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January 2015 Newsletter: North Cove Marina, Killings of NYPD Officers Liu and Ramos, Roosevelt Island Library, and more

The killings of Officers Liu and Ramos.
The shocking assassinations of NYPD Officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos coming amidst ten days of street protests over the lack of indictment in the Eric Garner case turned the holiday mood of our city on its head: one claim of injustice cruelly and murderously doubled by another.

No New Yorker with a heart could avoid being sobered by the confluence of events, nor by the anguish now shared by both the Garner family and the families of the police officers.

We all have a special responsibility during times of trauma—elected officials, and, yes, protesters and union leaders—to speak with care about tragic events such as these. Mayor de Blasio, Gov. Cuomo, and my fellow Borough President from Brooklyn (and former police officer) Eric Adams have all used their moral authority to speak from the heart.

I joined B.P. Adams and Bronx B.P. Ruben Diaz the day after the police murders to express our horror, our condolences, and our support for the Police Department in that moment. I also joined soon after with hundreds of New Yorkers in a prayer vigil sponsored by the Union Theological Seminary for the fallen officers and their families.

As we mourned these deaths, we must not suppose that there is nothing we could have done to alter the course of events that led to the death of Mr. Garner and the murder of Officers Ramos and Liu. But we must understand that the state of mental health care in this country, coupled with easy access to handguns are a prescription for disaster not limited to Officers Liu and Ramos.

The only way to heal our city in the aftermath is for people of reason and compassion to prevail over the demagogues and haters. There is work ahead for all of us: to master our own rage and fear; to listen as well as speak; and to work for deeper integration of police and community, an end to the criminalization of non-violent offenses; and create more early intervention mental health services.

I hope we are ready to have conversations about race and community, and I intend to organize such discussions in Manhattan. I pledge to work toward that, and each of these goals, and welcome all of you who wish to join me.

North Cove Marina vendor selection process needs more care.
The Battery Park City Authority Board has been quietly seeking vendors for its marina upon the expiration of a 10-year lease to Michael Fortenbaugh. Our office has been working on this issue along with State Sen. Daniel Squadron, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and other elected officials to ensure that the North Cove Marina remains a space where the public has access to enjoy the waterfront; a change in vendors could result in the elimination of its sailing school and higher prices for concessions.

I wrote a letter to the BPCA to urge them to withdraw the current RFP and instead choose an operator in an open and transparent process that includes community members and prioritizes an operator’s track record and community-based programming, as the BPCA has done in the past during the planning process for the local ball field and community center.

I’m hopeful that the BPCA Board, at its January meeting, will consider that request, and at the very least extend the current lease so that a proper transition period can allow an orderly transition.

Community survey for Roosevelt Island’s new library now online.
The NYPL has launched an online survey for Roosevelt Island patrons to gather more feedback on the new home for the Roosevelt Island branch, as a follow-up to the ‘Community Conversation’ held on the island in November. Share your thoughts by clicking here. The survey will be live through the end of January.

Events

Get involved: celebrate National Mentoring Month.
The Children’s Aid Society, Big Brothers Big Sisters of New York, and my office will mark National Mentoring Month with two events serving the communities of East and Central Harlem on January 22, where volunteers will read to children. To get involved as a Big Brother or Big Sister, call the organization at 212-686-2042.

January 6 & 7: Parks Department “Scoping Meetings.”
The NYC Parks Department strives to ensure each local park is at least somewhat tailored to the needs of the neighboring community. With the Mayor’s new Community Parks Initiative allocating $130 million to rebuild 35 community parks and make needed improvements in 55 others, the Parks Dept. mounts “Scoping Meetings” to make sure community voices are heard on park improvement. Two such scoping meetings are being held in early January:

• Tuesday, January 6, 6:30-8:30 pm, at the James Weldon Johnson’s Community Center, 1833 Lexington Ave. (nearest 115th St.), regarding the James Weldon Johnson Playground.

• Wednesday, January 7th, 6:30-8:30 pm, Manny Cantor Center, 197 E. Broadway, 6th Floor, regarding the Henry M. Jackson Playground at the intersection of Henry, Madison & Jackson Streets in lower Manhattan.

Come share your ideas and feedback! For more information, please contact Danica Doroski, Manhattan Outreach Coordinator, NYC Parks Dept. at danica.doroski@parks.nyc.gov.

January 24: GreenThumb Garden registration session.
The following registration sessions will allow all GreenThumb gardens on city property to update their registration. Gardeners will only be able to sign new licenses once registration forms have been reviewed and all materials are complete including membership lists, open hours and the general rules and requirements of joining and being an active member of the garden. Gardens must update their registration in order to remain in good standing (with no violations) to be eligible to receive supplies, assistance and services. Manhattan’s first session will be held Saturday, Jan. 24, 10 am-1 pm at the Grow NYC Office, 49 Chambers St., Room 1225A (you must have ID to enter the building).

January 26: Homeless outreach.
On January 26, the Department of Homeless Services (DHS) will conduct its annual Homeless Outreach Population Estimate (HOPE) Count. It’s a unique opportunity to volunteer and participate in an extraordinary effort. DHS needs 3,000 volunteers to help conduct this survey of homeless individuals living on city streets, parks and in other public spaces throughout the City. Volunteers assist from approximately 10:30 p.m. to 4:00 a.m. To sign up, contact the HOPE team at hope@dhs.nyc.gov.

January 31: Help spread the word about Earned Income and Child Care Tax Credits.
Hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers miss out on between $2,000 to $10,000 in tax credits, such as the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Care Tax Credit. About 25% of eligible working families nationwide fail to claim their money because they don’t know about these programs. Our fellow New Yorkers need information on how to get these credits and YOU can help make it happen. The City’s Dept. of Consumer Affairs is conducting a first-ever “phone-a-thon” to let people know about the tax credits they may qualify for– and seeking volunteers for two-hour phone bank slots. Saturday, January 31, 11 am – 5 pm, in Manhattan at Hunter College 3rd Floor Cafeteria, 695 Park Ave. (but there are locations in all five boroughs). Register here.

Continuing in the MBPO Gallery: Art Students’ League winter show.
“Small Works” is the theme of the December show in the 19th floor Gallery hung by students from the Art Students League. The works are on display during business hours in my office until the end of January.

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