we have access to further funding to complete the park, I have no concerns,� Benfatto said. “My concern was always getting it completed. The community has very little park land and getting this completed was very important to them.� Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer expressed similar excitement over the funding. “In both residential communities and office districts, people need well-designed green spaces, and a new world-class business district needs world-class public space,� Brewer told this publication. “This parkland will help tie Hudson Yards together and make it more than just a cluster of towers.� During her tenure as a City Councilmember representing much of Manhattan’s West Side (over a decade before being elected to her current

position), Brewer had demonstrated a strong interest in developing the Hudson Yards. “I’ve always believed that when new development happens, the whole community needs to benefit — and in the case of Hudson Yards, that meant new investments in parks, transit, and affordable housing,� she said. “Followup is critical. We need to make sure New Yorkers get everything they were promised as part of new development. Without follow-up, you can end up with a set of big towers, but IOUs for the rest.� City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, whose District 3 area of coverage includes Chelsea and parts of Hell’s Kitchen, has long made funding for Phase II a “top priority.� “I am very pleased that the City Council was finally in a position to introduce and pass the needed resolution to support the financing for this long desired project,� Johnson said in an email statement. “We can now move forward with the design and construction of this new park, which will someday soon give New Yorkers and people from all over the world an additional three acres of public green space on the West Side to enjoy.� Thus far, plans to design the new PARKLAND continued on p. 11

An abandoned inspection station sits along part of what will become three acres of parkland spanning 10th and 11th Aves., from W. 36th to 39th Sts.

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August 23, 2018



Stand With America’s Free Press BY THE PUBLISHERS AND EDITORS The necessity of a trusted free press to the health of American democracy has been undisputed since the founding of our republic — until now. Over the past year and a half, the journalists of our free press have been slandered as “Enemies of the People” — not by a foreign power or a fringe group, but by the president of the United States, the nation’s highest officer sworn to protect the Constitution enshrining the First Amendment rights those journalists exercise daily for the benefit of us all. But Donald Trump’s casual use of this Stalinist epithet — banned in the Soviet Union shortly after Nikita Khrushchev came to power in the mid-1950s! — is only the most egregious example of a years-long campaign to destroy public trust in the news media and erode the ability of the Fourth Estate to hold our government and politicians and other key actors in society accountable. From denouncing factual reporting as “fake news” to the proliferation of websites pushing propaganda, conspiracy theories, and outright lies

as legitimate reporting, the role of America’s free press is under attack — and with it, our nation’s founding values. Without a free press that is justly trusted as a source of impartial truth, politicians and special interests have unchecked rein to lie, dissemble, and manipulate reality with impunity. Without journalists who are free to question public officials and demand information on government actions, the institutions that are supposed to protect and serve us cannot be trusted to do either. Without political leaders who respect the value of our free press to the American way of life, the world’s fi rst constitutional democracy fails in its historic role as a beacon of freedom to all of humanity. Trump is by no means alone, however, in the systematic attack on the role of the free press. On August 12, Mayor Bill de Blasio had a New York Post reporter hauled away by police after he asked the mayor for comment on that newspaper’s recent story on the many meetings he and his top aides have had with lobbyists — meetings that de Blasio had pledged as a

candidate to disclose on a monthly basis, but only recently began revealing after four years in office and only because of relentless pressure from the news media. Just as Fox News joined other reporters in denouncing the White House’s recent exclusion of a CNN reporter from an event because of aggressive questioning, we join in objecting to our mayor’s thuggish treatment of a local Post reporter doing his job. The work our reporters do in the neighborhoods we cover and the institutions — public, non-profit, and corporate — we report on is as important as reporters taking leaders to task at the White House and at City Hall. And attacks on the work we do don’t only erupt in frontal assaults, they also come in the insidious and increasingly common practice of turning over the basic responsibility of responding to legitimate press inquiries to public relations spinmeisters who have no working knowledge of the underlying issues we explore and are simply paid to deliver pre-packaged “messaging.” In an increasingly complex society and economy, all large institutions have

an obligation to transparency in their operations. Paying lip service to that obligation is simply not enough. Editors and reporters across the nation are standing together this week to denounce the attacks demonizing our profession and seeking to sabotage our ability to hold the people in power accountable for their actions. And we ask you, the readers we work for, to stand with us. Defending our free press from attacks by politicians and special interests should be a cause that rises above party, ideology, race, ethnic identity and nationality, sexual orientation, gender and gender identity, or any of the other fault lines along which some are seeking to divide our country. It goes to the heart of what America stands for and is vital to the survival of government of the people, by the people, and for the people. As women’s rights pioneer and investigative journalist Ida B. Wells wrote in 1892, “The people must know before they can act, and there is no educator to compare with the press.” Please join us in upholding and protecting that cherished value.

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City Reneging on All-Affordable Plan on W. 55th St. BY SYDNEY PEREIRA A long-promised 16-story, 100-percent affordable apartment building in Hell’s Kitchen could instead become a development of 30 to 50 stories with a majority of the units offered at market rate, according to four plans that Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office proposed to local elected officials earlier this month. A plan to build affordable housing on the site of the parking lot on New York City Housing Authority property adjacent to Harborview Terrace, on W. 55th St. between 10th and 11th Aves., has been in the works since the 2000s, under a promse made after the 2005 Hudson Yards rezoning was approved during Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s administration. The plans were delayed several years ago when Atlantic Development Group backed out of the project, but by early 2017, the plans were back on track, reported DNAInfo. A Request for Expression of Interest to choose a developer was to have been issued in the spring of 2017, with construction set to begin in 2019, according to that news site. But now the mayor’s office appears to be back at the drawing board.

Photo by Sydney Pereira

The NYCHA parking lot slated for redevelopment by the city, with the Housing Authority’s Harborview Terrace in the center background.

