NYPress.com - New York's essential guide to culture, arts, politics, news and more » News Our Town http://nypress.com New York's essential guide to culture, arts, politics, news and more Thu, 25 Sep 2014 15:44:51 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0 LETTER: Playground of the One Percent http://nypress.com/letter-playground-of-the-one-percent/ http://nypress.com/letter-playground-of-the-one-percent/#comments Tue, 23 Sep 2014 15:13:06 +0000 http://nypress.com/?p=73471 voices lead letter SP_fmtIt’s a tragedy that Manhattan, with its long, rich history of cultural diversity, of open arms to the downtrodden of the world, has reached a point in its development whereby the inclusion of all the many classes who originally came here early on — and still try — is now gone but limited only to those able to pay the high privilege of living here.

The constantly changing landscape of NYC inasmuch of its enduring invasion by billionaires, who, like many tourists, have annexed our city in great numbers, are those able to pay that price while elevating exclusivity. The city’s evaporating neighborhoods, vast ethnicity lost, landmarks given to real-estate development for still more luxury housing to satisfy an insatiable need the mega-rich have to add Manhattan to their various addresses, is what our town has become.

Let’s suppose it’s 10 years down the road, 2024, when after the finish of Seward Park on the Lower East Side; the completion of still more development in Times Square; the completion of many more multi-floor, super-thin luxury apartments a-la-behemoth One57; the conclusion of the far-west Hudson Yards in 2024, New Yorkers will then make note of other such projects in the beginning stages of planning and/or completion. And all will include still more trophy apartments for the indulgent-rich.

Previously in this publication I addressed the ever-growing number of tourists coming to NYC annually; but now see the one-percent of the one-percent (owning 37% of country’s wealth) in the year 2014 in almost equivalent sums, augmenting the changing face of a city well on its way to becoming devoid of anything else. And if numbers keep going up, it’s not unlikely to think that Manhattan in 2024 and beyond will have become an island where only a certain privileged few and tourists navigate our streets.

Over the years, I’ve seen my Upper West Side neighborhood transform from the Wild West it was called in 1966 when I moved in, to an affluent, fashionable area of uber-wealthy living in recently converted/now-private brownstones, townhouses and sprawling apartments. And the trend will only continue. Five previously-subdivided brownstones of one-bedroom/studio apartments on my block alone are, now, reserved for private families at the cost of a $20-30 million conversion; and a recently paid-for-record-San Remo apartment of $26 million plus: comparatively low to others we’ve seen around the city.

Rampant change runs amok in New York City, and there’s nothing anyone can do about it. Behind this theory is a growing number of these international billionaires wanting to put their money into safe, prestigious investments that will not only enhance their bottom line, but their allure on a world-wide stage of competing players hoping to outdo one another. NYC is that stage. Developers can’t build luxury “starchitect-designed” housing fast enough to keep up with the demand.

The trickle-down effect is evident in buildings such as my own, where I’ve lived now for 48 years, and where I and other like-minded young people originally came starting out needing cheap rents. That was the Upper West Side of the mid-1960s; no such neighborhoods exist in Manhattan today. The neighbors with whom I now share my building can easily afford their $4,000-a-month one bedrooms while keeping a second home elsewhere. And should my building and others get in the crosshairs of a powerful billionaire wanting to convert it to a private residence, what chance do these less-affluent neighbors and others in my ‘hood have of staying put?

Money talks in New York City; all others walk.

John Elari, Upper West Side

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Global Marches Draw Attention to Climate Change http://nypress.com/global-marches-draw-attention-to-climate-change/ http://nypress.com/global-marches-draw-attention-to-climate-change/#comments Tue, 23 Sep 2014 15:06:07 +0000 http://nypress.com/?p=73462 Thousands marched from the Upper West Side to midtown on Sunday to demand global action on climate change. Photo by South Bend Voice via Flickr

Thousands marched from the Upper West Side to midtown on Sunday to demand global action on climate change. Photo by South Bend Voice via Flickr

Massive crowds flocked to Manhattan streets to demand environmental action

Tens of thousands of activists walked through Manhattan, warning that climate change is destroying the Earth — in stride with demonstrators around the world who urged policymakers to take quick action.

