Minutes of the regular Community Board Five meeting held on Thursday, November 10, 2022 via teleconferencing, at 6:00pm. Vikki Barbero, Chair, presided.
John Harris Jr.
Maki Thomas Livesay
Sarah BJ Sung
Elected Official Reps.
Manhattan BP Levine
Manhattan DA Bragg
The Public Hearing of Community Board Five was called to order by Nicholas Athanail.
Susan Waxler – Resident of 200 West 54th Street - urge the board to vote against the Big Bus tour request to have a bus stop directly below a residential apartment building. She stated that it will cause more traffic congestion and with the quality of life since coming back from Covid chipped away, with the amount of noise from idling buses it will continue to do so. She then stated that she hope that the Big Bus can operate in a commercial area versus being in a residential area.
Ed Perrin – Resident of 200 West 54th Street - spoke of doing battle for more than 23 years with the tour buses more or less consistently. He stated that it was great news that the transportation committee has already recommended that big bus move its operations one block south to a non-residential stretch of Seventh Avenue and hope that the full board will endorse that recommendation and that DOT will finally get the message. He stated that it was not just about Academy Big Bus but all of the others that see this block as a prime place to to hang out, and in the winter with the Island buses, it really is intolerable. He asked that the Department of Transportation consider posting signs on their block that specifically say “no idling” which would give them a big up in confronting drivers and being able to point to signs and say “you guys aren't supposed to be doing this”.
Diane Gershman - 200 West 54th Street – announced that the idling buses has been horrific not only this year in 2022 but over the covid pandemic and prior and stated that they do not idle for three minutes they idle for 10, 15, 20 and 25 minutes and even though the gentleman from Big Bus at the transportation committee meeting said that they arrive at not before 9:40 and they stop at 4:40 in the afternoon that is absolutely not the case. She stated that the buses arrive much earlier than 9:40 in the morning and definitely idle for much longer than three minutes. She said that apparently grayline has also a permit for the same block 53 to 54 on 7th Avenue and while they're not using it right now they have the right to use it whenever they want, and once they start back up they will have their permit used or renewed with the DOT and will not have to come back to the community board and so if big buses were given a permit for the same block then they will have two different double decker tourist bus lines that are using this block along with other tour buses that are using this block. She stated a favor of using between 52 and 53 street that is a completely commercial block or other blocks that are even farther south.
Joseph Tyrell - Regional Vice President for Government Relations for Caesars – Stated that they are partnered with SL Green, which is the one of the largest commercial real estate holders within Midtown and stated that they have a property at 1515 Broadway, and interested in trying to bring a luxury Boutique Hotel Casino to the property. He stated that they are trying to ask this board for a consideration and would like to maybe reschedule a time for so they can get more information to the full board to understand the scope of the project. He stated they do have some interesting things like including the community on this casino license if granted by the State of New York, in particular having a community congestion and sanitation plan authored by tineo and Commissioner Bratton about how to have more security and sanitation and also working with local businesses. He stated that second Caesars was prepared to partner with three seasons rewards to bring customers to the existing hotels this will be the existing footprint. He stated that they will not building a brand new facility but remodel the current building. He also stated that they will be partnering with the restaurants and hotels, the unionized restaurant hotels in the market, also that they have support from the Actors Equity, the musicians Local 802, Mason Tenders District Council Local 79, the Carpenters and also have 100 score rating from the Human Rights Campaign. He urge the board to listen and that they can probably schedule something in the future to give more information about this exciting project for all of the Midtown and cb5.
Russell Schechter - Board Member from the Adlon - following up on the previous comments from their tenants and announced that he was also the one that spoke at the previous Transportation Board meeting was hoping that the full board accepts the recommendation of that committee to move the bus stop to between 52nd and 53rd. He also stated that sidewalk is also very narrow because of the restaurant that sticks out into the sidewalk, so there's an added potential problem with pedestrians at that area if there's too many people loading and unloading. He urge the board to recommend to move this bus stop request because once approval is given to let them on the block there's no stopping or no fixing it and all of the tenants in their building which he is speaking for would have a very diminished quality of life.
Lisa Wager - Director of Government Community Relations at the Fashion Institute of Technology – announced a moment of bragging that newsweek's ranking of America's top online colleges 2023 placed FIT first in all of New York State and 22nd in the nation for online learning which means FIT's public education is available to anyone in the nation and the world and this is good. A work of Art, the Capstone exhibition by our graduating associate degree fashion design students opened yesterday in the Art and Design Gallery. She stated that the students create show-stopping stunning designs for these Capstone projects and stated that students were asked to imagine designing in collaboration with famous artists so they visited museums and Galleries and drew inspiration from sculpture paintings and even poems to create garments with movement, volume, space and light and the results are spectacular. She stated that she hope the members get a chance to visit or at least walk by and look through glass walls. She then announced Designing Women fashion creators and their Interiors opened last week at the museum at FIT, which is open to the public free Wednesday through Sunday and is the first exhibition to explore the intersection of fashion and interior decoration.
Jack Lynch – spoke on behalf of Caroline Hirsch who is the owner of Caroline's on Broadway who couldn't be here tonight. He read her remarks “hello I'm Caroline Hirsch owner of Caroline's on Broadway located at 750 7th Avenue. Sorry I can't be on this call tonight with the community board but as a business owner in Times Square for 40 years I felt it was important to participate in this discussion on the topic of a gaming casino. Despite the plan to close Caroline's doors at the end of this year, I remain committed to the long-term vitality and economic engine that drives Times Square to be the center of New York City Entertainment. I've been worried about the direction of the neighborhood recently as we have tried to recover from a pandemic and years of economic disinvestment, storefronts have been staying empty longer and whole blocks have been turned over to loiters. I believe what Times Square needs and deserves is a gaming and entertainment destination that would bring new visitors to our neighborhood and be a huge boost to Times Square and our city as a whole. This level of investment will only work if a gaming organization is willing to partner with the community and that is true of the current proposal by SL green, Caesars and Roc Nation, for a gaming destination at 1515 Broadway, which will include major investments in community safety cleanliness and public transportation improvements. If Times Square is to remain the true Crossroads of the world we must remain open to new business and entertainment opportunities, a gaming facility is a new type of entertainment our neighborhood should embrace. I hope Community board 5 does not shut down the idea of bringing a gaming destination to our neighborhood before the details are available, so that we as a community can evaluate the merits of any proposal. Thank you”.