The Daily News reported earlier this month that four new plans were proposed to Borough President Gale Brewer, City Councilmember Helen Rosenthal, and other local stakeholders. Three of the new plans would decrease the number of affordable units, while a fourth plan would keep 226 affordable units but add 527 market-rate units with

a much taller building, according to the newspaper. “The community was promised a 100-percent affordable development at Harborview, and that’s what should happen,” Brewer said in a statement. The mayor’s office did not respond to a request for comment. The administration’s presentation on

Aug. 6, according to the Daily News, honed in on NYCHA’s $32 billion in unfunded needs. The all-affordable plan would raise “minimal” funds for NYCHA, while a building with 70 to 75-percent market-rate units would bring “significant” funds and $40 milALL-AFFORDABLE continued on p. 9

Restaurant Chain Slammed for Trans Discrimination BY DUNCAN OSBORNE Five transgender and gender non-conforming people have sued Texas Chicken & Burgers charging they were effectively refused service at one of the chain’s Manhattan locations this past spring because, they believe, they are transgender and gender non-conforming. “These folks are demanding to be heard,” said Gennaro Savastano, an associate in the appellate unit at Weitz & Luxenberg, a law firm, and president of the LGBT Bar Association of Greater New York. “This sort of bravery is exactly what we need at this moment… New York has zero tolerance for transphobia and homophobia.” The group visited the chain’s outlet on Frederick Douglass Boulevard in Harlem on May 27. Daniele Marino first attempted to order for the group and was ignored, then Deja Smith tried to order and received the same response. Eventually, an employee told the group that there was “no chicken” in the restaurant despite cooked chicken being visible behind the counter. “We were told that there was no chicken,” Smith said during an Aug. 9 NYC Community Media

Photo by Duncan Osborne

Attorney Ben Crump, Jonovia Chase, attorney Gennaro Savastano, Daniele Marino, Jahmila Adderley, and Deja Smith at the Aug. 9 press conference.

press conference that was held across the street from the Stonewall Inn, the site of the 1969 riots that mark the start of the modern LGBTQ rights movement. “We were told that there were no chicken tenders.” A white cisgender man then stepped

to the counter and ordered chicken and was served chicken. While he told the group that he had been served chicken, he also told them he did not want to get involved. At that point, Smith used her phone to record a two-minute video in which the white cisgender man con-

firmed that he had been served chicken and a young Asian woman appeared to be volunteering to assist the group. “I don’t know why it is that when we went to the register there was no DISCRIMINATION continued on p. 9 August 23, 2018


Anti-Flood Planning Surging Too Fast, Many Activists Say

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August 23, 2018

“Alternative 2” from the US Army Corps of Engineers’ “New York and New Jersey Harbor and Tributaries Focus Area Feasibility Study” features a massive storm-surge barrier that would connect Sandy Hook and Breezy Point, plus a second, much smaller barrier up at Throgs Neck, in the Bronx.

BY SYDNEY PEREIRA A public meeting with hardly any public notice. Five proposals with no details on environmental impact or economic feasibility. And a planning process that’s raising doubts on whether the US Army Corps of Engineers can choose the best stormsurge protection plan to protect more than 2,150 miles of New York and New Jersey shoreline. Nearly six years after Hurricane Sandy swamped Lower Manhattan with 7 feet of water and killed two people in the community, this is where the Corps’ New York/New Jersey Harbor and Tributaries study stands after starting in 2016. The Corps is expected to submit a fi nal recommendation to Congress in summer 2022. However, by the Corps’ standards, this pace is quicker than usual. “Believe it or not, the 2022 time period is actually somewhat accelerated,” said Bryce Wisemiller, the study’s project manager.

Back in 2012, the Corps implemented so-called “SMART” planning, which expedites study processes with the goal of increased efficiency and spending less taxpayer dollars. “One feeling engineers and scientists always have is that, ‘We want to get more data and answer every last question,’ ” he said. “And at some point, you never can. We’re trying to answer as many of the high-risk questions as we can in our studies, and acknowledge that there are some risks that we aren’t.” Community Board 1 (CB1) passed a resolution months before Sandy requesting the Corps study stormsurge barriers. The board has rapidly mobilized to grapple with how to respond to the Corps before the end of the public comment period, which had been set for Aug. 20, but has since been extended to Sept. 20. The board wasn’t informed of the Corps’ July 9 scoping meeting until BARRIERS continued on p. 10 NYC Community Media

Ryan Chelsea-Clinton Serves an Aging Hell’s Kitchen Population BY MARK NIMAR Getting older can be tough. As a New Yorker moves into old age, and her body starts to fail her, simple acts like climbing stairs, crossing a busy street, or even taking a shower can seem impossible. Difficulties leaving your apartment can also make it hard to see your friends and make new ones, an action that is crucial to offsetting the loneliness, depression, and anxiety that can negatively affect one’s mental and physical health. But the Ryan Chelsea-Clinton Community Health Center is working to address these issues. A division of New York’s Ryan Health Center, Ryan Chelsea-Clinton is a healthcare clinic in Hell’s Kitchen “dedicated to providing high quality, affordable, comprehensive” healthcare to “medically underserved populations,” according to its website (ryanhealth.org). A vital presence in Hell’s Kitchen since 2001, Ryan Chelsea-Clinton treats 10,000 people per year, 15 percent of whom are uninsured and cannot find affordable primary care elsewhere. The Center, located at 645 10th Ave. (btw. W. 45th & 46th Sts.), started addressing geriatric issues more aggressively as they saw the neighborhood’s population

Courtesy of Ryan Chelsea-Clinton Courtesy of Ryan Chelsea-Clinton

Ryan Chlesea-Clinton Community Health Center, located at 645 10th Ave.

start to age. “In Hell’s Kitchen, there are naturally occurring retirement communities,” said Daniel Pichinson, Executive Director of Ryan Chelsea-Clinton. “Due to low rents and rent stabilization” in buildings like Manhattan Plaza, “people stay” in the neighborhood a long time to avoid exorbitant rent prices elsewhere. As a result,

the Hell’s Kitchen demographic of older residents has greatly increased in the last decade. To address this, Ryan ChelseaClinton has recently hired a new geriatric social worker and patient navigator. Funded by a grant from the Fan Fox and Leslie R. Samuels Foundation, the geriatric social worker addresses issues such as “loneliness, social needs, and mobil-

Daniel Pichinson, Executive Director of Ryan Chelsea-Clinton.

ity issues” by providing “assessments for anxiety and depression, short term therapy,” and counseling on “advance directives.” In addition, the patient navigator helps seniors through the oftencomplicated inner workings of the health care system, offering bilingual assistance RYAN continued on p. 8

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A Ryan Chelsea-Clinton employee asking a patient a question.

