The meeting took place at 740 West 181st Street and was called to order at 7:30 p.m. Present were the following residents of member buildings:  Michael Augenblick of 255 Cabrini Condominium; Geri Hopkins and Martha B. Ellington of Ft. Tryon Corp.; Peggy Morrissey, Susan Rebecchi, Christina Curva, and Howard Dillon of Cabrini Terrace; Anne-Marie O’Keeffe of Hudson View Gardens; Tina Molinari of Overlook Towers, Michael Zamm and William J. McBurney, Jr. of 720-730 Ft. Washington; Elizabeth Lorris Ritter and Marcella Calabi of Castle Village; and Silvea Thomas of Bennett Ave Owner’s Corp. Also present were Commercial Associate members Caroline Brown of William B. May; Luis Solis of Simone Song Properties; and Gus Perry, Louis Pulice and Susan Wolf of Stein-Perry Real Estate. Also present for a portion of the meeting were Thomas Navin and Lauren Zarambo of Castle Village representing the 187th Street Frieze Project.

The draft June minutes were reviewed and approved with minor typographical corrections.

Neighborhood news included mention of the Little Red Lighthouse Festival on 9/18, Stein-Perry’s open house on 9/23, the Fort Tryon Medieval Festival on 9/26, etc.

There was discussion of a new project to honor the recent improvements in the neighborhood, namely a long list of improvements, small and large, brought about by residents and merchants over the last six months. Marcella agreed to put together a newsletter or a thank-you letter to those being honored, with Gus gathering information from the 181st St. area, Silvea from the Bennett/Broadway area, and Tina from the 187th St. area.

This led to a discussion of the difficulties of maintaining a local newspaper. The Washington Heights-Inwood Report is the only one we have left in the neighborhood. We agreed to submit the celebration article to the Report, and to think about ways to support that publication. For example, buildings without doormen pose a problem for distribution. Everyone is urged to go back to their Boards and ask that permission be given to the supers to let the Report into lobbies to leave stacks of the newspaper.

Anne-Marie reported on Bennett Park’s progress:  that the Parks Department has offered to consider a proposal from residents for a community garden, funding for which is pending;  that the playground will be renovated; and that the center grass will be reseeded or resodded. She is working with the Arts Coordinator of District 6 to accomplish a children’s art project, with the intention to use the grass-protecting fence as an exhibition space for children’s pictures and poems. HHOC offered to help support this project, perhaps to co-purchase the laminating machine;  further discussion will follow. The project is called "Art on the Edge".
For more information call "Bennett Park Initiatives" at 330-8682.

HHOC business:  welcome to our new member, 880 West House (880 West 181st Street).

Lauren Zarambo, painter/watercolorist and Thomas Navin, architect, presented an idea for a decorative frieze to embellish the building on the southwest corner of 187th and Ft. Wash. The concept and Lauren’s design were enthusiastically received.  HHOC agreed that Marcella would work with Tom to produce a flier, that several other members would be involved in distributing the flier, and that HHOC would collect donations for the project. Two individuals gave donations on the spot. An additional note: there will be an exhibition of Lauren Zarambo’s work in the Castle Village Community Room on 11/20.

Elizabeth reported on various community meetings, public hearings, and actions of public officials and Community Board 12 in the wake of last July’s blackout of the neighborhood. Class action litigation is in process. Those for whom Con Ed’s standard compensation ($100 residential; $2,000 commercial) is inadequate to cover their losses may wish to consider joining one of these suits.

Mike Zamm reported on an in-depth meeting with Steve Straus of the MTA about our neighborhood’s transportation issues, arranged for and hosted by Kim Klenck, district aide from State Sen. Schneiderman’s office.
His summary of the meeting’s salient points follows:

  • (1) The proportion of the preferred conversational style seating (more seats, better design for communication) to bench style trains on the A-line will remain the same; there will be no increase in bench style seating.
  • (2) Late night A-train service, which was expanded when the Williamsburg Bridge was being repaired, will be continued even though the Bridge repairs are complete.
  • (3) The MTA will make as many A-train schedules as we want available to HHOC. For starters we will try to have them advertised and distributed at the 190th and 181st Street booths.
  • (4) The MTA will install more lighting at the 190th Street station.
  • (5) They have no plans to install a public address system at 190th St.
  • (6) While the 190th St. station has a significant amount of chipping lead paint, the past painting was done in the early 1990’s and there are no plans for another soon.  We need to press on this.
  • (7) The want us to identify corroded structural beams in need of repair at 190th St.  We need to get the MTA to do their job here.
  • (8) With respect to the 168th Street #1 and #9 station, the MTA is experimenting with a new lighting fixture which they will probably install in a number of places in the station to improve the station’s current dingy state. (9) Stationary buses running their engines for more than 3 minutes should be reported to 1-888-692-8287 and/or the DEP hotline 1-718-DEP-HELP.
  • Marcella asked about whether the controversy caused by the MTA’s decision to tear down the decorations in Bruce Renfroe’s elevator (181st Street Station) was fully resolved;  if it is not HHOC will follow up in his defense. Anne Marie agreed to ask him.

    Elizabeth reported that the Community Board is considering a resolution to add the name, "Juan Pablo Duarte Blvd." to a section of St. Nicholas between 162nd and 193rd Streets. At a public hearing, it was proposed to change the name of 181st Street instead. The general reaction to both proposal was negative: the feeling was, this neighborhood is rich in diversity and a generic street name, while it celebrates no-one, also highlights no one piece of ethnic history over another.

    The project list was hastily reviewed, with multiple items tabled until next month due to the lengthy discussion of the frieze. Marcella reminded the group that the neighborhood could have its own Millennium New Year’s Party. To contribute ideas or action write newyears@*nospam*hhoc.org

    The next meeting will be held on Monday October 18th at 7:15 PM in the offices of Stein-Perry Real Estate, Inc., 740 West 181st Street, between Ft. Washington Ave & Broadway. The meeting was adjourned at 9:30 p.m.


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