200 Amsterdam Ave Litigation Update:
* * * * * * * * * * *
Spring Bulletin sent out May 20, 2018
* Keeping W 68th St Beautifully Planted for the Summer
* 200 Amsterdam Extra Tall Tower Update
June 5 Follow Up Hearing to Attend
* Noise Task Force for Amsterdam Ave Established
* Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal Visit Recap
* Why Participation in the Block Association Matters
* Block Artists Needed
* Lincoln Center’s Swing Dancing Returns June 26
Spring finally came – The planting team hopes everyone enjoyed the tulips, pansies, daffodils, and crocus that bloomed. Now its time to get ready for summer flowers. Some members of the block association have been busy cleaning up and preparing the beds between Columbus and CPW and we hope you will join us in planting these flowers soon (Date to be confirmed).
This year the Block Association is asking that we have “Flower Angels.” It’s someone (or a family or a group of people) who work to ensure that a designated tree bed is adequately watered throughout the summer and early fall. We already have “Angels” assigned for many of the tree beds. But many opportunities remain – with some tree beds without any representation and other tree beds needing additional volunteers.
So what does being an Angel involve?
Basically your key role is to keep the tree beds watered – (and that means 3 deep waters a week in the summer) through working closely with the building staff or by performing the watering yourself. The block association will provide buckets and garden hoses which will be accessible and we will work with you to try to get you the easiest possible access to water. Now there is lots of additional fun stuff to do if you choose, like selecting flowers and planting the tree beds throughout the year, but the first duty of a flower angel is to keep the plants flourishing by keeping them watered. And it is a critical role if we want to keep our trees and plants healthy and beautiful.
So where could we use your help most?
No Angels Currently At Beds in Front of :
19 West 68
49 West 68
55 West 68
61 West 68 (needs to be a building resident to access on premise water)
69 West 68
Additional Angels Welcome for:
48 West 68 (4 tree beds)
71 West 68
If you are interested in learning more, please return e-mail us and Rebecca will contact you.
Looking forward to a beautifully flowering summer,
The Planting Team of The West 68th Street Block Association
- We haven’t forgotten about the tree beds in front of Lowe’s. We are hoping to plant flowers there also, in conjunction with Lowe’s.
200 Amsterdam Ave
This construction site, at the corner of West 69th St and Amsterdam, maintains both its litigation and administrative appeals processes to reduce the planned height of 668 feet, equivalent to a 66 story building. As soon as plans were filed for this building in mid 2017, various community groups and all area elected officials rallied to contest the building. Our block association supports all activity opposing the planned building.
Abiding by protocol, community groups launched an initial challenge at the NYC Dept of Buildings (DOB) to revoke the permits. That agency, while accepting the arguments of the community, agreed the permits probably should not have been issued, but refused to revoke them. The matter was then appealed to the NYC Board of Standards and Appeals (BSA) which has the authority to over turn DOB decisions.
The initial hearing at the BSA was March 27. Community turnout was phenomenal and impressive and required to counteract the assorted trade unions and real estate interest groups supporting the developer. The volume of paperwork and testimony submitted necessitated a follow up public hearing with the earliest agreed upon date being Tuesday, June 5, 10 AM. Everyone’s participation is again required. Details below.
The March 27th complete hearing may be viewed on You Tube in time frame 2:08:30 to 5:00:35 at link
Prior to any public hearing there is an executive board BSA session held. In this case on March 26 in time frame 1:03:40 to 1:37:00 at link
The necessity for a second hearing at BSA has permitted construction (foundation work) to proceed. Fearing that the completion of the foundation work would make moot the appeal at the BSA, two groups inaugurated an injunction to stop construction. An interim settlement was reached between the parties precluding actual litigation at this time. The settlement is described in this West Side Rag Article:
Involved Community Groups and their Roles to Date :
Committee for Environmentally Sound Development (1,2,3)
Landmark West ! (1)
The Municipal Arts Society (3)
1) The DOB action
2) The BSA action
3) The Injunction action
June 5 Hearing Details at the Board of Standards and Appeals
ATTENDANCE JUNE 5 REMAINS CRITICAL TO DEMONSTRATE COMMUNITY SOLIDARITY
Noise Task Force for Amsterdam Ave
All sorts of abusive noise bombards residents along Amsterdam Ave. Many solutions are ongoing, but some problems linger. A block association task force to monitor and report is in formation. Participate if you can. Of particular current concern is Mt Sinai ambulance sirens. Respond to this e-mail.
Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal Visit Recap
On a balmy evening in early spring, April 3 — a Tuesday — W 68th Street Community members met at the neighborhood TD Bank at W 68th and Broadway. Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal (of Assembly District 67) shared her recent advances, initiatives and actions on many of our most pressing community issues. Linda represents W 68th St west of Columbus Ave with Richard Gottfried representing the park block. We thank TD Bank and Victor Rodriguez, new branch manager for hosting this meeting.