Photos courtesy of Ryan Chelsea-Clinton

A practitioner giving a patient at Ryan Chelsea-Clinton an eye exam. RYAN continued from p. 7

for seniors’ issues with Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. The patient navigator also can provide things like wheelchairs or shower bars, and even offer repair services for these important mobility and safety items. The services are having a positive impact on the community. Pichinson noted how, recently, a patient from the Center who had cancer and went through chemo “thanked me. They were stuck in their apartment. We had case managers go into the house, and do the assessments, and we got them the cane and walker they needed, and we got them out of the apartment. They said they felt like a prisoner in the apartment, and did not know what she’d do in a fire.” Services do not only address physical health. Ryan Chelsea-Clinton has also started new programs at the clinic that improve mental health by “engaging the patient in non-traditional ways.” One such program is a monthly Bingo Night, which brings necessary social interaction, stimulating activity, and fun to the seniors of Hell’s Kitchen. Pichinson noted that a group activity like Bingo Night “provides social support” for seniors that can alleviate “behavioral health issues” like “anxiety and depres-


August 23, 2018

sion... indirectly.” Pichinson also noted that the idea of entering a health clinic can be intimidating for a prospective patient, and that an event like Bingo Night is a fun, friendly way to bring in “individuals that might not come into the Center” otherwise. So far, the Bingo Night initiative has been a huge hit. Pichinson recalled how, “Just recently, at the end, two people came up to me and said, ‘I wish you could do this every night. It feels so good to come out of my apartment and see people. It feels so good to be here.’ ” Bingo Night has been so popular that there has been talk of adding a Dominoes Night, and a Knitting Circle, to the Center’s already vibrant monthly calendar. Such events are a point of pride for Ryan Chelsea-Clinton, because Bingo Night participants “who are [already] getting treatment or having physical health problems improve” as a result of their participation, Pichinson said, and added, “Behavioral health and physical health treatments [working] together produce good outcomes for individuals. If you influence their mental health, it influences their physical health as well.” Another important issue addressed by Ryan Chelsea-Clinton is HIV/AIDS preventoion and care. Pichinson noted that the Center addresses HIV and AIDS

A Ryan Chelsea-Clinton practitioner taking a patient’s blood pressure.

aggressively, because Hell’s Kitchen has “higher rates of HIV than in other parts of the city” due to its robust LGBT population. “Ryan Health has been a leader in HIV prevention since the 1980s, and we continue that to this day,” Pichinson said. Similar to its work addressing loneliness with a Bingo Night, Ryan ChelseaClinton has founded programs that educate the community about HIV in unconventional ways. “We have an outreach department, which does outreach in the bars in the neighborhood at 12 a.m., talking about HIV prevention.” At these informal bar meetings, and also at Pride events and various shelters in the neighborhood, the outreach department talks to community members about preventative medications like PrEP and PEP, and about the importance of using condoms when having sex. Inside the Health Center, Pichinson stated, “We serve anyone who walks through our doors. We have several physicians and practitioners certified by the DOH [Department of Health] as HIV specialists. They are certified to provide the highest quality of care in the city. Ninety-four percent of our patients are virally suppressed.” Their success at treating and preventing HIV is reflective of a larger trend happening in New

York State. This year “is the first year that New York has seen a decline in the number of HIV diagnoses,” according to the Center’s website. If things continue in this direction, New York State may meet Governor Andrew Cuomo’s goal of ending the epidemic once and for all by the year 2020. Ryan Chelsea-Clinton is “engaged and optimistic” about meeting this goal, Pichinson said. Pichinson does not take a day of work at Ryan Chelsea-Clinton for granted. “Working here is a privilege,” he said, “because you get to prevent people from getting sick, and help people get better. You can’t say that in a lot jobs,” he noted. Pichinson is also proud that Ryan Chelsea-Clinton reaches people from all different walks of life, as evidenced by its clientele’s great social and ethnic diversity. “The vast diversity in the patient populations who walks through our door is amazing,” he said. “Sometimes when I am in the lobby, I see families from Yemen wearing burkas [next to] big muscular guys wearing short-shorts. And everyone is getting along well and dandy, waiting for their providers... [You see that] we all just want to feel well and be treated right as human beings.” And with that, Pichinson hung up the phone and went back to work fighting for the health of the neighborhood. NYC Community Media

ALL-AFFORDABLE continued from p. 5

lion for Harborview Terrace, according to the newspaper. “The administration hasn’t made a decision on which approach to adopt,” said NYCHA spokesperson Robin Levine, who declined additional comment because the plans are preliminary. At the Aug. 6 meeting, everyone made clear to the mayor’s office that the new proposals wouldn’t be looked at favorably, according to Brewer’s office. Brewer understands NYCHA’s need for cash, but she remains steadfast in her support for a 100-percent affordable development. Following the Daily News’ scoop, the paper editorialized in favor of de Blasio’s proposals — focusing on the $40 million that the mix of market-rate and affordable units would bring to NYCHA’s Harborview Terrace, which is much in need. “If anyone has better ideas of how to begin to fund $32 billion in needed repairs, bring them on,” the paper’s editorial board wrote, criticizing Brewer’s call for 100-percent affordability. “And it’s not as though a tall tower would be out of place in Midtown.” A Request for Proposal was released in the middle of last year for Harborview and three other 100-percent affordable

developments, but a developer was not chosen. NYCHA and the city’s Housing Preservation and Development planned to select a developer from a prequalified list, according to a release from the city. The neighborhood’s state assemblymember was caught off guard by the change in plans. “I was surprised to learn that the city was contemplating dramatic changes to an agreed-upon plan,” Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal said in a written statement. “The Harborview community, along with the elected officials who represent it, worked together with the city for many years on a plan to create a new affordable housing development — everyone agreed that it would be 100-percent affordable, because that’s what the community needed then and still needs.” She added, “Now, under the new proposals, the Harborview community would only get as much affordable housing as originally proposed if there was also a 50-story building on the site. That represents a major departure.” Councilmember Rosenthal kept focus on what the community wants, as well. “I’m listening to the community,” she said. “There’s obviously been a long history here, and we clearly need to get something done that is what the community wants.”

DISCRIMINATION continued from p. 5

chicken, but when that young man right there went to the register there was chicken,” Smith can be heard saying in the video. A man behind the counter waved his hand and said, “No video” when asked if he had just told the group there was no chicken in the restaurant. On May 29, the company posted a statement on its Instagram page. “We take all concerns raised by our customers very seriously, just as we take our obligation to treat our customers, employees, and other stakeholders with the utmost degree of respect in an environment free of any form of discrimination,” the company said. The statement added, “While we regret that our customer did not receive the level of service we would expect from all employees… after a thorough and swift review of the situation, we are confident that the situation was caused by an honest mistake made by the employee when stating that particular food items were sold out, and not the product of any intentional discriminatory treatment as it is portrayed in the video.” The lawsuit was filed in state court in Manhattan on Aug. 9. Reached by phone, Waheed Khosdal, the chief

operating officer at Texas Chicken & Burgers, said, “We haven’t been served with anything so I can’t make any comment.” The suit alleges that Texas Chicken & Burgers violated the city and state human rights laws when it refused to serve the group because they are transgender and gender non-conforming. The city human rights law has barred discrimination based on gender identity since 2002. In 2015, Governor Andrew Cuomo used an executive directive adding gender identity as a protected class to the state law. Jahmila Adderley, Jonovia Chase, and Valerie Spencer are the other plaintiffs in the lawsuit. Spencer lives in Los Angeles and did not attend the Aug. 9 press conference. Civil rights attorney Ben Crump is working on the lawsuit with Weitz & Luxenberg. He flew from his office in Florida to attend the Aug. 9 press conference. Referring to the May 29 statement by Texas Chicken & Burgers, Crump said, “It really was a very poor excuse.” Recalling past scenes of civil rights activists who have prompted action to promote or defend civil rights, Crump added, “We’re going to see if the transgender community can get justice when it’s on video.”

