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B.P. Brewer requests Landmarks Preservation Commission act to protect 316 Fifth Avenue property

Borough President Gale Brewer wrote a letter to Meenakshi Srinivasan, chair of the Landmarks Preservation Commission, requesting the commission's action to protect the 316 Fifth Avenue property at West 32nd Street. A copy of a letter is provided below.

MBP Brewer to LPC Chair Srinivasan Re 316 Fifth Avenue 

B.P. Brewer Hosts African Consuls General

I was so pleased to host a meeting with the African Consul Generals at my office on Thursday, July 6. Helping the African immigrant community in Northern Manhattan has long been a priority of mine.

In 2014, I established the African Immigrant Task Force, which meets regularly. There, I am able to hear the cares and concerns of these populations — and then address solutions with leaders from these same neighborhoods.

Meeting with the Consul Generals furthered these discussions. They brought a diverse set of perspectives to the conversation, and together we addressed issues that affect each of the populations that they represent. We also spoke about potential collaborative efforts that will bring together the African immigrant community in New York City.

The African-born community is a fast-growing part of the New York City population — according to the Department of City Planning’s analysis of census estimates, it increased 39% from 2000 to 2011 — and an important one.

Working with the Hon. Yvonne Walker-Borobo of Gabon, the Hon. Rudolph Sherman of Liberia, the Hon. Amadou Ndao of Senegal, and the Hon. Thulisile Mathula Nkosi of South Africa provided another great forum for recognizing that importance.

B.P. Brewer writes letter in support of landmark designation for Washington Heights rowhouses

Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer wrote a letter of support for a landmark designation for rowhouses located at 626-648 West 158th Street in Washington Heights.

 

2017-07-05 MBP Brewer to LPC Chair Srinivasan Re 626-648 West 158th Street by Gale A Brewer on Scribd

Brewer issues Manhattan supermarket survey and Age-Friendly Supermarket Guide, calls for policies to boost neighborhood supermarkets

Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer released “Manhattan Supermarkets: How to Keep them Alive,” a survey of Manhattan’s supermarkets and grocers with policy recommendations to stem the tide of supermarket closures. The report also includes the Age-Friendly Supermarket Guide, a census of senior-friendly features at 229 Manhattan supermarkets (including wheelchair accessibility, restroom availability, delivery costs, and any available senior discounts).

“The first step in solving a lot of problems is to make a list,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “When we realized supermarket closures were a growing problem but couldn’t get a single, up-to-date list of supermarkets, their features, and their services, we decided to make our own. I’m happy we can provide that list to New Yorkers, along with findings to jumpstart the conversation about how government can help neighborhood supermarkets stay open.”

Recommendations
Brewer issued several recommendations to protect and boost Manhattan neighborhoods’ access to supermarkets, including:

  • Expanded zoning incentives for supermarkets – The nearly decade-old FRESH zoning incentive program doesn’t apply in many neighborhoods that are now feeling the threat of dwindling supermarkets. Programs created with the intention of helping existing ‘food deserts’ need to be retooled and expanded to help neighborhoods that aren’t yet food deserts, but are at risk of becoming them. New zoning incentives, offering floor area bonuses

  • Eliminating the Commercial Rent Tax (CRT) for supermarkets – Supermarkets in the area of Manhattan between 96th Street and Chambers Street pay the Commercial Rent Tax, a roughly 4 percent tax surcharge on commercial rent. Earlier this year, Brewer and Councilmember Corey Johnson introduced Intro 1472, legislation in the City Council to exempt supermarkets from this tax entirely. The legislation would cost the city a mere $5.6 million, but help many supermarkets struggling with rent to stay afloat.

  • Help reduce supermarkets’ costs – By reviewing and rolling back unnecessary rules and regulations increasing supermarkets’ costs, and by aggressively establishing and enforcing commercial loading zones in front of every supermarket, government can reduce supermarkets’ operating costs to help them stay in business.