Among the critical concerns discussed with the attendees were evolving transportation issues (including changing bus routes), new real estate projects and their impacts on the surrounding buildings and businesses, street safety, issues of concern to cyclists and pedestrians, pet needs, evolving voting- and prison-issues, and her precedent-setting support for the parity health concern of TAMP (Total Access to Menstrual Products) Act, which would mandate every restroom in New York State to provide tampons and sanitary products, free of charge. This initiative is a direct reflection of male contraceptive and impotence materials and products available to NYS males in health programs, hospitals, and elsewhere.
In well over one hour, Assemblymember Rosenthal gave a briefing of her office’s actions, then patiently and wittily responded to community members’ questions and feedback.
- 200 Amsterdam Avenue– Rosenthal reviewed new developments in the case against this oversize construction that has many in the community concerned. The developer now violating zoning regulations and restrictions has been contacted, and the DOB (Department of Buildings) agreed they may have misinterpreted their own zoning laws. That being said, construction has not yet been suspended while this matter is further examined and investigated. Other points in relation to this building included how it will affect neighbors in terms of added noise and reduced sunlight on neighboring buildings.
Additionally, if this building is allowed to go ahead, there’s a concern “success” on this over tall structure could lead to more similar buildings being built in the neighborhood.
- Store Vacancies– A vacancy rate that is alarmingly high, as much as 17% in some places, is generating concern about the numerous empty shops and darkened windows in our area. Local vacancies particularly rankle, as longtime tenants are pushed out by significantly higher rents, resulting in longtime spaces remaining vacant for long periods of time. Street safety around such vacancies is strongly impacted by vacant storefronts and abandoned spaces. Real estate values, too, are strongly affected by visible signs of decline or neglect that are signaled by so many vacancies in prestigious-neighborhood areas.
- M104 Bus Line– Service cuts to the M104 Bus line are being felt—and objected to. Rosenthal has worked toward the MTA reviewing its constricted and decreased service.
Assemblymember Rosenthal pointed out that this issue has turned into a “death spiral.” The M104 bus service has long been used by the community. Unfortunately, as service became more infrequent and unreliable, riders were forced to find alternative and more complicated means of transportation. Ridership on this line then decreased and because of this decrease, the MTA determined they should limit service even further, thus leading to even lower ridership. The MTA could, the assemblywoman notes, again review the M104 route, provide a more reliable service, and then review anew to see ridership levels.
For better bus service on the Upper West Side, go to this link and sign the petition: http://assembly.state.ny.us/mem/Linda-B-Rosenthal/story/77522
Subway Station Closures – New and proposed closures involve the B and C stations at 110th, 86th and 72nd Streets. There were no appropriate hearings before these closures were announced, Rosenthal stated. How this affects the community was discussed, including the lack of communication with or to the community, and what measures should be taken to make up for the changes in vital service.
- Congestion Pricing– This issue revolves around how traffic congestion may be alleviated by charging car services, such as Uber and Lyft, to drive in only certain areas of the city during peak times.
- Issues with Access-A-Ride
Why Participation in the Block Association Matters
I’ve lived on 68th Street for about 3 years now. I first heard about the Block Association a couple years ago when my girlfriend and I were walking around on a nice day and ran into the Block Association BBQ. On a whim we bought some raffle tickets and won the AMC movie ticket package, so it was a good omen. I wanted to know more about what was going on in the neighborhood and get to know some neighbors as well. I also was frustrated with the homeless issue on our block so this all spurred me to go to my first Block meeting in the Fall of 2017. I found this meeting very informative and helpful. My concerns were addressed, as were those of others, and suggestions and courses of action were suggested. I found it helpful as many people there have lived in the neighborhood for years and so that knowledge is helpful for issues both big and small. I enjoyed meeting neighbors and hearing about what’s going on in the community, so I went to the latest meeting as well a few weeks ago. Again, several issues were discussed and the appearance of Assemblywoman Rosenthal was also a nice addition.
Overall, city living is a funny thing as you’re surrounded by people everywhere, in apartment buildings, on the subway, on the sidewalks, etc. and yet it can also be isolating as people less and less talk to each other or even know their neighbors. I find the Block Association helpful in countering this and creating a real sense of community. I will return for future events and meetings and also try to do my part to improve the neighborhood as needed.
Block Artists Needed
A large wall space along West 68th Street has been identified for a block mural. Help create artwork and a display to enrich our street.
Lincoln Center’s Swing Dancing Returns June 26
Ever popular and returning June 26 through July 14 will be Lincoln Center’s “Midsummer Night Swing”. Swing, mambo, tango, salsa and more. Lessons given. Full schedule and ticketing here:
Fall Block Party
Help organize it ! Respond to this mail.