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“More Parks Sausages Mom!” “Please!”

by Maurice W. Dorsey More than his ad, Henry G. Parks, Jr. was a man before his time. Pioneering in the American free enterprise system he embarked on a journey leading to a multi-million dollar industry. After many endeavors in business, The H.G. Parks, Inc. trading as Parks Sausage became a reality in 1951. With strong aggressive leadership, brilliant marketing and advertising, Mr. Parks build a business that never posted a losing year under his ownership. Park’s Sausage was the first African American owned business to issue stock publicly. Mr. Park’s success caught the attention of some of the leading corporate boards in this country along with national organizations, city, state, and federal leaders. They sought to bring him aboard to share his knowledge, leadership skills, and ability with other leading American business, government and non-profit leaders. This is the story of a businessman who was African American and was optimistic and determined while achieving ultimate success. Available on Xlibris.com or Amazon.com mdorsey10 @mdorsey10 Maurice W. Dorsey Maurice W. Dorsey


August 23, 2018

BARRIERS continued from p. 6

just days before. “It’s sort of ironic that you have a board that represents the community, and yet these groups don’t come to us,” said Alice Blank, chairperson of CB1’s Resiliency Subcommittee. “I’m sure we’re not the only ones, of course.” Blank added that she thinks, going forward, the Corps will provide frequent updates about the study, whose local sponsors are the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and New York State’s Department of Environmental Conservation. The “Herculean task” of coordinating groups is just beginning, she said, adding, “Everybody’s trying to figure out what’s the next step, and how do we get there as quickly as possible without cutting any corners.” In a last-minute meeting in late July that wasn’t included on the CB1 Resiliency Subcommittee’s agenda, a Corps rep explained the study for more than an hour, detailing his concerns over the so-called SMART planning. The Corps is operating with these rules that “never contemplated something of this scale,” Thomas Hodson, the chief of the Corps’ plan-formulation branch, told CB1. He expressed doubt about the planning process and its ability to fi nd the best alternative to protect two states from storm-surge flooding. “SMART planning rushes to make a decision,” Hodson said. “Headquarters has decided to rearrange the trade-off in favor of using less time and less money to make a decision. Does that increase the probability that you’ll make any wrong decision? Does that increase the probability that you will arrive at what’s called a Type 2 error?” he said, referring to a type of statistical error — sometimes called a “false negative” — that could lead the study to ignore significant risks with one or more of the five different proposals the Corps study is evaluating. “If we knew what the storm pattern was going to be in advance, this would be easy,” Hodson told CB1. The five plan options the Corps presented span the gamut from only offshore storm-surge barriers to only protective shoreline measures. On one end of the spectrum, the Corps is floating a 5-mile-long regional storm-surge barrier connecting Breezy Point, New York, and Sandy Hook, New Jersey, along with a much

smaller barrier at Throgs Neck, in the Bronx. Another proposal has no barriers, but would implement shoreline measures at key points in New York and New Jersey up the Hudson River to Albany. Three other plans include a mix of elements from these two — Alternatives 3a, 3b and 4. The Corps released maps of the five alternatives in early July, which are viewable in the agency’s online presentation. The largest barrier plan, Wisemiller explained, “would be a monumental engineering challenge” and could cost from $30 billion up to even $50 billion, with more than 100 gates. “Yes, you’re protecting the broad area, and you have that certainty,” Wisemiller said. “But you have the concern that all those gates have to work perfectly while that storm is approaching, and there’s really no way to test those systems until there is a storm in place. “I’m not advocating for one or the other, but the fl ipside is that you have measures that are tailored for different areas that you have less area at risk if any one of the measures should fail for whatever reason,” he said, “poor maintenance over time, whatever the conditions are.” Though the full board of CB1 didn’t endorse a specific proposal, they voted July 31 against the SMART planning process, writing in their resolution that the “expedited review process could have serious implications in terms of an inadequate review of all the critical variables that need to be evaluated for a study of this magnitude.” The community board further requested that the Corps evaluate how each alternative does or does not address sea-level rise, costs of interventions that would address sealevel rise, and better communications between the board and the Corps. But for some on CB1, the lack of detail remains alarming. “It’s really hard to comment on it because there’s not a lot of detail, and it’s hard to know how it’s being coordinated with the city,” said Laura Starr, who runs Starr Whitehouse Landscape Architects and Planners, which took part in developing the “Big U” waterfront-protection plan. Catherine McVay Hughes, a longtime advocate of the largest barrier plan and former chairperson of CB1, said storm surge must be addressed in the harbor and sea-level rise on the waterfront. BARRIERS continued on p. 23 NYC Community Media

PARKLAND continued from p. 3

parkland are in their infancy. “The first third (Block 4) will be mostly green and reflective. The last two portions (Blocks 5 and 6) are in the master plan slated to be a green space and an interactive play space,” Benfatto explained. “However, the specifics are yet to be designed. The design will occur now that there is money available.” This is not to say there are no concerns about the next steps. At least two elected officials want to ensure that locals will have a major say in the park’s ultimate design. “We know that having a playground integrated into Block 5 or Block 6 will be a community priority,” Brewer said, “But in general, whenever an investment on this scale happens, there needs to be thorough community engagement to identify priorities and test ideas. The plan needs to incorporate the people and stakeholders who will use this space.” State Senator Brad Hoylman agrees. “We need the public input to design the best park,” he told Chelsea Now, adding, “I’m sure CB4 working with my and other offices will make sure this happens.” One fixture of the community is excited about the plans to add more public green space to the area. When this

Photo by Michael Rock

A vacant lot, with the Javits Center visible in the background. Much of the area’s vacant or abandoned space will be revamped, as part of Phase II of the city’s “Master Plan for Hudson Yards.”

reporter informed Hassan (he declined to provide a last name), who operates a halal stand across the street from where the park will be, he was elated. “Anything built here will be good for

business. Anything good for business will be good for me,” he said. Benfatto was also confident about the benefits the parkland would offer the neighborhood. “I don’t hope, I know [it

will be great for the neighborhood],” he said. “Open, green space will be there for the families, visitors, and workers in Hudson Yards — and the more the better.”