Methodology. While city and state databases cite almost 2,000 establishments selling food in Manhattan, this study eliminated establishments such as bodegas, delis, and pharmacy chains, requiring stores in the dataset to sell all of the following products:

  • fresh fruits and vegetables
  • fresh meat, poultry, and/or fish
  • prepared foods
  • dairy
  • dry and canned goods

Once this standard is applied, the total number of supermarkets included was 229 borough-wide.

Supermarkets by Community Board

 Community Board 

 Total supermarkets 

 Home delivery 

 SNAP/EBT 

1

11

11

5

2

15

13

12

3

25

15

20

4

18

18

15

5

8

7

6

6

11

10

9

7

27

23

17

8

31

29

24

9

13

10

13

10

18

11

18

11

16

13

15

12

36

25

33

Grand Total

229

185

187

Brewer announces return of Fresh Food for Seniors Program for 2017

Seniors can buy fresh, locally-grown produce for just $8 per bag at senior centers, other participating sites
 
Today, Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer announced the relaunch of her Fresh Food for Seniors program for 2017, which will operate through November. The program makes bags of fresh, locally-grown produce available for purchase bimonthly at participating senior centers and buildings in multiple Manhattan neighborhoods.
 
“Access to fresh food, and especially fresh fruits and vegetables, is essential,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “This affordable, low-commitment program makes it easy for Manhattan seniors to bring home delicious, healthy, locally-grown produce.”

"As the cost of living in New York rises, fresh fruits and vegetables can seem like a luxury," said Council Member Corey Johnson, Chair of the Committee on Health. "It’s crucial that we provide programs to assist those who built the city we love today to obtain the basic goods and services they not only need, but they deserve. I applaud Borough President Gale Brewer for creating and continuing this beloved initiative."
 
“The Fresh Food for Seniors program helps seniors get delicious, healthy foods in an affordable and reliable way—all while supporting local agriculture at the same time. It is a model for community programming that fits a local need and serves a broader good," said Council Member Helen Rosenthal. "I want to thank the amazing volunteers for making the program possible as well as Borough President Brewer for her continued partnership.”

The program is made possible by partnerships between the Manhattan Borough President’s Office, local City Council members, multiple senior centers and senior residences, GrowNYC, the Corbin Hill Food Project, the Doe Fund, and the UJA-Federation of New York.
 
Starting today, seniors can sign up to receive fresh food bags at locations in the West Village, Chelsea, Hell’s Kitchen, the Upper West Side, and Roosevelt Island. Later this summer, the program will also relaunch in multiple northern Manhattan neighborhoods, including Yorkville and East Harlem, Central Harlem, West Harlem, Washington Heights, and Inwood.
 
Locations and Delivery Dates
 
Hell’s Kitchen, Chelsea and West Village -- In partnership with Council Member Corey Johnson and GrowNYC

Delivery dates: July 5, July 19, Aug. 2, Aug. 16, Aug. 30, Sept. 13, Sept. 27, Oct. 11, Oct. 25, Nov. 8

Site open to all seniors:

Site open to senior center members only:

Upper West Side -- In partnership with Council Member Helen Rosenthal and GrowNYC

Delivery dates: July 12, July 26, Aug. 9, Aug. 23, Sept. 6, Sept. 20, Oct. 4, Oct. 18, Nov. 1, Nov. 15

Site open to all seniors:

  • Goddard Riverside: Senior Center
    Sign up: Mondays and Tuesdays, 1-3pm
    Pick up: Wednesday the week after signing up, 1-3pm

Sites open to senior center members and/or building residents only:


Roosevelt Island -- In partnership with GrowNYC and the Roosevelt Island Senior Center, a program of Carter Burden Network

Delivery dates: July 5, July 19, Aug. 2, Aug. 16, Aug. 30, Sept. 13, Sept. 27, Oct. 11, Oct. 25, Nov. 8
 
Site open to all seniors:

  • Roosevelt Island Senior Center
    546 Main Street
    (212) 980-1888

Northern Manhattan -- In partnership with Corbin Hill Food Project, The Doe Fund, and UJA-Federation of New York

Deliveries will begin August 2017; dates and locations to be announced.
Program will include Yorkville, East Harlem, Central Harlem, West Harlem, Washington Heights, and Inwood.