Assembly Member Gottfried – announced that this will be the last community board five meeting that he will be addressing as an Assembly Member. He stated that like several of the community boards that overlap his district is just such an amazing organization and don't think this is true of community boards all over the city but board five is made up of extraordinarily smart and talented and public spirited and experienced people, who devote just endless hours to helping to make our community a better place. He stated that it's just an extraordinary resource for the whole board five Community. He announced that for himself and other elected officials representing the area that they rely heavily on board five for guidance and could not do our jobs anywhere near as effectively without the work of board five and he just want to commend particularly Vicki, our longtime chair, who you know has just done amazing service for the community. He spoke of his successor in the Assembly, Tony Simone. He then spoke on the casino topic stating that he had for many years believed and continue to feel very strongly that casinos however they dress them up, do not belong on the island of Manhattan.
Seeing no other speakers from the public, the Public Hearing was closed.
The Full Board General Monthly Meeting of Community Board Five was then called to order by the Chair Vikki Barbero.
REPORTS OF ELECTED OFFICIALS
Trisha Shimamura - Borough President Levine’s Office – announced the emergency executive order in effect up through December 20th and will keep the board posted on if there's any further extensions through January. She stated that the Borough President’s office just completed a week-long series of trainings and workshops and was happy to see some of cb5 members on them and stated that some of the topics range from conflict of interest to conflict resolution to cannabis licensing and a whole other slew of topics and will have all of those trainings that were recorded up on their YouTube page very shortly. She then announced that as of today their community board application is up and can be found at manhattanbp.nyc.gov. She finally spoke on the voting tonight on the million trees initiative that the Borough President has led on and thanked Craig and the rest of the parks committee for considering this and for passing the resolution and urged that board to support the initiative.
Eric Strazza – Manhattan District Attorney’s Office – announced that the DA’s office is continuing to step up their involvement in addressing hate crimes in the Borough of Manhattan, especially as it becomes more increasingly aware that there have been more instances of anti-Semitic hate crimes. He then announced that the DA’s office has indicted two individuals who were involved in a thwarted terrorist attack against the Jewish Community and both were arrested in Penn Station. He stated that the office is putting together a report specifically on what hate crimes look like in the Borough of Manhattan with some statistics data and also some work that they are doing and also putting together a similar report on gun violence.
Justin Flagg - Senator Liz Krueger's office – announced that Senator Krueger held a virtual Town Hall last week with the Borough President's office on compliance with local law 97. He then announced that today will be his last full board meeting with cb5 and that he will still be at Senator Krueger's office but shifting some staffing around in the New Year. He introduced the new liaison Alex Marinidis, who has just started with Senator Kruger's office this week. He spoke of a real pleasure working with this board for the last eight years and how much he really appreciated all of their dedication and professionalism and the array of brilliant minds that are working together.
Alex Marinidis – Senator Liz Krueger’s Office – introduced himself as a scheduler and constituent liaison for the district office of Senator Liz Krueger.
Laurie Harjowaroga – Councilmember Bottcher’s Office – shared that today Councilmember Eric Bottcher toured the Stuart Hotel, which is the first day of the hotel being used as a HERC (Humanitarian Emergency Response and Relief Center) being run by health and hospitals and has 600 rooms being used for Asylum seekers.
Ben Jacobs Councilmember Powers office – spoke of how successful the holiday streets were on Fifth Avenue. uh last Sunday it's going to be the next two Sundays as well from 12 to 6 uh for that stretch of Fifth Avenue as well as the pedestrianization of Rockefeller Center uh councilman Powers had had advocated for both and I I know that he and brother president Levine had pushed for Rock Center there might be some more on that because it's been such a successful uh Endeavor to this holiday season um I I heard Lori say that councilmember boxer's toy drive is ending tomorrow we're starting one up tomorrow so if you guys can't make it in time for that but we're going to be uh having a virtual toy drive through with a organization called Room to Grow which I believe is based in cb5 but works with a lot of uh young parents and new families uh to make sure that they have what they need um I'll make sure that uh we get all the information over to the board to disseminate to everyone but I don't think we have uh I have a link to to give folks right now uh next Thursday the councils committee on Environmental Protection is going to be uh hearing uh councilman Powers bill on zero emissions Vehicles which requires the city to stop buying non-uh non-zero missions Vehicles by 2025 and convert everything over by 2035 that's at noon Thursday uh December 15th and Grand Central Madison formerly known as Eastside access is hopefully opening sometime this month we've been asking MTA they keep saying it's in 2022 so you know stay on the lookout we're excited
Betsy Schmidt um hello everyone um since rep Maloney is leaving office at the end of the month um this will be my last update to the board as well um and I just want to say that it has been a pleasure to work with you all over the last three years um and if you need to contact our office our last day that will be open is actually December 22nd the house has to come get their stuff so that's uh the last day we will have computers um uh but you know just a few thoughts you know with rep Maloney is leaving the house after 30 years of service with a legacy that will continue to affect New Yorkers long into the future from the Second Avenue subway to her creation uh and fight for the victims compensation fund and the World Trade Center health program to make sure that those impacted um both by 9 11 and the continued consequences of um the dust and the air from that um will have what they need and you know that she went back to make sure that funding has been secured through 2099 also just this year you know rent Maloney her Postal Service Reform Act was signed into law by President Biden which puts the postal service on a much more solid Financial footing and requires a six day a week service um and if you're not having that you know you can reach out to your new member in January and follow up on that um and then when uh you know another thing that she's had a lasting impact on is uh in 2020 her uh the FMLA which was passed in 1993 when she came to Congress they finally passed a paid family leave for federal workers um and since the US government is the largest employer in the country um it's not everything but it was a step in the right direction and uh you can guarantee she's going to keep pushing for that until their last day um just yesterday also the women's uh Democratic women's caucus released a letter asking the Senate to consider the Equal Rights Amendment as the 28 for the 28th Amendment so she's still fighting and I'm sure you'll still see her around and me as well I hope you have a good holiday thank you Betsy you will definitely be missed sorry to hear the news all around um keep in touch I won't actually be going that far I will be moving to uh rep Goldman's office so out of cb5's area so you won't see me but if you need me my email will still work maybe a little further so thank you okay
