Monthly Archives

September 2016


September News and October Events Calendar from Council Member Corey Johnson

September 30, 2016
Dear Friends,

I’m pleased to forward this update on my recent initiatives, as well as a listing of free and low-cost events happening in and around the District in October.

This month our community persevered through a heinous act of terrorism. While the explosions in Chelsea and New Jersey were meant to send division and terror through our communities, it instead brought us closer together in support of one another and strengthened our determination to keep living as we had before.

September also saw several encouraging victories for our community. We achieved improvements to LinkNYC kiosks and a new process to replace the Port Authority Bus Terminal, and the Council passed my legislation to address mental health in our correctional system. More details on these and other developments can be found below.

In service,

Corey Johnson
Council Member, 3rd Council District

E-News Table of Contents

Explosion in Chelsea

On Saturday, September 17, the very best in our community was showcased after a terrorist explosion ripped through 23rd Street in Chelsea. Below are some images from the week. Luckily, no one was killed or seriously injured.

Photo by William Alatriste

The Townhouse Inn of Chelsea was among the businesses that suffered damage from the blast. Luckily, no guests were harmed. My staff helped its owners gain access to the building so guests could retrieve belongings.

Photo by William Alatriste

The NYPD 10th Precinct and 13th Precinct performed extraordinarily well under extremely difficult circumstances. They kept us informed and safely guided residents on the affected blocks to their homes.

Photo by William Alatriste

The residents of VISIONS at Selis Manor were forced to shelter in place after the bomb detonated in front of their building. They displayed tremendous bravery and fortitude during this difficult time.

Photo by Erik Bottcher

The Malibu Diner prepared hundreds of hot meals for the residents of VISIONS/Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired, whose cafeteria was unusable due to the blast.

At City Hall on September 28, I was proud to present City Council Proclamations to Malibu Diner, the NYPD, the FDNY, VISIONS, Lenox Health Greenwich Village and NYC Health + Hospitals/Bellevue. These are just a few of the many New Yorkers who rose to the challenge.

Photo by Naeisha Rose / Chelsea Now

Small businesses were affected in ways large and small. One week after the bombing, I organized a ‘Small Business Crawl’ on West 23rd Street to draw customers to the recovering businesses. Hundreds of residents turned out to shop, eat lunch, and patronize the mom-and-pops that keep our community vibrant.

Click here to read a Chelsea Now article about this event.

Improving the LinkNYC Kiosks

The LinkNYC program is an exciting development for our City, a welcome replacement for the outdated phone booths of the past. Unfortunately, the implementation of this program in my district has had some unintended consequences, as the kiosks have been frequently monopolized by individuals  who inappropriately create personal spaces for themselves, surfing the internet for hours at a time and prompting complaints from local residents and business owners. 
On September 14, the operators of LinkNYC responded to our concerns about the program and agreed to disable internet browsing features on the kiosks. This will help prevent inappropriate use of kiosks and allow them to continue providing free public wi-fi, free phone calls, access to Google maps and charging of electronic devices. 

Click here to read a New York Times article about this development.

I will continue to monitor this program to ensure that it provides optimal public value. 

Victory! 'Reset' on the Port Authority Redesign

While everyone agrees that the current Port Authority Bus Terminal is obsolete, the residents of Hell’s Kitchen deserve a seat at the table in determining future plans. They deserve to know that a new bus terminal will not swallow up their neighborhood. After much advocacy by my colleagues and I, on September 20, the Port Authority agreed to a new, expanded, comprehensive planning process for the Bus Terminal redesign that includes an analysis of potential additional bus sites and significant public input.

I want to acknowledge the hard work and leadership of Congressman Jerry Nadler, Borough President Gale Brewer, State Senator Brad Hoylman, Assembly Members Richard Gottfried and Linda Rosenthal and Community Boards 4 and 5, as well as the partnership of  Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Chairman John J. Degnan, Vice Chairman Steven M. Cohen and Executive Director Pat Foye.

Click here to read a joint statement on this development.

Participatory Budgeting is in Full Swing!

Photo by Sean Egan / Chelsea News

On Saturday, September 17 we kicked off Participatory Budgeting (PB) with a fun event on the High Line where residents learned more about PB, the City’s budget, and submitted ideas to improve our community. 

Over the last two weeks, we have held PB Neighborhood Assemblies in Chelsea, Hell's Kitchen and the Village where we collected more ideas and heard what's needed most in your neighborhoods.

PB democratizes a portion of the City’s budget by empowering people to make real decisions about what’s needed most in their neighborhoods. Over the last two years, we’ve funded some important community projects, and I look forward to seeing what ideas move forward this year. If you would like to get involved and develop these ideas into proposals that the community can vote on next spring, please consider becoming a PB Budget Delegate by clicking here to sign up.

Click here to read a Chelsea Now article about our Kickoff event.


Hearing on Sightseeing Buses

On the West Side and across the City, large sightseeing buses that barrel down small residential streets have led to quality of life concerns, deteriorating street conditions, pedestrian safety issues and air pollution.
This month, the Council Committees on Transportation and Consumer Affairs held a hearing on sightseeing buses, including my bill to bring accountability to this industry by requiring the Department of Transportation to authorize all stops on a sightseeing bus’s route.

I want to thank Communites Boards 2, 4, 5 and 7 for being on the front lines of this issue, as well as the DOT and my colleagues in the Council who have co-sponsored this legislation.

Click here to watch my testimony at this hearing.

Sidewalk Repairs at Elliott Chelsea Houses

Photo by William Alatriste

On September 15, I was proud to unveil 20,831 square feet of necessary sidewalk repairs at NYCHA Elliot-Chelsea Houses.

I am proud to have allocated $149,000 in Council discretionary funds to make this project a reality. A large part of the funding for these repairs were allocated through Participatory Budgeting, and they're a great testament to the improvements that PB can bring to our neighborhoods! 

I want to thank the Department of Transportation and its Manhattan Borough Commissioner Luis Sanchez for doing an outstanding job on these repairs, as well as NYCHA, the Elliott-Chelsea Tenant Association and our PB Budget Delegates for their extraordinary work. I also want to thank Ken Jockers of Hudson Guild and P.S. 33 Principal Cindy Wang for joining me for this great event!

Fixed! Ponding Water at West 18th and 19th Streets

After working with residents and the Department of Transportation since July, I'm happy to announce that DOT made necessary repairs to fix ponding water problems on West 18th and West 19th Streets. Other sites in the district that are in need of repair include the northeast corner of 23rd Street and Eighth Avenue, and we've been assured by the DOT that this repair will be made imminently.

Governor Cuomo Unveils Plans for Penn Station Transformation

On September 27, Governor Cuomo unveiled sweeping plans for the complete transformation of the historic James A. Farley Post Office into a world-class transportation hub. With new shopping opportunities, increased passenger capacity and state of the art facilities, the new Penn-Farley complex will not only enhance the experience of the every-day traveler, but invite visitors to a New York that is bigger, better and on the move.

You can read more about this announcement by clicking here.


Meet the Principal of the New 75 Morton Street Middle School!

I am very excited about the new public middle school scheduled to open at 75 Morton Street next year. On October 17, Community Board 2, Community Education Council District 2 and the 75 Morton Community Alliance are hosting an opportunity for you to meet the school’s newly appointed Principal, Jacqui Getz. Here are the details:

     Meet Principal Jacqui Getz
     Monday, October 17 at 6:30 PM
     The New School, 66 West 12th Street, Auditorium


Public Safety and Criminal Justice

Passed! Addressing Mental Health and Recidivism

Our City has a responsibility to address the needs of individuals in our correctional system with mental health issues. On September 28, my colleagues in the Council passed my bill requiring data reports on New Yorkers leaving our correctional system with a mental health diagnosis, and their rates of recidivism within one year. 

This kind of data could have huge implications for mental healthcare and crime prevention throughout New York.

The current Council has been fully engaged on matters of social justice, and this legislation is an important part of that equation. I thank Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito for being a leader on criminal justice reform, as well as my co-sponsors on this bill.

Welcoming NYPD Commissioner O’Neill

On September 17 – his first day as head of the NYPD – Commissioner James O'Neill had to orchestrate the department's response to an act of terrorism in our City. Consistent with his character and integrity, he led this effort swiftly with poise, leadership and stellar communication. Our City is lucky to have Commissioner O'Neill leading the NYPD and I congratulate him on this well-deserved appointment.


Community Forum on the Mount Sinai Beth Israel Transformation
Thursday, October 27 from 6:30 to 8:30 pm
10 Nathan D. Perlman Place, Podell Auditorium in the Bernstein Pavillion

Studying Supervised Injection Facilities

Photo by William Alatriste

On September 28, the City Council approved $100,000 of funding for the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to study supervised injection facilities, where intravenous drug users can receive medical supervision. This has a proven track record of reducing HIV transmissions and preventing overdoses where it has been tested.