B.P. Brewer hosts Iftar Celebration for Ramadan

My office held its annual Iftar Dinner this past Tuesday, June 20, at my downtown office, where we broke fast with our Muslim neighbors, and celebrated local Community Board leaders. We were joined by Aisha Bah of the International High School at Union Square, who recited the Qur’an, and called to prayer by the imam of the Islamic Society of Mid Manhattan, Sheikh Ahmed Dewidar.

I was pleased to honor the following Muslim leaders on Manhattan community boards pictured above: Ahsia Badi of Community Board 6, Mahfuzur Rahman of Community Board 11, (not pictured) Shah Ally of Community Board 12, Natasha Kazmi of Community Board 7, and Aissata Camara of Community Board 6. This evening was a great celebration of faith and fellowship.

BP Brewer requests explanation & clarification of lifting of Stop Work Order for Rivington House

I have written to the Department of Buildings asking why a Stop Work Order was lifted at 45 Rivington Street, also known as Rivington House. I am also calling for the original Stop Work Order to be reinstated, given the uncertainty around the original transaction, as well as the hope that the site be returned to community use.

6-15-17 Letter to DOB Re Rivington House Stop Work Order

Brewer promotes free summer meals for kids with Friday Day of Action

Manhattan B.P. to greet commuters and deploy staff, volunteers to 82 schools with detailed flyers on how, when, and where to get free summer meals for kids

On Friday, June 16, Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer will lead a borough-wide Day of Action to provide parents and children with detailed information about free meals available this summer through New York City’s Summer Meals Program.

Brewer will personally greet commuters and hand out flyers promoting the program at the Broadway and West 96th Street subway station, starting at approximately 7:45 am.

“The Free Summer Meals available across Manhattan this summer are a crucial element in the fight against childhood hunger, but the program only helps if families know about it,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “Every year my office creates and distributes detailed flyers in multiple languages, with neighborhood-specific Summer Meals sites listed, so Manhattan students and parents know where to go for healthy, free meals over the summer.”

The Summer Meals program is federally funded and serves free, nutritious meals for kids during the summer at hundreds of public schools, public pools and recreation centers, and other sites. For years, Brewer has enthusiastically boosted the program with flyering and outreach efforts. Brewer has also urged city officials to publish detailed information on the Summer Meals program earlier in the school year, before the start of exams and graduations, to make it easier to get detailed information to parents and families.

Friday morning, dozens of volunteers and staff will fan out to Manhattan’s 82 Title One elementary schools with flyers detailing when and where free meals will be available this summer.

Brewer's office produced and printed the flyers based on information recently obtained from the Dept. of Education and other city agencies.

The flyers, which are customized with Summer Meals locations and times in each of Manhattan's neighborhoods, will be available online in multiple languages, including English, Spanish, Chinese, and Arabic.

Independent Budget Office: old signals strand subways, but replacement is behind schedule more than half the time

NEW YORK – Responding to a request from Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer, the New York City Independent Budget Office (IBO) today released an analysis of MTA capital repair and improvement work on the New York City subway’s signal systems, finding more than half of signal projects are late and that signal work on the 7 (Flushing) line is more than 50 percent over budget.

All of the MTA’s subway lines except the recently upgraded L (Canarsie) line use antiquated signal systems that are unreliable and difficult to repair, and limit rail capacity even when they are working properly.

The IBO’s analysis found 19 out of 33 signal upgrade and repair projects in the MTA’s previous two capital plans were completed behind schedule or are still pending and behind schedule. In the current MTA capital plan, 14 signal projects were scheduled to begin by the end of 2017, but eight of these are delayed.

The IBO also found that the next line slated for completion of signal upgrades, the 7 line, is more than 50 percent over budget. The new signal system on the 7 line has an expected cost at completion of $405.7 million, up from an original budgeted amount of $265.6 million.

