Archive for category Politics

Stonewall Inn Becoming Stonewall National Monument

Stonewall Inn, June 25, 2016. Photo by Rhododendrites

Stonewall Inn, June 25, 2016. Photo by Rhododendrites

June 28, 1969 is the date when the LGBT rose up as a group to fight for their rights. On this date a riot broke out at the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village. Universally considered the birthplace and time of the modern Gay Rights movement, US President Barack Obama has set aside 7.7 acres in the Village as the country’s first monument to this phenomenon.

To be called the Stonewall National Monument, it is the newest addition to the National Park System. This year marks 100 years since the first National Park was established.

The announcement was made during the annual Pride celebration that took place in New York City from June 19th to 26th. It is hoped that the monument will be ready by the time the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riot comes around, in June 2019.

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Seniors Plead to Save their Village Community Center

A place for companionship for seniors is threatened in the Village

A place for companionship for seniors is threatened in the Village

Older residents of the Village are afraid that their much-loved senior center will be closed down when their lease expires on June 30.

Our Lady of Pompeii Senior Center, located at the church with the same name at 25 Carmine Street, is threatened with closure by the church’s pastor, Father Walter Toneletto. He told the leaders of the center that as soon as their lease is up he will expel them in hopes of renting the space for more money to film crews.
In wake of this possibility the seniors began to circulate a petition which begs Cardinal Timothy Dolan to let them renew their lease and remain in their present quarters.

“We the undersigned implore you to intercede for us,” reads the seniors’ petition to Dolan, the Archbishop of New York. “Help us to keep our home away from home safe and accessible for our use.”

Brad Hoylman, the district’s state senator, has gotten involved. He said that the prospect of the center closing has alarmed many area seniors who benefit from the center. Hoylman wrote a letter to Dolan for the seniors, requesting that he work together with Toneletto to allow the seniors to remain in the church.

“It’s important to me because so many of our seniors who are vulnerable use this center,” Hoylman said. “It’s a population that we should respect and cherish and support. They built our community and we owe them to keep the center at this location.”

The center has been housed in the basement of Our Lady of Pompeii for over 40 years. It was first established in 1973 when staff from St. Vincent’s Hospital reached out to local churches to find ways to help their elderly patients who had little or no family support. Seniors released from hospital without a support network could face malnutrition or other dangers if they are alone after surgery of other medical procedures.

In addition to Hoylman’s signature on the letter to the Cardinal, City Councilman Corey Johnson, Councilwoman Margaret Chin, Assemblywoman Deborah Glick, State Senator Daniel Squadron, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, and Congressman Jerrold Nadler also signed.

The seniors say that at least half of the seniors involved in the center are from Tonelotto’s parish. They also say that the value of the center goes way beyond the mere provision of inexpensive lunches and exercise classes. The center also provides the seniors with a warm place to go in the winter, and a cool place in the summer, and even more importantly, it “provides socialization preventing isolation and a lonely death for the elderly.”

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Community Board 2 Says “No” to Wiccan WitchsFest

Wiccan Family Temple Street Fair 2013

Wiccan Family Temple Street Fair 2013

Despite holding peaceful street fairs two years in a row, the Community Board of Greenwich Village, CB2, voted against allowing the Wiccan Family Temple from holding a third annual fair this coming July.

Board members are worried that the organization is not connected enough to the neighborhood to allow them to hold the fair, which, if permitted, would take place in Astor Place. CB2 is unsure if the WitchsFest meets the criteria for street faris, which requires them to have an “indigenous” relationship to the street or at least to the neighborhood in general.

A representative of the Wiccan Family Temple, Starr Ravenhawk, explained that the fair, planned for July 12, would bring vendors, live entertainment, children’s activities and a summer solstice ritual to Astor Place between Broadway and Lafayette Street.

“We are a pagan temple,” Ravenhawk explained to CB2 at last Thursday night’s board meeting. “We belong everywhere in Manhattan because we have and hold our services everywhere in Manhattan.”

Last year the fair was held without incident in Astor Place and in 2012 in Union Square.

Chairman of the Sidewalks and Street Committee, Maury Schott, said the issue revolves around “what indigenous means, the rules say indigenous to a specific street.”

Last year the SSC was split evenly on the Wiccan street fair application and therefore did not make a recommendation either way. The full board eventually approved the application in a unanimous vote. This year, however, the full board voted to deny the application. There is still a chance, however, for the application to receive approval. The board’s opinion is merely advisory. The mayor’s Street Activity Permit Office is the place where the final decision is made.

Ravenhawk explained that she is going to send a letter to each member of CB2, and also the state attorney general.

“Some of what they said [at the meeting] was very inflammatory,” Ravenhawk said.

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Chumley’s Face Obstacles in Their Bid to Reopen

Chumley's Decor Before it Closed in 2007

Chumley’s Decor Before it Closed in 2007

Since a wall collapsed in 2007, Chumley’s, the iconic bar at 86 Bedford Street in Greenwich Village, has been closed, and its liquor license expired since 2009. Jim Miller, manager of the bar that served the likes of John Steinbeck, e.e. cummings and Norman Mailer, was able to get his restaurant’s license to sell liquor reinstated, and now faces a new obstacle to re-opening; 50 hostile neighbors.