In order to end the HIV/AIDS epidemic and successfully combat drug addiction, we must use every tool at our disposal.

Click here to read a Politico article about this allocation.

Flu Shots at my District Office

According to the Centers for Disease Control, everyone six months and older is recommended for an annual flu vaccination with rare exception.

My office will be offering no-cost flu shots on October 27 from 10 am to 5 pm, at my District Office at 224 West 30th Street, Suite 1206 (between Seventh and Eigth Avenues). These shots are made possible through partnership with Duane Reade / Wallgreens.

To RSVP, please call my office at (212) 564-7757 or email us at



Special Chelsea Screening of Class Divide

On September 26, I was proud to host a special preview screening of the HBO documentary Class Divide at Cinépolis Chelsea. This documentary presents the challenges brought by gentrification in a deeply moving and thought-provoking way.

I want to thank HBO and Senior Vice President of Documentary Programming Nancy Abraham for putting this screening together with me, as well as filmmakers Marc Levin, Daphne Pinkerson and Mike Farrah, and subjects Yassemin, Brandon, Juwan and Rosa, who joined me for a Q+A after the screening.

Click here to watch my opening remarks from the event.

Governor Cuomo Announces Javits Center Request for Proposals

The plan to transform the Javits Center took an important next step on September 12 as Governor Cuomo announced a request for proposals (RFP) for these renovations. This redesign has the potential to greatly grow the space’s capacity, make it more competitive and reduce traffic congestion and air pollution problems that have affected the neighborhood for too long.

As the greatest City in the world, New York deserves a world class convention center, and I’m confident that this plan will deliver just that. I’m excited to see the proposals that come from of this RFP, and I commend Governor Cuomo for his determination on this hugely important project.

Department of Finance 'Forgiving Fines': The NYC Amnesty Program

The City of New York is reducing penalties and interest for many violations issued by the Department of Sanitation, Department of Buildings, and other city agencies (not including Parking and Real Property violations). Take advantage of the amnesty program before it expires! Amnesty will run through December 12, 2016. Stay informed.

Click here for more information.


1 in 12 New Yorkers live in a NYCHA development – that's more than 400,000 people. This strong voting bloc has the chance to vote this election day, November 8, for a candidate that will influence policy, programs and funding for public housing.

In partnership with NYCVotes, NYCHA is placing voter registration forms and drop boxes at both of their walk-in centers. Read more about NYCHA's 'get out the vote' efforts by clicking here.

And all New Yorkers can find comprehensive voter resources by clicking here.


Demanding Fair Work Weeks

Photo by William Alatriste

Too often, low-wage workers have no control over their workday and no knowledge until the last minute of the hours they’re assigned. This can make it very difficult for workers to budget, arrange transportation, and coordinate childcare, education and second jobs.

On September 15, I was proud to jointly announce planned reforms to unfair scheduling practices with Mayor Bill de Blasio, Public Advocate Letitia James, Council Member Brad Lander, Hector Figueroa of 32BJ SEIU and many workers and advocates. As a City, we need to declare that a fair work week is the right of all.

Click here to read a Newsday article about this movement.


Penn South Senior Night

On September 7, I had a blast joining the Penn South Program for Seniors for their “Neighborly Night”. The movie the seniors picked? “Fight Club”. Penn South does such outstanding work for our seniors, and it’s always a privilege to check in with residents to hear their concerns and discuss my current initiatives.

New Applications Available for SCRIE and DRIE

The NYC Department of Finance has announced new and enhanced Rent Freeze Program application forms. Some enhancements include larger font, income worksheet, eligibility checklist, and frequently asked questions. Please find links below to the Rent Freeze website and forms for the Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption (SCRIE) and Disability Rent Increase Exemption (DRIE) programs. You

Job Openings at FIT

The Fashion Institute of Technology has the following job positions open for applications.

With questions, please contact Natacha Unelus at or Shannon Shakespeare at

Free Monthly Housing Clinic

My office helps constituents around the district with a wide range of issues. However, housing issues – particularly those that have to do with landlord harassment/disputes – account for an outstanding number of these constituent cases. We offer housing clinics at my District Office (224 West 30th Street, Suite 1206) on the second Tuesday of every month from 5:30 to 7:30 pm. The next clinic will be on Tuesday, October 11.

At these clinics, you can receive free legal advice from housing attorneys who will be volunteering their time. You will be seen on a first come, first serve basis.

Take Part in Our Food Bag Program!

Our Food Bag Program, operated in partnership with the Office of Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, is underway! For only $8, you can receive a mixed bag of fresh, locally grown produce from farmers in upstate New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
Every two weeks, participants can order and pick-up their pre-packed food bag at a participating West Side senior center or at our District Office. If you would like to sign up, please contact my District Office at (212) 564-7757 or by emailing


October Events Calendar

 October is Breast-Cancer Awareness Month! 

Interactive Discussion on Breast Health
Saturday, October 1 from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm
Wednesday, October 12 from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm
Lenox Health Greenwich Village, 200 West 13th Street (at Seventh Avenue), 5th Fl.

Northwell Health Imaging at Lenox Health Greenwich Village invites you to an Interactive Discussion on Breast Health. Dr. Kavita Patel will present information about Mammogram Screening Guidelines, Tomosynthesis (3D Mammography), Breast Ultrasound and MRI and Dense Breasts. There will be a Q+A and refreshments will be served.

Kindly RSVP to Grace Tursi at (646) 665-6722 or

Free Mammograms at Bellevue
Thursdays, October 6, 20 and 27
9:00 am to 2:00 pm

Mammogram Health Fair
Thursday, October 13
10:00 am to 3:00 pm

NYC Health + Hospitals/Bellevue
462 First Avenue (at 27th Street)

Women between 50 and 74 should get regular mammograms. If you are under 50 or over 74, talk to your doctor to determine if a mammogram is right for you. For more information, please call  (212) 562-5680 or email

Chelsea Farmers Market
Saturdays through December 17 from  9:00 am to 5:00 pm
Sidewalk on north side of West 23rd Street, just east of Ninth Avenue
Market Host: Church of the Holy Apostles

For more information and to view a list of participating vendors, please click here.

High Line Tours
Through October
The High Line

First Saturdays at 8:00 amWildlife Tour
Second Mondays at 6:00 pmArt Tour
Second Thursdays at 6:00 pmGarden Tour
Second Wednesdays at 6:00 pm Design Tour
Tuesdays at 6:30 pm and Saturdays at 10:00 am From Freight to Flowers 

For more information and to RSVP, please click here.

Isca Greenfield-Sanders: Playground Parachutes Public Art Exhibit Opening
Opening reception: Saturday, October 1 from 10:30 am to 12:00 pm
Open through Tuesday, November 1

Vesuvio Playground, at the corner of Thompson and Spring Streets

Green Below 14 and SmartSpaces present Isca Greenfield-Sanders: Playground Parachutes, in partnership with the Children’s Museum of the Arts (“CMA”) and NYC Parks. Playground Parachutes is an installation of four large-scale murals by celebrated artist Isca Greenfield-Sanders, made in collaboration with over 200 children at CMA.

Hudson Park Book Swap
Saturday, October 1 from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm

Hudson Park Library, 66 Leroy Street (between Seventh Avenue South and Hudson Street)

Please join  Hudson Park Library the first Saturday of each month for a Book Swap. Bring in and take away books,  DVDs,  CDs,  etc.

Daschund Octoberfest
Saturday, October 1 from 12:00 to 2:00 pm
Washington Square Park

The Dachshund Friendship Club organizes this celebration of the beloved dog breed and provides an occasion for dachshunds and their guardians to meet one another and have fun in the park. Dachshunds and dog-lovers of all ages will meet between the Arch and the Fountain. This event is free and open to all. See you there! For more information please visit the Dachshund Friendship Club.

High Line Art Commission: Helen Mirra, Half-Smiler
October 3 through 7  | October 10 through 14
Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays from 8:00 am to 1:00 pm
Lazy day variation on Thursdays from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm
On the High Line at West 22nd Street

Helen Mirra has an art practice contingent on the activity of walking, and she makes abstracted, almost theoretical artworks. For Wanderlust, she takes a series of morning walks, cultivating the half-smile, and anyone is welcome to join. After a brief orientation, participants will set out for a few hours, walking separately in space while together in time, and then meet again for convivial lunch.

Game On
Tuesdays, October 4, 18 and 25 at 3:30 pm
Muhlenberg Library, 209 West 23rd Street (between Seventh and Eighth Avenues)

Got the gaming moves? Show off your skill with the Wii remote and challenge your friends to a game in the library. Take part in our tournaments! For ages 12 to 18.

Stargazing at the High Line
Tuesdays, October 4, 11, 18 and 25 from dusk to 30 minutes before park closes
On the High Line at West 14th Street

Head to the High Line each Tuesday night for a romantic walk along the park and a chance to take a closer look at the stars. Peer through high-powered telescopes provided by the knowledgeable members of the Amateur Astronomers Association of New York to see rare celestial sights.