The number of subway delays has increased by 250 percent in the last five years, from 28,000 to 70,000 delays per month. Only two thirds of subway trains make it to their destination on time or less than five minutes late, whereas in 2012 more than 80 percent of trains hit that benchmark.

Despite the dramatic increase in subway delays and the consistent delays and budget overruns in signal upgrade work, capital funding has not kept pace with the system’s needs. Experts widely regard the signal system as a principal obstacle to improving both subway reliability and capacity, but the percentage share of New York City Transit capital funding devoted to repair and modernization of this system has declined in the past three MTA capital plans:

Percentage share of NYCT capital funds for subway signal repair and modernization:

  • 2005-2009 Capital Plan 20%
  • 2009-2014 Capital Plan 17%
  • 2015-2019 Capital Plan 14%

Moreover, more than half of this money is spent on repairs for the increasingly unreliable legacy signal system, rather than upgrading and replacing it.

Statement from Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer: “If the subway is New York City’s heart, then the mounting delays and catastrophic service failures we’re seeing are congestive heart failure, threatening the very life of our city. The subway’s antiquated signal system is a big reason why.

“In 1997 the deadline for all signal upgrades was set for this year. Today, only one line is finished, the 2017 deadline has been pushed back by 28 years to 2045, and The New York Times has reported that even the 2045 date ‘seems unrealistic.’

“This is intolerable. The city is doing its part. The mayor has increased the city’s contribution to the MTA capital budget. City taxpayers already pay a disproportionate share of the system’s costs. We’re now even using zoning policy to finance subway improvements.

“Our state government – which actually controls the MTA – must do its part by finding and appropriating the $20 billion needed to overhaul the signal system. “

I thank the professionals at the IBO for quickly preparing this analysis.”

The IBO’s full letter to Borough President Brewer can be downloaded here.

B.P. Brewer releases results of survey of empty storefronts on Broadway

188 street-level vacancies identified from The Battery to Inwood

NEW YORK—Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer today released results of a survey of vacant storefronts along the entire length of Broadway, conducted Sunday, May 21, 2017 by several dozen volunteers and interns organized by her office.  Along the 244 blocks of Broadway, from The Battery to Inwood, the survey identified 188 empty street-level storefronts.

“Empty storefronts can sap the vitality from a neighborhood if they are not reoccupied quickly,” said Brewer. “The normal ‘invisible hand’ of capitalism--old businesses closing and new ones quickly replacing them--too often doesn’t seem to work in Manhattan. Almost every neighborhood seems to have a storefront that’s been vacant for years. It can be a mystery, but I’m interested in solving the mystery and rejuvenating our streetscapes. This data will be the starting point in finding policy solutions to this problem.”

It was often hard for surveyors to discern the storefront’s status. Many were papered over, suggesting renovations or new tenants. Others had what appeared to be pop-up temporary stores in place. But too many were empty and fallow, with no signs of life.

Broadway was chosen subjectively, as a street that encompassed a cross-section of Manhattan neighborhoods, spanning the downtown Financial District to college-driven neighborhoods in the Village and Morningside Heights to ordinary ‘bedroom blocks’ of apartment houses with ground-level stores.

Methodology. Surveyors were each assigned a section of Broadway and asked to scrutinize every ground floor commercial storefront space to gauge whether or not it was vacant and to describe the details of its vacancy and, if possible, to identify what once stood in that space. Some storefronts still contained equipment or signage from the previous tenant. The list of addresses identified as vacant is downloadable here in PDF, XLSX, and CSV formats.

This Friday! Summer meals day of action.

This coming Friday, June 16, my office will be mobilizing volunteers in a "Day of Action" to distribute the locations of the free Summer Meals for Kids program offered by the NYC Department of Education. Too many families don’t know that their children are eligible, and don’t know where to go for free breakfast and lunch during the summer when schools are out of session.

