August News: Groundbreaking on Esplanade and New York Times on Sutton, Scaffolding, Noise and More
We also broken ground on the reconstruction of the East River Esplanade with $35 million that I secured as co-chair of the East River Esplanade Taskforce with Congress Member Carolyn Maloney.
When the MTA proposed
When the MTA proposedservice cuts of up to 33% to the M31, M57, M66 and M72, over Father's Day Weekend, I authored a letter with fellow elected officials which was followed by maintained service levels on the M57. Join us in fighting for crosstown bus service at BenKallos.com/share/CrosstownBus
- Groundbreaking on East River Esplanade
- Stop Work Order on Sutton Superscraper
- Fighting Cuts to Crosstown Bus Service
QUALITY OF LIFE
- Resistance: Saving Medicaid and Affordable Care Act and Standing with Transgender Military and Immigrants
- Fighting for Net Neutrality, Again
When I was elected in 2014, the East River Esplanade was crumbling into the river, and I joined Congress Member Carolyn Maloney as Co-Chair of its Taskforce. Ever since I have been fighting for funding, winning hundreds of millions. On July 21st we finally broke ground on $35 million in city tax-dollars with with Manhattan Borough Commissioner William Castro, Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Congress Member Carolyn Maloney, Deputy Manhattan Borough President Matthew Washington and Manhattan Community Board 8 Chair Jim Clynes. Thank you to CIVTAS, the Carl Schurz Park Conservancy, and Friends of the East River Esplanade for their partnership in planning and caring for our Esplanade. For more information read the release or check the coverage on the Upper East Side Patch or watch the press conference.
The New York Times and the Daily News reported on my continued efforts with the East River Fifties Alliance (ERFA) along with Council Member Garodnick, Senator Krueger, and Borough President Brewer to rezone the Sutton area capping new construction to 260 feet. The recent press coverage highlights the ongoing race between thousands of residents and the developer, with our application to the City Planning Commission to rezone the neighborhood for affordable housing and restrictions on height. For more information read the coverage in amNewYork, Daily News or The New York Times. Join the fight at BenKallos.com/petition/SuttonPlace
As reported in Our Town and DNAinfo, on Friday, June 16, 2017, the Community Board and Elected Officials were notified of service cuts to the M31, M57, M66 and M72 of up to 33%. Elected officials sent a letter on Sunday, June 18 opposing these cuts leading to a correction that protected the M57 from service cuts. On July 5, Community Board 8 had a Transportation Committee meeting, where the East 72nd Street Neighborhood Association mobilized many to come out in support of our buses.
Please join us in fighting the proposed cuts to our bus service scheduled to take effect in September:
QUALITY OF LIFE
The New York Times reported on legislation I authored and introduced with Environmental Committee Chair Constantinides to improve the way New York City responds to noise complaints. According to an 2016 analysis of 311 data, it takes the Department of Environmental Protection an average time of 111 hours or four and a half days to close a noise complaint. Under this bill, the DEP would have to send an inspector within two hours or at a later date but within an hour of the time a noise complaint about construction or commercial establishment is received. It is time that we give New York City residents the peace and quiet we all deserve. For more information read the release, the legislation, or the The New York Times.
In July The New York Times reported on a single scaffolding structure in Harlem that has been up for 17 years. This reporting is the publication's latest chapter in a series of reports and editorials on the topic of scaffoldings overuse and legislation I introduced this year. The legislation would require repair work to continue uninterrupted for completion within three to six months or the city would step in and do the work to get the scaffolds back down and then bill building owners. If you are like most New Yorkers and are tired of nearly 285 miles of scaffolding covering the front of 7,862 buildings, contact your Council Member and ask him to sign on to Introduction 1447. For more information read the legislation, the release or The New York Times.
I joined Congress Member Maloney, Public Advocate James, Manhattan Borough President Brewer, Assembly Member Quart, medical providers, advocates, and parents whose babies would have already reached a proposed "lifetime cap" at Bellevue Hospital to speak out against the latest Republican effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA). I am grateful for Congress Member Maloney's leadership on a national level and proud to have been a part of the nationwide outcry that lead to defeating the Senate's latest vote to "Repeal and Replace" the ACA.
In the wake of a tweet annoucning that transgender people were no longer welcome in the military I joined hundreds at a rally in Times Square in opposition to this policy reversal. I am especially grateful to my friend Persephone Sarah Jane Smith for her service in protecting our nation and for speaking out in a Mic Op-Ed.
My grandparents fled antisemitism in Europe two generations ago and my wife fled antisemitism in the Soviet Union in this generation, all immigrating to the United States to find refuge. I was proud to once again join FWD.us for its second annual Immigrant Heritage Hackathon where over 120 programmers, hackers, and activists spent 24 hours together coming up with ways to make New York and our nation more welcoming for immigrants. The theme this year was “I Stand With Immigrants,” which is something I am always proud to do. For more information read the release or visit FWD.us.