Dream and Create: Open Sewing Workshop!
Tuesdays, October 4, 11, 18 and 25 at 6:00 pm

Jefferson Market Library, 425 Sixth Avenue (between West 9th and 10th Streets)

This open sewing workshop is back by popular demand!  Have you always wanted to sew, but do not know where to start? Are you a sewer that wants to get back into the swing of things? Whether you are a beginner or a hobbyist, this sewing workshop is for you! In this hands-on course students will learn sewing techniques to create their own unique projects.

Rollicking Roller Coasters
Wednesday, October 5 at 4:00 pm    
Hudson Park Library, 66 Leroy Street (between Seventh Avenue South and Hudson Street)

Build and test a mini coaster for marbles to ride on. For children ages 7 and up. Limited to 15 participants. Please register in person or by phone at 212-243-6876. Presented by Arch for Kids. Please register in person or by phone at 212-243-6876.

Haunted Halloween Magic Show
Wednesday, October 5 at 4:00 pm
Muhlenberg Library, 209 West 23rd Street (between Seventh and Eighth Avenues)

A ghostly show that's more fun than horrifying!  Presto Pete and Incredulous Chris use magic and slapstick to demonstrate some of the ghoulish aspects of Halloween! Best for children ages 4 and older.

Wednesdays, October 5, 12, 26  and November 9 and 16 at  3:30 pm
Andrew Heiskell Library, 40 West 20th Street (between Fifth and Sixth Avenues)

Get ready for some ooey gooey family fun in this new five-session workshop, offered at 30 library locations! A family program designed for preschool children and their caregivers, these sessions will be a hands-on exploration of the five senses hearing, touch, smell, taste and sight.

Workshop series is free. Space is capped at 12 children, so please register in advance at the library.

Baby and Me
Wednesday, October 5, 12 and 26 at 10:15 and 11:15 am
Muhlenberg Library, 209 West 23rd Street (between Seventh and Eighth Avenues)

Babies and their caregivers can enjoy simple stories,  lively songs and rhymes, and meet other neighborhood babies. For ages birth-18 months; limited to 30.

Women and LGBTQ Persons in Iraq and under ISIS
Thursday, October 6 from 5:30 to 8:00 pm
Hunter College West, 695 Park Avenue, Eighth Floor, Faculty Dining Room

Over the last two years, the ISIS conflict has rendered thousands of women and LGBTIQ Iraqis vulnerable to systematic violence and forced them to flee their homes with limited or at times no access to safe haven or basic services. Speakers will discuss current issues facing women and LGBT persons and new policy strategies activists are initiating to address these violations.

Register online by clicking here.

Lower Manhattan Coastal Resiliency Sponsored by Mayor’s Office of Recovery and Resiliency
Thursday, October 6 from 6:00 to 8:00 pm. (Doors open at 5:30pm)
6 River Terrace, New York, NY 10282

Protect, Connect, and Strengthen Your Neighborhood! Repeating the July 28th workshop to make sure everyone has an opportunity to participate in this project. Share your ideas for the waterfront; Let us know your top priorities and concerns; Receive updates about progress and opportunities to get involved at Community Center at 6 River Terrace (Across from the Irish Hunger Memorial, Battery Park City) This meeting will focus on the waterfront from the Brooklyn Bridge to the north end of Battery Park City. All are welcome! Childcare, translation (Cantonese, Mandarin, Spanish), and a light meal will be provided.

Birds and Buildings: Case Study for How our Built Environment Can Better Support Urban Wildlife
Thursday, October 6 from 6:30 to 8:30 pm
New York City Bar Association, 42 West 44th Street

Lots of excellent panelists. RSVP: Contact John Magisano, Assistant Director of Town and Gown/DDC Program, at (718) 391-2161 or

Board Game Bonanza
Thursdays, October 6, 13, 20 and 27 at 3:30 pm
Muhlenberg Library, 209 West 23rd Street (between Seventh and Eighth Avenues)

Teens! Challenge your friends to a game every Thursday at 3:30 pm. Board games include Ticket to Ride, Dominion, Pandemic, Bananagrams, Uno, chess, and more.

New York Comic Con Invades Greenwich Village!
Friday, October 7 from 7:00 to 9:00 pm
Jefferson Market Library, 425 Sixth Avenue (between West 9th and 10th Streets)

New York Public Library in partnership with First Second and New York Comic Con (NYCC) present New York Comic Con Invades Greenwich Village! Author Panel from 7 to 8 pm will include Box Brown (Andre the Giant, Tetris); Greg Rucka (Wonder Woman, Star Wars, Batman); Marjorie Liu (Montress, Avengers: Confidential, Astonishing X-Men); Ryan North (Adventure Time, The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl); Moderator: Joshua Rivera, NY Magazine.

Please register by clicking here.

Prepare for the High School Equivalency Exam!
Fridays, October 7, 14, 21 and 28 at 11:30 am
Jefferson Market Library, 425 Sixth Avenue (between West 9th and 10th Streets)

High School Equivalency (HSE) formally known as the GED. This free course will help adults better their education and literacy skills; as well as prepare individuals for the TASC. These free classes are designed to help adults better themselves in basic education. The HSE classes covers all of the five subjects such as Reading, Writing, Science, Social Studies, and Mathematics.

Classes are ongoing throughout the year and with open enrollment. For further information and to register, please contact the instructor Vulcanus Levi at or (347) 299-9721.

LGBT Philosophy Forum
Saturday, October 8 from 2:45 to 4:45 pm
Muhlenberg Library, 209 West 23rd Street (between Seventh and Eighth Avenues)

For over 15 years the Forum has provided the LGBT community and its friends an open opportunity to gather and informally discuss important works of philosophy. We meet monthly on the second Saturday, from 2:45 to 4:45 p.m. The texts to be discussed (up to 50 pages) or links to the texts can be found on our website.  All are welcome. We hope you will join us.

High Line Art Tour
Monday, October 10 from 6:00 to 7:15 pm
Tour location provided via email following RSVP

From sculptures and murals to performances and videos, the High Line is filled with public art. Join High Line Art Assistant Curator, Melanie Kress for an insider's view on High Line Art's current Wanderlust exhibition.

Free but you must RSVP by clicking here.

Chelsea Film Festival

Thursday, October 13 through Sunday, October 16
Click here for locations and more details

The Chelsea Film Festival is an international film festival, enlightening the work of emerging filmmakers, producers and actors. It offers a wide range of films, such as documentaries and feature-lengths, focusing on the theme of “Global Issues”. It empowers the work of risk-taking storytellers and remains committed to its mission to discover and develop independent artists and audiences around the world.

Geek Street Fair by Google
Thursday, October 13 from 12:00 to 5:00 pm
Union Square Park

The Geek Street Fair hosted by Google is an interactive, free event to inspire kids to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, math (STEM) and computer science. Think traditional street fair, but instead of funnel cakes and ferris wheels, we have educational virtual games, robotics and electronic tinkering.

The fair is open to the public but if you would like to sign your class or after school program up for a specific time slot, please ​RSVP ​here.

Garden Tour: Late Blooms & Fall Color
Thursday, October 13 from 6:00 pm to 7:15 pm

Tour location provided via email following RSVP

Get to know every detail of the High Line's plant life while walking through the park with one of our knowledgeable staff horticulturists. Discover how our perennials, grasses, shrubs, and trees change as seasons pass, what plants are native, which are edible and medicinal, and how we take care of more than 500 varieties of plants growing in the park. This tour will highlight late blooming perennials and the tremendous fall color on the High Line.

Free but you must RSVP by clicking here.

Community, Culture, and Technology Fair for People Who are Blind
Saturday, October 15 at 10:00 am
Andrew Heiskell Library, 40 West 20th Street (between Fifth and Sixth Avenues)

The theme for this year’s Community, Culture, and Technology Fair for people who are blind, visually impaired or physically disabled is “Hands On! Exploration, Creation, and Education.” We’re taking over both floors this time, and are proud to be offering a round of creative workshops as well as speakers, and tablers are bringing hands-on elements and activities. Learn about accessible museum programs and adaptive recreation, and find out how to get free memberships to many local institutions with the IDNYC card.

Gotham Pulp Collectors Club
Saturday, October 15 from 1:00 to 4:00 pm
Muhlenberg Library, 209 West 23rd Street (between Seventh and Eighth Avenues)

If you collect, read, or are just interested in classic Pulp magazines and you live in or near NYC, you want to know about the Gotham Pulp Collectors Club. We are pulp readers and collectors who meet once a month to talk about our favorite subject: popular fiction magazines from the first half of the 20th century. We discuss what we've been reading along with new developments in the fields of reprints, movies, TV, auctions, conventions, "New Pulp" fiction, and more. Attendance is always free!