bianni Rodriguez from carlina's office hi y'all um I'm from Carolina's office I'm subbing for Kate um so I just wanted an art district right now some of them are discovering NYC open data that's like an online Workshop that it's happening happening on December 13th um we're also having a cannabis Forum on December 14th and a cycle waste event in January um that you can bring any electronics and we can recycle them for you also if you want to attend any of this event please send me an email at district2 at council.nyc.gov and I can send you all the details thank you thank you bianni uh
Senator Brad hoyleman welcome Brad thank you Vicki great to see you everyone state senator Bradman here uh calling uh a little bit on the road here I was down at Fulton houses for a tree lighting but um so I'm here at Chelsea Market so I apologize for the news a couple of thanks one there's a lot of uh comments and goings I guess uh with the new year and unfortunately I'm losing most if not 99 of community board five due to the new redistricting um I'll just have a tiny sliver of uninhabited territory that includes Penn Station so a project Vicky that we've all been working on for the last few years I just wanted to say as I kind of scale back my presence and community board five Vicky what a pleasure don't tell anyone community board five is my favorite community board uh and largely Vicky that's due to your leadership and the leadership of Marisa and your entire board such a pleasure to work with you I will be working closely with Senator Krueger as we continue to review the governor's and esd's plans on Penn Station Redevelopment in the neighborhood we'll continue to fight side by side with you on that issue and just a few other updates in Caroline from my team is here but I wanted to let you know that I had a hearing yesterday on my Elder parole act that would allow individuals who have served 15 years or more and are over 55 years a chance at a parole hearing those who are incarcerated the age of someone who's 55 in prison is actually 70 according to Medical experts because of the rapid aging that occurs Behind Bars we want those people to have a chance to parole because statistics have shown that they pose no harm to the public and we would say hundreds of millions of dollars a year if we didn't treat our prisons as if they were nursing homes with bars the other issue I wanted to raise Vicki is a bill that's awaiting the governor's signature that I passed this past year it is called The Grieving families act and it would for the first time bring New York in line with 47 other states and when a family files a wrongful death suit the individual for whom they are filing that suit a loved one the value of their life would be based on a whole range of issues not just what their worth is in terms of their education or how much money they make which is the current standard so that means in New York again we're one of only three states in New York uh a life of a child who was lost due to a wrongful death suit is worth essentially zero for a baby or for a senior a person with disabilities a person of color of many women many working class folks we're going to change that and have non-economic damages If part of that consideration which is so crucial so hope the governor signs it Vicki look forward to working with you if not in my capacity is representing 99 of community board five if just in my capacity is one percent of Penn Station I'll be there with you happy holidays everyone thank you Brad and thank you for the kind words uh thank goodness that that one percent is in the Penn Station area because we all know how important that is so we look forward to working with you further on that and relying on you know your advice counsel and judgment so thank you so much and one more thing is just all the best to my fantastic colleague dick Godfrey uh we're gonna miss him um I just I'll leave you with this statistic that shows the breadth of Dick Godfrey's leadership in his tenure if I served out the length of time that dick
godfreed has been in the assembly I would retire at age 99. yeah so consider
Chair Barbero announced that they will be voting for the position of second Vice Chair followed by nominations for the Secretary and Assistant Secretary of the Board.
She explained that the position of Second Vice Chair became vacant effective immediately after the resignation of Clayton Smith and the bylaws quote that “should a vacancy occur during a term of office nominations will be accepted from the floor during the first meeting at which the vacancy is effective and a separate election shall be held at the next board meeting for each vacant office in accordance with the procedure set forth herein” end of quote and nominations were accepted for the position of Second Vice Chair last month and Craig Slutzkin was the only nominee therefore call for a vote electing Craig Slutzkin to the position of Second Vice Chair of the Board:
Roll call vote of 37 in favor, 0 opposed, 1 abstaining as follows: IN FAVOR: Achelis, Athanail, Beitchman, Blake, Borden, Brosnahan, Cedillo, Chou, Dowson, Ellington, Ford, Garcia, Haas, Harris Jr., Hershberg, Heyer, Isaacs, Kaback, Kahng, Killian, Kinsella, Law-Gisiko, Levy, Livesay, Maffia, McCall, Miller, Muneton, Shapiro, Sherburne, Sigman, Slutzkin, Spandorf, Sung, Webb, Xu, Yong. ABSTAIN: Barbero.
Chair Barbero congratulated Mr. Slutzkin and thanked him for all his support over the years.
She noted that Mr. Slutzkin resigned as secretary concurrent with the election to Second Vice Chair, and as a result, the position of Secretary is now vacant. nominations for the two vacant positions will be accepted from the floor at this meeting, with an election at the December meeting.
Chair Barbero then called for any nominations and Layla Law-Gisiko nominated Mary Brosnahan which was seconded. She then announced that seeing no other nominations from the floor, the election for Ms. Brosnahan as Secretary of the board will be held at the next full board meeting on December 8th.
Chair Barbero then announced the resignation by Julie Chou as Assistant Secretary of the board effective immediately so as explained earlier nominations are accepted from the floor at the first meeting at which a vacancy is effective.
Chair Barbero then called for any nominations and Sarah Dowson nominated Samir Lavingia which was seconded. She then announced that seeing no other nominations from the floor, the election for Mr. Lavingia as Secretary of the board will be held at the next full board meeting on December 8th.