The free and open Internet means that a college student can launch their own social network from a dorm room that can compete with one funded with billions from a news conglomerate or a tween can launch a music career by posting videos of themselves singing or just let residents keep in touch with family overseas through video conferencing and more. As a free and open source software developer, I know how important a free and open Internet or "Net Neutrality" is to preserving the Internet as we know it. That is why I have advocated for Net Neutrality since before I was an elected official. In 2012, I testified in favor of Net Neutrality at the City Council, in 2013 I campaigned on it, and in 2014 as the Washington Post reported I authored letters and filed official comments with the FCC, in 2015 I reintroduced a resolution by Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer for Net Neutrality, and was proud to have been part of a national movement that won Net Neutrality protections in 2015. The new administration is proposing an Internet where a few could control access for the many, something I will continue to oppose. In July I filed a new comment with the FCC backed by my colleagues in the City Council and the Progressive Caucus in support of Net Neutrality and a free and open Internet. For more information visit BattleForTheNet.com
In July I fought for our workers who have been locked out of the their jobs ahead of the Fourth of July holiday or had their paid sick leave benefits cut by the city. I joined hundreds of carpenters on the steps of City Hall where we called on the city which employees hundreds to restore illegal cuts to paid sick leave, vacation, and retirement benefits as well as negotiate in good faith with the New York City District Council of Carpenters. I also joined commercial movers who had worked their entire lives for Waldner's only to be locked out of their jobs ahead of the Fourth of July holiday weekend. We are working closely with Teamster's Local 814 to get their jobs back and put pressure on any company that does business with Waldner's and receives government funding or subsidies to only work with companies that respect labor laws.
PIX 11 reported on empty storefronts throughout the city highlighting the closing of the Italian Village Pizzeria after two generations of business in the community. I have cosponsored the Small Business Jobs Survival Act which would provide businesses new rights in negotiating lease renewals in order to save the mom and pop stores that make our neighborhood unique. Learn more at TakeBackNYC.nyc/sbjsa
You can now drop off food scraps on your way to work on Wednesday mornings from 7:15am to 10:30am at southeast corner of the 96th Street and Lexington 6 Train Station as part of "Compost On-the-Go." It was a pleasure to join GrowNYC and the Department of Sanitation at the offiail site launch for 96th and Lexinton in July. Compost On–the-Go increases access to food waste composting for New Yorkers in the Bronx and Northern Manhattan. Conveniently located near transit, drop-off sites are staffed by friendly compost coordinators ready to accept fruit and vegetable scraps as residents head out to start the day. For a more information you can read the release or visit GrowNYC.org/Compost-Go
The GrowNYC’s Fresh Food Box at my district office continues to see growing turnout as more and more residents sign up each week for a $14 bag of locally farmed produce to pick up the following week. If you are interested come to my office any Thursday between 3:30PM and 6:30PM. Learn more at BenKallos.com/FreshFoodBox
Instead of letting your food scraps rot in landfills, you can help DSNY turn your food scraps, food-soiled paper, and plant waste into compost. Residential apartment buildings with more than 8 units in Manhattan can now take advantage of DSNY’s curbside organics collection service. Plus, putting organics into a hard-sided brown bin — instead of a flimsy garbage bag — helps keep rodents and pests away. Let us know you want to join the program at on.nyc.gov/request-organics
It is a pleasure to announce four new appointments to Community Board 8. With everything happening at the Federal level we received hundreds of applications, the Borough President held group interviews, and I met with many applicants from my district. You can apply to the Community Board in January of each year and I encourage applicants to attend meetings regularly and become a public member of their favorite committee as well as joining a tenant, block or neighborhood association. I am proud to have nominated and for Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer to have chosen to appoint Valerie Mason co-founder of the East 72nd Street Neighborhood Association, Rebecca Lamorte an activist and labor organizer, Kimberly Selway an architect, and Adam Wald a real estate appraiser and parent who will bring their expertise to Community Board 8. Learn more at BenKallos.com/press-releases
Drivers, pedestrians, and cyclist alike have all expressed concerns about their own safety in relation to e-bikes. In response, we’ve expanded our Bike Safety Program with Council Member Garodnick to cover the Upper East Side and Midtown East within the 17th and 19th precincts. Injuries are down for motorists and pedestrians. The program focuses on Education, Equipment, and Enforcement.
FREE Equipment with Education:
- Vests, Lights, Bells and Helmets for Delivery Bikes following training class.
- A 90-minute training class in English, Spanish and Chinese.
- Lights and Bells for Recreational and Commuting Cyclists coupled with education.
- Free Helmets.
- New Bikes for NYPD Bike Patrol.