Jane Street Block Association Annual Meeting
Monday, October 17 from 6:30 to 9:00 pm
632 on Hudson, 632 Hudson Street (between Horatio and Jane Streets)

Please save the date for Jane Street's Annual Meeting! For more information about the JSBA, go to

SimplyE(at Pizza): A Greenwich Village Pizza Tasting Contest and SimplyE Open House
Wednesday, October 19 at 6:30 pm
Hudson Park Library, 66 Leroy Street (between Seventh Avenue South and Hudson Street)

SimplyE is a new app that gives NYPL cardholders the ability to browse, borrow, and read more than 300,000 free e-books from the Library, in just a few steps. To promote this great new resource to the community, we are combining our two favorite things: Greenwich Village pizza slice joints and free e-books. Come and eat free pizza (while supplies last), vote on the best slice in Greenwich Village and try out SimplyE!

Design Tour: Elevated Design
Thursday, October 19 from 6:00 to 7:15 pm
Tour location provided via email following RSVP

Get an insider's look at the unique design elements of the High Line and the notable architecture in the neighborhood with Patrick Hazari, Friends of the High Line Director of Design and Construction.

Free but you must RSVP by clicking here.

Tricks and Treats at Le Carrousel
Saturday, October 22 from 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm
Bryant Park, 40th Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues

This Halloween, the ghoul-est party in town is at Le Carrousel in Bryant Park and everyone's invited. It’s a Halloween kick-off with tricks and treats galore as a magician brings magic to Le Carousel. Come in costume. There will be be face-painting, pumpkin-decorating, trick-or-treating, magic, and music to boot. The Halloween party is free for all kids and their parents. Afterward, top it all off with lots of rides on your favorite carousel. A ride is only $3, and, amazingly, a Frequent User card still gets you ten rides for only $15. Rain date: Sunday, October 23, 2016

Hudson Guild Theatre Company Presents: Night With Guests
Friday, October 28 from 7:00 pm to 8:00 pm
Saturday, October 29 from 7:00 pm to 8:00 pm
Sunday, October 30 from 3:00 pm to 4:00 pm
On the High Line at West 14th Street

Join us this Halloween weekend as the Hudson Guild Theatre Company brings Peter Weiss's classic thriller Night With Guests to life on the High Line. Performed in its original rhyming verse with comedic flair, the play follows the story of a family whose home is invaded by a murderous robber. Who will survive the night? For families with children ages 8 & up. RSVP by clicking here.

Ice Theatre of New York: 2016 Home Season at Sky Rink Chelsea Piers
Friday, October 28 Saturday, October 29 at 7:00 pm.
Sky Rink, Chelsea Piers, Pier 61 (22nd Street and the West Side Highway inside the Chelsea Piers Sports Complex)

Ice Theatre of New York (ITNY) is proud to announce the launch of its 2016/2017 Season by bringing together world-class professional skaters and guest performers at its 2016 Home Season performances on October 28 and 29. Ice Theatre of New York will be reprising “Back Bay Shuffle,” by Ballet great Edward Villella. This piece is set to the music of Artie Shaw and stars three guys on the prowl.

For more information or to purchase tickets, call (212) 929-5811 or click here.

Opera Concert Series: Lucrezia Borgia
Saturday, October 29 from 1:00 to 4:00 pm
Andrew Heiskell Library, 40 West 20th Street (between Fifth and Sixth Avenues)

The New York Opera Forum performs complete concert versions of operas with piano accompaniment. Programs with act-by-act plot summaries will be provided in large print and braille. This will be a presentation of Lucrezia Borgia by Donizetti, a melodrama of royalty in 16th century Venice.

Haunted High Line Halloween
Saturday, October 29 from 11:00 am to 3:00 pm
On the High Line between 14th Street and 16th Street

Travel back in time and learn the history of the High Line. Get into character with artistic face painting, capture memories with our old-time photo booth, go on a scavenger hunt, dance, and watch live performances.

Halloween Kidz Karnival
Sunday, October 30 from 12:00 to 5:00 pm
Pier 26 (at North Moore Street by the Hudson River)

The fun returns to TriBeCa at Hudson River Park’s Pier 26! Join us as we transform Pier 26 into “Halloween Central” with fun-filled attractions for the family. All ages are invited. Most attractions will appeal to kids ages two to eight. Some activities are free, and select activities are $2.

43rd Annual Village Haloween Parade
Monday, October 31 at 7 pm
The Parade runs up Sixth Avenue from Spring Street to 16th Street

There will be hundreds of puppets, 53 bands of different types of music, dancers and artists, and thousands of other New Yorkers in costumes of their own creation. It's the nation’s most wildly creative public participatory event in the greatest city in the world! For more information on how to volunteer to be a puppeteer or a performer in the procession, click here.

Alice in Wonderland Halloween Party
Monday, October 31 at 3:00 pm
Hudson Park Library, 66 Leroy Street (between Seventh Avenue South and Hudson Street)

Come see the staff dressed as Alice in Wonderland characters! Join us for crafts, games, stories, dancing to spooky music, and maybe a trick…or a treat. Show off your costume during the Queen of Hearts runway show. Drop in any time after school ends. All ages welcome!


Community Board 2
Thursday, October 20 at 6:30 pm
Scholastic Building, 557 Broadway (between Prince and Spring Streets)

Community Board 4
Wednesday, October 5 at 6:30 pm
Mount Sinai West, 1000 Tenth Avenue (between 58th and 59th Streets)

Community Board 5
Thursday, October 13 at 6:00 pm
Xavier High School, 30 West 16th Street (between Fifth and Sixth Avenues)

Community Board 7
Wednesday, October 5 at 6:30 pm
Goddard Riverside Community Center, 593 Columbus Avenue (at 88th Street)


1st Precinct Community Council
Thursday, October 27 at 7:00 pm
16 Ericsson Place (corner of Bleecker Street)

6th Precinct Community Council
Wednesday, October 26 at 7:00 pm
Our Lady of Pompeii, 25 Carmine Street (between Beach & N. Moore Streets)

10th Precinct Community Council
Wednesday, October 26 at 7:00 pm
230 West 20th Street (between Seventh & Eighth Avenues)

13th Precinct Community Council
Tuesday, October 18 at 6:30 pm
230 East 21st Street (between Second and Third Avenues)

Midtown North Community Council
Tuesday, October 18 at 7:00 pm
306 West 54th Street (between Eighth and Ninth Avenues)

Midtown South Community Council
Thursday, October 20 at 7:00 pm
New Yorker Hotel, 481 Eighth Avenue (between West 34th and West 35th Streets)

20th Precinct Community Council
Monday, October 24 at 7:00 pm
120 West 82nd Street (between Columbus and Amsterdam Avenues)


POLITICO: Council, de Blasio administration to study supervised injection facilities

September 28, 2016

September 28, 2016

The New York City Council on Wednesday is expected to allocate $100,000 to the city’s health department to study supervised injection facilities, a controversial program that provides intravenous drug users a place to get high while under medical supervision.

“The Council’s new supervised injection impact study will assess the feasibility and impact of New York City having a program that provides a safe, clean haven to high-risk, vulnerable New Yorkers and will help prevent drug overdoses and disease transmissions,” Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito said Tuesday.

The money comes from a $5.6 million pot of funding in the city’s most recent budget that was targeted toward ending the AIDS epidemic, which is also a top priority for Gov. Andrew Cuomo. The governor has promised to reduce the number of new HIV infections to below 750 by the end of the decade.

“Harm reduction is a critical tenet in the New York State plan to end AIDS,” Councilman Corey Johnson, chair of the health committee, said in a statement. “Supervised injection facilities around the world have been shown to reduce healthcare costs, decrease HIV and hepatitis B and C infection rates and prevent fatal overdoses. With the creation of this study, the Council is continuing our history of leading on innovative strategies to end the epidemic and address drug abuse.”

Health department officials have been meeting with various interest groups for the past few months to discuss the feasibility of an idea certain to encourage strong reactions from both supporters and detractors.

Hillary Kunins, an assistant commissioner in charge of the health department’s Bureau of Alcohol and Drug Use Prevention, Care and Treatment, has been involved in the discussions and is expected to lead the study.

There are currently no supervised injection facilities in the United States, though the model is common in Europe and Canada. A 2011 study in The Lancet found that the overdose rate in the immediate vicinity of Vancouver decreased by 35 percent.

Among American cities, only Seattle has taken steps to implement the idea.

But the discussion is not foreign to New York. It was one year ago this week that drug policy and homeless advocates gathered outside Manhattan’s Unitarian Church of All Souls to call for supervised injection sites.

In February, Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick unveiled a plan for a supervised injection facility, drawing immediate condemnation from state legislators and academics who warned the idea would be akin to a government blessing for injection drug users.