Most came on foot for the Sunday march, others with bicycles and walkers, and some even in wheelchairs. Many wore costumes and marched to drumbeats. One woman played the accordion.

But their message was not entertaining.

“We’re going to lose our planet in the next generation if things continue this way,” said Bert Garskof, 81, as a family member pushed his wheelchair through Times Square.

He had first heard about global warming in 1967, “when no one was paying much attention,” said Garskof, a native New Yorker and professor of psychology at Connecticut’s Quinnipiac University.

Organizers said more than 100,000 marched in New York, including actors Mark Ruffalo and Evangeline Lilly. They were joined in midtown by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, former Vice President Al Gore and Mayor Bill de Blasio.

On Tuesday, more than 120 world leaders convened for the United Nations Climate Summit aimed at galvanizing political will for a new global climate treaty by the end of 2015.

“I am overwhelmed by such a strong power, energy and voice of people,” Ban told reporters. “I hope this voice will be truly reflected to the leaders when they meet on September 23rd. Climate change is [a] defining issue of our time and there is no time to lose. If we do not take action now, we will have to pay much more.”

“My sense is the energy you see on the streets, the numbers that have amassed here and in other cities around the world, show that something bigger is going on, and this U.N. summit will be one of the ones where we look back and say it was a difference maker,” de Blasio said.

The New York march was one of a series of events held around the world to raise awareness about climate change.

In London, organizers said 40,000 marchers participated, while a small gathering in Cairo featured a huge art piece representing wind and solar energy. In Rio de Janeiro, marchers with green hearts painted on their faces rallied at Ipanema Beach.

Celebrities in London including actress Emma Thompson and musician Peter Gabriel joined thousands of people crossing the capital’s center, chanting: “What do we want? Clean energy. When do we want it? Now.”

“This is important for every single person on the planet, which is why it has to be the greatest grassroots movement of all time,” Thompson said. “This is the battle of our lives. We’re fighting for our children.”

In New York, a contingent came from Moore, Oklahoma, where a massive tornado killed 24 people last year, as did hundreds of people affected by Superstorm Sandy, which the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the British meteorological office said was made more likely by climate change.

In Australia, the largest rally was in Melbourne, where an estimated 10,000 people took to the streets with banners and placards calling on their government to do more to combat global warming.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott was a particular target of the protesters in major Australian cities. Abbott’s center-right coalition has removed a carbon tax and has restricted funding for climate change bodies since coming to power last year.

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OP-ED: Playground of The One Percent http://nypress.com/op-ed-playground-of-the-one-percent/ http://nypress.com/op-ed-playground-of-the-one-percent/#comments Tue, 23 Sep 2014 14:31:19 +0000 http://nypress.com/?p=73455 class-warIt’s a tragedy that Manhattan, with its long, rich history of cultural diversity, of open arms to the downtrodden of the world, has reached a point in its development whereby the inclusion of all the many classes who originally came here early on — and still try — is now gone but limited only to those able to pay the high privilege of living here.

The constantly changing landscape of NYC inasmuch of its enduring invasion by billionaires, who, like many tourists, have annexed our city in great numbers, are those able to pay that price while elevating exclusivity. The city’s evaporating neighborhoods, vast ethnicity lost, landmarks given to real-estate development for still more luxury housing to satisfy an insatiable need the mega-rich have to add Manhattan to their various addresses, is what our town has become.

Let’s suppose it’s 10 years down the road, 2024, when after the finish of Seward Park on the Lower East Side; the completion of still more development in Times Square; the completion of many more multi-floor, super-thin luxury apartments a-la-behemoth One57; the conclusion of the far-west Hudson Yards in 2024, New Yorkers will then make note of other such projects in the beginning stages of planning and/or completion. And all will include still more trophy apartments for the indulgent-rich.