To help inform them, I need your help this Friday morning, June 16, distributing flyers at public schools across Manhattan. We'll be flyering from 7:30
8:30 am. Then, at 9:30 am, please join your fellow volunteers for a breakfast at my office! Please sign up online to volunteer at bit.ly/2rJACn6.

Following 31 percent spike in applications, Brewer announces 2017 Community Board appointments

Today, Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer announced this year's slate of appointments to Manhattan’s 12 Community Boards. The 328 appointments include 87 new members, more than a quarter of the appointments.

“Community Board members sit across the table from the most powerful real estate interests and city and state officials, negotiating for the public and shaping the future of their neighborhoods,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “We had more than a thousand applications this year, the most we’ve ever had. While that made the job of selecting members tougher than it’s ever been, I’m excited that so many Manhattanites want to be civically involved.”

Today’s announcement marks the conclusion of the 2017 appointment process, which saw 1,030 applicants for Manhattan Community Board seats. Applications for Community Board membership increased by 31 percent in 2017.

The complete list of Community Board appointees for the 2017-2019 term will be made available on the Borough President’s web site today, at this page: http://bit.ly/ManhattanCB

Background

Community Board members are appointed to staggered two-year terms, with half selected by the Borough President and half nominated by the City Council members representing each community board district. There are 12 Community Boards in Manhattan and 59 citywide.

B.P. Brewer to FCC Chair: Undermining net neutrality could push American jobs overseas

Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer wrote to Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit V. Pai, arguing that undermining net neutrality would threaten jobs and undermine American tech-sector leadership.

"Businesses and innovators depend on equal access to the internet, where they are charged for the amount of data they can upload and download regardless of the type of data or that data’s point of origin or destination. And contrary to the assertions of some large internet service providers, there is no evidence that preserving net neutrality has reduced their incentive to invest in infrastructure," wrote Borough President Brewer. "Allowing internet service providers to price-discriminate based on ‘what kind of data goes through the pipe’ rather than simply ‘the size of the pipe’ will make our country a dramatically less attractive environment for investment and job creation in the tech sector."

The full letter is available here.

Net neutrality is the principle that all data on the internet should be treated the same by service providers, and that users cannot be charged different rates or given different levels of access based on the content of the data they are uploading or downloading, or the equipment or platform they are using.

Under Mr. Pai's leadership, the FCC is moving to unravel rules designed to protect net neutrality in the United States, including those classifying internet service as a basic telecommunications service and subjecting providers to Title II of the Federal Communications Code. This would produce a system that offers unfair advantages to incumbent businesses, stifles innovation, and fleeces consumers.

Brewer served as the founding chair of the New York City Council's Committee on Technology and authored New York City's 2012 Open Data Law. She is a noted leader on municipal engagement with and support for the tech industry.

B.P. Brewer statement on September 11 Memorial and Museum's announcement of a "permanent dedication" to honor 9/11 survivors, responders

For Release: Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer issued the following statement in response to the September 11 Memorial and Museum's announcement of a "permanent dedication" to honor 9/11 survivors and responders:

"It's good news that the 9/11 Memorial has agreed to honor 9/11 responders and survivors on the public site of the Memorial's grounds.  

"Just this past weekend, Firefighter Ray Pfeifer died from his 9/11-related cancer. 

"A monument to him and his co-workers on the pile, and the thousands of other injured and ill 9/11 responders and survivors whose lives have been impacted by the toxins at ground zero is a modest and long-overdue signal we can send to honor their sacrifices-- as I have been urging since becoming Borough President in 2014."

B.P. Brewer's Remarks at Re-Lamping Ceremony for the Eternal Light Monument

Good morning. It is an honor to be here today, on the cusp of Memorial Day weekend, to celebrate relighting The Eternal Light Flagstaff- and the upcoming renovations around the monument.

I want to thank Madison Square Park Conservancy Executive Director Keats Myer, Board Chair Sheila It Davidson, Board Chair Emeritus David Berliner, our borough's Parks Commissioner William Castro, and Dan McSweeney, President of the United War Veterans Council for all their work to bring the Eternal Light back to life.

