The full preliminary district needs statement and expense budget is approved and the meeting adjourned. Full approval will be held at the October CB8 Board meeting on the 20th.
Expense Funding: - Board member asks about funding for Zoom, with the intention of continuing to livestream their meetings. There's disagreement about the future of "hybrid" meetings, but the importance of having digital capabilities in the near future is acknowledged. Dangoor says having meeting recorded for the public to watch afterwards is essential to keep people aware of what they actually do. - The impact of COVID, says Shimamura, should be reflected in the expense priorities and requests, especially in expanding street outreach for homeless and mental health, expanding community based alternatives for youth and funding for child services, and expanding elder care. - Recycling and composting is suggested to be moved higher in the priority. Currently it sits at item 22. Birnbaum says she doens't feel it fits in the top of the list. "Not everything can be in the top five," she says. Shimamura says that she supports composting and is fine with swapping parks maintenance priority position with composting.
The board has approved of the new top five capital budget priorities: 1. New or expanded schools 2. NYCHA 3. Resiliency 4. 19th Precinct A/C 5. East River Esplanade repairs
District Budget Requests: - Currently the top three requests are for a new/expanded high school, middle school and elementary school. The board wonders if the priorities should be shuffled to reflect some things that may be more feasible. Another suggestion is to combine all three requests into a single schools item so that capital investments in issues like resiliency and NYCHA can be reflected as top items. - The library ramp at the east 67th street branch has been completed and will be removed. - Requests for a new park on the east river between 60th and 63rd street will remain, as well as funding for Andrew Haswell Green park. - Funding for Ruppert park, Queensboro Oval and John Jay park will remain. - NYCHA repairs and resiliency will be moved to the top five items in the budget request. - Air conditioning at the 19th precinct will also be added to the top five requests.
A unanimous vote ends the review of the district needs statement.
Parks, Cultural and other Community Facilities: - Libraries, says Shimamura, should be reflected in the needs statement, including expanding hours. The board says they haven't seen any capital requests and that nobody from the libraries is present this evening, which is unusual. - The board agrees to advocate for expanded community board funding.
Transportation and Mobility: - A big topic over the last year was accessibility, which is not presently in the needs statement. - Outdoor cafes and structures are another issue. Dangoor says on Lexington Avenue, there are many issues with people being able to travel on the sidewalk because of some outdoor dining set-ups. - A statement will be added to make clear that every subway station should be accessible. - Bus lanes and SBS should be expanded, says Rudder. Squire says there are already bus lanes on every avenue, but an expansion of SBS could be included. More cameras and monitoring of bus lanes should be included too, says Rudder. A call is also made for more local buses. - Curb cuts are a big issue, and the board gets a lot of calls about them in the east 60's. Farber says there's a major city project to address curbs. If the board can make a list of curbs that are particularly bad, she said, there's a high chance they can be addressed.
Housing & Land Use: - NYCHA issues should be added, says Shimamura. The board agrees that the NYCHA residents on the board who couldn't be present this evening should read over for final edits regarding Housing & Land use. - The board agrees to keep the needs statement otherwise the same for now.
Core Infrastructure: -Comments from the public asked for better street cleaning, more garbage pickup and cleaning catch basins. - Rudder brings up damaged garbage pails and ensuring the composting rollout is done well. - Resiliency will be addressed and was a major source of comments from the public. A meeting on Monday with the CB8 Environment and Sanitation Committee will address this: https://www.cb8m.com/event/20878/ - Budget cuts in DSNY should be addressed as well, with a board member saying the sanitation supervisor for the district saying he has fewer people to work with since last summer. - Aqueduct repair was completed so it will be removed from needs statement. - Sewer upgrades, says Shimamura, should be included in needs statement. "DEP, the city and the state need to really make those important investments in upgrading our sewage infrastructure," she said. - Rats are a major issue and a need is present for more rat patrol and education. Empty lots, on 78th and 1st avenue and 86th between 2nd and 1st avenue, among others, are huge sources of rat issues. - Wifi access is a major issue for people in senior centers and NYCHA, and will be added in the statement. - Other options, like adopt-a-basket and the DOE Fund are brought up as possible options to keep the neighborhood clean.www.cb8m.com
Public Safety and Emergency Services: - The 19th precinct is in need of air conditioning, and will be included in the budget request. - A request is made for more patrol officers on the street. Non-board attendees like this idea. Patch wants to reflect the idea of community policing and not just cops sitting in their cars reading their phones. Chair Barry Schneider adds that funding for cadet classes should be included, as he says they have been cut this year.
Youth Education and Child Welfare: - Support for summer youth employment, says Dangoor, should be reiterated. Shimamura said this should be moved to the top of the needs, as they have received so many comments on public safety. - 3-K should be added as well, in accordance with the vote taken earlier
Healthcare and human services: - Survey showed a high number of responses related to homelessness. More structures are needed to provide supportive housing, says Rudder. - Rudder says the senior centers need to come back and have various improvements, including ventilation. - Wifi needs to be expanded in NYCHA buildings. Dangoor says Wifi should be included in core infrastructure needs. - Medicare is a major problem, says Rudder. "I always say that we live in an area with the greatest Riches of the best hospitals and the best doctors, and we can afford it," she said. "I'm not sure where it would fit it." It is determined a state issue and won't be included in the needs statement.