The October 2022 minutes passed with a vote of 37 in favor, 0 opposed, 1 abstaining, as follows: IN FAVOR: Achelis, Athanail, Beitchman, Blake, Borden, Brosnahan, Cedillo, Shou, Dowson, Ellington, Ford, Garcia, Haas, Harris Jr., Hershberg, Heyer, Isaacs, Kaback, Kahng, Killian, Kinsella, Law-Gisiko, Levy, Livesay, Maffia, McCall, Miller, Muneton, Shapiro, Sherburne, Sigman, Slutzkin, Spandorf, Sung, Webb, Zu, Yong. ABSTAIN: Barbero.
TRANSPORTATION/ENVIRONMENT COMMITTEE – e.j. kalafarski
Mr. EJ Kalafarski gave a presentation on the following resolution:
Request by Taxi Tours, Inc., dba Big Bus Tours New York, for a Sightseeing Bus Stop on Seventh Avenue between West 53rd and West 54th Streets.
WHEREAS, Taxi Tours, Inc., dba Big Bus Tours New York, (“Applicant”) has applied for a sightseeing bus stop location on Seventh Avenue between West 53rd and West 54th Streets, located closer to West 53rd Street, on the west side of the avenue; and
WHEREAS, The current parking regulation at the proposed location is No Standing; and
WHEREAS, The proposed bus stop would share the location with Gray Line New York Tours, Inc., another sightseeing company that entered a consolidation agreement with the Applicant in July 2020 and thus is currently not in operation, with no additional bus lines on the block, which is otherwise reserved for parking; and
WHEREAS, Pickups and drop-offs for the proposed location would be Monday to Sunday from 9:40 a.m. to 4:50 p.m. at a frequency of one trip every half hour, likely to consist of drop-offs only and occurring only on passenger request, which the Applicant does not expect to happen regularly since the proposed stop would be the penultimate stop before the bus terminates its route at West 48th Street and Seventh Avenue, where all passengers must disembark; and
WHEREAS, New York City Department of Transportation (“DOT”) has inspected and recommended the location between West 53rd and West 54th Streets and considers it appropriate and capable of accommodating another bus company; and
WHEREAS, DOT has not provided quantitative assessments of traffic and pedestrian safety at the proposed location for the new bus stop, and has not provided context explaining why their recommended location between West 53rd and West 54th Streets was considered most appropriate and why other nearby locations along the avenue were discounted; and
WHEREAS, The Applicant also applied for alternative locations for this stop on Seventh Avenue between West 48th and West 59th Streets, and is willing and able to operate their bus stop anywhere along those blocks; and
WHEREAS, Residents of the block between West 53rd and West 54th Streets have indicated that the block already suffers from congestion issues due to
WHEREAS, Community Board Five’s Transportation & Environment Committee therefore determined that there was widespread concern from local residents about adding a congestive bus stop on the recommended block, and there was broad consensus among committee members and residents that the existing bus stop on the block between West 52nd and West 53rd Streets on Seventh Avenue, closer to West 53rd Street, is a superior option for the proposed bus stop due to the wider sidewalk and commercial storefronts in that area, as well as the infrequency of stops made by the bus stop’s sole user, Hampton Jitney, Inc.; and
WHEREAS, The Applicant has expressed similar willingness to operate at this or other locations on the avenue north of West 48th Street; and
WHEREAS, Another existing bus stop on the block between West 56th and West 57th Streets on Seventh Avenue, in the middle of the block, is solely used by Top View Sightseeing and should also be considered for reasons similar to those listed above; therefore, be it
RESOLVED, Community Board Five recommends denial of DOT’s recommended location for a Taxi Tours, Inc. sightseeing bus stop on Seventh Avenue between West 53rd and West 54th Streets; and be it further
RESOLVED, Community Board Five strongly recommends that DOT considers more suitable locations for this bus stop on Seventh Avenue, as also amenable to the Applicant; and be it further
RESOLVED, Community Board Five requests that DOT seeks additional feedback from the community regarding other potential locations on the avenue, as well as provides context for its initial recommendation between West 53rd and West 54th Streets and any recommendations for alternate locations that will follow.
After some discussion, the above resolution passed with a vote as follows 30 in favor, 0 opposed, 1 abstaining: IN FAVOR: Athanail, Beitchman, Borden, Brosnahan, Chou, Dowson, Ellington, Ford, Frewer, Garcia, Goshow, Harris Jr., Hershberg, Kaback, Kahng, Kalafarski, Lavingia, Law-Gisiko, Levy, Livesay, Maffia, Miller, Muneton, Shapiro, Sigman, Slutzkin, Spence, Sung, Webb, Zu, Yong. ABSTAIN: Barbero.
LAND USE, HOUSING AND ZONING – layla law-gisiko
Ms. Law-Gisiko gave a brief presentation on the following resolution.
Casinos in the CB5 district.
