Lillian Wald Tenant Association President Debrella Nesbitt
Last month we learned of the passing of Debrella Nesbitt, TA President for Lillian Wald Houses. We are saddened to hear about the loss of Debrella, a great leader in the Lower East Side community.
“My sincere condolences for the loss of the amazing woman and tenant advocate Debrella Nesbitt. Debrella was a wonderful wife, mother, grandmother and leader in my community. She was a dedicated union member and brought her organizing skills and activism to her role as President of Lillian Wald Houses Tenant Association. Debrella cared about every one of her fellow tenants and her smile could change the dynamics of any room. She was kind, fierce and the NYCHA community will have to carry the torch for change in her absence. I am proud to have known Debrella and will not forget her contribution to Lillian Wald Houses and the Lower East Side community, as well as, her accomplishments city-wide. Debrella will be missed. May she rest in peace.” – Councilwoman Rosie Mendez, District 2
Rent Guidelines Board Public Hearing Testimony
On Tuesday, April 25, 2017, the Rent Guidelines Board (RGB) held a preliminary vote on whether to raise, rollback or freeze rents on rent stabilized housing. Rosie provided testimony urging the RGB to institute another rent freeze. Please see her testimony attached. Testimony for the Rent Guidelines Board Public Hearing
Mount Sinai-Beth Israel Transformation Forum
On April 6th, 2017, Rosie attended the Mount Sinai Beth Israel Transformation Forum. She joined other elected leaders, community leaders, and concerned residents in understanding the proposed changes, as well as the impact. Mount Sinai-Beth Israel is constructing a brand new inpatient hospital two blocks south from the existing hospital, while downsizing to approximately 220 beds in its Downtown network and creating a state-of-the-art emergency room. The proposed transformation raises important questions about the current and future access to long and short-term healthcare in hospitals. Rosie is very concerned about the inflexible position of the Hospital directives against the design and implementation of a community survey that would provide necessary and reliable information to secure a transformation that will prioritize the healthcare needs of our communities in correlation to other factors such as job preservation, land use and support services for our most vulnerable citizens.
Developer Withdraws Variance Application at the 14th Street Post Office Site
The application for a zoning variance at the 14th Street Post Office site was withdrawn by the developer just prior to the item being called at the Board of Standard and Appeals (“BSA”) on March 28th. The current zoning regulations permits an 8 story building with setbacks and a height cap of 80 feet to be built as of right. However, the developer was hoping to obtain a variance to build a 12 story building with a height of 124 feet with no setbacks claiming “undue financial hardship” for “unique circumstances” as a result of the water table that runs underneath. The developer alleged that a bigger building would be necessary to make this building financial feasible since additional expenditures were necessary to address issues caused by the water table during the excavation. However, the water table is common knowledge and runs throughout much of the Lower East Side and East Village. Rosie joined community residents and advocates in providing written and oral testimony in the January 24th hearing that refuted the developer’s arguments of financial and unforeseen hardships. Moreover, Rosie’s testimony pointed out that there are neighboring sites in a one-to-two block radius currently under construction and those developers have not sought variances based on a financial hardship caused by building on land with a water table creating.
At the January 24th hearing, the BSA Commissioners had raised a lot of questions pertaining to the financial hardship claim and the Federal Income Tax Credits that the developer was receiving and that the developer had not adequately made a convincing case for financial hardship. The case was adjourned until March 28th to allow the developer an opportunity to answer all of the Commissioners questions. The developer responded by modifying the application for a 9 story building without setbacks, but did not provide any convincing answers in the written response to address the financial hardship issues and then withdraw the application from the calendar that morning. This is a huge victory for the community that was able to stop what would have been a huge out of scale building. She is grateful for all the work that GVSHP did in bringing this issue to everyone’s attention.
5th Avenue Protected Bike Lane and Flatiron Shared Street
On March 27, 2016, the New York City Department of Transportation (DOT) gave a presentation for the 5th Avenue Protected Bicycle Lane at the Community Board 5 Transportation and Environment Committee meeting. The plan includes upgrading bicycle lanes on 5th Avenue from 23rd Street to 8th Street. Pedestrian islands will be painted and there will be parking-protected bicycle lanes. To view this presentation and for more information, please visit the following website: http://www.nyc.gov/html/dot/downloads/pdf/5th-ave-bike-lane-mar2017.pdf.
DOT also presented on their plan for shared streets on Broadway between West 24th Street and West 25th Street. The objectives for DOT regarding this project are to enhance pedestrian safety and circulation, maintain vehicular access and circulation, and enhance public space. To view this presentation, please visit this website: http://www.nyc.gov/html/dot/downloads/pdf/flatiron-shared-street-mar2017.pdf.
L Train Shutdown
The MTA voted to approve a $477M contract for repairs to the L Train line. Additionally, it announced that the work currently proposed that will necessitate shutting down the L train line will now require less time to complete—15 months as opposed to the 18 months originally proposed in a previous plan. The work will begin in April 2019. Rosie, along with her city, state, and federal colleagues will continue to monitor the timeline and proposed work to ensure that all updates are communicated to constituents in a timely manner.