LIFE IN THE BIG CITY

 
Water Consumption Down – Prices Up
The price of water in New York City is increasing again, even as residents are trying to reduce their water usage. Water and sewer prices are expected to rise 14 percent on July 1, which would mean a yearly bill of about $910 for the average family, compared with the current bill of approximately $800. As consumers have become more conscious of their water use and reduced their water intake, the city receives less money to cover the cost of operating the system, even as the costs of fuel and other resources have increased. NYC’s Department of Environmental Protection reports that in recent months, the consumption of water has decreased by almost 7 percent, as opposed to the 1 percent decrease that normally results from conservation, indicating that New Yorkers are drastically cutting back on water during the recession. Another factor is the decrease in tourism due to the recession, which has reduced water consumption by hotels and motels. This year, the city will collect about $80 million less from water sales than in previous years.
 
NYC Gets Stimulus for Infrastructure
New York City is getting $261 million from the federal government’s stimulus plan for repairs to bridges and pedestrian walkways. The funds will supplement the $1.1 billion in infrastructure projects already planned by the city. Construction projects from the federal and city money will create 32,000 jobs, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. Mayor Bloomberg announced that the money will help workers in fields such as construction, painting and carpentry, which have been negatively affected by the recession, and will help rebuild the city.
 
New Fees and Taxes for New York
A variety of new taxes, fees and cuts to services are part of New York State’s recently adopted 2010 budget. About $3 billion in new fees and taxes include increases in motor vehicle registration charges and public college tuition, a nickel deposit for bottled water, similar to the existing fee for soft drinks and increases on taxes for cell phone usage, cigars, beer and wine. Dropped proposals include selling wine in grocery stores (which would increase consumption and thus tax revenue), an increase to the sales tax, and a fee to file paper state tax returns. The $132 billion budget is expected to close the largest deficit in state history.
 
Wind Turbines Roll into Brooklyn
NYC recently installed its first mounted wind turbines as part of a $25 million building in the Brooklyn Navy Yard’s industrial park. The property on Perry Avenue is the first multistory building to be called a “green industrial facility” by the US Green Building Council, a group that rates properties according to their environmental impact. The building will power its common areas with electricity from the turbines and rooftop solar panels, recycle rainwater for use in toilets, and use high-efficiency lighting fixtures and natural ventilation. Mayor Bloomberg unveiled plans for a building at the site that will make environmentally friendly products. The industries at the yard will create more than 1,700 permanent jobs, 40 percent of which are in so-called green manufacturing, as well as 800 construction jobs. The city is spending $250 million to expand the Navy Yard.
 
Traffic Ticket Agents Out of Control?
The number of parking tickets issued since Mayor Bloomberg took office has increased 42 percent according to the New York Times, with the hardest-hit areas being Flatbush-Midwood, Brooklyn Heights, East New York, East Flatbush and Sheepshead Bay. A spokesperson from the Brooklyn Heights Association has complained that the agents are focused on increasing revenue for the city and residents are asking that agents use discretion when deciding whether a situation warrants a ticket. In some recent cases, an elderly man who was ticketed while unloading a wheelchair from his car, and a driver was given a ticket for double parking on Coney Island Avenue while waiting for a valet parking attendant. From July 2007 to June 2008, the city issued almost 10 million parking violation tickets, generating $624 million in revenue.
 
NYPD Increases Security Around Jewish Sites
The New York Police Department has planned to increase security at local synagogues and other Jewish sites in the event of an escalation in the conflict between Israel and Iran. The NYPD’s intelligence analysts believe that these sites could be targeted by terrorists in retaliation if Israel were to act against Iran’s nuclear facilities. The NYPD revealed that it took similar precautions in 2008 following the assassination of a senior Hezbollah commander in a car bombing in Syria.
 
Cameras on the Gun
State Police in New York will be testing mini video cameras mounted on guns that would record the events surrounding shootings involving officers. Sen. Eric Adams (D-Brooklyn) earmarked $500,000 for the state’s Specialized Operation and Response Team to experiment with the technology. Adams hopes that the cameras could potentially help investigations involving use of force among cops.
 
NY a Happy State of Mind
The Big Apple is among the happier states in the U.S. according to the “Happiness Index” devised by the personal finance website MainStreet.com. The recent survey ranked states based on a series of financial factors. New York was ranked 14th overall, and 19th in non-mortgage debt as a percentage of annual income. It was 27th in unemployment with a rate of 7.8 percent, and 13th in foreclosures. Nebraska topped the happy list, followed by Iowa, Kansas, Hawaii and Louisiana. Oregon and Florida tied for the bottom. Mainstreet.com calls its ranking system a “fresh take on the old and tired Misery Index,” which was used in the 1970s to identify the most financially miserable places to live, based on unemployment and inflation rates.
 