WHEREAS, New York Legislature approved plans for three downstate (New York, Nassau, Westchester) casino licenses in 2022 budget; and
WHEREAS, The New York State Gaming Commission approved the creation of a Gaming Facility Location Board (the “Board”) to determine the location and siting of up to three downstate New York casinos; and
WHEREAS, The Board is required to issue a formal request for application (“RFA”) by January 6th, 2023; and
WHEREAS, The process is set up so that community input is required before an application can be reviewed by State regulators; and
WHEREAS, A Community Advisory Committee made up of six members, one for the Governor, one for the Mayor, one for the State Senator, one for the State Assembly Member, one for the Council Member, one for the Borough President, must vote with 2/3 of the vote in favor of a casino at a proposed site; and
WHEREAS, The Board must determine the necessary fees and public investments required of potential casino site hosts; and
WHEREAS, The Board must determine the tax rates for gross gaming revenues; and
WHEREAS, Potential casino operators must pay a $1 million application fee to the New York State Gaming Commission; and
WHEREAS, Casino operators must pay the State a $500 million casino licensing fee upfront; and
WHEREAS, Potential casino hosts must include a revenue impact in their application; and
WHEREAS, Real estate developers have announced their intentions to put forth proposals for casinos in Times Square, Midtown East, and Herald Square, among other New York City locations; and
WHEREAS, Real estate developers are underscoring various casino benefits, including an increase in economic activity, job creation, and crime remedies; and
WHEREAS, Approximately 700,000 vehicles entered CB5 daily pre-pandemic, and traffic is currently at approximately 90% of those levels; and
WHEREAS, Pedestrian and vehicular traffic in the CB5 are nearing pre-pandemic levels, with Times Square seeing over 300,000 daily visitors; and
WHEREAS, Between 2010 and 2019, average travel speeds in the District decreased 22%, from 9.1mph to 7.1 mph; and
WHEREAS, New York City is back to pre-pandemic levels of private sector jobs, with 4.0 million jobs reported in October 2022 versus 4.1 million jobs reported in February 2020; and
WHEREAS, Manhattan unemployment rate was 4.2% as of September 2022; and
WHEREAS, NYC Central Business District, which CB5 is a part of, does not suffer from low economic development, and quite to the contrary, exhibits signs of economic strength, including anecdotal evidence of difficulties especially by the restaurant industry for staffing; and
WHEREAS, Recent studies show that casino development has disproportionately negative effects on low-income populations, as these populations are twice as likely to have gambling problems; and
WHEREAS, New York City had the highest percentage of problem gamblers in the state; and
WHEREAS, Consequences from gambling addiction include bankruptcy, mental health issues, bad credit, and drug usage, all of which put a strain on the local community; and
WHEREAS, Studies have found that casino gambling has a far more harmful effect on people than other legal forms of gambling; and
WHEREAS, A study from the Research Institute on Addictions at the University of Buffalo found that people living within 10 miles of a casino or in a disadvantaged neighborhood were significantly more likely to develop a gambling addiction; and
WHEREAS, The study revealed that living close to a casino increased the likelihood of developing a gambling disorder by 90%; and
WHEREAS, Casinos are estimated to be responsible for 8% of crime in the counties that site them; and
WHEREAS, As pointed out by a member of the public, CB5 is home to a large number of SRO, especially in Time Square, occupied by a vulnerable population that may fall victim to gambling addiction; and
WHEREAS, There are no requirements for the State and developers to programmatically and financially support the negative health and social effects of casino gambling; and
WHEREAS, CB5 believes the considerations regarding the labor market, economic activity, congestion, community fallout and gambling addictions, all provide ample reasons to not develop a casino in the District; therefore, be it
RESOLVED, Community Board Five recommends opposition of casino development in CB5 and urges our elected officials to vote no on the siting of a casino in CB5.
After much discussion, the above resolution passed with a vote as follows 25 in favor, 3 opposed, 1 abstaining: IN FAVOR: Athanail, Beitchman, Brosnahan, Chou, Dowson, Ellington, Ford, Frewer, Goshow, Hershberg, Kaback, Kahng, Lavingia, Law-Gisiko, Levy, Livesay, Maffia, Miller, Muneton, Shapiro, Sigman, Slutzkin, Spence, Zu, Yong. OPPOSED: Borden, Harris Jr., Webb. ABSTAIN: Barbero.
LANDMARKS – layla law-gisiko
Ms. Law-Gisiko gave a brief presentation on the following two bundled resolutions:
11 E. 26th Street, an application to modify the storefront entrances, create a new opening, modify the parapet, enlarge existing stair and elevator bulkheads at the roof, and install a one-story rooftop addition.
WHEREAS, 11 East 26th Street is a building located in the Madison Square North Historic District neighborhood in Manhattan; and
WHEREAS, Rockrose Development owns 11 East 26th Street building (“11”), as well as the adjoining building, 15 East 26th Street (“15”); and
WHEREAS, The two block buildings occupy frontage on both E. 26th and E. 27th Streets along the north side of Madison Square Park; and
WHEREAS, 11 is a 21-story neo-gothic store-and-loft building constructed between 1912-1913, and 15 is a twenty-story store-and-loft building constructed between 1910-1912; and
WHEREAS, The proposed renovations seek to both rehabilitate 11 for continued commercial use and create shared common amenities between the buildings including a new commercial lobby and rooftop amenities; and
WHEREAS, The proposed modifications include constructing a new primary entrance for the residences and for the commercial entryway; and
WHEREAS, The new commercial entrance design includes a revolving door fitted with an overhead marquee; and
WHEREAS, The new residential entrance will reinstate a gothic arch design, matching the existing entrance to the west complete with limestone and cast metal inlay above the entry; and
WHEREAS, The proposal seeks to install a multi-light transom and metal bulkhead articulated marquee entry, which will become the primary commercial ingress for both buildings; and
WHEREAS, The original bulkhead was composed of cast metal and louvered but subsequently replaced with stone, and remains stone today; and
WHEREAS, The proposal also seeks to modify the rooftop including restoring (i) the crown of the building to allow for active use of the space and restoring (ii) the existing 12-foot tall parapet; and
WHEREAS, The rooftop has been altered significantly over time, and the proposal seeks to create aperture openings within the gothic quatrefoils, the recesses in the existing parapet ornamentation; and
WHEREAS, The historic condition of the crown of the building included terracotta finials rising up from the parapet and the arch of the piers was also marked by the finials, but by 1970 all the finial elements had been removed; and
WHEREAS, The proposal seeks to restore the original neo-gothic character of the parapet to match the historic profile and finish, including introducing new terracotta coping and terracotta pinnacles; and
WHEREAS, The parapet modifications also include installing new glass panels set in the openings and new painted cast metal profiles replacing the terracotta quatrefoils; and
WHEREAS, The proposal contemplates restoring the finial height; and
WHEREAS, The proposal includes a new rooftop addition located at the center of the roof; and
WHEREAS, The modifications would also consolidate all of the mechanical equipment on the rooftop in the center of the roof to limit obstructing the restored crown to the building; and
WHEREAS, The relocated mechanical equipment as well as the proposed rooftop addition would be visible, including above the primary façade, from a number of view points;
WHEREAS, Community Board Five finds that the addition of a marquee is not harmonious with the historic district and is detractive; and
WHEREAS, Community Board Five is concerned with proposed renovations to the parapet and roof, namely the removal of the historic terracotta, as well as the mechanical and rooftop addition visibility; therefore, be it
RESOLVED, That Community Board Five recommends denial of the application, unless the applicant agrees to both (i) remove the proposed marquee from the renovation plans and (ii) make efforts to restore the parapet consistent with its original design and material.