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Geeking Out on Diversity and Inclusion Flame Con grows as it redefines LGBTQ culture

Photos by Charles Battersby

Audience and judge favorites from Saturday’s costume contest.

BY CHARLES BATTERSBY Last weekend, subway riders in New York might have noticed costumed nerds were flooding the city. International Cosplay Day took place in Central Park, Liberty City Anime Con at the New York Marriott Marquis, and, at the Sheraton Times Square, there was Flame Con. Billed as “The World’s Largest Queer Comic Con,” this was the event’s fourth year, and its third change of venue (previous installments took place in Brooklyn). Flame Con continues to grow in attendance


August 23, 2018

and scope. At a quick glance, it looks like any other con: There are excited fans lined up to hear celebrities speak, a hall of vendors selling art and indie comics, and an abundance of cosplayers dressed up like their favorite characters. Upon a closer look, attendees will see some distinct details: Most of the people at Flame Con are wearing badges with their preferred gender pronouns (free stickers were placed on tables throughout the con, featuring the options He, She, They, and Ask

Me). All of the bathrooms are genderneutral. Rainbows and unicorns adorn nearly everyone, and none of the cosplayers are carrying replica firearms. The “No Firearms” policy is rare at cons. Phoenix Comic Fest enacted a similar policy last year after a man with real guns tried to enter that convention, and Flame Con’s policy was implemented two years ago, after the Pulse nightclub shooting. We spoke with Kevin Gilligan, the Lead for Experiences at Flame Con, about how this unusual policy affects the con. “We want Flame

Con to be a welcoming experience for all, and we don’t anyone to feel unsafe,” he told us. “In order to do that, we have challenged our cosplayers to either come up with cosplay that doesn’t require weaponry, or find clever alternatives.” “If your cosplay can’t be defined without a weapon,” Gilligan said, “then maybe you should re-look at your cosplay.” The attendees lived up to the challenge, sporting outfits that rivaled FLAME CON continued on p. 13 NYC Community Media

FLAME CON continued from p. 12

what is seen at much larger cons. Another thing that separates cosplay at Flame Con from other cons is the “Come All” attitude in the contests. Many cons have strict application processes for people who want to be in their cosplay contests. Hopefuls have to apply months ahead of time, and even then only a small portion are worthy of walking the stage. Flame Con has a more welcoming attitude: A contest is held each day and anyone can join, even jumping into the line on the spur of the moment. We asked the judges what they were looking for in the winners. Flame Con’s cosplay co-chair, who goes by the name Tea Berry-Blue, told us they look for “Costumes that, to us, embody the spirit of Flame Con and the spirit of joy, diversity, and inclusion.” A guest judge this year, “Trungles,” explained that they want “Someone who’s really enthusiastic about their community and character, and who put a lot of dedication and love into their costume.” Although gay and straight geeks are enthusiastic about the same things, the LGBTQ community has taken a particular liking to the “Steven Universe” cartoons. It’s an adventure show with a sweet sensibility, and an exceptionally diverse cast. The cute animation is child-like, but it often addresses social themes that adults can appreciate as much as kids can. Trungles explained that “Steven Universe” is “a property that we can share with the younger members of our community. Some people latch onto this as a reclamation of a childhood where we can be open and embracing of our queerness, while also sharing it with the rest of our community. The show does a really good job of crossing those generational bridges.” We also spoke to a Flame Con attendee named Victor, who explained, “I knew ‘Steven Universe’ for the first time when I knew that Jinkx Monsoon, winner of ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ Season 5, was doing the voice of Emerald, I was gagging by the fact that a drag queen was participating in such a project. I was thinking, this is gonna be so controversial, because ‘Steven Universe’ looks like a toon for kids. So that’s how I got interested in the show. I really admire how LGBTQ culture is becoming part of the society, where we are just another person in it, not freaks anymore.” Among the other unique finds at Flame Con were a performance by an LGBTQ cheerleading team, a panel on NYC Community Media

Photos by Scott Stiffler

Even the vendors were dressed up in costume, in this case to conceal the true identity of artist TigerLion Moikana.

using corsetry and breast binding for crossdressing cosplayers, and no less than three musical theater performances inspired by shows like “Star Trek” and “Firefly.” Flame Con explores LGBTQ identity from many angles. Among the panels this year was one moderated by writer Ali Abbas, which looked at how gay Muslims are depicted in TV and film. Muslim characters have recently appeared in projects like “X-Files,” “The Punisher,” “The Bold Type,” and “Person of Interest” — and many of these characters are gay or trans. In a light-hearted discussion, Abbas pointed out that some media depictions of Muslims and trans people were quite similar. He said both groups are “highly visible in the media and the news, but the people who are representing us on television and in art, they’re not trans and they’re not brown.” Abbas cited how beards and hijabs are easy ways to make characters look Muslim, or how trans characters refer to their transition in dialogue — but that the portrayals are often inaccurate. “There’s a high visual demand for According to this cosplayer, Flame Con is “Ack ack! Ack ack ack! ACK!”

FLAME CON continued on p. 16 August 23, 2018


Dream Weavers Lady Bunny, Neil Patrick Harris drag Wigstock into the ‘2.HO’ era

Photo by Jonathan Bayme

Photo by David Ayllon

Bosom Buddies: Lady Bunny and Neil Patrick Harris are among the busy brains behind the relaunch of Wigstock.

Bob the Drag Queen, winner of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” Season 9, is on the bill for September 1’s rain-or-shine Wigstock.

