concern neighbor
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January 18, 2017
City Councilman Dromm who represents the Elmhurst area now wants to close Rikers. He claims it's because Rikers is inhuman. So where does he plan to put the prisoners? He has no plan. So where will they end up? At shelters like the Pan Am. It is dangerous for the homeless residents and the residents of Elmhurst. Dromm does not have a homeless shelter where he lives, so he does not care. It is reckless for him to make this proposal. It is a land grab, because developers are interested in Rikers...an new mini manhatttan. Don't let him fool you.
The lobbying behind plastic bags
by Emily Gallagher
Jan 18, 2017 | 330 views | 1 1 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Last year, the City Council approved a bill that would add a five-cent charge to use a plastic bag when shopping in local stores. Because of the state government, it was postponed, and now there is a last-minute attempt to preempt the bill, with the concern that it will negatively impact low-income New Yorkers. Last week, I received an email about this issue, imploring me to take a closer look at the social justice impacts. As you know, I am very concerned about institutional racism and oppression, so of course I was interested. However, I did take pause, as I had never heard of the sender. I assumed it was a symptom of my over-subscribed inbox that receives so many, “You Won't Believe What’s About To Happen!” emails. Spam, in other words. I ignored it. But then I began to receive personal responses to it, and decided to write back. The person sending the email was from a company I had never heard of, and they were begging me to contact an organization that, while powerful, has been mostly in the news of late for receiving buyouts from environmental bad actors to oppose environmental initiatives. Sure enough, the email’s listed company was a well-known lobbying group. All I needed to do was buzz over to New York City lobbying disclosures website to find an easy answer. This lobbying firm was paid by the American Progressive Bag Alliance, who works to protect the interests of plastics manufacturers. A Politico article confirmed that the “grassroots organization” the lobbyist was attempting to connect me to was receiving payments from this same group since 2014. I had originally thought I would give the “grassroots organization” a call to hear them out. But after a bit of light research, I saw their payout and decided against it. The reality is, I've long been concerned with bad-acting industry impacts on low-income communities, and I became interested in this because of the myriad of health impacts on this very neighborhood. Greenpoint, a longtime home of plastic bag manufacturing, as well as former vinyl factories, has a long list of cancers, autoimmune disorders and other problems that can be traced to the fumes and chemicals used in plastic manufacturing. I remember, just a few years ago, the entire neighborhood would fill with an unreal stench that I learned comes from a plastics manufacturer on Kent Avenue. It’s not expensive nor difficult to carry a reusable bag. If the concern is truly that it will negatively impact low-income New Yorkers, why are plastic manufacturers paying for it? I think the answer is the latter. Besides, the five cents will go to the local store owner each time, which will support small businesses each time one forgets. I think the bag charge is a good idea. Outside of scooping up dog poop, plastic bags serve us very little purpose. I have no patience to hear out lobbyists or their paid players. I asked the lobbyist why he wrote to me. He said he was aware of my column in the Greenpoint Star. In other words, he wanted me to write a “grassroots” article that was wholly influenced by paid performers for plastics manufacturers. No. I want to make clear, right here in this space, that I will never blast out a phony perspective. I am also urging you to be suspicious – it turns out that lobbyists have succeeded in buying out some grassroots organizations to go against their own interests. I will not be one of those people.
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Downtown mom
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5 Hours Ago
Good for you to suss out the truth. Getting rid of plastic bags will only help all of us in the long run. There is no reason to oppose the plastic bag tax and no reason we all can't start by carrying reusable bags of our own. We are too many people in NYC to use single use plastic bags (or bottles or straw etc).

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Jan 18, 2017 | 19 views | 0 0 comments | 1 1 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

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Advocates oppose changes to development near Transmitter Park
by Benjamin Fang
Jan 17, 2017 | 207 views | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Park advocates are organizing against a proposed “fishbowl” lobby for a new residential development near Transmitter Park in Greenpoint. The Friends of Transmitter Park group voiced opposition to the changes at 13-15 Greenpoint Avenue, which borders the park’s eastern side. Its developer, BNS Real Estate, wants to have the building’s entrance directly facing the park. For Konstancja Maleszynska, Greenpoint parks project coordinator for the Open Space Alliance (OSA), the fear is changing how the park is used, looks and feels. “The overarching concern is the layout of the lot,” she said. “The development will share a lot line with the park and no intervening street or sidewalk. “When you think about it, you’d be hard-pressed to find another park that shares a border with a building,” she added. The lot next to Transmitter Park is currently zoned residential, meaning the developer can build as-of-right without community approval. Its first design wanted two slimmer towers, one at 14 stories and the other at seven stories. The new proposed design, if approved, would only be 11 stories, but would be wider. It would also have windows facing the park and an “extended elevated portico” extending along the wall, Maleszynska said. She said the lobby would make it look “as if the park were its front lawn or yard.” “That blurring of the private-public space is very concerning to us,” Maleszynska said. “It’s a loss of privacy for park goers. Many people don’t feel comfortable with losing the border there.” Last Tuesday, Community Board 1 voted against the rezoning. Next month, the borough president’s office will also vote on the proposed changes, though both votes are advisory and nonbinding. At the public meeting, Maleszynska said park advocates presented a list of modifications that the developer should consider. Instead of a fishbowl lobby entrance, Maleszynska said they wanted a 13-foot barrier with some greenery to separate the two entities. While the Friends of Transmitter Park group has not been approached by developers to work out an agreement, Maleszynska said she hopes BNS Real Estate heard their suggestions. “We’re hoping for a conversation to happen at some point between us and them,” she said. Maleszynska said advocates understand that developments are coming and that they’re “a fact of life.” But she said in this neighborhood, which lacks open space, protecting existing parkland is important. “This is not a generic protest against any development, this is a very specific situation in which a community that has two parks tends to lose some of the quality of that green space that provides a respite,” Maleszynska said. “That’s why we want to preserve the quality of the green space that we have, which is really young and new. It stands to serve residents for hundreds of years to come.” She said the fight isn’t one between old and new residents, rather parks are democratic spaces everyone is welcome to enjoy. “It’s not to say that older residents have more rights than newer residents to use the park,” Maleszynska said. “It’s just that everybody will suffer if the park loses its current status and condition.” Next steps include a meeting with Councilman Stephen Levin, and Maleszynska said the group hopes to find out more about the possible impact of the new design. “We hope for it to be a world-class park that everybody does come to visit,” she said, “but that it doesn’t become a front lawn for development.”
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