102 Fifth Avenue, between 15th and 16th streets, an application for storefront signage for Kindbody located in The Ladies Mile Historic District.
WHEREAS, 102 Fifth Avenue is a nineteen-story, Beaux-Arts building also known as the Schuyler Building and completed in 1912, located near the southern gateway to the Ladies’ Mile Historic District; and
WHEREAS, The commercial building, designed by architects John Woolley, Charles Hess, and Albert S. Gottlieb, occupies a prominent location directly on Fifth Avenue between 15th and 16th Streets; and
WHEREAS, The building's location on Fifth Avenue makes it prominently visible from many surrounding view corridors; and
WHEREAS, The applicant proposes to install large illuminated signage with the name of the brand less than 18 inches from the inside pane of the display window; and
WHEREAS, The applicant's proposed illuminated signage does not meet LPC criteria, as it must be installed at least 18 inches behind the inside plane of the display window glass; and
WHEREAS, The signage would be very visible and very bright directly on Fifth Avenue; and
WHEREAS, The proposed signage would negatively impact the historic character of the building as viewed from ground level; and
WHEREAS, The applicant is proposing to replace a non-historic fabric awning with a it is a steel marquee that is 6’ wide by 6’ deep (protruding 3’ from the building facade) by 12” high, with built-in down lights, and permanently affixed to the building structure with heavy duty Hilti anchors; and
WHEREAS, The proposed marquee is a marked departure from anything historic in the district for an entrance to a relatively small storefront; and
WHEREAS, The proposed signage and new awning have been reviewed by the Landmarks Committee of Community Board Five; and
WHEREAS, The proposed signage and awning are not harmonious nor contextual with the historic district or building; therefore, be it
RESOLVED, That Community Board Five recommends denial of the application for storefront signage at 102 Fifth Avenue.
After some discussion, the above two bundled resolutions passed with a vote as follows 26 in favor, 0 opposed, 1 abstaining: IN FAVOR: Athanail, Beitchman, Borden, Brosnahan, Chou, Dowson, Ellington, Ford, Frewer, Goshow, Harris Jr., Hershberg, Kahng, Lavingia, Law-Gisiko, Levy, Maffia, Miller, Muneton, Shapiro, Sigman, Slutzkin, Spence, Webb, Xu, Yong. ABSTAIN: Barbero.
PARKS AND PUBLIC SPACES – craig slutzkin
Mr. Craig Slutzkin gave brief presentations on the following three bundled resolutions:
Resolution in Support of the Borough Presidents’ Million More Trees Initiative and Increasing Community Resiliency and Quality of Life through New York City Urban Forest Canopy Protection, Maintenance and Expansion.
WHEREAS, New York City’s five Borough Presidents are calling on Mayor Eric Adams for the city to plant a million new trees by 2030; and
WHEREAS, New York City currently has roughly seven million trees, or fewer than one tree for each of its 8.8 million residents, according to a recent Nature Conservancy report; and
WHEREAS, the “urban forest” refers to these seven million trees and the physical and social infrastructure on which they depend, while the “urban forest canopy” refers to the area of the tree leaves, branches, and stems when viewed from above; and
WHEREAS, The urban forest is found on both public and private lands, including parks, streets, NYCHA campuses, schools, businesses, institutions, and private residences with approximately 28% in city parks, 25% in the public right-of-way, and 47% on other property types citywide; and
WHEREAS, The urban forest canopy cover of New York City is approximately 22% and of Manhattan is 21.4%; and
WHEREAS, The urban forest canopy cover within Community Board Five of 4% (40 acres) severely trails the cover for New York City and Manhattan as a whole; and
WHEREAS, There are currently approximately 2,100 street trees within Community Board Five, representing just 3.3% of those in Manhattan and 0.3% of all street trees citywide; and
WHEREAS, The urban forest serves as critical natural infrastructure and provides myriad of social, environmental, and economic and public health benefits, including but not limited to cooling, shading, energy efficiency, cleaner air, stormwater absorption and filtration, increased property values, enhanced mental and physical health, and improved business activity (See Chapter 3, State of the Urban Forest in NYC); and
WHEREAS, Extreme heat and flooding are a threat to the health, wellbeing, and economy of our communities and the New York Panel on Climate Change predicts up to 3-5 times the number of extreme heat days and 1.5 times the amount of precipitation by the 2080s; and
WHEREAS, The urban forest canopy is disproportionately distributed throughout the City and communities of color and low-income communities tend to have significantly less canopy while often being more vulnerable to heat and other health risks and African Americans in the city are twice as likely to die from heat exposure as white New Yorkers, according to the city’s health department; and
WHEREAS, There is significant opportunity to expand the urban forest in New York City and to plant at least a million more trees across public and private land, and realizing this opportunity requires the whole city and all Community Districts; and
WHEREAS, Urban forest canopy expansion requires protecting existing trees, planting more trees, and maintaining all trees, and
WHEREAS, Each year trees in New York City remove 1,100 tons of air pollution valued at $78 million, reduces annual residential energy costs by $17.1 million per year, reduces annual stormwater runoff by 69 million cubic feet and removes about 51,000 tons of carbon annually, and
WHEREAS, This initiative is expected to cost approximately $500 million, and can partially be funded through an increase of the Parks Department budget to 1% of the overall city budget, up from the current 0.8%, and
WHEREAS, Community Board Five is concerned about the maintenance of existing and any new trees; and therefore, be it
RESOLVED, that Community Board Five supports the proposal of New York City’s five Borough Presidents for the city to plant a million new trees by 2030, and be it