The neighbors are opposed to the re-opening of the bar, saying in court papers that were filed last Friday in State Supreme Court in Manhattan, that Chumley’s should not be awarded a license because it is too close to other bars and restaurants in the neighborhood. The suit states that according to state law a liquor license can’t be granted to a new business if it is within 500 feet of at least three bars or restaurants. Chumley’s location is within 500 feet of 21 licensed establishments, according to the filed suit.

“The neighborhood has more than enough places to eat and drink,” the neighbors said in the court papers. “This block cannot tolerate another drinking venue.”

They added that they are not too crazy about the crowd that Chumley’s attracts, either. The neighbors said that Chumley’s was “a major destination for tourists, undergraduates and barhopping bridge-and-tunnel partygoers.”

“The experience of local residents with late-night bars in the area — unruly, drunk and extremely loud groups of young patrons congregating on the streets, smoking and littering and disrupting pedestrian traffic — underscores the threat to this quiet and charming residential block,” the court papers said. “Even if the patrons are not rowdy, they will necessarily disrupt the peace and quiet that neighborhood residents are entitled to enjoy in the post-midnight hours.”

The liquor authority granted Chumley’s its license in October after meeting the requirements set by Community Board 2, including maintaining closing times no later than 2am on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays and 1am the rest of the week. Miller also promised that Chumley’s would “maintain security” in front and place a doorman inside. He also promised to shut the kitchen one hour before closing time.

“I’ve made assurances every step of the way — through the block association and in public forums at Community Board 2 — that we will conduct ourselves properly,” Mr. Miller said. “I’m a reasonable man. I understand the concept of quiet enjoyment of your home and your neighborhood.”

Mr. Miller, a former firefighter, started as a part-time bartender and eventually took charge of the bar. He vehemently disagrees with the residents’ description of his bar.

“We had a very eclectic blend of people,” he said. “It was an older crowd. We had some tourists who wanted to see something special, but we were not a young, rowdy place. The assertion that we were a loud, raucous place where young people went to blow off steam, that’s not who we were.”

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Push for New School by Activists in Seward Park Project

As the Seward Park development project gets ready to go into action local activists, with the help of their elected representatives, have also been getting into high gear in their demand for a new school to be included in the Plan. The most recent development in this debate are local officials asking the Department of Education why the new school has not yet been included in the capital Plan for fiscal years 2015-2019.

Seward Park Development

Hoping for school as part of SPURA

The overall proposal, which was published earlier this year, includes a 15,000 square foot section at Clinton and Grand streets reserved for a school. However, the School Construction Authority has continuously refused to include a budget for the building. They say that there is no need for a new school building on the Lower East Side at this time.

A letter dated November 27 was send to the Chancellor Dennis Walcott of the DOE and to President Lorraine Grillo of the SCA. Part of the letter reads as follows:

“After sitting vacant for more than four decades, SPURA is now moving forward because of unprecedented collaboration with community stakeholders. Unfortunately, though the School Construction Authority included reference to the site in the DOE Capital Plan, it did not include a commitment to build a public school at the SPURA site. This is particularly disappointing given that the City included plans for a school in the project.  The SPURA project will attract hundreds of new families to the Community Board 3 area. It is imperative that adequate infrastructure, including school seats, be developed ahead of this population influx. The City recognized this need – raised throughout the community consultation process – and a parcel of land is reserved for the construction of a public school at the SPURA site. It is important that the City take the opportunity to develop new school seats now, rather than facing the consequences of school overcrowding once it is already too late – as has happened in other parts of Lower Manhattan. We urge the DOE to amend its Capital Plan to include construction of a school at the SPURA site.”

The following elected officials signed the letter: State Senator Daniel Squadron, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, City Council members Margaret Chin and Rosie Mendez and Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer.

In addition to letter writing Community Board 3 hired a researcher to investigate neighborhood demographics and other relevant information to help determine the real need for a school in the area. It is expected that the report will be ready by early in 2014.

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Chin and Rajkumer Face Off in Tomorrow’s Primary Election in Lower Manhattan

This Tuesday downtowners in District 1 will be selecting their choice for City Council, a seat that is held for four years. District 1

Incumbent Margaret Chin

Incumbent Margaret Chin

includes the Financial District, the Seaport, Tribeca, the South Village, Soho, Chinatown and the Lower East Side. Four years ago Margaret Chin became the first Chinese American to represent Chinatown in the City Council, making history. Chin is seeking re-election after a tumultuous first term which included dealing with complex issues such as NYU’s expansion proposal, large land re-developments such as Seward Park and South Street Seaport initiatives.

Challenger Jenifer Rajkumar

Challenger Jenifer Rajkumar

Due to the contentiousness of some of these issues and some upcoming ones like creating business improvement districts in Soho and Chinatown, a challenger to Chin has arisen, Jenifer Rajkumar.

Rajkumer is thirty years old and moved to the Financial District from Washington DC in 2010. She grew up in Westchester and is the daughter of immigrants from India. Rajkumer attended Stanford University Law School, became a civil rights lawyer, and entered the New York Bar in 2009. She was elected to the post of district leader in Lower Manhattan in 2011.

The Primary Election is this coming Tuesday when you will have a chance to choose between these two candidates for City Council.





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