BY SCOTT STIFFLER Hairstyles come and go, fake eyelashes eventually lose their grip, and even the fiercest foundation fades with time. But showbiz survivor Lady Bunny is digging her heels in and seeding the field for things to come — by bringing a “2.HO” relaunch of her iconic Wigstock gathering to South Street Seaport’s Pier 17 on Saturday, September 1. There, in a classy, 1.5acre rooftop venue standing in stark contrast to Wigstock’s gritty Tompkins Square Park roots, audiences will see a seven-hour, all-star lineup of veteran and contemporary drag talent serving an “outrageous and unapologetically entertainment-rich show” co-produced by, among others, none other than “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” alum Neil Patrick Harris. Word of Wigstock’s return spread on social media last week faster than a flame that’s just come into contact with


August 23, 2018

Aqua Net — and, just as quickly, proud press whore Lady Bunny gave consent for this publication to fill a hole in her schedule via a Friday, August 17 phone interview at the ungodly hour of 8 a.m. Coffee in hand, she spilled the tea on everything from Trump to makeup tutorials to manufactured rivalries, all before heading out to Fire Island for a solo gig (“Pig in a Wig”), then riding the last ferry home, so to speak. Now that’s the kind of work ethic befitting a self-professed “salty old kook” who’s been dishing up sass, ass, and songs to hungry audiences for over three decades. So give the gal her due, and get your tickets before they’re all scooped up — by teenage girls! NYC Community Media: Why bring Wigstock [1985-2001] back at this particular point? Lady Bunny: When Wigstock originally started, gay people were scared. People were dropping like flies from

AIDS. I was probably 22, and I wasn’t very politically involved. I was certainly no mastermind like Larry Kramer or any of the other people who formed ACT UP and fought so bravely. I couldn’t conceive of a die-in outside of a church. It just wasn’t in my DNA — but what I could do is be a clown and throw a party and make people who had not succumbed to AIDS enjoy themselves. I could bring everyone together and remind us that we are still alive and we can banish some of the darkness that AIDS brought, by having a silly celebration. And I think, in a similar way, I was very involved in slogging it out with my dearest friends during that very, very long primary leading up to the [2016 presidential] election. The election had, of course, what I feel to be the worst outcome, although I didn’t like either of the choices… and I think that we really are in a malaise. We’re stunned. And I won’t liken

Trump to AIDS, but let’s just say that we could use a party now, too. NYC Community Media: How has the culture changed in terms of embracing drag — and in its mainstreaming, what have we gained? Lady Bunny: We’ve gained a lot of people who are interested in drag. We’ve also gained lot of drag personalities from “RuPaul’s Drag Race” who are phenomenally talented, like Bianca Del Rio, Jinkx Monsoon, Latrice Royale, Bob the Drag Queen, and Willam — and it just so happens that they’re all performing at Wigstock. So, I mean, it put drag on the map in a big way. And I, as an associate of RuPaul’s, have been mentioned on the show, so I benefit from the mainstreaming… It’s great. Sometimes Ru will make a joke about me and people say, “Oh girl, he read you last night.” And I’m, like, WIGSTOCK continued on p. 18 NYC Community Media



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FLAME CON continued from p. 13

[trans and Muslim characters] now,” he told us, “but the people filling that demand don’t have a horse in the race. So they don’t have to care about how they’re representing these people.” When asked if one can be both a devout Muslim and gay, Abbas explained, “It’s very nuanced. I can only talk about by region. You have Lebanon, which has had free HIV healthcare since the ’80s. It’s still illegal to be gay on the books, but they have gay bar culture... It depends: Muslim by Muslim, region by region, country by country. The problem is convoluting it all so that they’re all just ‘brown.’ ” While interviewing Abbas, a cosplayer approached us and complimented Abbas on his rainbow sneakers. Deep discussions on global politics, theology, gender identity, and fabulous shoes. That’s Flame Con in a nutshell. The event has been confirmed to return in 2019. For more info, visit flamecon.org and geeksout.org.

Photo by Charles Battersby

Flame Con has game consoles for multiplayer games, and live tournaments.

Photo by Charles Battersby

Conventions let gamers enjoy tabletop games with other fans.

Photo by Charles Battersby

Season 8 “RuPaul’s Drag Race” contestant Dax ExclamationPoint (seen here cosplaying Batgirl) was one of the judges in Sunday’s cosplay contest.

Photo by Scott Stiffler

Cons give fans a chance to meet artists and buy original art. Seen here, the work of Rage Gear Studios.


August 23, 2018

Photo by Charles Battersby

Gotham Cheer proved that nerds and cheerleaders can be friends. NYC Community Media

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WIGSTOCK continued from p. 14

“You can’t make a joke about somebody on a national TV show unless they’re somewhat known.” And if they don’t know, they can Google it… This is what I think is funny: People want to pit drag queens against each other. There was an article in the New York Times that mentioned RuPaul is not scheduled to perform at Wigstock this year, and that there was a bit of a rivalry between RuPaul and me. [The Times’ Aug. 15 article characterized RuPaul as gaining fame “by selling drag to a mainstream audience, while spreading a message of universal love and acceptance,” while pegging Lady Bunny as one who “remains countercultural and indie at heart,” concluding that section with, “Tellingly, RuPaul is not scheduled to perform at Wigstock.”] Honey, first of all, if there’s a rivalry, he’s clearly winning hands-down! But to say we have a rivalry? That [article] was the same day RuPaul launched his podcast [episode] with me… When you’re friends with someone since your early 20s, and roommates for, you know, a decade? That’s not a rivalry... And I mean, I do things with the “Drag Race” queens all the time. I did that “Werq the World” tour twice, affiliated with World of Wonder, the production company of “Drag Race.” Last year I played Cardiff, in Wales, twice. And I’ve never played there before. And I go on tours with these girls, because such a fever has been created around drag. So that’s what’s been gained. NYC Community Media: Has there been anything lost, because of the mainstreaming? Lady Bunny: Of course. We did an annual comedy show called “Queens of Comedy” at the Castro in San Francisco and the show was popular. We did it for several years and they would add an early show and ask us to keep our act clean because kids came to the early show — and for someone who cut their drag teeth in late night gay bars, I was always encouraged to do things that were filthy, outrageous, kooky. Definitely not tasteful. So that was a bit of a culture shock. And then I did one of those big “RuPaul’s Drag Race” queen roundup shows… And everyone in the front row were young women, like 15 and up. I said, “Wow, this is wild, the front rows of drag shows are women?” And they [the “Drag Race” queens] said, “Yeah, they’re the ones who buy the merchandise. They’re our biggest fans.” Now part of me misses hanging out with women, because I got my start in rock clubs like the


August 23, 2018

Photo by Jovanni Jimenez Pedraza

More than a mere “look queen,” Bianca Del Rio gets Lady Bunny’s seal of approval for her aesthetics, as well as her ability to deliver a solid performance.