FURTHER RESOLVED, that Community Board Five supports the adoption of a goal of a significant increase of canopies, equitably distributed, for our Community District; and be it
FURTHER RESOLVED, that Community Board Five calls on the City to:
Application from Pennebaker on behalf of its client BKV for a marketing event in Bryant Park from January 26-27, 2023
WHEREAS, Pennebaker (“Applicant”) has submitted a permit application to the Parks Department on behalf of its client BKV to have a marketing activation on the northwest corner of the ice-skating rink area of Bryant Park adjacent to 6th Avenue (Lowell Fountain) from Thursday, January 26, 2023 through Friday, January 27, 2023 (the “Event”); and
WHEREAS, The Event will take place between the hours of 8:00 am and 8:00 pm, with set-up beginning at 12:01 am on January 25 and breakdown completed by 11:59 pm on January 27; and
WHEREAS, The Applicant will be setting up a 40-foot wide, approximately 10-foot high tunnel to introduce the client and educate New Yorkers and the general public about what climate changes means for New Yorkers and how they can engage in change via a large physical/ digital experience using interactive displays, deep sensory experiences, and powerful visual designs; and
WHEREAS, The structure will be assembled off park grounds and placed in such a way as not to harm or affect the park in any permanent way and will be able to withstand any high winds or seasonal weather events; and
WHEREAS, The Event will be staffed by 12-15 brand ambassadors, three production team members, four to five audio-visual team members, two security guards, and two sanitation teams each day; and
WHEREAS, The estimated time for a full run-through of the tunnel to be five minutes in teams of 4-5 organized by an activation ambassador; and
WHEREAS, The Applicant will be distributing hot chocolate to the Event participants but no other items will be distributed; and
WHEREAS, The Event will have built-in sound within the structure, but will have no external sound, and the interior sound is not expected to bleed to the exterior; and
WHEREAS, The Event has an expected attendance of 2,000 people per day as the Event is tailored to attract passersby; and
WHEREAS, Any filming of the Event which might include the public will be handled only with the written releases of said individual(s); and
WHEREAS, All operational aspects of the Event, including sanitation and potential queueing, have been planned for in a satisfactory manner; and
WHEREAS, Although Community Board Five notes the prominent location of the activation structure, with its proximity and visibility from 6th Avenue, Community Board Five believes that the majority of Event elements are not objectionable in exchange for the contribution being made to the park; therefore, be it
RESOLVED, Community Board Five recommends approval of the application from Francesca Stabile on behalf of Pennebaker and BKV, for a marketing event in Bryant Park from January 25, 2023, to 27, 2023.
Application for Planned Distinctive Sidewalk at the Waldorf Astoria
WHEREAS, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (the “Applicant”) is proposing the renovation of the sidewalks along the perimeter of the Waldorf Astoria Hotel; and
WHEREAS, The Waldorf Astoria Hotel and Towers was built between 1929-1931 and is a New York City Landmark as designated by the Landmarks Preservation Commission in 1993; and
WHEREAS, The building is located at 301 Park Avenue on the block bounded by East 49th and East 50th Streets and the Lexington and Park Avenues and occupies the entire block, with all four sides exposed to street thoroughfares; and
WHEREAS, The Waldorf Astoria is currently undergoing a comprehensive restoration of the landmark’s exterior features along with interior renovations; and
WHEREAS, The sidewalk itself is not part of the landmarked area and as such, not subject to the Landmarks Commission oversight; and
WHEREAS, The Applicant has been engaged by the building’s owner, DAJIA US, and is seeking to renovate the existing sidewalks enveloping the building’s block; and
WHEREAS, The proposal seeks to create a uniform sidewalk treatment with concrete pavers and poured concrete; and
WHEREAS, The proposal will restore the historical lattice pattern, regrade the sidewalk to modify two entryways to become accessible entrances, restore two granite paving treatments at the building’s main entrance and modernize the existing expansion joint covers in the sidewalk; and
WHEREAS, The proposed modifications will be undertaken on all sidewalks around the entire perimeter of the full-block building and will create uniformity; and
WHEREAS, The existing sidewalk is mostly composed of concrete, but in instances where other materials are present, such as stone, the Applicant has represented it would endeavor to salvage or reuse such materials; and
WHEREAS, The project is intended to begin in the fourth quarter of 2023 and will be sequenced to minimize disruption to pedestrian traffic; and
WHEREAS, Community Board Five recognizes and commends the elevation changes of the sidewalk in order to bring the ground-level flush with two entryways that will be converted into ADA accessibility entrances; and
WHEREAS, The Applicant noted that there were no plans to install a snow melt or de-icing system in conjunction in this new sidewalk; and
WHEREAS, The Applicant has engaged in detailed research to restore the historic exterior aesthetic of the landmark building’s sidewalk with materials and design harmonious with the building’s historic elements while furthering accessibility; therefore, be it
RESOLVED, Community Board Five recommends approval of the application by the Waldorf Astoria for planned distinctive sidewalks.
After some discussion, the above three bundled resolutions passed with a vote as follows 26 in favor, 0 opposed, 2 abstaining: IN FAVOR: Athanail, Beitchman, Borden, Chou, Dowson, Ellington, Ford, Frewer, Goshow, Harris Jr., Hershberg, Kaback, Kahng, Lavingia, Law-Gisiko, Levy, Maffia, Miller, Muneton, Shapiro, Sigman, Slutzkin, Spence, Webb, Xu, Yong. ABSTAIN: Barbero, Brosnahan.
STATE LICENSING AND PERMITS – nicholas athanail
Mr. Athanail gave a brief presentation on the following resolution:
CB5 comments to Chapter II of Subtitle B of Title 9 of the Official Compilation of Codes, Rules and Regulations of the State of New York, regarding Adult Use Cannabis.
