The meeting took place at 110 Cabrini Blvd. (Castle Village Community Room) and got under way at 7:30 p.m. In attendance were the following individuals: Howard Aaron, Julia Attaway, Michael Augenblick, Marcella Calabi, John Eader, Geri & Tom Hopkins, Peggy Morrissey, Perry Payne, Elizabeth Lorris Ritter, Henry Stern and Gwen Villenueva. The following member buildings had residents present: 255 Cabrini Condominium, 360 Cabrini Owners Corp., 371 Fort Washington Owners Corp., Cabrini Terrace Owners Corp., Castle Village Owners Corporation, Chittenden House Inc. and Fort Tryon Corp. The following Community Associate Members (CAMs) and other neighborhood groups were represented: Beth Am The People's Temple, Hudson Cliffs Theatre Arts Program, Stein-Perry Real Estate and the Friends of Bennett Park.
The meeting summary from February was not ready in written form; Elizabeth reviewed her notes to remind those present of what had been happening. In March we did not have a meeting; the tenth anniversary celebration took place successfully on March 13. Senator Schneiderman and Councilman Jackson attended.
The Coogan’s 5K race was a hugely successful event involving thousands of people; it garnered excellent positive media coverage for the neighborhood, including a front-page, above-the-fold photo in the Times. Improvements continue to be made from one year to the next in terms of traffic re-routing and enforcement. The race does generate a major cleanup job, which was done as efficiently as possible but residents do need to realize that it cannot happen instantly. Julia agreed to draft a follow-up letter of thanks and encouragement to Coogan’s, with a copy to the local Precinct, including support for the idea of police presence on Cabrini Blvd. as well in the future.
The City’s consolidated information line, at phone number 311, is now in operation. This can be used to report all manner of problems or get information from all manner of city agencies. When you call, get the tracking number for your complaint. The more the City hears about a given issue the better its response is likely to be. Operators are available who speak a wide variety of languages. Their job requires a full understanding of the complex structure of City agencies so be patient as their expertise deepens. Also, be aware that the letterheads from the different agencies will now give 311 as their phone numbers, not their direct line, so if you want to keep the numbers you already have you should archive that information. Julia proposed that we prepare our own flier for HHOC distribution informing people about the 311 number. Another way to contact the City is through the website, www.nyc.gov. This is a fast and efficient way to do things like report potholes; HHOC participants have had good results.
Trash baskets: overflowing and missing trash baskets should be reported to the Community Board at 212 568-8500. An ongoing problem is the fact that people use street trash baskets to dispose of household garbage. If witnessed by a Sanitation Department enforcement patrol, this behavior generates a $100 fine. Much discussion generated the conclusion that it is time for an enforcement blitz on proper garbage disposal – each time the City invests a few days in enforcement the effect is fairly long-lasting; the fines should more than pay for the enforcement. Elizabeth agreed to dust off the set of letters calling for the last spate of enforcement.
A new idea to encourage dog-walkers to scoop the poop came up: signs that say, "Good neighbors clean up after their dogs." This message is positive and simple. HHOC could co-sponsor such signage with FTDOG. John agreed to follow up.
Announcements included the following:
- Community Board 12 Public Safety Committee meeting May 1, guest speaker is the NYPD’s Civilian Complaint Review Board’s outreach coordinator. It is of some interest to note that the 33rd Precinct ranks first City-wide and the 34th Precinct ranks third in the number of civilian complaints. There are several possible explanations for this, not all of them bad. Members are encouraged to attend to find out more.
- 34th Precinct Breakfast
- The Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone is accepting applications for Board of Directors.
- Hoedown! Square Dance with professional caller at Bennett Park Saturday May 10
- Parks Advocacy Day is May 14
- Fliers were passed out for various events at our local libraries, including a Health Education series, a resume writing workshop, job advocacy day, a letter-writing campaign to support library funding, etc.
- Cornerstone Choral concert of the Mozart Requiem on May 18
- Go to www. zagat.com/survey to submit comments for their 2004 guide if you’d like to see your neighborhood restaurants represented.
Friends of Bennett Park is pursuing greater awareness of the park’s role in our nation’s history in at least three ways: the organization has hooked up with Alliance for a Revolutionary War Trail in Northern Manhattan; has received state money to be part of the State-sponsored Heritage New York series; and is planning interpretive signage in Bennett and Ft. Tryon parks.
- Councilman Robert Jackson is walking (!) 150 miles to Albany to highlight the final court appeal of the Campaign for Fiscal Equity’s lawsuit against the State with regard to funding for public education. Cheer him on as he passes through this neighborhood, on Broadway.
FoBP also has numerous children’s activities going on. A group of parents from PS/IS 187 worked with the organization to get classes going to the park once a week. Working with the Parks Department, the kids completely redid the Children’s Garden (on the Pinehurst Avenue side of the park); they are committed to watering the garden through the summer; they’ve gotten funding for the next several years for reading and other activities.
This generated a conversation about how to get kids involved in cleanup, anti-littering education, etc., in response to Perry’s queries about starting similar programs at J. Hood Wright Park. Anyone reading this who would like to follow up can contact HHOC to be put in touch with her.
The following donations by HHOC to neighborhood organizations were approved:
- Fresh Youth Initiatives -- $250, up from $200 last year
- Pied Piper Children’s Theater -- $150, up from $100 last year
- Artists Unite for the "Hot Nights, Cool Sounds" jazz concert series in Bennett Park -- $250
- West 181st Street Beautification Project -- $200 for the Little Red Lighthouse Festival
- The Heather Garden Endowment -- $150 ticket to fundraiser on May 28
The next meeting will be Monday June 2 at 7:15 p.m., (originally scheduled for May 21) in the Castle Village Community Room, 110 Cabrini Blvd. (through the iron gates – use the intercom if the gates are locked).