Over the years, I’ve seen my neighborhood transform from the Wild West it was called in 1966 when I moved in, to an affluent, fashionable area of uber-wealthy living in recently converted/now-private brownstones, townhouses and sprawling apartments. And the trend will only continue.

Rampant change runs amok in New York City, and there’s nothing anyone can do about it.

Money talks in New York City; all others walk.

John Elari, Upper West Side

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OP-ED: A Third Way On Traffic http://nypress.com/op-ed-a-third-way-on-traffic/ http://nypress.com/op-ed-a-third-way-on-traffic/#comments Tue, 23 Sep 2014 14:27:52 +0000 http://nypress.com/?p=73452 voices lead letter in _fmtI have been writing letters to city mayors going back to Giuliani saying the same exact thing — that there should be a third cycle in the traffic lights in which all traffic cars etc. are at a standstill and pedestrians can cross the street safely.

The city traffic lights were, in fact, installed incorrectly because they do not provide a safe crossing for pedestrians when they have the walk sign. New Orleans is an example of a city with a three-cycle traffic light system and traffic probably moves more efficiently there than in New York.

Once, my letter was forwarded to the Department of Transportation and I had a long discussion with some manager and I could not convince him of the values of introducing a third cycle. He maintained it will slow down traffic, but in fact it would speed up traffic because during rush hours and the noon hour, when pedestrians are dominating the crosswalks, cars attempting to turn to the left or right are held up by the pedestrians and cars in the turning lane stack up. This causes other cars to have to shift lanes to get through the intersection causing more traffic delays.

I estimate that around 100 lives would be saved each year if the city were to institute the third cycle in their traffic light system. How do we convince the mayor?

Pete Drexler, Croton-on-Hudson, New York

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A Club-like Neighborhood Theater On The East Side http://nypress.com/a-club-like-neighborhood-theater-on-the-east-side/ http://nypress.com/a-club-like-neighborhood-theater-on-the-east-side/#comments Tue, 23 Sep 2014 14:24:04 +0000 http://nypress.com/?p=73448 59e59 second photo_fmt59E59 Theaters offer an alternative to broadway

Almost hidden on 59th Street between Park and Madison avenues, 59E59 Theaters might be overlooked but for the fact that since their founding in 2002 they have presented some of New York’s most engrossing new plays.

The brainchild of their artistic director, Elysabeth Kleinhans, whose foundation owns and operates the three theaters, the snug and stylish three-story space offers Off-Broadway productions by not-for-profit companies from across the United States and around the world. It boasts two annual festivals in the two smaller theaters – Brits Off Broadway, which brings new work from British playwrights to New York, and East to Edinburgh, a preview of new plays going to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, plus it presents five plays in the largest theater – Theater A – over the course of a year. Most plays run three to six weeks.

Coming this fall in Theater A are “Baur,” the story behind the founding of the Guggenheim Museum, continuing until October 12; Walter Mosley’s “Lift,” about two young black professionals stuck in an elevator during a terrorist attack, from October 17-November 30; Thomas Gibbons’ “Uncanny Valley,” which follows the relationship between a human being and a humanoid robot, October 2-26 in Theater B; and an adaptation of James Dickey’s “Deliverance” by Sean Tyler in Theater C from October 10-November 9.

Novelist and playwright Walter Mosley was happy to join the roster. “They offer lovely space and they’re intent on presenting different voices,” he said. “It feels more like a club.”

One reason 59E59 Theaters feel different than a regular theater is that there isn’t the overwhelming pressure to make money that drives most Broadway theaters. The Elysabeth Kleinhans Theatrical Foundation takes care of advertising, marketing, public relations, ticket services, maintenance of the space and technical facilities, and ticket services, in fact, everything except the rental, which for the 199-seat Theater A is only $7,000. The theater companies presenting plays pay the rent but they also take home all the box office income. “Even the smallest companies usually make money here,” says executive producer Peter Tear in a recent interview, “and that inspires them to want to do more.”

