The meeting took place at Hispaniola Restaurant, 839 West 181st Street at Cabrini Blvd., and got under way at about 7:45p.m. In attendance were the following individuals: Michael Augenblick, Nancy Bruning, Marcella Calabi, Phyllis Corcacas, Lisa Heelan, Gwendolyn Kingsberry, Erica Lindenstraus, Doreen Mangan, Tina Molinari, Joe Montagna, Sarah Morgridge, Peggy Morrissey, Lilliam Perez, Dennis Reeder, Elizabeth Lorris Ritter, Henry Stern, Sue Turner, and Mike Zamm. The following member buildings had residents present: 66 Overlook Terrace Corp., 120 Bennett Owners Corporation, 255 Cabrini Condominium, 360 Cabrini Owners Corporation, 720-730 Fort Washington Avenue Owners Corp., Cabrini Terrace Owners Corp., Castle Village Owners Corporation, Chittenden House Inc., and Overlook Towers Corp. The following non-member buildings had residents present: 250 Cabrini. The following Community Associate Members (CAMs) and other neighborhood groups were represented: Beth Am The People's Temple, Friends of Fort Tryon Park, Hudson Cliffs Theatre Arts Program, Simone Song Properties and Washington Heights-Inwood Development Corp. The following elected officials had a representative present: Senator Eric Schneider and Councilman Robert Jackson.
Hispaniola Restaurant hosted the meeting courtesy of the owner, with wine and appetizers in its very attractive upstairs dining room, and gracious service. Many thanks.
Geomart Hardware came in for kudos, for being honorable enough not to raise prices on flashlights and other such necessaries during the blackout last summer
The meeting summary from June was reviewed and small edits made.
There were several roundtable discussions. One was about ways to improve shareholder communications within a building. Ideas in use at various member buildings include:
- Bulletin boards for various purposes in various locations, e.g., sales, babysitters, community affairs, building notices, board reports.
- Periodic full coop meetings on special issues.
- Time Warner in-house TV; management videotapes coop meetings and airs them on TV for absent shareholders
- Internet chat rooms, web sites
- Bimonthly newsletter
- Use attractive picture frames for notices in the lobby. No notice = no frame (i.e. the frame is not hung permanently).
- Post notices on every garbage room door. Everyone uses the garbage room.
- Parties yearly, or twice a year (summer, winter holidays); outdoors, or in the lobby.
- Board president produces monthly email notices and posts same on locked bulletin board near mailboxes.
Another roundtable topic was bulk deals for cable (e.g. with Time Warner) and DSL high-speed internet connection (e.g. with VZAvenue, the bulk-service arm of Verizon). Mike A. had pointers for negotiating with both providers and noted that there is a (non-bulk) discount if an individual gets Verizon’s "Freedom Package" plus DSL. It was suggested that HHOC consider pursuing an even bigger bulk deal for all its member buildings simultaneously than any one building could manage alone; Joe will do a preliminary investigation
Another roundtable topic was lobby renovation with various local architects and designers recommended. Because aesthetic issues are typically hot-button items, it is important to prepare people well and bring them on board before a single tile is laid.
Mike Z. reported on his latest communication with the DOT superintendent of the A-train and pointed out that the most recent straphanger’s report rates the A pretty far down on the list in terms of frequency of service. The superintendent wanted other data which Mike arranged for participants to collect.
In his capacity as head of the security subcommittee, Mike Z. also reported that there have been changes in the scooter and bike cops’ patrol routes and hours, and also some loss of coverage due to budget cuts. These are of course city-wide but the 33rd and 34th Precincts have been harder hit. The idea of buildings joining together to hire a security guard for their area remains alive but not realized. Another idea is for those buildings having doormen to provide them with cell phones for quick contact with the police/911. A tenant patrol/community watch has failed to materialize because there are too few people willing to participate.
Dennis Reeder spoke about the Washington Heights Inwood Development Corporation, which is celebrating its 25th year as one of the most successful programs providing microloans to small businesses in the city. He was at the meeting to disseminate information about the impact of the upcoming Renaissance Festival on local parking. The original plan was to prohibit parking starting the night before, but HHOC participants pointed out that this posed unnecessary hardship when the spaces would not actually be needed until the following morning. He agreed to take this objection back to the organizers.
[Secty’s note: ultimately the prohibition was in fact held off until morning.]
Nancy reported that the new set of Note Cards from Friends of Ft. Tryon Park, with six different images of the park, will be available in mid-October. The next set after this is likely to be flower photos; photographers should feel free to continue their submissions.
Lisa spoke about a project she is organizing for a local Girl Scout troop, a photo exhibit in May 2004. Ideas for sources of support and community sponsorship were generated and HHOC agreed to will contribute $100.
There was discussion of this summer’s annual Neighborhood Meeting organized by Olga Tello and colleagues and its role in the community, with appreciation of the many participants in the effort to improve the neighborhood.
Marcella asked for feedback about HHOC communications. She reported that the Post Office has an online mailing service: a customer can email an address list and document in the appropriate formats to the post office, which will then produce the mailing for a small fee freeing us from photocopying and envelope-stuffing. Sometimes, however, HHOC provides an important service by including other organizations’ fliers in our mailings. In those instances, Sarah offered the assistance of volunteers she knows. It was agreed to post drafts of the meeting summaries on the website rather than wait for the "approved" version which usually has only minor changes.
Nancy reported on ongoing efforts to address maintenance of the step street, 187th between Overlook Terrace and Ft. Washington. This falls under the aegis of the DOT, which used to clean the steps once a week but now comes by once a month. Four volunteers recently cleaned the steps themselves, and many passersby offered to participate in future cleanup efforts. Anyone wishing to volunteer can contact 187Steps@hhoc.org (if you don’t have email, call the HHOC number to be put in touch).
Announcements of upcoming neighborhood events included the Friends of the Paterno Trivium fundraiser (it was agreed that Doreen would go as HHOC’s representative) and the ongoing high-quality concert series Concerts in the Heights at Collegiate Church.
There was a discussion about the impact of filming on parking in the neighborhood. HHOC is supportive of the fact that movies and TV shows are filmed in our area because of the revenue it generates for the city (and some small amount of boost to the local commercial economy, though we wish there were more of that, and it’s also preferable when the media representation of this neighborhood does not underscore the worst aspects of Washington Heights’s reputation.) However there seem to have been abuses of the parking restrictions provided for the benefit of the film companies. Elizabeth assured us that the Community Board is paying attention to this matter. Nonetheless this and other issues concerning insufficient parking generated much discussion and Tina will begin the task of drafting an HHOC position paper on the subject.
The topic of parking led to the subject of tickets and the suspicion, shared by many, that ticketing officers sometimes jump the clock on alternate-side violations. Marcella reported that for once she caught an officer in the act of doing so, with witnesses, and it was agreed that she should use HHOC letterhead for follow-up on this.
The next meeting will be Monday October 20 at 7:15 p.m., watch announcements for location.
[Secty’s note: thanks to Sue Turner for partial notes, which were helpful in drafting this meeting summary.]