Book Doctor Appointments Online
A new website called ZocDoc.com lets you book doctor appointments as easily as making a reservation at a restaurant. Users can search physicians and make same-day appointments. The site’s co-founder Cyrus Massoumi came up with the concept when he suffered a ruptured eardrum and couldn’t find a last-minute appointment with a specialist. Patients select one of the eight available specialties, including internal medicine, dermatology, and allergy, and enter their ZIP code. The site allows you to view doctors’ schedules and the insurance plans they accept, and select appointment times for as soon as the same day. The free service is available only in New York City, and is used by approximately 60,000 people each month. The website also includes patient reviews, which makes it easier to choose a doctor. Doctors like the site because it’s a new way to attract patients without the hassle of insurance websites.
 
More Help for Non-Profits
Mayor Michael Bloomberg has announced a new initiative to help nonprofit organizations in NYC with loans, reducing costs and finding new donors. The city has 40,000 nonprofit organizations, and the efforts are aimed at those that conduct job training, provide health services and promote the city’s arts and culture. Organizations would be able to save money through help in purchasing group insurance, information technology and other goods and services. A city-run loan program for nonprofits will be expanded to $20 million from its current $8 million. Nonprofits employ over 490,000 people, more than 15 percent of the city’s non-government workforce. The groups will also be offered energy audits so they can reduce the costs of heating, cooling and lighting their offices.
 
Travel Updates by Phone and Web
New York state is making it simpler to get transportation information. Commuters and other travelers can dial 511 or visit www.511ny.org to get last-minute updates for their area. The 511 service ties together information from numerous agencies, covering topics such as commuter and subway service, road conditions, buses, ferries, carpools and vanpools. Truck drivers can use the service to avoid driving onto roads where they don’t belong. It even mentions special events that could tie up traffic. Users can also sign up for text-message or e-mail alerts.
The first 511 system started about five years ago in the San Francisco area. The Federal Highway Administration says 31 states are now fully covered by 511 systems.
 
 
Occasion
Day
Date
Alt Side
Garbage Collection
Parking
Banks & Post Offices
Observance
Thurs
May 21
Suspended
Normal
Normal
Open
Memorial Day
Mon
May 25
Suspended
Suspended
Holiday
Closed
Shavuot: First/Second Day
Fri-Sat
May 29-30
Suspended
Normal
Normal
Open
 
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Greenfield and Felder Unveil New Park
in Borough Park

Councilman David G. Greenfield was joined on Tuesday, July 9 by Senator Simcha Felder (D-Brooklyn), Brooklyn Borough Parks Commissioner Kevin Jeffrey, and P.S. 192 Principal Liset Issac in the unveiling of Borough Park’s brand new park space located in the rear of P.S. 192 on 47th and 48th Streets and 18th Avenue. This new park will serve thousands of nearby residents who previously lacked access to outdoor space within a reasonable proximity.

Both Councilman Greenfield and Senator Felder funded this
multi-million dollar
project – the first new park in Borough Park in modern history. The park’s amenities include a large running track, a tennis court, basketball hoops, two new turf fields, a tot lot, an area for 5-12 year-olds, and a play area specially designed to accommodate children in wheelchairs. In addition, the park has maps and games painted on the asphalt and more than
25 trees and numerous benches. To ensure that all children have a space to play, the playground will also contain ramped play equipment, ground level play features, accessible swings, wheelchair-accessible tables, and drinking fountains. This park is one of just a few in Brooklyn that include specific features for differently-abled children.

“I’m so proud that we have literally turned a wasteland into a beautiful new park in our community,” Councilman Greenfield said. “As a Councilman, funding our community’s parks has been one of my top priorities because everyone enjoys our parks. We all need open space to enjoy some fresh air, exercise and play with our kids and grandkids. I especially thank Senator Simcha Felder and Brooklyn Parks Commissioner Kevin Jeffrey for working with me year-round to make sure that our community has beautiful open spaces.”.

Senator Felder, Chair of the Senate’s Children and Families Committee and New York City Education Subcommittee, added, “For many years, the standard joke was that Borough Park didn’t have any parks. Thanks to the Schoolyards to Playgrounds Program and the additional resources which both Councilman Greenfield and I secured, this park promises to be one of the best in the city.”

Legislation Creates Municipal ID Card

Mayor Bill de Blasio signed legislation on Thursday, July 10 to create a municipal ID card for all New York City residents. The legislation paves the way for the creation of a municipal ID for all residents of the five boroughs who meet the program’s proof of identity and city residency requirements. The city will immediately initiate implementation of the program, with the goal of launching the new identification card in January 2015. The Mayor also announced today that the card will be issued at no cost for applicants during the program’s first year.

Municipal ID will be an accessible and safe document that will ensure access to city services and
grant admission to all municipal buildings. The city is also working toward having the ID be recognized by banks, as well as connecting the ID with stores, restaurants, cultural institutions, discounts and other incentive programs. The city will continue to expand and improve upon the municipal ID card program and benefits after the launch date.

To ensure broad and easy accessibility, the city will establish walk-in enrollment centers in trusted community institutions around the boroughs, and will post the application online so applicants could complete it prior to visiting a walk-in center. In addition, the city will create mobile enrollment units that can travel to neighborhoods that do not have walk-in centers. The city will also ensure that the outreach and application processes are accessible to people with limited English proficiency and people with disabilities.

 

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