The feeling of intimacy also derives from the fact that that there is only a small staff. Brian Beirne serves as managing director, and Kleinhans and Tear select all the plays. “We make a good team: a woman and a man, an American and a Brit – I am Scottish,” says Tear. “So we come at things from different perspectives. We read an enormous amount of plays but there’s never been any conflict between us. We feel very independent and pick and choose what we like. We’re presenters not producers.”

59e59_fmtOne reason he got involved with 59E59 is because over the years he had found that so many good, offbeat plays were presented in unpleasant venues. “I went to some places that were so uncomfortable,” he says, “that the environment was detrimental to the work. I think we create a nice space for new plays here.”

As Tear tells it, 59East59thSt had a serendipitous beginning. The owners of the Four Seasons Restaurant called Kleinhans when they heard that the lot on 59th Street was going to be vacated, aware that she was interested in presenting plays. She did buy the space and her first press conference was held on bedrock as tractors dug up the site. Given the narrow dimensions of the lot, the architect Leo Modrein had to be very innovative to create three theaters, plus dressing rooms, bathrooms, ticket office and the mezzanine bar. “We wanted audiences to overlap at the bar,” says Tear. “A lot of interesting energy develops there among audience members of the three theaters. That mingling is important.”

Tear got hooked on theater when he was two years old and his parents took him to the Gaiety Theatre in their hometown of Ayr, Scotland. But until he joined 59E59, he worked in fashion, marketing and advertising, never losing his passion for theater. Hoping to break into theater, he took an unpaid job with the Circle in the Square when it reopened in 1999. “I never could have gotten into theater at my age in the UK,” he says. “America is still the land of opportunity. Halleluiah!”

From there it was only a few years of presenting on his own until the fortunate meeting with Kleinhans. “It’s great not to have to play it safe.”

For information on the theater’s schedule and membership, go to http://www.59e59.org

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Helping Loved Ones with Dementia http://nypress.com/helping-loved-ones-with-dementia/ http://nypress.com/helping-loved-ones-with-dementia/#comments Tue, 23 Sep 2014 14:09:47 +0000 http://nypress.com/?p=73439 dependent-100343_640Tips for people caring for those with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, an estimated 5.4 million American’s suffer from Alzheimer’s or other dementias, which includes one in eight Americans over the age of 65 and nearly half of Americans over the age of 85.

Home health aides can be a vital resource as they are trained to negotiate the challenges that a dementia patient can face, and can help to ensure that they remain calm and comfortable.

Tony Walker is a home health aide with Partners in Care, a company that provides private home care health services, specializing in patients with dementia. He shared tips for caregivers and loved ones helping a dementia patient at home.

What are some of the greatest challenges that face caregivers of people with dementia?

Caregivers are faced with many challenges when dealing with loved ones who have dementia. One of the most frequent challenges is that it can become frustrating to communicate with someone with dementia, especially when they are not clear as to what they really need or want. It is important for the caregiver to remain patient, and have a positive attitude when communicating.

Helpful tips for communicating with dementia patients include:

  • Using clear language, with simple words and sentences
  • Speaking slowly and clearly in reassuring tones
  • Using exact names of people, places and things rather than pronouns or abbreviations

Seniors_fmtAnother challenge that often confronts caregivers of patients with dementia is unpredictable changes in personality or behavior with the patient. There are many ways to deal with these mood swings and behavioral changes; always trying to remember to remain flexible, patient, and compassionate when responding to a dementia patient’s frustrations or changed.

How can caregivers take care of their patients as well as of themselves?

One of the challenges most often associated with caring for patients with dementia is that the caregiver becomes overwhelmed or fatigued, and feels as though they have no time for themselves. It is important for caregivers to remember that taking time for themselves is vital, and will ultimately make them a better caregiver. If you as a caregiver are unable to leave your loved one with dementia unattended, it may be helpful to look for a licensed home care agency. Look for licensed agencies like Partners in Care that ensure the quality of their caregivers by going above and beyond state standards of training and certifications. Caregivers with Partners in Care are also available for long and short terms depending on your needs and can help with a variety of tasks and projects.