And Jonathan Kuhn, Director of Arts and Antiquities for the Department of Parks and Recreation, for his commitment to keeping all our city's monuments and memorials in prime condition.

I'm proud today that the office of the Manhattan Borough President will be putting $200,000 toward the landscape renovations for the Flagstaff, to help open up the settingg of the monument, and give it more of the prominence it deserves.

The Eternal Light Flagstaff was meant to be a vital marker of the sacrifices of New Yorkers in the Great War.

Dedicated in 1923, it takes us back to a moment when the remembrance of that war was steeped the glow of victory and shadowed by the sacrifices that had been made. And it was meant to reflect the decisive role of the nation in ending the war, and immense pride Americans felt about it.

Today's wars are fought far away and seemingly anonymously, but the Great War touched the lives of hundreds of thousands of New York families.

Local boys filled the city's own Division, the 77th or Liberty Division, and the battles inscribed here suggest the scale of our commitment: 1 in 6 of all Americans who fought on the Western Front came from New York.

Among the most honored of all New York regiments, their deeds unacknowledged here in stone, but certainly in spirit, were the soldiers of the 369th Infantry- the Harlem Hellfighters- who just a few years ago were finally honored with their own monument by the people of France, under whose flag they had fought for America when denied the right to carry the American flag.

When the boys came home to New York harbor, the city pulled out all the stops, with the first Armistice Day parade passing right here, our tens of thousands marching up 5th Avenue curb to curb, and New Yorkers packed ten deep to welcome them home.

Madison Square was not the first choice for a memorial, but a natural fit. Farrragut's monument had stood at the north end of the park for more than 40 years, and General Worth is across the way, interred beneath his obelisk in 1857. At the Worth dedication, Mayor Fernando Wood spoke for all of us today, and for all those we honor, when he said "We have a duty to remind the world that he belonged to us." So it is with the valorous dead honored here. And let us note that since 1923, that duty and our responsibility to remember has grown much larger.

For that reason such memorials are crafted of the most enduring materials, worked to the highest standards of their time. In a sense, they too aspire to history, and were meant to remain in the thoughts and hearts of New Yorkers forever.

But they also age more slowly than we do but just as fatally, and the way to keep their presence alive is, as we might say about the Eternal Light Memorial, through enlightened preservation.

I look forward to seeing this superb-work and embodiment of our history enhanced and preserved for years to come.

I join you in offering thanks to everyone who made this day possible, to those who are remembered here, and all New Yorkers who will take time to pause and acknowledge the true meaning of this and all other such tributes: "let us have peace."

B.P. Brewer issues statement on Haitian Flag Day and writes to Homeland Security Secretary requesting extension of Temporary Protected Status for Haitian nationals in U.S.

Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer issued the following statement on the occasion of Haitian Flag Day:

“I extend my warm wishes for a happy Haitian Flag Day to New York’s Haitian and Haitian-American community. New York City is home to one of the largest and oldest Haitian communities in this country, and I am proud that our city is host to approximately 20,000 of the 50,000 Haitian nationals living in the United States with Temporary Protected Status (TPS).

“Today I sent a letter to U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, urging the extension of TPS for Haitian nationals, which is due to expire July 2017. With Haiti’s UN military mission winding down and its infrastructure, agricultural sector, and food delivery systems still deeply compromised both by Hurricane Matthew and by the lingering effects of the 2010 earthquake, the United States must not cruelly and haphazardly force tens of thousands of Haitian citizens to repatriate immediately.

“I join Haitian-American community leaders and the Haitian government in urging that TPS be extended for at least 18 months.”

TPS is a designation applied to countries by the Secretary of Homeland Security when those countries are afflicted by conditions that prevent the safe return of their nationals from the United States. More information on TPS, including eligibility requirements, is available at the United States Customs and Immigration Service web site: https://www.uscis.gov/humanitarian/temporary-protected-status#Eligibility%20Requirements.



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