The New York state budget crisis, public school closings and potential cuts to senior centers were just some of the subjects discussed during a July 13 Upper West Side Town Hall Meeting at Goddard Riverside Community Center.
More than 300 West Siders packed the center to hear Upper West Side elected officials, including Borough President Scott Stringer, Assembly members Linda Rosenthal and Richard Gottfried, Council members Gale Brewer and Inez Dickens, as well as representatives from the departments of Education, Transportation and Environmental Protection.
After a short introduction, Stringer turned the floor over to the audience.
Many of the people in attendance wanted to know how the New York State budget crisis would affect the Upper West Side, from the closings of senior centers and public schools to inadequate unemployment benefits. The city’s $63 billion budget, which passed two weeks ago, includes a 20 percent decrease from last year in discretionary funding for community organizations.
Stringer promised the audience that he is trying to avert the public school closings Mayor Michael Bloomberg has proposed.
“When there are not enough seats in public schools, parents leave New York City, taking their tax dollars and their children,” Stringer said.
He also apologized on behalf of the government for proposed budget cuts to senior programs. Council Member Inez Dickens said her office has succeeded in saving three of the seven senior centers that were scheduled to close in her district, which includes parts of the Upper West Side and Central Harlem.
Residents also expressed their concerns about overdevelopment in Park West Village, with community advocates addressing the prospect of Jewish Home Lifecare, a nonprofit health care provider, building a 22-story nursing home on West 100th Street.
“It’s a disgrace,” Stringer said of the overcrowding of Park West Village.
But the topics were not all doom and gloom.
One woman proposed a law against putting spikes on ledges, saying that they injure people when they sit down. Stringer joked that he would introduce a “tuchus law.”
At one point, a former high school classmate of Stringer’s mentioned his recent engagement from the audience.
“I can’t believe you’re engaged,” she said.