Bringing in an outside caregiver from a licensed agency can bring a family welcome relief knowing that their loved one is being cared for by someone trained to handle the situation.

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What it “Means” to be a Writer http://nypress.com/what-it-means-to-be-a-writer/ http://nypress.com/what-it-means-to-be-a-writer/#comments Tue, 23 Sep 2014 13:58:36 +0000 http://nypress.com/?p=73435 My 15 Minutes_Douglas B_fmt

Photo by Megyn Kelly

In his second novel, Douglas Brunt gives us a behind-the-scenes look at a political campaign

In 2010, Douglas Brunt decided to leave his job as a CEO to become a full-time writer.

His epiphany came in Central Park, after a moment of soul searching with his wife, Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly.

At that time, he had already completed a draft of his bestselling inaugural novel, Ghosts of Manhattan, which he wrote in airports and on planes while traveling for work.

His writing process for his second novel, The Means, which explores what it takes to run and win a presidential campaign, differed from the first, since he was able to fully devote himself to research.

He conducted countless interviews with insiders who have worked in the White House and on Capitol Hill to set the scene for the political thriller and make it as accurate a portrayal as possible.

Why did you choose to write about politics?

I have two books out now, the first one is about Wall Street and this is about politics. In both cases, these are subjects where there’s a public perception and, in particular in politics and journalism, there’s a produced image of what the public takes in. And I wanted to go behind that and look at the world that most people don’t get access to and have a chance to see. Politics, of course, is just a fascinating thing.

I think over the last 10 years in particular, everyone’s interested in it. The Obama campaigns in both ’08 and ’12 were great with social media and did it better than anybody and engaged a lot of people.

Explain the title of the book.

It pulls from “the ends justify the means.” Everyone gets to see the ends, that’s what in the news, who wins the elections. But fewer people get to see the means to those ends, what life is like on the campaign trail, in the governor’s mansion, the Oval Office, or Capitol Hill. And what the congressmen are really saying when they have a smaller private client meeting and how they talk to each other when they’re not in front of the camera.

My 15 Minutes_book cove_fmtYou met with a lot of political insiders. How did those interviews come about? Did you reach out to them?

I had access to a few. A friend of mine from school is a congressman now and he pulled together a dinner of seven congressmen in a private room at Bobby Vans in D.C. The wine and bourbon were going, so lots of great scoops. I also did a lot of one-on-one interviews with people who have run national campaigns for presidents. Joe Trippi is one, he ran Howard Dean’s campaign. And people who have been working for the media and embedded in traveling with the campaigns. They have fascinating stories. Also those who have worked in the White House before different administrations and people who worked on Capitol Hill or super PACS. They all have different perspectives and you start triangulating in all of them and you come up with some stuff that’s really good.

What surprised you through the process?

One thing that I found interesting, on a positive side, was that the people who work in the business of politics, who have chosen this as their career, are less partisan than the rest of the country. I don’t mean the politicians, but the people who are senior in working on campaigns, they recognize in each other, across the aisle, that they’re both trying to pay the bills, and there’s a mutual respect. It’s very much like a few Yankees and a few Red Sox shaking hands after the game and getting a few drinks.

You do a good job in making that clear. The main characters are from different political parties, but you don’t favor one over the other.

Yeah, it’s not meant to be a partisan book in any way. It’s just an inside look at politics. I feel that if it had any partisan stripes to it at all, it would be much less credible. And much less likable too. I’m not that political, even though I’ve written this book about politics. Of course, my wife covers a lot of politics for the news.

You’re married to Megyn Kelly, an anchor on Fox News. In your book, you also go behind-the scenes of a newsroom.

All the folks who work on her show and the news anchors around the network and at other networks, I’m very friendly with. So I’ve had a lot of exposure to it.

Did you base your characters on anyone in particular?