Cuomo has never offered a public opinion on supervised injection facilities but a taskforce he commissioned recommended the idea as one that would help end the AIDS epidemic, and Cuomo has enthusiastically supported those blueprint recommendations.

The news comes the same day as advocates from across the country meet in Baltimore to discuss ways to push supervised injection facilities on to the public agenda, and as a growing number of cities, in an effort to deal with the nation’s opioid crisis, are experimenting with safe spaces for drug users.

Boston has Supportive Place for Observation and Treatment, or SPOT. And in New Hampshire, Manchester Mayor Ted Gatsas, a Republican running for governor, has turned firehouses into recovery rooms.

What New York City is exploring would go a step further, allowing drug users to possess a certain amount of heroin, or other drugs, and inject on premise. The idea being that addicts are less likely to overdose when supervised and more receptive to treatment options.

Advocates also point out that these facilities reduce the odds of needles being shared among intravenous drug users, limit the interaction between addicts and the criminal justice system and connect people to mental health services.

“The step that the City Council is taking is incredibly important,” said Matt Curtis, policy director for VOCAL-NY. “As much as this action is timely and important, we just can’t wait. People are dying every day.”

Heroin and fentanyl related deaths increased 17 percent in New York City in 2015, the fifth consecutive yearly increase, according to the latest statistics from the city’s health department.

Studying the possibility is a long way from implementing a program and there are some obvious hurdles public health officials would need to overcome.

Drug possession is a state and federal crime, and while the U.S. Justice Department has been amenable to overlooking states implementing medical marijuana programs, heroin, which has no medical purpose, might give the federal government more pause. Further, an Obama Justice Department might have a different take than a Hillary Clinton Justice Department and would almost certainly have a different take than a Donald Trump Justice Department.

Presumably, the NYPD would have to give at least tacit approval. A spokesman for the department did not respond to a request for comment.

Physicians would almost certainly need some kind of protection from liability and from the federal government.

Finally, there is a question of space. Where exactly would this facility exist? A private landlord might be wary, and neighbors might object. Insurance would undoubtedly be hard to come by. A city-run building would be logistically easier but that would mean the city would be responsible for operating the program as opposed to tacitly allowing one.

These are real but not insurmountable challenges, Curtis said, and are worth tackling to connect people who have been traditionally marginalized to care.

“Getting beyond the epidemiologic rationale, this represents the kind of caring city we want to live in,” he said.



September 28, 2016

Bill by Council Member Corey Johnson will require the NYC Department of Correction to publicly report on mentally ill inmates discharged from the NYC correction system

City Hall – Today, the New York City Council passed Introduction 1014-A, legislation by Council Member Corey Johnson that requires data reporting by the NYC Department of Correction regarding discharged inmates with mental health issues and their rates of recidivism.

The number of mentally ill inmates in city jails has been steadily rising. The most recent Mayor’s Management Report indicated that over 40% of the DOC’s population has some mental health diagnosis, and that over 11% of inmates have been diagnosed with a serious mental illness.  This  bill  requires  a  yearly  report  on  the  number  of  inmates released to the community who have been repeatedly treated for a mental illness while in DOC  custody,  and  the  number and  percentage  of those  inmates  who  re-enter  DOC custody within 1 year.

“As a compassionate, forward-thinking city, we need to have a comprehensive accounting of individuals in our correctional system with mental health issues,” said Council Member Corey Johnson. “Through data collection, we will be able to measure the scope and severity of recidivism among these individuals, which could have huge implications for crime prevention and mental healthcare throughout New York. This Council has been fully engaged on matters of social justice, and this bill is an important part of that equation. I thank Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito for being a leader on criminal justice reform, as well as my co-sponsors on this legislation.”



News Governor Cuomo Unveils New Pennsylvania Station-Farley Complex and Reimagining of LIRR Concourse

September 28, 2016

September 28, 2016

New York, NY – September 27, 2016 – Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today unveiled sweeping plans for the complete transformation of the historic James A. Farley Post Office into a world-class transportation hub. At the Association for a Better New York, the Governor announced the selection of a developer-builder team including three companies, Related Companies, Vornado Realty LP, and Skanska AB to redevelop the Farley Building, creating a new 255,000 square foot Train Hall to house passenger facilities for the Long Island Rail Road and Amtrak.​

In addition to constructing the Farley Train Hall, the Governor announced the joint venture will create 112,000 square feet of retail and nearly 588,000 square feet of office space within the Farley Building. Preconstruction work will begin this fall, with the new Train Hall expected to be completed by December 2020.

The Governor also announced that the MTA will at the same time initiate the comprehensive redesign of the LIRR’s existing 33rd Street concourse at Penn Station and an extensive renovation to the adjacent Seventh and Eighth Avenue subway stations. Construction on the LIRR concourse and the subway stations will conclude by or before completion of the work on the Farley Train Hall. The redesign will include nearly tripling the width of the existing corridor, which will significantly decrease congestion and result in notably higher ceilings – providing bright lighting, new way-finding, ticketing and informational systems.

“New York’s tomorrow depends on what we do today, and the new Moynihan Train Hall will be a world-class 21st century transportation hub,” said Governor Cuomo. “With more than twice the passengers of all JFK, LaGuardia, and Newark airports combined, the current Penn Station is overcrowded, decrepit, and claustrophobic. The Moynihan Train Hall will have more space than Grand Central’s main concourse, housing both Amtrak and LIRR ticketing and waiting areas, along with state-of-the-art security features, a modern, digital passenger experience, and a host of dining and retail options. This is not a plan – this is what’s going to happen. People are going to walk through this station and recognize that this is New York.”

Moynihan Train Hall
In January, Empire State Development, the MTA, LIRR and Amtrak issued an RFP soliciting proposals for the comprehensive redevelopment of the historic Farley Building, including a Train Hall and the surrounding office and retail space. RFP responses were received in April and reviewed by a panel of private and public experts from the real estate, construction, design and finance fields.

Related, Vornado, and Skanska have all provided guarantees to complete the $1.595 billion project on time and, as part of the agreement, will pay the state a total of approximately $600 million in recognition to the value of the development opportunity within the Farley Building. The remainder of the project will be supported by $570 million from Empire State Development and $425 million from a combination of Amtrak, LIRR, Port Authority and federal government sources.

The Moynihan Train Hall will include shops and restaurants located under a new skylight on the building’s historic and architecturally dramatic steel trusses. The building will increase floor space 50 percent from Penn Station, and service riders on the LIRR, Amtrak and eventually accommodate passengers from Metro-North. A total of nine platforms and 17 tracks will be accessible from the Train Hall.

In addition to the Train Hall, RVS will redevelop the entire Farley Post Office Building to include approximately 700,000 square feet of office and retail space which will result in the creation of thousands of new construction and permanent jobs.

The project will use union labor and has committed to fully meet the Governor’s nation-leading goal of 30 percent of the work completed by Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprises.

Penn Station
A dramatic redesign of the LIRR portions of Penn Station will significantly improve passenger experience and circulation. The plan will include nearly tripling the width of the 33rd Street Corridor, which is among the busiest sections of Penn Station and stretches along the station’s lower level from Seventh to Eighth Avenue. Other improvements will include upgraded lighting and wayfinding, and digital screens to convey information and create a modern passenger experience. It is anticipated that the majority of the corridor improvements will be completed simultaneous to the Train Hall’s opening, with other elements completed sooner. Construction of the new LIRR corridor will cost an estimated $170 million.

The MTA will issue an RFP for the preliminary design of Penn Station improvements to pre-qualified consulting firms today. A contract is expected to be awarded by the end of 2016.

The transformational redesign also includes upgrading the two subway stations at Penn Station. Many of these improvements to subway stations on Seventh and Eighth Avenues are expected as early as 2018 and will cost approximately $50 million.

The first phase of construction, to create a concourse west of Eighth Avenue, is nearing completion. The concourse will provide direct access to LIRR and Amtrak tracks and will connect the future Moynihan Train Hall to Penn Station underground via 33rd Street. New plazas and street level entrances into the Farley Building on either side of the monumental staircase will provide access to this new, lower concourse as well as speed boarding and exiting for passengers.

In January, Empire State Development, Amtrak, and the MTA issued a Request for Expressions of Interest for redeveloping Penn Station. As Amtrak relocates to the Moynihan Train Hall, the RFEI responses provided ideas for the future proposed redevelopment of the current Amtrak concourse that will be incorporated into concepts previously suggested by the railway operators. ESD will partner with Amtrak on the creation of an RFP for the concourse.

Ultimately, all of these coordinated efforts will result in a bolder, fully modernized Penn-Farley Complex, with increased passenger capacity, inviting entrances and access points, and a state-of-the-art Train Hall at the Farley Building across Eighth Avenue. All work will be compatible with future plans to add platform and track capacity to Penn Station in conjunction with the completion of the Gateway Program.