The NYPD presented new statistics from the summer 2016 initiatives and recent expansion of the program, including:
- 17,615 moving violations issued to vehicles
- 6,123 violations for improper turns,
- 3,003 violations for disobeying a traffic control device
- 1,450 violations for not giving right of way to pedestrians, among other violations.
- 70 seizures of illegal “E-bikes”
- 36 Environmental Control Board (ECB) summonses issued.
- 15 motorcycles have also seized.
We’ve also added a protected bike lane on 2nd Avenue and bike lanes to 70th & 71st and 77th & 78th Streets.
Learn more at BenKallos.com/BikeSafety
Homelessness continues to rise with 23,365 children, 17,847 family members, 3,785 single women, and 9,873 single men in our shelters, and more than 2,794 people on the streets. I launched the Eastside Taskforce for Homeless Outreach and Services (ETHOS) with Borough President Brewer, Senator Krueger, Council Member Garodnick, Department of Social Services, community and faith leaders and service organizations. We hope to get unsheltered people living on the street the help they need. If you see one of our City’s most vulnerable on the street, please call 311 or use the NYC 311 App (Android/iPhone) to ask them to dispatch a “homeless outreach team.” They will ask where you saw the person, what they looked like, and offer to report on whether the person accepts our city’s offer of shelter, three meals a day, healthcare, rehabilitation, and job training. Learn more at BenKallos.com/homeless
I am proud to sponsor Asphalt Green’s Sprinkler Day where we turn on our sprinklers and turn our green turf field into a waterpark for the day. Executive Director Maggy Siegel and Congress Member Maloney and I enjoyed talking to neighbors and cooling off under the sprinkler.
The Roosevelt Island Senior Center celebrated its one year anniversary with Carter Burden. I joined the celebration to personally thank President Bill Dionne, Lisa Fernandez, Hallie Shapiro, Samantha Romero, Yulia Santana and all the volunteers for the work they do to create and maintain the best possible environment for seniors. This year saw the new exercise programs, free tax help, and art classes. I am proud to fund this senior center and others in the district with discretionary funding from my office.
If you would like us to join you at your annual meeting or other community event please email schedulerbenkallos [dot] com.
We are here to help. My social work team can help you find out what services you are eligible for and assist you in your application. Some examples include:
- Seniors: Medicare savings, Meals-on-Wheels, Access-A-Ride
- Housing: searching for affordable units, free legal housing clinic at my office
- Jobs: training resources and assistance, unemployment benefits
- Families: Universal Pre-K, Head Start, After-School programs
- Finances: cash assistance, tax credits, home energy assistance
- Nutrition: WIC, free meals for all ages
Please also call us at 212-860-1950 or email at bkallosbenkallos [dot] com with any unresolved 311 complaints.
Need a lawyer? Every month I sponsor legal clinics where you can get free legal advice in my District Office at 244 East 93rd Street from 3pm-6pm:
Housing Clinics, Every Monday
Family Law and Domestic Violence, 1st Tuesday
Life Planning Clinic, 3rd Wednesday
Land Use and Landmarking Clinic, 2nd Thursday (5pm-6pm)
Please call my office at 212-860-1950 in advance to schedule your appointment.
Get assistance wherever in the district you are when we bring our office to you. Please join us at monthly mobile district hours from 11am-2pm:
- Stanley Isaacs Neighborhood Center, 415 East 93rd Street, 2nd Tuesday
- Carter Burden Center for the Aging, 351 East 74th Street, 3rd Wednesday
- Roosevelt Island Senior Center, 546 Main Street, 4th Wednesday
Each year my office provides discretionary funding to non-profit 501(c)(3) organizations that serve residents of Council District 5. We have curated a list of resources funded in part by my office so that you can take advantage of them for free.
The "Ben in Your Building Program" is a chance to discuss issues of importance to you and your neighbors in person, in your home. If you gather 10 or more friends, I will come to you. Over the past year, I have visited several buildings to discuss matters of importance in the neighborhood, including efforts to fight the Marine Transfer Station, sanitation and condo owner issues. Please schedule a "Ben in Your Building" today by calling 212-860-1950 or email schedulerbenkallos [dot] com.
8/4: First Friday
8:00am-10:00am, District Office, 244 East 93rd Street
Meet Ben in person and meet with your neighbors to discuss what's important to you. Feel free to drop in or leave at any time during First Friday. Learn about what is happening in your community and how to get involved in working together to make our neighborhood a better place to live.
8/8: Brainstorm with Ben
6:00pm, District Office, 244 East 93rd Street
Brainstorm with Ben is a chance for residents who have a policy idea they want to pitch and help implement; the goal is to empower residents who are looking to do the research, community organizing, and advocacy needed to turn ideas into real solutions.
8/3, 8/10, 8/17, 8/24, 8/31: Fresh Foodbox
3:30pm – 6:30pm, District Office, 244 East 93rd Street
8/24: CitiBike Safety Class
6:30pm - 8:00pm, District Office, 244 East 93rd Street