No, no one in the book is more than a composite of many people. But they are all sort of rounded in reality through many relationships and experiences that I’ve had.

If the book was made into a movie, who would you want to play the three leads?

Gosh, amazingly, I have not fully thought that through. So I’m going to have to do this kind of on the fly. The Mitchell Mason character would be a little older, a little more gravely, maybe an Alec Baldwin type could do that. The younger, Tom Pauley character, would be someone like Bradley Cooper or Ryan Gosling. And Samantha Davis would be Rachel McAdams or Jessica Biel.

You’re from Philly. I went to Villanova and was happy to see the reference to the Main Line in the novel.

That’s right where I grew up. In fact, my parents’ first home was in Villanova. I pick places where I’ve been or lived. It’s easier to drop in physical places that you know and make it seem real.

You went to Duke. What did you study there?

Poli-sci. I never acted on it professionally in any way. There was a time when I thought maybe law school.

You were the CEO at an internet company before you made the decision to pursue writing full time. How did that come about?

I had been running a security company that was based in Florida, but living and starting a family in New York. So I was doing a lot of travel and was dissatisfied with the job. With all that travel, I had been writing just as a hobby, on planes or in airport terminals. I finished a draft of a book that needed work, but my wife read it and liked it. And she was noticing that I was not happy with work. And so we were walking in Central Park one day, just talking about what kind of changes could be made within the context of what we could do at work to make it better. And then it morphed into, “What if we completely flipped this and you didn’t do this for your work anymore and did something different?”

Who are your favorite authors?

I love Nelson DeMille. He’s become a friend and mentor. The last book I read before I wrote my first book was The Gold Coast. John Irving is one of my favorite writers. Philip Roth. I’ve also read a lot of nonfiction lately too. T.J. Styles wrote The First Tycoon, about Cornelius Vanderbilt. That was very good. And some of the David McCullough stuff. He did one on the Brooklyn Bridge.

Brunt will be at Barnes and Noble on the Upper West Side on September 29th at 7 p.m. for a reading and signing

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Join Us for a Saving Small Business Forum http://nypress.com/join-us-for-a-saving-small-business-forum/ http://nypress.com/join-us-for-a-saving-small-business-forum/#comments Thu, 18 Sep 2014 17:46:09 +0000 http://nypress.com/?p=73424 You may have noticed stories under the heading “Saving Small Business” in our pages recently. Every week, we get phone calls, letters and tips from readers about another beloved independent business struggling to stay afloat, and we think it’s important to document not just the stories of these individual businesses, but the root causes behind why so many can’t remain in the neighborhoods they helped foster and thrive. We also chronicle the long-time success stories and the hopeful new outposts, like the opening of Birch Coffee on East 62nd Street.

To push the conversation even further, we’re holding a forum on Wednesday, September 24, “Saving Small Business: Mapping a Future for Manhattan’s Neighborhoods,” (see our flyer below) convening smart, progressive thinkers, readers and policymakers to talk about solutions for independent small business owners. The forum will give business owners and neighborhood residents a chance to discuss how they can help each other, how the city can help, and what it is we’re all seeking to preserve when we talk of “Saving Small Business.”

We need your help, too! If you have an idea or a suggestion for a topic you’d like to see raised at our forum, please email us with the subject line “Saving Small Business forum” at news@strausnews.com. We hope you’ll join us at the event (drop an email to RSVP@strausnews.com to let us know you’re coming), and continue to let us know when you see something happening at your local stores and restaurants.

– The Editors

SavingSmallBusiness

 

 

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An Election by the Numbers http://nypress.com/an-election-by-the-numbers/ http://nypress.com/an-election-by-the-numbers/#comments Tue, 16 Sep 2014 14:59:26 +0000 http://nypress.com/?p=73392 ad76 1_fmtNow that the dust has settled on a contentious Democratic primary campaign for the 76th district Upper East Side assembly seat, we took a look at how the votes break down. Rebecca Seawright won the election and will now run against Republican David Garland in the general election. Gus Christensen came in a very close second, by number of votes (he only lost by 503 votes, according to the preliminary totals from the Board of Elections), though he won only about a third of the 91 election districts. Below are a few other statistics from the race.