WHEREAS, In 2021, New York State legalized the production, sale, and use of recreational cannabis, which created the ability of the State to license retail cannabis dispensaries and establishments for on-site consumption; and
WHEREAS, The regulation of these establishments will be predominantly handled by the State, and the State has created a State Cannabis Control Board for that purpose; and
WHEREAS, Within certain guidelines, local governments can pass local laws and regulations governing the “time, place and manner” of such establishments; and
WHEREAS, Chapter II of Subtitle B of Title 9 of the Official Compilation of Codes, Rules and Regulations of the State of New York has been amended to provide, among other things, various rules regarding adult use cannabis and the licensing of adult-use retail dispensaries (the “Cannabis Regulations”); and
WHEREAS, Regulations regarding establishments for on-site consumption are expected soon and CB5 expects to have comments on those regulations when the time comes; and
WHEREAS, It appears that, in certain respects, the Cannabis Regulations model certain regulations and practices of the State Liquor Authority but, while the SLA regulations are based on the premise that liquor licenses are a privilege and that issuance of most licenses must be “in the public interest,” thereby mandating public and community board input, the Cannabis Regulations are drafted in a way that seems to entitle cannabis licenses, with no necessity for evaluation of public interest or balancing the rights of cannabis licensees with the rights of the residents with whom they must closely coexist; and
WHEREAS, Manhattan CB5 desires to comment on the Cannabis Regulations as set forth herein; and
WHEREAS, Sections 119.1 and 119.4 of the Cannabis Regulations allows local governments to restrict cannabis establishments to not less than 1,000 feet from one another, 500 feet from a school, 500 feet from a community facility and 200 feet from a house of worship; and
WHEREAS, CB5 believes that there should be an additional category, allowing local governments to restrict cannabis establishments within 500 feet of a harm reduction facility; and
WHEREAS, Section 119.2 of the Cannabis Regulations allows local governments some ability to regulate “time, place, and manner” of the operation of licensed adult-use cannabis retail dispensaries and/or on-site consumption sites; and
WHEREAS, Regarding hours of operation, Section 119.2 only allows local governments to restrict (i) retail dispensary activities within the hours of 2:00 AM to 8:00 AM, and (ii) on-site consumption activities within the hours of 4:00 AM to 8:00 AM; and
WHEREAS, Section 119.2 does not allow local governments to restrict cannabis operations to less than 70 hours per week; and
WHEREAS, The inability of local governments to regulate hours of operation outside the aforementioned hours is a tremendous concern to CB5 where, in order for cannabis operations and nearby residents to coexist, different hours of operation may be appropriate; and
WHEREAS, With respect to hours of operation for liquor license establishments, the SLA allows community boards to recommend hours of operation which are appropriate for a particular location depending on proximity to residences and other relevant factors affecting quality of life; and
WHEREAS, CB5 believes that the hours of operation required by Section 119.2 should be more flexible to allow modification of hours of operation to be appropriate for the specific location being licensed; and
WHEREAS, With respect to other aspects of the method of operation for liquor license establishments, the SLA allows community boards to negotiate restrictions and enter into agreements with liquor license applicants to ensure that the method of operation for such establishments are appropriate for the specific location being licensed; and
WHEREAS, CB5 believes that the Cannabis Regulations should allow community boards to negotiate restrictions and enter agreements with cannabis applicants to tailor the method of operation to be appropriate for the specific location being licensed, which restrictions and agreements the OCM should respect; and
WHEREAS, Section 119.3 of the Cannabis Regulations provides for notification to municipalities containing only basic information regarding a cannabis license; and
WHEREAS, CB5 believes that notification to municipalities should include more information than required by Section 119.3, including information about the applicant’s business experience, etc. and that community boards should be entitled to request additional information from applicants in the form of questionnaires, or otherwise and that municipalities have access to all of the information required by Section 120.2 for the adult-use cannabis license; and
WHEREAS, Section 119.3 of the Cannabis Regulations gives a municipality only 30 days to express an opinion on a license (albeit with a right to request an extension); and
WHEREAS, CB5 believes that additional time is necessary for the municipality to provide public notification, to conduct due diligence, to schedule a hold a hearing, and to draft and submit recommendations to the OCM, and that such time period should be not less than 60 days; and
WHEREAS, Section 120.4 of the Cannabis Regulations provides for the renewal of cannabis licenses but does not provide for any municipality or community board review regarding such renewals; and
WHEREAS, CB5 believes that municipalities should be given the same review and comment on cannabis renewal or alteration applications as they are given for initial licenses; and
WHEREAS, Any discussion about cannabis licensing must also address enforcement of existing applicable laws regarding second-hand smoke, etc., enforcement against proliferation of unlicensed cannabis establishments, and protection of the licensed establishments; and
WHEREAS, CB5 believes that enforcement on both the State and local levels is urgently required immediately and on an ongoing basis and that better funding and education is required to enable such enforcement; and
WHEREAS, As the Cannabis Regulations may be amended or as additional regulations regarding on-site consumption establishments may be forthcoming, CB5 reserves the opportunity to review and comment from time to time; therefore, be it
RESOLVED, That Community Board Five makes the following recommendations regarding the Cannabis Regulations and enforcement of existing and future laws regarding cannabis:
After much discussion, the above resolution passed with a vote as follows 27 in favor, 0 opposed, 1 abstaining: IN FAVOR: Athanail, Beitchman, Borden, Brosnahan, Chou, Dowson, Ellington, Ford, Frewer, Goshow, Harris Jr., Hershberg, Kaback, Kahng, Lavingia, Law-Gisiko, Levy, Maffia, Miller, Muneton, Shapiro, Sigman, Slutzkin, Spence, Webb, Xu, Yong. ABSTAIN: Barbero.
The public was invited to comment on topics of their interest.
Joseph Tyrell – Caesars.com - thank the board for allowing him to speak and offer an open door and to make himself available for any questions and show renderings. He spoke of speaking to Layla earlier about the footprint of the building, some of the Safety and Security plans and would be happy to have an open dialogue whatever the vote.
Mike Kaback – announced free tours offered for the Flatiron and the Garment Districts. He spoke of the importance of the districts that these tours are very interesting and will be provide a great learning experience about the history of these areas.
Seeing no other raised hands, Chair Barbero announced that the public session was closed and the regularly scheduled meeting of Community Board Five was adjourned.
Respectfully submitted by,