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Big City New Yorkers Have the Longest Commute Times in the U.S. A new report by The Partnership for New York City found that New Yorkers spend an average of 48 minutes getting to work, 13 minutes more than the national average, the New York Daily News reported. The study found that more than half of commuters in Brooklyn and Queens drive to work because of a lack of public transportation options. The number of people who both live and work in Brooklyn has increased by 24 percent over the last 10 years, the report said. The report also found approximately 1.5 million people commute to Manhattan each day and about 364,000 people who work in Manhattan live in other states. The nonprofit partnership urged New York to improve public transportation options. The group’s report said the city should continue work on the Second Ave. subway and improve bus service between Brooklyn and Queens.

New Bill Aims To Charge Customers For Plastic Bags Looking to protect the environment and raise revenue, City Council members recently proposed legislation to compel grocery and retail stores to charge customers 10 cents per bag in order to reduce the use of paper and plastic bags.Unlike a previous 6-cent bag tax proposed by Mayor Bloomberg in 2008, the recent legislation would allow retailers to retain the surcharge. Restaurants would be exempt from the measure, while street vendors would not. City Councilmember Brad Lander said, “The nice thing about this charge is you can avoid it entirely if you bring your reusable bags.”

Advocates said the average New Yorker uses 300-600 plastic bags per year, for a total of 5.2 billion bags, and the city spends $10 million annually to ship those used bags to out-of-state landfills. Similar efforts in Seattle, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington D.C. have led to reductions of between 60 and 95 percent in bag waste.

Greenfield Launches “Friends of 18th Avenue Park” Campaign Councilman David G. Greenfield has launched a new neighborhood organization called the “Friends of 18th Avenue Park” to help protect the 18th Avenue Park, also known as Gravesend Park. Members of the “Friends of 18th Avenue Park” alliance would meet bimonthly to discuss ways to continue improving the park, which is located on 18th Avenue at 56th Street. The alliance’s goals include preventing illegal activities and afterhours use, and has taken responsibility for locking the gate each night, in the hopes of deterring vandalism and suspicious behavior at the park. The group also serves as a sounding board for the community to provide Councilman Greenfield with input, suggestions and any issues that arise. Gravesend Park has undergone a major transformation in the past several years, including new playgrounds and basketball and racquetball courts, funded by millions of dollars secured by Councilman Greenfield. Greenfield has obtained nearly $15 million in city funding over the past three years to improve and renovate parks and to create new playgrounds throughout Boro Park, Midwood and Bensonhurst, including $3.68 million in the recently-passed 2014 city budget. “Neighborhood parks are a vital aspect of any great community,” Councilman Greenfield said, “and by working together we can make Gravesend Park one of the finest in New York City. I will continue to fight for the funding and renovations needed to keep our parks clean, safe and welcoming for families and children.” For more information, or to join the “Friends of 18th Avenue Park,” contact Councilman Greenfield at (718) 853-2704 or dgreenfield@council.nyc.gov.

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