41,615 – Number of registered active Democrats in 76th district

6,945 – Number of voters in Democratic primary in 76th district

16.6% – Percentage of active Democratic voters who voted

27 – Number of election districts won by Gus Christensen

63 – Number of election districts won by Rebecca Seawright

(One district tied)

$114.47 – Dollar amount per vote that Gus Christensen’s campaign spent between November 5, 2013 and August 25, 2014. By comparison, Michael Bloomberg spent about $183 per vote to win his third term as mayor of New York.

Who Won the Districts

We looked at the unofficial vote tallies, broken down by election district, to see who won in each. Rebecca Seawright took about two-thirds of the districts, with Gus Christensen taking the rest. One district was tied between the two of them, but neither David Menegon nor Ed Hartzog were able to pull enough votes in a single voting district to win any of them.

Candidate

Percent (by Candidate)

Votes (by Candidate)

Gus Christensen

35.95 %

2,497

David J. Menegon

9.60 %

667

Rebecca A. Seawright

43.20 %

3,000

Ed A. Hartzog

6.51 %

452

Blank

3.76 %

261

Void

0.52 %

36

Write-in

0.46 %

32

Total Votes

6,945

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Officials Call for New Permit Process for M.T.S. http://nypress.com/officials-call-for-new-permit-process-for-m-t-s/ http://nypress.com/officials-call-for-new-permit-process-for-m-t-s/#comments Tue, 16 Sep 2014 14:47:18 +0000 http://nypress.com/?p=73385 Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney leads the weekend rally against the East side transfer station

Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney leads the weekend rally against the East side transfer station

Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney and other East Side pols say the state needs to issue new environmental permits for the trash station

Elected officials gathered at Asphalt Green last week, the recreation center adjacent to the site of the future East 91st Street marine trash transfer station, to call on the state to issue new environmental permits for the site.

Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney was joined by Assemblywoman Deborah Glick, Assemblyman Dan Quart, Councilman Ben Kallos, Assembly candidate Rebecca Seawright, Pledge2Protect President Kelly Nimmo-Guenther and other community activists. The group is calling on the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to hold a new hearing on the request by the Department of Sanitation of New York (DSNY) for a renewal of the permit for the Marine Transfer Station (MTS) due to significant changes since the permit was issued in 2009.

“The permit for the MTS was issued before Superstorm Sandy, before new FEMA maps came out showing that the MTS’ platform is 5 ½ feet below base flood elevation, before small particulate monitoring was standard, before bike paths changed traffic patterns and before many new residential buildings and schools were built in this area,” Maloney said. “These changes are sufficient under state law to require a thorough re-evaluation and a public hearing. It is outrageous for DEC to consider rubber-stamping the renewal.”

Maloney said that she and others are prepared to file an Article 78 lawsuit, a civil action which can challenge a decision made by a state agency, in order to compel the DEC to hold a public hearing on the MTS’ environmental permits.

“The public has the right to a complete, transparent and thorough hearing by the Department of Environmental Conservation on the permit for the 91st St. Marine Transfer Station,” said Kallos. “Since the permit was first issued, many factors have changed–including the density of the area, the number of schools nearby, and the approach the city takes to safeguarding against storms.”

The proposed facility, which will have a large presence on the East River, would process as much as 4,290 tons of garbage per day, causing a line of garbage trucks to drive through a densely-populated residential area to converge on the proposed site. The cost of building the garbage transfer station has grown from an estimated $44 million in 2002 to $215 million today. According to the Independent Budget Office, the cost of disposing of the trash will rise from the current $90/ton to $238/ton.

Opponents also cite the potential damage to the East River ecosystem, which has flourished over the past decade as water quality has improved, as well as the potential for the site to flood in the event another large tropical storm or hurricane.

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