OP-ED: New traditions on the Upper West Side

| 16 Feb 2015 | 11:42

By Councilmember Helen Rosenthal

It was like a pop-up store. Last week we set up shop on the SW corner of 79th and Amsterdam. One table covered with piles of information about goings-on in the neighborhood. Two chairs: one for me and one for a resident. Three interns holding signs announcing "Councilwoman on the Corner."

A line formed pretty quickly and people were eager to share their ideas and concerns. There was no stopping them. Over the next two hours I met and spoke with many people. It was an enlightening experience.

Most people wanted to let me know concerns that they have about the neighborhood. The barrier on the southern median of Broadway at 79th still hasn't returned, no bike lane needed on Amsterdam Avenue, and the guy managing the newsstand on the NW corner at 79th and Broadway has an extra table where he sells old magazines and takes up public sidewalk space. Longtime residents were worried about a newfound rat infestation on their block. Some of these issues we can address, and I pass the cases onto our Constituent Services Director, Jason Harding. Two residents will follow up with Anna Gago, my Housing Director, with concerns about harassment from their landlords.

Newcomers to the UWS were wondering where they could volunteer. I gave them a few suggestions but am really hoping they volunteer to help with Participatory Budgeting. Our office is moving forward with engaging the public in how to spend our tax dollars. By the end of October, we will have hosted seven "Neighborhood Assemblies" to bring the community together. Please join us to share your ideas and brainstorm about what needs funding in our schools, museums, parks, streets, public housing, and senior centers. There are lots of opportunities to volunteer, be active, engage with your neighbors, and share your ideas.

The Neighborhood Assemblies will be held throughout District Six from south to north: from John Jay College on 59th Street (October 28th) to The Marseilles Senior Center on 103rd Street (October 22nd); with a focus on youth at NYPL St. Agnes Branch (October 16), seniors at Project Find on West 71st street (October 6th), andSpanish speakers at the Amsterdam Houses Community Room on 64th Street (September 29th). All of the dates/times and locations can be found on my website: HelenRosenthal.com

Councilwoman on the Corner and Participatory Budgeting starts two new traditions on the UWS and the 6th district. You can find me at the next Councilwoman on the Corner at 94th and Columbus on October 28th, and I hope to see you at one of the neighborhood assemblies.

Shana Tova!

Helen Rosenthal represents the Upper West Side on the City Council.