“Under Governor Cuomo’s leadership, New York State is rebuilding, replacing, and expanding vital infrastructure in exciting and fiscally responsible ways,” said Empire State Development President, CEO & Commissioner Howard Zemsky. “The new Penn-Farley Complex will have office space, retail stores, and restaurants, and will create thousands of direct and indirect jobs.”

“The new Farley Train Hall will streamline travel into and through the region for the 230,000 LIRR daily passengers and millions of subway riders through the vastly improved Seventh and Eighth Avenues stations,” said MTA Chairman & CEO Tom Prendergast. “Governor Cuomo has turned what for decades was merely rhetoric about investing in infrastructure into reality, and the improved MTA travel experience and resulting regional economy boost will be felt long into the future.”

Amtrak Board Chairman Anthony R. Coscia said, “We applaud Governor Cuomo’s leadership in transforming the Farley Post Office building into a state-of-the-art rail station. In addition to the new Moynihan Train Hall, which will serve as Amtrak’s future station in Manhattan, this project will allow for enhancements at Penn Station that will significantly improve the customer experience for its many users. Taken together with the infrastructure improvements being advanced under the Gateway Program, Amtrak is committed to working with New York State and other key stakeholders to advance the investments befitting America’s busiest train station.”

Congressman José E. Serrano said, “This important effort will expand New Yorkers’ access to state of the art, safe, and reliable transportation. Renovating the Moynihan Train Hall, the LIRR Concourse, and the Amtrak Portion of Penn Station will modernize a key part of New York’s public transportation. The Moynihan Train Hall project had been on hold for many years and I am glad to see Governor Cuomo taking the necessary steps to move it forward,” said Congressman Serrano.

Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney said, “I am thrilled that Governor Cuomo has come forward with a bold new plan to renovate and transform Penn Station and move ahead with Moynihan Train Hall in the Farley Building,” said Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney. “Anyone who has spent time in the existing structure of Penn Station can see how woefully inadequate it is for the needs of the hundreds of thousands of commuters who pass through it every day, and the addition of the Farley Complex will make for a much more pleasant experience for passengers on Amtrak and LIRR, and a more pleasant transfer to local subways. After 20 years of waiting, we will now have a train station we can be proud of.”

Senate Majority Leader John J. Flanagan said, “Penn Station is the busiest transportation hub in the country, and this new complex will allow New York City to meet the demand with state-of-the-art facilities and a more modern infrastructure. When this project is finished, the Penn Station-Farley Complex renovation will significantly ease the commute for thousands of New Yorkers, and create hundreds of new jobs.”

State Senate Co-Coalition Leader Jeff Klein said, “Penn Station needs a makeover and Governor Cuomo’s plan will upgrade our infrastructure to finally bring our railways into modernity, enhancing passenger experience with shops, restaurants and upgraded technology. Today marks the first step in two decades with construction commencing this fall at the Moynihan Train Hall and with other exciting upgrades to come.”

State Senator and Senate Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said, “Greater utilization of mass transportation options will help save commuter time and money and reduce vehicle congestion and pollution. Additionally, the renovations and new construction will lead to more jobs and increased tourism. I commend Governor Cuomo for this wise infrastructure investment to help transform the James Farley Post Office into a mass-transit hub and for his efforts to help renovate Moynihan Train Hall.”

Senator Adriano Espaillat said, “A gateway to many of New York’s transportation arteries, Penn Station is integral to the daily lives of hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers, and this project will dramatically improve their travel experiences. New York City is the greatest city in the world and we deserve a new Penn Station to showcase everything New York City has to offer. I applaud Governor Cuomo for this visionary announcement, and look forward to a new, transformed Penn-Farley complex.”​​

Senator Brad Hoylman, “Penn Station is a New York landmark, but for years it has not lived up to the standards we value as New Yorkers. Across our state, Governor Cuomo’s visionary plan for 21st century infrastructure – from our upstate airports to the new Penn-Farley Complex – is taking shape and fortifying our transportation network. We are building for tomorrow, and Penn-Farley is a cornerstone in this tremendous plan. Now, New Yorkers can look forward to walking through the station’s corridors, enjoying modern amenities and getting to and from their destinations with greater ease.” ​

Assemblymember Richard Gottfried said, “Thanks to Governor Cuomo’s leadership and vision to transform New York’s infrastructure, we can look forward to a new travel experience for residents and travelers. This state-of-the-art transit center will make travel easier, more efficient and less crowded for everyone. I applaud the Governor for pushing this project forward and we look forward to the creation of construction jobs throughout development and permanent jobs at the new hub once completed.”

New York City Councilman Corey Johnson said, “With the redesign of the Penn-Farley complex, Governor Cuomo has taken a major step forward in making his vision for a better New York a reality. With new shopping opportunities, increased passenger capacity and state of the art facilities, the new Penn-Farley complex will not only enhance the experience of the every-day traveler, but invite visitors to a New York that is bigger, better and on the move.”


Chelsea Now: Chelsea Small Business Crawl Helps Bombing Block Sprint Back

September 28, 2016

September 28, 2016

On a sunny and slightly crisp fall afternoon, just hours before a full week had passed since the Sept. 17 bombing, foot traffic was back to normal along W. 23rd St. — but visible signs of the explosion lingered between Sixth and Seventh Aves., from boarded windows above to shards of glass on the sidewalk below. Inside the stores, damage manifested itself in the form of lost revenue.

To support small businesses and send the message that it was safe to be back in the area, Councilmember Corey Johnson organized a Chelsea Small Business Crawl for the afternoon of Sat., Sept. 24. While Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, NY State Senator Brad Hoylman, and other city officials were in attendance, Johnson himself was sick, according to David Moss, his Director of Communications, who helped guide the tour as it stopped at various locations along the crosstown thoroughfare.

On the block of the bombing, over 80 businesses were affected by the closure to vehicular and pedestrian traffic, which lasted from 8:30 p.m. on the night of the explosion through the early evening of Mon., Sept. 19.

Maria Diaz, Executive Director at the Greenwich Village-Chelsea Chamber of Commerce (GVCCC), recalled that when her organization reached out to over two dozen businesses the Monday after the bombing, it found that many were still closed.

“As soon as the opportunity came to do something like this crawl,” Diaz said, “we jumped on it. We know that whenever a business is closed that hurts its bottom line, and whatever we can do to increase the number of patrons that comes to a business, that is what we try to do.”

Brewer further emphasized the importance of the business crawl.

“When the press goes out that says, ‘There was an explosion on 23rd Street,’ you and I know that the stores will reopen, because you and I live here — but the world does not,” Brewer said. “The issue is to tell everybody that these stores are open.”

L to R: Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, Malibu Diner co-owner Alex Grimpas, NY State Senator Brad Hoylman (with daughter). Photo by Naeisha Rose.

Hoylman held the same sentiments during a stop at Papaya Dog (W. 23rd St., corner of Seventh Ave.).

“Businesses lost a week’s worth of customers,” Hoylman noted. “That is a lot for a small business to handle in such a short amount of time. So we are here to show them support and we are going to let the entire city know that 23rd St. between Sixth and Seventh Avenue is open for business.”

While the confectionary shop La Maison du Macaron didn’t suffer much physical damage, the two baristas working the night shift were shaken by the experience.

“I was very scared,” said Zina Kirko, 27. “I didn’t know what was happening, so I called my boss Pascal [Goupil]. He said, ‘Everything is going to be okay.’ He did calm me down, and I’m grateful for him.”

“We thought it was a big crash,” said Natalie Heras, 22. “We saw a car in the street and glass everywhere, but then we realized it was more than that because a crash wouldn’t make that drastic [a] sound,” she recalled. “It wouldn’t have caused our place to shake and the lights to flicker,” added Heras, who lives in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn.

“It was just a very loud, huge explosion; and I could even see the dust in the air,” Kirko said. “It’s something that you can’t really describe, it was just terrifying,” Heras added.

After the explosion, the family of three that was in the car ran into the shop.

“The people that were in the car came inside. It was a husband and wife and their kid. They were both crying, and the husband was outside recording what had happened, so I tried to calm them down, the wife and the kid, and I gave them both water, and told them to sit down, and try to relax,” Heras recalled. “I tried my best to relax them, but I was also scared.”

“We were scared so we went to the back door [which leads to 24th St.], we hid for a couple of minutes and once we realized nothing was going on we opened the door and saw broken glass everywhere, we didn’t know what to do,” Kirko said. “Then the police came and evacuated us in 10 minutes,” added Kirko, who lives in Coney Island.

L to R: Zina Kirko and Natalie Heras comforted a family that ran into La Maison du Macaron after the explosion. Photo by Naeisha Rose.

After trekking to three different stops to find a train that was working, Heras and Kirko made it home around midnight. Heras went back to work Wednesday, and Kirko came in the following day.

