MAY 27, 2006

The meeting took place at 180 Cabrini Blvd. #89 and got under way at about 7:20 p.m. In attendance were the following individuals: Howard Aaron, Joaquin Alvarez, Julia Attaway, Michael Augenblick, Bob Brophy, Caroline Brown, Marcella Calabi, Danielle Canepa, Gail Chern-Thompson, Susan Daglian, Geri Hopkins, Mark Katz, Mary Kim, Susan Day Lewis, Erica Lindenstraus, Sarah Morgridge, Carlos Polanco, Simone Yen Song., and Ruddy Thompson. The following member buildings had residents present: 255 Cabrini Condominium, 350 Cabrini Owners Corp., Castle Village Owners Corporation, Chittenden House Inc., Ft. Tryon Corp., and Hudson View Gardens. The following guest buildings, Community Associate Members (CAMs) and other neighborhood groups were represented: 16 Chittenden, 96 Arden, 825 West 187th St., Beth Am, the People’s Temple, Century 21 Brown Associates, Friends of Fort Tryon Park, Hudson Cliffs Theatre Arts Program, and Simone Song Properties.  The following elected officials had representatives present: Councilman Robert Jackson and Borough President Scott Stringer.

The April meeting summary was reviewed and accepted.

Julia reported on the following two topics:

Friends of Ft. Tryon Park and the Heather Gardens Endowment are joining to form the Ft. Tryon Park Trust. In this way the energies devoted to our beloved Park will be coordinated to its best benefit. The Javitz Playground Community Alliance also continues to be very active and will be a committee of the Trust.

Mother Cabrini High School’s plans for a Montessori preschool are going ahead, with a planned start date of September 2007.

Goings-on in the 181st and 187th St. commercial strips were discussed, including that: the comic book store has become a Pilates studio; Cabrini Wines and Liquors is expanding into the space previously held by the kosher butcher; Emilou’s is coming back [re-opened since then, as we hoped]; Simone Song Properties is not closing as some had rumored; Bleu Evolution has changed hands and has live music and a jazz brunch on Sundays; and there is a general and fairly significant rising of rents, with ripple effects throughout the area.

Another commercial venture to watch is the 179th St. Port Authority Bus Station, which has issued an RFP for new commercial tenants. This includes a whole city block and space between Broadway and Wadsworth. All the then-current tenants have lost their lease. Sen. Schneiderman’s office is involved, with the aim of preventing a big-box store from coming in. Geri will be HHOC’s contact with the Senator’s office on this.

Other announcements for then-upcoming events included:

There was intense discussion sparked by a memo from the Scenic Byway Initiative concerning the news that DOT was considering permitting truck traffic on parts of the Henry Hudson Highway, with immediately upcoming public hearings. [Note: Readers should get to the end of this item before reacting to this news, which was incomplete at the time.] HHOC’s position is that opening any part of the parkway to trucks is a bad idea, and our concern in particular was that trucks fanning out from the GWBridge onto local streets in our neighborhood would be completely untenable. An action plan was immediately developed for attendance at the hearings, a publicity campaign, postcards etc. What follows here is a report on HHOC’s follow-up and clarification on this matter: HHOC was in contact with Scott Stringer’s office with a position paper by the next morning. In the meantime one of our members also succeeded in reaching David Stein at DOT and obtaining more details: DOT agrees that local streets around the GW cannot handle truck diversions; is considering, at most, using the stretch from 125th to 175th Street to relieve local streets; would concomitantly be making upgrades; and a decision is not imminent. This mitigates the worst of our concerns; nonetheless it remains a topic that deserves attention. Our position is that opening any part of the parkway to truck traffic is a bad idea and a slippery slope. HHOC followed up with a second letter to Scott Stringer’s office, and Elizabeth spoke on HHOC’s behalf at the public hearing on this matter.

Security issues: recent crime in the neighborhood was discussed; the two most violent crimes were solved and the perpetrators apprehended, thanks to good detective work by the 34th. Camera surveillance helped in one of the cases. Mike Zamm is continuing the project to map security camera coverage on Ft. Washington and Cabrini Blvds approaching Ft. Tryon Park. Mary Kim offered to help him.

HHOC business: 

Reverse mortgages, which used to be available only for house-owners, have become available for co-ops and condos as well. At Simone’s suggestion, HHOC agreed to sponsor a forum on this topic which is of interest to our constituency. Robbie Gendels of National Cooperative Bank had made herself available for a public presentation and HHOC accepted her offer; this does not constitute an endorsement of NCB. [The meeting was held in June.]

There was a discussion of the pros and cons of getting more rental buildings involved; this connected with the topic of Community Associate Membership. HHOC wants to support those economic ventures a significant portion of whose revenues remain in or return to the neighborhood. Associate Membership was originally thought to be one way of doing so, but refining the parameters for this relationship with HHOC has turned out to be a fairly complicated issue because it is not clear how to handle the case of out-of-area businesses that have local affiliations. Some suggestions were for membership “tiers” or categories. Further discussion or a paradigm shift is called for.

Marcella asked for feedback on how to handle requests to share our email list. The mailing list policy is that we do not give anyone the list per se; on rare occasions we have provided a set of labels for one-time use by collegial neighborhood organizations; we also have a way of tracking whether that privilege has been abused. Feedback was that this policy has been working and should remain in place. As for requests for the email list, the agreed-upon solution is not to divulge the list but instead to choose (with equal reticence as with snail mail) those causes we consider sufficiently congruent with our interests to warrant an email; then send our own email on the subject, possibly including a link to the other organization.

The meeting ended at about 9:40. The next meeting was set for 7:15 p.m. Monday September 25, location TBA (set for Castle Village Community Room, 110 Cabrini Blvd., ring at the iron gates for entry to the driveway).


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