Pyramid and others in Atlanta that were extremely mixed, and then went on to work in clubs like Limelight and Palladium; mixed clubs. So I always enjoyed having girls around, and now it’s come full circle. During the Circuit years, girls did not mingle much with gays that much. It was hard beats and hard bodies, you know, maybe a few — can we still say “fag hag” and “fruit fly?” So that part, I actually like. However, these 15-year-old girls, they know zero gay subtext and they’re not going to possibly appreciate a joke about a yeast infection, which would send audiences in a gay bar into a tizzy. But any performer has to somewhat tailor their show to an audience, that’s just common sense. And I think one of the other things that’s been lost is the kind of drag that inspired me to do Wigstock, which is kind of quirky and offbeat — definitely not as polished. I’m seeing drag turn into a like status symbol kind of thing where, ooh, you have to have this quality of lace front wigs, and I’m like, “No, I don’t. I skip money on Botox on my forehead and I wear bangs that go right down to my eyebrows, which I don’t even pluck.” ...Every queen is making these makeup tutorials, where they not only hold up every product after they apply it, but they smirk, as if to say, “He, he, he, “I can afford this product.” But for me, getting whatever I could get from a thrift shop that was made for a woman and fit me, it wasn’t about the polish. It was never about spending hours conceiving of a look. It was the spirit you brought that to the party, the dancing, the lip-synching, the singing… My crowd, my kind of queen, is less polished. Makeup is what you do before you get on the stage. If you spend five hours on your makeup and you’ve got nothing to do on the stage except look like your makeup is gorgeous? To me, that’s dull, because drag is performance-oriented. I’d rather see someone with [less than perfect] applied makeup and a cheap wig tear up a number. But for Wigstock, I didn’t book any who are what they are call “look queens” — I mean, Bianca Del Rio does both. Her makeup is incredible, her wigs she does herself, her costumes she makes herself, but she had an act before she went on “Drag Race.” And I don’t typically tell queens what to perform at Wigstock. I mean, of course, I might say so-and-so is doing an extremely similar number — might you want to change that? Sometimes I will guide them or make suggestions,

Art by Tabboo! 2018, courtesy of Gordon Robichaux, NY, © the artist

Wigstock is back, 2.HO-style.

WIGSTOCKcontinued on p. 20 NYC Community Media

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WIGSTOCK continued from p. 18

but sometimes their own suggestions are better than mine. There are some queens, like Lypsinka, who I would never dare to suggest anything to [laughs]. But what was the actual question [laughs]? Because there’s one other point that my coffee haze is trying to bubble through. NYC Community Media: No, I think you’ve covered it, admirably given the hour of the day this interview is taking place. Talk about your role in this relaunch. Lady Bunny: Apparently, executive producing. I’ll be emceeing and we’re [the co-producers] all working together and making decisions on everything from props to lighting to ticket sales to whatever.

We had a location, which fell through. It was in Brooklyn. We all loved it, but we didn’t get it. But we actually found a better location, which is the exquisite Pier 17. It’s so nice, I’m afraid they may not let some of the performers in. Diana Ross and Gladys Knight will be performing there in the fall — and honey, if it’s good enough for them, it’s good enough for Big Bad Bunn. NYC Community Media: How did co-producer Neil Patrick Harris get on board? Lady Bunny: We had originally discussed some sort of reality TV show, which was about the reviving of Wigstock and how it would culminate with a two-hour episode of the festival. That idea languished for quite awhile… We were trying to make it kind of a semi-scripted thing with silly ideas, like Neil didn’t

Photo by Jeff Eason

Isn’t she lovely: Self-professed “salty old kook” Lady Bunny promises the kind of party we need in these Trumpian times.



August 23, 2018


really want to help me organize Wigstock, that he wanted to get into my panties. We worked on it, and it kind of morphed into, “Why don’t we just do a festival instead, and make a documentary?” And that’s what we’re doing. NYC Community Media: Do you see it becoming an ongoing thing? Lady Bunny: I’d like to see if I could plug Wigstock into existing festivals, like they have all over Europe, like Milkshake and Glastonbury. Maybe they can give us a stage to do our thing for a few hours. NYC Community Media: Parting thoughts? Lady Bunny: Wigstock is not just a concert, it’s a party. So throw on your drag rags, your wigs, whatever. A wig can really transform you into a party animal, and that’s who we want there. And I’m not going to sit and bitch about New York City “losing it” if I’m not trying to add something fun to it. So please join us. Wigstock takes place from 3-10pm, rain or shine, at the South Street Seaport’s Pier 17. For tickets ($95, $250 or $1,000), visit wigstock.nyc. Artist info at ladybunny.net. At press time, the talent lineup included Alaska, Alex Newell, Amanda Lepore, Barbara Tucker, Bianca Del Rio, Bob the Drag Queen, Candis Cayne, Charlene Incarnate, Darcelle XV, Desmond is Amazing, Dina Martina, Heklina, Jackie Beat, Jada Valenciagia, Jinkx Monsoon, Joey Arias, Justin Vivian Bond, Kevin Aviance, Latrice Royale, Lina Bradford, Linda Simpson, Lypsinka, Murray Hill, Peaches Christ, Peppermint, Raven O, Sherry Vine, Unitard, Varla Jean Merman, and Willam. NYC Community Media

CYCLIST’S DEATH continued from p. 1

rently have bike lanes. “If we fi x Central Park West, but we leave 110th St. the way it is, we’re asking for the next innocent bystander to be injured or killed because those are dangerous lanes, too,” said StreetPAC’s Frishauf, who is also an activist with Transportation Alternatives, which advocates for a range of non-automotive travel options in the city. The tragedy byand-large was entirely preventable, he added, arguing that prioritizing protected bike lanes over free parking is critical for street safety. “It’s terrible that it should take the preventable death of Madison to get attention for the unsafe condition on Central Park West,” Frishauf said. “Death should not be a part of the deal for riding a bicycle in New York City.” Saying he has watched the transformation of cycling opportunities in the city for decades, “largely for the better,” Frishauf pointed to Seville, Spain. The European city is credited with increasing its bike trips by 11-fold in just a few years’ time through an extensive, protected bike network. New York City could do much better than it currently does, he believes. “If we’re serious about Vision Zero, we will not prioritize free car parking over protected bike lanes,” said Frishauf. Rosenthal, who said she’s both a cyclist and a car-owner, noted how protected bike lanes on Columbus and Amsterdam Aves. have made those streets safer than they were previously, but also acknowledged that her constituents often complain to her about how bike lanes slow traffic and create more congestion. “But my first priority is safety,” she said. “And I have seen in my district that the protected bike lanes bring actual safety to people. And that’s my top priority.” The city Department of Transportation is currently studying bike lane fi xes for Central Park West, per Rosenthal’s request, according to both the councilmember and a DOT spokesperson. Transportation Alternatives held a memorial ride in honor of Lyden last Friday with some 50 cyclists riding along Central Park West from 67th Street to 110th Street. Plans are in the works to build a ghost bike in her memory. Rosenthal, whose first tweet about the cyclist fatality, on Aug. 13, called for a two-way protected bike lane on Central Park West alone, told activists NYC Community Media

Photos by Chelsea Yamada/ Transportation Alternatives

Councilmember Helen Rosenthal addresses riders who turned out on Aug. 17 for a memorial ride on Central Park West to honor the late Madison Jane Lyden.