“I was shocked, and luckily nobody died, but I came back on Thursday… by that time I felt okay,” said Kirko. “I thought I was fine, but once I got out of the train station — and it was 6:40, I open at 6:45 a.m. — it was still very dark… I got shaky in my hand, I felt this weird feeling,” Heras recalled.

“A customer said, ‘The tension needs to come out,’ and when I wasn’t looking, she threw cold water in my face,” Heras said. “I was like, ‘Huh?’ It came out, and she said to take cold showers, and weirdly enough, I’ve started to do that and I feel better.”

“We are very grateful that [customers] keep coming after what happened,” Kirko added.

Another person in the immediate area during the Sept. 17 explosion was street vendor Joseph Gamal.

“I heard a boom,” Gamal said, “and I thought it was a tire.”

When the police showed up 10 minutes later, he headed back to New Jersey.

“You leave your house to go and make a living and now you don’t know if you are going home to your wife or not,” said Gamal, who just started selling Egyptian food outside the Home Depot on 40 W. 23rd (btw. Fifth & Sixth Aves.) two weeks ago.

While he is not afraid of another possible terror attack, thanks to the police presence, he is upset about the affect this will have on Muslim Americans like himself.

“Islam doesn’t say’ I kill people,’ ” Gamal said. “Islam is peace; but we as a human, we make mistakes. There is no difference from someone that goes on the road drunk and kills people… so different Islam and people, it’s two different stories. A person can do good things or choose to do bad things,” said the father of three.

A second street vendor, who was on the corner of W. 23rd and Sixth Ave. during the Small Business Crawl, was reminded of 9/11.

“It’s a bad memory,” said Tony Fisher, 57, looking at the skyline where the Twin Towers used to be.

“I think that they are trying to blow up New York… and pretty soon there might be a suicide bomber,” said Fisher while selling bubble-makers.

Street vendor Tony Fisher, a fixture on Sixth Ave., has often thought of the Twin Towers since Sept. 17’s bombing. Photo by Naeisha Rose.

While he refuses to move from his spot of 33 years, he is disgusted by how it impacted his disabled customers.

“It was right in front of the [Selis Manor] blind residence, oh man,” Fisher said. “I wondered how frightened they must feel, because they can’t even come out of the building,” he added.

Although his wife of 20 years, Lisa, wants him to stick to selling toys near their home in Coney Island, he prefers to stay near his favorite food joint.

“I have spots out there, but I like Manhattan and I like eating at Flavors [on the corner of W. 23rd & Sixth Ave.],” said Fisher with a smile. “I love them.”

One business crawler who decided it was time to spend time near the scene of the bombing was Nancy Spannbauer, 76, who lives a few blocks away, and didn’t make much of the sirens or the helicopter whizzing by that night. The following day, when she heard what happened, she wasn’t rushing to leave her home anytime soon.

“Terrorism was not the first thing I thought of,” Spannbauer said. “Maybe if I lived some place else, but we have so many fires and accidents,” she added.

Nancy Spannbauer, who lives nearby, showed up to support businesses on W. 23rd St., between Sixth & Seventh Aves. Photo by Naeisha Rose.

Before she finally left her home to join the business crawl, Spannbauer, who runs a social service program for senior citizens, gave her self a pep talk.

“The first couple days I was a little bit leery about coming down the street, but I eventually said, ‘Don’t be silly. Life has to go on.’ I have to keep living my life. I live in Chelsea, I work in Chelsea, and I spend all my time here,” she added.

Amadou Cisse, 26, a server at Papaya Dog, was touched by the turnout of politicians and city officials coming out on Saturday to show their support.

“When she [Brewer] came, I felt very special,” said Cisse, who is from Burkina Faso in western Africa.

“I never met a politician before in this country — and it shows that they really care about us, it really meant a lot,” Cisse said. “I hope we can go back to our regular life and that it never happens again,” he added.

Amadou Cisse was greeted by Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, when the Sept. 24 Small Business Crawl made a stop at Papaya Dog. Photo by Naeisha Rose.


Chelsea Now: PB Preps for Year Three of Cool Mil Cap Funds Dispersal

September 28, 2016

September 28, 2016

An atmosphere of creativity along the High Line made for picture-perfect brainstorming on the afternoon of Sat., Sept. 17. That’s when, and where, District 3 City Councilmember Corey Johnson held the kickoff event for the third year of Participatory Budgeting (PB) — an initiative which gives residents more control over how their tax dollars are spent, by setting aside about $1 million in capital funds for projects proposed, developed, and voted for by community members.

Johnson began the event by noting that with around 2 million people living and working in the area on a weekly basis, “there’s a lot of wear and tear on the things we hold near and dear.” PB therefore, he noted, offers an opportunity for the community to improve these facilities. “This is real grassroots democracy in action,” Johnson proclaimed, as he listed off winning projects from years past (highlights included real-time rider information at bus stops, new trees district-wide, and the creation of a new “pocket park” on W. 20th St., btw. Sixth & Seventh Aves.).

“PB is also bringing the community together; it’s really about you,” Johnson furthered. “You get to come together, meet your neighbors, and make your community a better place.”

After watching a short video explaining PB in broad strokes, those assembled (several dozen strong) broke down into five groups that rotated between informational tables, in order learn about different aspects of the process. At one station, Johnson’s Chief of Staff, Matt Green, showed off a model for raised pedestrian crosswalks that helped the project get funded in PB’s first year; at others, people learned of the voting process, project proposals, and the Youth Participatory Budgeting Council (people ages 14 and up are able to engage in the process). Attendees were encouraged to develop proposals and volunteer to be “budget delegates” — individuals who would help facilitate the PB process, and take leadership roles at events like project expos.

As the afternoon wore on, other local political figures showed up to praise Johnson and the PB process, including State Senator Brad Hoylman and Public Advocate Letitia James.

“Participatory Budgeting is about real money, real power, and real democracy,” James told Chelsea Now as she surveyed the gathering, noting that she’s been able to see the benefits of PB in her own district. “It works,” she added. “It allows all voices to be on the same footing.”

All ideas, indeed, were on the same footing during the brainstorming session — where everyone was encouraged to write their suggestions out on large poster paper, and then vote on their favorites using stickers. Popular suggestions would be considered for potential development/ballot inclusion in the future.

Oscar Pagoda, a local resident and member of Community Board 4, was one of the first in attendance to eagerly write his down. He proposed new locker rooms for New York City Lab & Museum High School (333 W. 17th St., btw. Eighth & Ninth Aves.), his old school, whose gym was recently improved through PB. “If you’re going to renovate the gym, why not the locker rooms too?” he asked, noting that the current locker rooms are outdated, take away from gym classes, and “promote truancy.” Pagoda also advocated replacing the old overhead projectors at Manhattan Village Academy (a school he taught at; 43 W. 22nd St., btw. Fifth & Sixth Aves.) with more modern SmartBoards.

Oscar Pagoda came armed with suggestions to improve a pair of schools he has personal connections to. Photo by Sean Egan.

School improvement was also on Ilene Budin’s mind. Inspired by her conversations with the school-age teens at the event that lamented their schools’ lack of funds for extracurricular activities, she suggested providing New York City Lab & Museum School with film and video equipment. An alum of NYU’s film school, she thought, “It’d be cool for money to be set aside for film cameras,” so students could explore the art form.

The environment and green space was also an issue for those in attendance. Pagoda suggested fixing the sprinkler system at the green play area at Fulton Houses. Soho resident Shino Tanikawa, who works with the Soil and Water Conservation District, suggested installing green roofs on buildings throughout the district, which would help combat issues such as sewer overflow and pollution of the Hudson River. The planting of more trees was suggested multiple times, and for a variety of areas.

In the end, members of Johnson’s staff presented all the suggestions culled from the brainstorming session, and wrapped the event off with a raffle, giving away prizes, including PB T-shirts and “Coffee with Corey.”

“One thing you see by looking around the room is that more people are engaging with PB every year,” Johnson wrote Chelsea Now after the kickoff. “It makes sense that the more people know about PB, the more they want to get involved. We’ve funded some important community projects over the last two years, and I look forward to seeing what ideas people have this year as we kick things off.”

Johnson’s Chief of Staff, Matt Green, with a model of a raised pedestrian crosswalk, one of the winning projects from District 3’s first year of Participatory Budgeting. Photo by Sean Egan.


The Villager: Chelsea will not be cowed by violence: Johnson

September 22, 2016

September 22, 2016

Less than a week after the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 attack on Lower Manhattan, Chelsea was rocked on Saturday evening by the explosion of a small but powerful bomb on W. 23rd St. near Sixth Ave.

The device detonated in front of 133 W. 23rd St., near Selis Manor, a residence for the blind. Thirty-one people were injured, with 24 of them treated at area hospitals, mostly for fairly minor shrapnel wounds, and quickly released. One man reportedly had two of his two of his teeth knocked out.

