Hudson River Park Taskforce
The Hudson River Park is 70% complete, but year after year, it has been a struggle to get enough funding to finish the park. (The remaining the cost is now estimated to be $200 million.) Maintenance costs have grown due to unusual expenses such as replacing or repairing pier pilings, which are constantly under attack from various underwater animals. Physical deterioration is reducing income from Pier 40, which is one of several designated commercial income-generating sites.
A major challenge for the park is protecting the bulkhead - the wall that keeps the park, the highway, and much of the West Side of Manhattan from falling into the Hudson. Ordinarily, the cost of maintaining New York City's hundreds of miles of bulkhead is borne by the City, but the Hudson River Park Trust has that responsibility for its section.
These costs (apart from the cost of completing the park) will total tens of millions of dollars of the next few years that the Trust does not have.
Madelyn Wils, president of HRPT, formed a task force, chaired by Carl Weisbrod, in December to examine these challenges and look for solutions.
With much of the Park in my district and as the author of legislation which created the Park, I am glad to be a member of the team to work to ensure the Park is completed and maintained. If you have any questions or recommendations about the task force or the park, please email Wendi Paster at GottfriedR@nysa.us.
State Legislators Line Up to Support the Affordable Care Act
Over 450 legislators from all 50 states and the District of Columbia filed an amicus (friend of the court) brief with the U.S. Supreme Court supporting the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, the 2010 federal health care reform law. Representing New York in the brief, I was joined by State Senator Gustavo Rivera Assembly Members Deborah Glick and Linda Rosenthal and 21 other New York State legislators.
The challenge to The Affordable Care Act now before the Supreme Court has a lot more to do with politics than with the Constitution. The Act has been upheld by judges from across the ideological spectrum, and it is working for families across the country. According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, the number of young adults who are uninsured has dropped by 2.5 million since September 2010, when the Affordable Care Act began allowing children up to age 26 to remain under a parents' insurance coverage.
More than 150,000 of those young adults are New York residents. The ACA has also helped over four million seniors with the cost of prescription drugs, and insurance companies can no longer deny coverage to children with pre-existing conditions, drop one's coverage because of illness, or limit the amount of coverage someone can receive in a lifetime.
Obama Administration Defends Women's Health: Coverage for Preventative Health Services Will Include Contraception
The Affordable Care Act (federal health care reform) requires health insurance to cover "preventive" health services, to be defined by the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, without charging a co-pay, co-insurance or a deductible by August 2012. The Obama Administration courageously included contraception in the definition.
New York and California enacted a similar guarantee years ago, exempting a very narrow list of religious organizations. After some controversy, the Obama Administration adopted a narrow exemption like New York's and California's.
The NYS Bipartisan Pro-Choice Legislative Caucus (BPCLC), of which I am a member, had written to President Obama to urge him to not broaden the exemption. In January, the Department of Health and Human Services issued a final rule, with the narrow exemption we supported.
Employers don't tell their workers how to spend our income. They should not tell us how to use our health benefits either.
The right to free choice and access in reproductive health care is under attack across the country. Several state legislatures have passed laws restricting access to family planning, reproductive health services, and abortion.
In New York State, the BPCLC works on preserving our strong commitment to preserving a woman's right to choose.
As chair of the Assembly Health Committee, one of my main roles is to staunchly protect choice and access in reproductive care, as I have since before I was elected.
Lamartine Place Historic District Formally Recognized; Building Owner Plots Appeal
Several years ago, community preservation advocates identified eleven 19th Century Greek Revival row houses on West 29th Street (originally called Lamartine Place) between Eighth and Ninth Avenues to be worthy of historic preservation. Two years ago, the Landmark Preservation Commission and City Council voted to create the "Lamartine Place Historic District."
On January 15, the day before Martin Luther King Day, in a joyful ceremony, the Landmarks Preservation Foundation unveiled a marker on a lamppost in front of the Hopper-Gibbons House (an Underground Railroad stop) at 339 West 29th Street. The marker explains the importance of the block, its role in the Underground Railroad.
After the Department of Buildings (DOB) took strong action to protect the landmarked and endangered Hopper-Gibbons House, in the spring of 2011, the community celebrated, thinking that finally the appalling and illegal fifth floor would have to come down.
Recently, however, a new owner - the brother of the deceased owner -notified DOB of his intent to appeal to the Board of Standards and Appeals (BSA). While the building permit has been revoked - preventing any further construction - the illegal addition is still an eyesore and insult to this historic property.
DOB had submitted the case for review by its Legal Department for a potential Nuisance Abatement order, which would give DOB legal power to have the fifth floor removed. However, the bureaucratic and legal delays mean that order has not been issued. The owner's appeal of the stop-work order will mean more delay.
Senior Center Opened at VISIONS/Selis Manor
VISIONS/Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired, at Selis Manor on 23rd Street, has long been a place for visually impaired people to find resources, assistance, and even housing.
In January, VISIONS opened the first ever Senior Center exclusively designed for blind and visually impaired older adults. It will serve as a model across the city and country.
Funding for this center came from the City, State, and Federal governments, and I am thankful to my colleagues who were instrumental in acquiring funding for this location, in particular U.S. Reps. Jerrold Nadler and Carolyn Maloney, as well as members of the City Council. For more information call 646-486-4444 or visit their Web site.
214 West 29th Street
New York, NY 10001
Albany, NY 12248