Transportation Alternatives’ executive director Paul Steely White addresses the cyclists joining the Aug. 17 memorial ride.

four days later that she supports protected lanes around the park’s entire circumference. On Manhattan’s Upper East Side, bike lanes were a flashpoint at a recent Community Board 8 meeting, where the DOT proposed two pairs of crosstown bike lanes, protected only by painted lines, as well as a semi-protected bike lane on a stretch of Second Ave. to “close the gap” and make the intersection at the entrance to the Queensboro Bridge safer. Upper East Side Councilmember Keith Powers, whose district includes the swath of Fifth Ave. on Central Park’s east side with no bike lane, supports those proposals. “Councilmember Powers is supportive of bike lanes on the East Side,” a spokesperson for Powers, Liz Peters, said by email. “Additionally, he believes that closing the gap on the Second Ave. bike lane is important for safety of both pedestrians and bikers.” Peters did not respond on the spe-

cific question of a protected bike lane on Fifth Ave., saying only that the councilmember supports lanes “with appropriate oversight from DOT on level of protection.” She added, however, that Powers was among the councilmembers who signed a March letter to Mayor Bill de Blasio asking that street safety fi xes — such as paint and bollards — be incorporated into the budget for street resurfacing. Those fi xes, the letter stated, should comply with the DOT’s Vision Zero Standard, endorsed by Transportation Alternatives, that encourages walking, biking, public transit use, accessibility, and protected bike lanes and intersections, among other goals. Powers’s district runs as far south as E. 14th St., and in light of the looming L train shutdown, Peters said, the councilmember is particularly concerned about the need to strengthen alternative methods of transportation and improve the safety of bikers and pedestrians. Meanwhile, on the West Side, Community Board 7 is expected to discuss Central Park West bike lanes at its Sept. 11 Transportation Committee

meeting. “Clearly it’s not working the way it is,” said Andrew Albert, the committee’s co-chair. He said he wants to hear from the DOT on what type of design is possible on Central Park West to make the street safer. “It’s a tragedy, and we want to make sure it doesn’t happen again,” he said. Howard Yaruss, Albert’s co-chair, said of Rosenthal’s call for a protected lane, “I couldn’t be more in favor of it. I give her a lot of credit for asking for it.” An Upper West Side resident for 25 years, Yaruss lives at 68th St. and Central Park West, just a block from where Lyden was fatally struck. He regularly bikes on Central Park West and said he is often forced into traffic by people being let out of or getting into cars. “You have to swerve around them, risking your life,” he said. Yaruss is skeptical the DOT will implement safety fi xes on Central Park West without CB 7’s guidance, and he hopes the board soon endorses what Rosenthal has called for. “Frankly, I don’t know what should be a higher priority than protecting the lives of people who are using the streets,” he said. “Peoples’ lives and parking cannot be equated. They’re just not.” Ken Coughlin, also a member of CB 7’s Transportation Committee as well as a board member at Transportation Alternatives, took part in the Aug. 17 memorial ride in Lyden’s honor. “It was very moving,” he said. “We put a sign on a tree next to where Madison Lyden had been killed that said, ‘Madison, we are sorry New York City failed you.’” Coughlin later realized that Lyden had taught swim lessons to the 18-month-old son of an acquaintance in Melbourne. The youngster’s mother described Lyden as “lively and bubbly.”

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NYC Community Media

BARRIERS continued from p. 10

“It’s a multipronged attack,” said Hughes, who is on the Metropolitan NY-NJ Storm Surge Working Group, which supports the regional barrier plan. “It’s really important that this is really seriously considered because it would be a shame that Alternative 1 — which is inaction — is what happens.” Hughes co-authored a study this April with that working group’s chairperson, Malcolm Bowman, and others arguing that an extensive regional barrier plan — with more barriers than the Corps’ major barrier proposal — is the only approach that would equitably protect all at-risk parts of the region. The study cited how Sandy disproportionately impacted poor, immigrant and minority communities, which also had slower recoveries, particularly in the outer boroughs. The largest concentration of deaths, too, were in low-lying neighborhoods in Staten Island, in contrast to Manhattan’s two fatalities, according to the study. “Only such a combined, layered regional storm-surge and sea-level rise barrier system will provide comprehensive protection for all of the region’s residents and communities, regardless of their economic or social status, for the next 100 years,” the paper concludes. However, Riverkeeper, a 52-year-old environmental advocacy group dedicated to protecting the Hudson River, has serious doubts about the regional protection barrier. For one, advocates worry a barrier would choke the life out of the Hudson River, restricting tidal fl ow and blocking fi sh migration, which could have cascading effects on North Atlantic fi sheries, according to John Lipscomb, Riverkeeper’s patrol boat captain. “These barriers pose an existential threat for the Hudson,” Lipscomb warned. Plus, the regional barrier alone does not address sealevel rise, nor does the Corps’ NYC Community Media

entire study itself. “The Corps was asked the wrong question,” Lipscomb stressed. “They were asked about storm risk and not sea-level rise risk.” After the Corps’ years of work already, Lipscomb said, “It’s almost as though the train has headed down the track and we’re early on, and we know it’s on the track to the wrong destination and we cannot turn it around.” A West Villager at the early July scoping meeting worried the massive barrier was an “all eggs in one basket” approach. “I’m extremely concerned about this Alternative 2 over here, for example, where we’re going to put a ton of money — all eggs in one basket — and then if that thing doesn’t work, you’re exposed in all these other ways,” said Tom O’Keefe, a private tutor and climate activist. “In the meantime, you cause a lot of other problems by making this massive intervention.” Meanwhile, much of Lower Manhattan remains exposed to storm surges, and even medium-

term protections by the city won’t be implemented until the 2019 storm season. The Lower Manhattan Coastal Resiliency Project’s Two Bridges portion recently had its fourth public meeting and is considered fully funded, but that’s just 0.82 miles of Lower Manhattan. The “Big U” plan, which would cover 10 miles of Manhattan waterfront, is mostly either delayed or underfunded. Plus, as Hughes and Bowman’s study notes, that piecemeal approach ignores environmental and social justice. “The multilevel approach, right now — ‘the Big U’ — is a broken ‘J’,” Hughes said. “It’s conceptual.” Coordination between multiple city agencies, the state and the federal government seems lacking, Starr added. “The fact of the matter is — the water is the water,” she said. “It’s going to go where it wants to go. The water doesn’t know about the political jurisdictions. The political jurisdictions have to come together to really collaborate to address the water.”


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Manhattan Express - August 23, 2018  

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