Patch adds another comment, as a college educator, that the early childhood years are most important for education. "We're not talking about childcare," he says. Birnbaum says she doesn't dispute that, but that there are limited resources. Studies also show that overcrowded high schools, she says, have a bigger impact on the school-to-prison pipeline. "I'm not asking to remove [pre-k from the needs statement]," she says, "I'm only asking that you make that difference by saying we are, we would hope that you would have additional resources for pre-K, and not just put it on the same level as the others." Another board member, Rebecca Dangoor, agrees with Patch and Shimamura on the importance of early childhood education and that there is a clear need for more early childhood spots in the neighborhood. The board is reminded that the language including 3/pre-K has been approved and it's time to move on!
Disagreement from Birnbaum over including pre-k and early childcare in education needs, as children are having to travel to Queens because of how burdened the district is. Students, says Birnbaum, "are eligible to go to staten Island, because there aren't enough school seats in this district." "If we had unlimited resources we could include it all, but I'm not in favor of taking resources away from those and putting them into pre-k." Shimamura disagrees, and Farber adds that early childhood education is a major affordability issue. Prior to taking a vote on the needs, Shimamura says "a budget is a reflection of our values. If we are valuing early childhood education, if we are valuing childhood literacy and eliminating illiteracy in our city."
Shimamura says there are barely any 3-K seats in the district, and it needs to be directly addressed in the needs statement. Farber wants the statement to reflect concrete data and figures to give the needs statement a less ambiguous ask. According to city comptroller statements, Shimamura says the district is technically defined as a "childcare desert" based on the lack of spots for children. With specifics and data, Farber says it will help counter the claim that this district is overflowing with resources. "I'd like to try to get something as opposed to them saying you know this community just wants everything and therefore we don't really get anything," she said.
Rudder wants to add in the needs statement the building of more facilities to house the homeless.
Patch reminds that schools play a role in keeping people out of the criminal justice system, as he was reminded this weekend at an event he attended with mayoral candidate Eric Adams.
Board member Rebecca Dangoor wants to modify the public safety statement to reflect better what they've been hearing from the public, but wants to keep the needs priorities the same.
A call for schools to remain a top priority from Birnbaum. "How good our school system is," she said, "means how good our future is." She adds that instead of discussing rent relief in the needs statement, quality of life issues should be addressed. Street vendors and enforcement of vendor laws, Birnbaum said, is another issue and her committee with the Department of Consumer Affairs is having a meeting October 12. She would like to see street vendor enforcement mentioned within the quality of life or enforcement issues.
Rent relief, says board member Ed Hartzog, needs to be prioritized in this needs statement somehow, as it plays into the affordable housing crunch during the pandemic. Farber replies that while rent relief is a state issue, the board should make appeals to build affordable housing in the district. Farber adds that despite the neighborhood not being a big priority for city pols, the rent-controlled apartment stock is declining at the highest rate in the city.
Now the review of the district needs statement: Currently, crime and safety top the needs statement, along with quality of life issues like trash pickup, flooding and homelessness. Affordable housing comes next, followed by parks.
Board member Peter Patch says his attention is on the school issue, not just class size but ensuring quality of education as well, noting that 25% of third graders are not reading at grade level.
Board co-chair Tricia Shimamura reviews some of the past community needs and makes her case for the need for more open spaces and repairing the esplanade.
Clarification - the incident referred to below was at UES, a popular ice cream parlor/speakeasy, not at any establishment Phillips is related to. Here is ABC 7 on the incident:abc7ny.com
More discussion of crime and how this was never a concern in the past. Board member Barbra Rudder wants to figure out how to invite the correct people to a public safety subcommittee meeting. She adds that the board should also discuss E-Bikes in bike lanes and sidewalks.
Board member Russell Squire says they are trying to find the attacker from Phillips's establishment, and will discuss further tomorrow at the full board meeting.
Board member Michele Birnbaum decries the abandonment of broken windows, that many smaller infractions lead to larger issues and that the city is not paying attention to these issues before they get larger. Schools, Birnbaum says, is a big way to keep populations in the neighborhood, but "a lot of families with school aged children have one leg out the door," with classroom sizes increasing. Crime and inflation are compounding factors in people potentially fleeing the upper east side. Brinbaum wants to see schools at the top of the community needs statement.
Safety is the next issue, with restaurant owner John Phillips talking about a number of issues with people accosting workers. "Safety is the utmost importance and not in an abstract way," says Phillips, "there are people who are suffering very acutely right now and there's no easy way to fix this."
Next issue, public/private spaces. Teenagers are hanging out and smoking marijuana around a public/private park at a building on 93rd street.
Traffic is one of the first issues brought up, especially congestion around the FDR exit at 63rd street and on 2nd Avenue leading to the 59th street bridge. "We need more [traffic] control people there to enforce the traffic rules."
At the start of tonight's CB8 Budget meeting, co-chair Felice Farber thanks Patch for publishing their call for community input for the new community needs statement. There are hundreds of comments, Farber says, "and they're still coming in."