After the blast, a second pressure-cooker-style bomb was found Saturday night nearby on W. 27th St. by a block resident, and removed by police before any damage was done.

On Monday, police arrested Ahmad Khan Rahami, 28, after a gunfight in Elizabeth, N.J., in connection with the Chelsea bombing. He has also been connected to another explosion earlier on Saturday on the Jersey Shore that was intended to hit a Marine Corps charity run. Police found still more pipe bombs atop a trash can at the Elizabeth train station, which they also have tied to Rahami. His family runs a fried-chicken place in New Jersey, and he was the counterman.

According to news reports, the suspect — who is originally from Afghanistan and is a naturalized American citizen — has a hatred for gays, the military and Western culture, in general. He had made several trips to Afghanistan and Pakistan, during which he reportedly became more religious and radicalized.

Following the Chelsea blast, top city officials were quickly on the scene to reassure the public, including Mayor Bill de Blasio, Police Commissioner James O’Neill and Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro.

The next day, de Blasio was joined by Governor Andrew Cuomo and local elected officials in touring the area and checking out the damage to nearby shops and buildings — mainly blown-out windows. They inspected a small, mangled dumpster on W. 23rd St. inside which the bomb had apparently been left.

Joined by de Blasio, local politicians — including Councilmember Corey Johnson, Assemblymember Richard Gottfried, state Senator Brad Hoylman and Borough President Gale Brewer — visited Selis Manor and also the Malibu Diner, among other locations. The diner provided free meals to Selis Manor residents and first responders in the wake of the bombing.

On Tuesday, Jeh Johnson, the secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security also visited the Chelsea site.

Following the explosion, Councilmember Johnson issued a strong statement, saying Chelsea is unafraid.

“The people of Chelsea will not be cowed by acts of violence and intimidation,” Johnson said. “When faced with challenges, we come together as a community and emerge even stronger.”

Law enforcement is continuing the investigation into Rwahami and the explosions.


Chelsea Now: A Shaken Chelsea Quickly Finds Its Footing

September 22, 2016

September 22, 2016

The windows were still missing on every floor of the building whose street level space houses the King David Gallery. Next door at the St. Vincent de Paul Church, shuttered since 2013, there was similar damage above. Below, shattered glass was strewn on the ground and wedged into the sidewalk cracks as far as the eye could see. Across the street, the tall windows normally affording passersby a clear view into the intense goings-on at Orangetheory Fitness sported the top-to-bottom duct-taped “X” mark familiar to anyone who’s ever prepped for a hurricane.

Three days after Ahmad Khan Rahami’s homemade bomb exploded near 131 W. 23rd St., a shaken Chelsea had weathered the storm and was standing tall, albeit on new footing.

Barricades lifted, traffic and pedestrians had returned to this block of W. 23rd St., between Sixth and Seventh Aves., which had a stronger NYPD presence. It was a time for attention and assurances from Mayor Bill de Blasio, and other elected officials, that life could return to normal. And so they came.

On Tuesday, de Blasio walked the block with NYC Office of Emergency Management (OEM) Commissioner Joseph Esposito, US Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson, and a group of elected officials including NY State Senator Brad Hoylman, NY State Assemblymember Richard Gottfried, Manhattan Borough President (BP) Gale Brewer, and Councilmember Corey Johnson. With the 31 people injured from the blast all released from hospitals, officials turned to assessing building damage, and human resilience.

Selis Manor, the 14-story affordable housing residence for the visually impaired at 135 W. 23rd St., was visited since it was in close proximity to the explosion, and the mayor stopped in to assess the mood at Malibu Diner — which many neighbors consider to be Chelsea’s kitchen.

Waiting for the mayor to arrive at Malibu, Jesse Bodine, Manhattan Community Board 4 (CB4) district manager voiced an appreciation of the street cameras, the work of city, state, and federal agencies, and the community’s coming together in awareness and strength. “The reaction time and information transfer were so swift,” said Bodine. “You can walk down the street today and see the NYPD, [and] the FDNY are out. They’re looking for anything peculiar and that makes people a little more nervous, but I think it also gives them a safe feeling.” Any recommendations from CB4 for the community, Bodine said, would not come until after the board has heard from agencies such as OEM, FBI, NYPD.

As the mayor and his entourage entered the Malibu and made their way between counter and booths, Mayor de Blasio stopped to shake hands with customer Frank Connolly. “I work across the street,” said Connolly. “I told him I was very impressed with how quickly people came together and caught this guy, and it looks like everyone is working as one unit. He pretty much agreed with me that he’s impressed with the way everyone banded together, the police and emergency services.” While he has no intention of changing his routines, Connolly expressed resolve with apprehension. “I’m nervous. Every day I take mass transit, the subway, and it’s scary. This was too close for comfort.”

The mayor pressed on to a booth where Chelsea residents, husband and wife Steve Rosenthal and Jennifer Gilson, were eating lunch. The mayor accepted their invitation to have a cup of coffee and sat down with OEM Commissioner Joseph Esposito too, for about 15 minutes. “We want to have a normal life whether we’re a target or we’re not a target,” said Rosenthal. “We decided to stay after 9/11 and we’re staying again. We like this neighborhood.”

The mayor commended them on their “very good attitude.” Rosenthal then asked a question that is on everyone’s mind: “Do you know why he [Rahami] picked this block?” The mayor responded, “I can answer very comfortably that there are a lot of mysteries here, your block…”

The couple and the mayor found common ground in the fact that the couple’s three children all attend NYC public schools, as did his children. Rosenthal and Gilson are entrepreneurs, whose businesses, The Magic Shop recording studio and The Living Room performance venue, were both well known staples of the music culture of New York City. Both businesses were forced out of their spaces due to high-rent increases inflicted by landlords. In this coming together of community at the Malibu, de Blasio asked “Do you want any assistance from your city in terms of finding space?” and asked Bernadette Nation, director of Small Business Services (SBS) at the NYC Department of SBS, to confer with them in the booth as he departed.

Looking around, Boris Gacina, Malibu’s manager, commented, “It’s coming back to normal now. It’s still a situation where we’re talking about these things that happened, but we’re getting there.”

In a further exploration of how the community is recovering, Councilmember Corey Johnson invited a group to visit the residents of Selis Manor, where apartment windows on three floors were blown out and a number of visually impaired residents were stranded on lower floors since the building’s alarm system automatically locked the elevators.

Luckily, no one was injured. “That night the Fire Department hadn’t reset the elevators and our superintendent was out of the building and couldn’t get through,” says Joyce Carrico, President of the Selis Manor Tenants Association. “We had people on the first floor in wheelchairs who couldn’t get to their apartments because they couldn’t use the stairs.” During the Mayor’s visit earlier in the day, Joyce spoke to him about the need for providing collapsible electric wheelchairs that have bigger wheels and can be raised and lowered easily. This terrorist attack is bringing to light measures that can be put in place for safety in the future.

“Since the explosion it has been very busy,” said Carrico. “The OEM and Red Cross [American Red Cross of Greater New York] have assisted with meals which we’ve been distributing to tenants. We’re also making sure [to] find out those who would like counseling, and we’ve been making sure they get it. Visions [a service organization for the blind and visually impaired located in the building] offers counseling services as does the Red Cross.”

Nancy Miller, Visions executive director added, “What has happened due to the explosion being here is issues of blindness have resurfaced both on the city and the state levels. We’ve been talking about how best to meet the needs of the tenants who live in this building. They range in age from 18 to nearly 100, from very independent people to those who need assistance. With the closing of the street that occurred with the explosion, the question came up, ‘How do the blind people get around?’ ”

Miller has been advocating for a state-wide bill that requires the licensing and professional recognition of those who train blind people to find their way in the greater world. “We have professional mobility specialists with master’s degrees who train blind people in how to use their other senses in order to be able to navigate the outside world, and we cannot get a license for them in New York State,” says Miller. “We’ve been trying for 25 years to get the specialized professionals that train and work for blind people to be licensed. Manicurists are licensed, teachers are licensed, but those who teach a person without sight how to cross West 23rd Street or Seventh Avenue are not recognized.”

“A silver lining, if there is one in all this,” sayid NY State Senator Brad Hoylman, who was at Selis with BP Brewer, Assemblymember Gottfried, NYC Public Advocate Letitia James, and Councilmember Corey Johnson, “is that a lot of Chelsea residents are going to learn a lot more about Selis Manor and Visions and the wonderful work they do for the community.” However, he added that he has concern for the small businesses along the thoroughfare which, he hopes, will not be struggling for much longer. Johnson, who arranged the visit to Selis, has also been helping residents and businesses get back on their feet.

“We are a resilient community,” said Johnson, “and sometimes we have to sadly and strangely deal with the unexpected. That’s what’s happening in this case. We’re not going to be cowed by cowards who are trying to inflict fear and damage to our communities. People should be vigilant and stay safe, and also continue to enjoy their freedom and live their lives.”