Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Buses, rent, gardens main topics at East Village town hall with Scott Stringer

[Jacob Anderson]

By Jacob Anderson

The Manhattan Borough President addressed many issues at the town hall meeting last night at the Tompkins Square Park library branch, but did not once mention his bid for Mayor. He told the standing room-only-crowd of more than 100 people that he had no agenda for the evening.

“Basically this is open mic night in the Village,” Stringer said.

Several residents complained about the neighborhood bus routes that were cut two years ago. Stringer said he supports getting more money for public transit by bringing back the pre-1999 commuter tax for people traveling into the city to work. He said there has been resistance to that around the tri-state area.

“My name-recognition has gone up in New Jersey,” Stringer said.

“Just leave a couple of dollars so we can protect you and clean up after you,” he added. “It makes sense, Governor Christie, to help us here.”

Stringer said the effect of MTA cuts in the East Village was something that stood out to him.

“I learned more about the lack of bus service on multiple routes that I don’t think I fully engaged prior to tonight’s meeting,” he told me after the meeting.

The MTA will be restoring some bus lines, but Marcus Book of the Department of Transportation said they don’t yet know which routes will come back. (The M9 will return, according to a statement made by Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver this week.)

[Via Scott Stringer's Twitter account]

Resident Brian Cooper and others said they are concerned about rent increases. Cooper said his mother lives in public housing, and that some people can’t afford to pay more than they already are. Another resident said rent was raised in 2008 under the auspices of oil costing $150 a barrel, and asked why, when oil prices dropped back down again, rent didn’t.

“To this day I am totally befuddled as to how they calculate what a reasonable rent increase could be,” Stringer said. He added that he wants a better rent guidelines system, and a “true, independent body” to oversee it.

Stringer was flanked by about a dozen representatives from various city government departments —NYPD, housing, transportation, etc. — who would chime in on specific issues, as well as by State Senator Daniel Squadron, City Councilwoman Rosie Mendez, and new Community Board 3 chairwoman Gigi Li.

Several gardeners apparently took a break from their weeding to show up. One asked about getting community gardens permanently protected. Both Stringer and Mendez said that they support permanent protection. Stringer added his support for people who grow their own food on neighborhood farms. He said he wants to create an agency to oversee agriculture and farmers markets for the city.

Some people expressed frustration over slow or no responses from Stringer’s office and other departments, like the NYCHA and the 9th Precinct. Stringer stayed upbeat, and told pretty much everyone with a specific complaint that his office would follow up with them. Afterwards, one man said to a member of Stringer’s staff, “Tell him he’s a nice guy. I like him.”

[Via Scott Stringer's Twitter account]

Other notes from the meeting:

• Anthony Donovan, who lives in an East 4th Street building owned by not-so-popular landlord Ben Shaoul, said that he’s being taken advantage of. Stringer’s response: “We’ve got to do better getting the bad actors to stand down.”

• Several people came out to oppose the Spectra pipeline, which is scheduled to be built in the West Village. They warned of dangerously high levels of radon gas. Stringer called himself “an intervener” on the pipeline, and said he’s working with scientists on the radon issue. When he was pushed to take a position: “I’m not going to say I oppose something that we know is going to happen.”

• Stringer said he has allocated $3 million for solar panels on school roofs.

• The award for biggest applause went to Judith Zaborowski, the co-chair of the 9th Street A-1 Block Association, who said to the panel of city employees who had occasionally fielded questions throughout the evening: “I’m not sure that you’ve even walked around this neighborhood, or have any idea about the transportation, and the bars, and the noise, and the NYU students that stay here for a year, and have no respect for those of us who are here.”

• Community gardeners will not be given a wrench to open fire hydrants to water their gardens. They can call the fire department for that.

Jacob Anderson is a freelance reporter in the East Village.


Anonymous said...

Hope all your EV hands are feeling glad, because that's about all you'll get from your BP. The tenants in StuyTown have seen his face numerous times over the last years with ZERO results (much the same for all the local pols). As Judge Marilyn Milian says, "I wouldn't believe a word you're saying if your tongue came notarized !". But Scott does talk a good game I must admit.

Anonymous said...

Way to go Judith - thanks for telling these jokers who never set foot in the hood what happens around here. Scott Stringer takes tons of money from RE Developers and the nightlife crowd, so he needed to hear it from residents. Unfortunately he won't do a damn thing, but thanks for speaking up for those of us who couldn't attend.

Gojira said...

Sound and indignation signifying nothing. Stringer talks the talk without really saying anything and then of course does not do the follow-up walk. Typical politician; where's the new Fiorello LaGuardia when we need him?

Hello, 911? Please water my garden ASAP! said...

Community gardeners will not be given a wrench to open fire hydrants to water their gardens. They can call the fire department for that.

Wow! What a massive waste of time for the FDNY folks! Whose idea was that?

Anonymous said...

Typical NYC Politico's answer more taxes. OK instead of a commuter tax how about an NYU non resident student occupation tax of less say .45% of tuition with monies dedicated to Greenwich and East Village area most impacted by their presence, going along with the notion of city services that protect them (plus residents from their drunken piss on the sidewalk and bay at the moon 3am in the morning behavior) and especially on a weekend night clean up after them. This would be taxation with representation to me at least.

Jill said...

I thought every answer was a stump speech than an actual answer.

Interesting that DCA wasn't there (they "regulate" sidewalk cafes among other things), one of the most inept agencies in the city.

Anthony said...

Thank you EV Grieve for your coverage. If I may make a correction to the quote attributed to me here. I don't beleive I mentioned anything about myself being taken advantage of.
I made pleas on two points: first predatory Landlords and a city system that rewards them, and the second, a better way to go about Historic Districting, which to me is also a landgrab for the wealthy only, in the good name of preservation.
I stressed that we can join together to protect and preserve what's valuable in our East Village, and need not follow the current politically led divisions that unnecessarily create such hurtful divisions amongst us. my request to Scott was to help do what is needed, some tweaking of the Landmark law that allows for local long time institutions without deep pockets, community organizations serving here, worthy non profits, and small local owners of buildings to have more say in a process directly effecting them, and more help. If the city will be imposing a process that will incur often heavy costs to them, then the city needs to recognize that, step up and help pay for those costs. All groups present at these meetings are clearly against irresponsible developement and the destruction fast occurring. We know, as Scott admitted, that especially today, we do not have the appropriate funds available to help, and that Landmark is understaffed and underfunded to meet such a growing mandate. There are solutions that have been brainstormed but ignored, we are thus far lacking the political will to work with the legislation. My stepping up was a call to encourage and support such a needed community process... to support community building, not division, us all working together.

My second plea to our Borough President was to please help us with corporate and predatory landlords. Many of us have formed TA's (Tenant Associations) and looking straight at the representative of the DOB (Dept. of Buildings) on the panel, I said the system for protecting tenants is severely broken. Violation after violation is ignored and not registered.

I stated the city/state is REWARDING the worst of landlord practices, And mentioned my new notorious young landlord, Ben Shaoul, but it's not about him, for there are many, it's about those that encourage such shameless profiteering, disregard for civility, and unsafe practices. We are happy to outline them for any who wish. The Borough Presidents Office said they would be in touch and follow up. We hope so. Again, EV Grieve, Thank you for being there, and for reporting.