Notes From The Neighborhood
CB6 Asks City to Hit the Brakes
While the Department of City Planning (DCP) chugs forward with a rezoning proposal for East Midtown, the local community board is asking them to slow down. The city is hoping to change zoning regulations for an area around Grand Central Terminal, from East 39th to 57th streets, in order to allow for more office space construction. The zoning would encourage the development of more skyscrapers and give landlords the opportunity to attract more businesses to the area.
Community Board 6 Chair Mark Thompson said that while the board hasn?t taken an official position on the rezoning proposal, they are generally supportive of it. The biggest problem, he said, is that the city wants to plow ahead with the plan before allowing adequate time to answer the community?s questions and figure out how a potential business boom in Midtown would affect other city systems. Thompson said the board is concerned that the city isn?t giving enough consideration to ancillary factors like sidewalk crowding, an influx of subway and bus passengers and the impact on the electric grid and sewer systems that would come along with a rapid upward expansion of Midtown office buildings.
The board will be sending a letter to City Council Member Dan Garodnick requesting a meeting and his assistance in getting the DCP to steady the pace as they continue, and is working in conjunction with Community Board 5, which shares their concerns.
Renewed Calls for Pedicab Restrictions
Upper East Side Council Member Dan Garodnick, chair of the consumer affairs committee, has consistently called for stricter regulations of the pedicab industry, citing the high number of complaints that his committee has received from customers who feel they were ripped off. The New York Post reported earlier this week that one visiting family from Texas was charged over $400 for a 10-block ride in Midtown recently?and that the charge was completely legal. Garodnick introduced a package of bills last year that passed the Council and now require pedicab drivers to clearly post their rates someone in their cab, but the city doesn?t place any restrictions on how much pedicabs can charge, and some are getting around the rule by posting their rates in tiny lettering and not directing their passengers? attention to it. Now Garodnick, along with many in the pedicab industry who don?t want their profession given a bad name, are calling for additional laws that will require drivers to state the charges clearly at the beginning of a ride, instead of springing a huge bill on riders when they reach their destination.
Summer Streets on the East Side
If you?ve always dreamed of zip-lining through the streets of Manhattan, your dreams may soon be fulfilled. The Department of Transportation will continue the fifth annual Summer Streets program for the next two Saturdays, Aug. 11 and 18, on the East Side, closing down Park Avenue from Foley Square downtown all the way up to East 72nd Street from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Cars will vanish and the avenue will be free to roam on foot, bike, scooter, rollerblades or hoverboard, with activities like the zip-line, a rock climbing wall and a picnic food stand area from Whole Foods at various rest stops along the way. There will also be interactive art projects and a fire hydrant sprinkler, perfect for parched kids. Complete info at nyc.gov/summerstreets.
A Comic Consolidation
The Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art (MoCCA) announced this week that it will be consolidating its collections with that of the Society of Illustrators, located at 128 E. 63rd St. The two art institutions will merge their assets and become a single institution dedicated to celebrating illustration, comics and animation. The Society will continue to host the MoCCA Fest, an annual independent comics festival, and will dedicate one of their galleries to MoCCA?s permanent collection and draw from the collection for curated shows.
?The Society of Illustrators has a long, proud history of promoting the art and?appreciation of all genres of illustration,? said Executive Director Anelle Miller in a statement. ?We are honored to be able to spearhead the expansion and growth of the incredible?foundation that MoCCA has created over the past 10 years.?
East Siders? Ideas to Boost Second Ave.
While the businesses on Second Avenue near the subway construction have suffered in the past years, with foot traffic down by 30 percent in some spots, local residents say that they try their best to support those businesses and have ideas of how they can do even better, according to a survey conducted by Council Member Jessica Lappin?s office. Out of the 990 people who responded to the survey, 78 percent said that they shop in stores or dine in restaurants along Second Avenue. An overwhelmingly number?86 percent?also said that they?d be inclined to spend on the Avenue more frequently if merchants offered coupons or deals.
?Businesses have been hit hard by Second Avenue construction, so it?s wonderful that East Siders are supporting them,? Lappin said in a statement. ?This survey also makes it clear that shoppers are looking for bargains. In this economy, who isn?t? So, going forward, this is something we can work on with Second Avenue merchants.?
The survey also found the best thing the MTA can do to help people who live around the Second Avenue construction is to provide better information for the community about what?s going on. Survey respondents chose that option 40 percent of the time, more than keeping the work spaces cleaner and being less noisy.
C Tops the List as the Worst Line in the City
Have a favorite subway line? So does the New York Public Interest Research Group, whose Straphangers Campaign released its annual State of the Subway report last week.
The Q line came out on top, with major points for a low breakdown rate, regular service, seat availability and cleanliness. Apparently, this line also has the best announcements in the system. It ranked relatively low, though, on the actual amount of scheduled service.
Probably to few New Yorkers? surprise, the C line came in last. For the fourth year in a row, its notorious grimy cars, frequent breakdowns and infrequent appearances kept it at the bottom. It ranked second to last on in-car announcements.