New York CIty Council Member Ben Kallos

Community

As a&nbsp;<a href="/about/biography"><strong>third generation Upper East Sider</strong></a>, I am committed to maintaining our neighborhood's quality of life. I will support and work with our community centers such as cultural and religious institutions as well as neighborhood associations to ensure our neighborhood remains safe, clean and a wonderful place to live.

Our Town The newsletter that saved a life by Doug Feiden

The newsletter that saved a life

The 10 scariest words in the English language, Ronald Reagan used to joke, are these: “I’m from the government, and I’m here to help you.”

Kathleen L. Steed embraces a very different world view. Officialdom, she believes, can offer comfort, company, support and holiday cheer.

And every once in a while, it can even rescue you from mortal peril.

“The word ‘miracle’ is overused and overworked,” said the 73-year-old Yorkville woman, a retired private investigator and hospital fundraiser.

“But this really is a story about a miracle,” she added.

It surfaced on Dec. 13 at the annual holiday party of Upper East Side City Council Member Ben Kallos as some 70-plus constituents mingled in his district office on East 93rd Street.

Over baked ziti from the Italian Village Pizza on First Avenue and gallons of apple cider and other nonalcoholic beverages, Steed buttonholed Josh Jamieson, the communications director for Council District 5.

“Your newsletter saved my life,” she said simply.

Jamieson said he was stunned.

Thus began a conversation between a pair of newsletter aficionados.

Jamieson has worked for Kallos for nearly three years, and his duties include writing, editing and curating most of the document, which reaches thousands of constituents online and in a hefty print edition that can range from 30 to 50 pages.

It’s so comprehensive and labor-intensive that he’s regularly on the receiving end of good-natured ribbing from Kallos and Jesse Towsen, his chief of staff, over both the newsletter’s length and its encyclopedic scope.

A recent issue, for instance, was chockablock full with listings for UES events, lectures, exhibits, book groups, support groups, writing circles, yoga workshops, dance rehearsals, ballet workshops, exercise classes, cooking classes, legal clinics, medical services and homeless services.

Not to mention the screenings of “Casablanca,” symposium about the 1830s, drag queen story hours and discussions of the U-boat attacks on allied shipping in the North Atlantic during World War II.

Steed, who has lived in the same rent-stabilized, walk-up apartment on Third Avenue since 1977, is every elected official’s dream: She’s a self-professed “information junkie” who actually reads all their newsletters. Voraciously.

As an active senior who lives alone and likes to keep busy, she can often be found at gatherings, parties and other activities for the elderly that she’s spotted in the newsletters of Kallos, state Senator Liz Krueger, state Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright and U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney, as well as nonprofits like the Lenox Hill Neighborhood Association and Health Advocates for Older People.

Of those six community newsletters, Kallos’ is by far the longest, while Krueger’s is a close second, Steed said. “Sometimes,” she confessed, “I don’t read it all the way through ... I just scan it!”

Nonetheless, she made it to page 46 of the 49-page July newsletter and focused on an event listing: “In honor of World Head and Neck Cancer Day,” it said, “please join us for free head and neck cancer screenings offered through Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.”

Our Town Territorial dispute over cleanup program by Michael Garofalo

Territorial dispute over cleanup program

By their very nature, press conferences regarding City Council expense funding allocations are generally rather staid affairs.

But a Dec. 5 announcement on public funding to tidy Upper East Side sidewalks turned into a raucous standoff between the cleanup crews of two nonprofits that each help formerly homeless and incarcerated individuals reenter the workforce through street cleaning jobs.

Next to a litter-strewn tree bed on the East 86th Street sidewalk, the workers of Wildcat Service Corporation — clad in neon green vests, pushing wheeled garbage cans and bearing implements of trash collection — had gathered to celebrate $85,000 in funding allocated to the organization by local Council Member Ben Kallos to clean a number of “problem areas” in the neighborhood.

Then, loudly approaching from the direction of Third Avenue, came the men of the Doe Fund’s street cleanup program in their signature blue uniforms, chanting, “Ready, Willing, Able — Doe Fund for life!”

The advancing Doe Fund lines were met with a retaliatory chorus as two sides met near the entrance to Shake Shack: “We are the Wildcats, the mighty, mighty Wildcats.”

Upper East Side Patch Street Cleaning Pilot Program Sparks UES Turf War by Brendan Krisel

Street Cleaning Pilot Program Sparks UES Turf War

Wildcat Services will cover two-miles of "problem areas" on the Upper East Side on Second Avenue between East 57th and 72nd streets and East 79th, 86th and 96th streets between East End and Lexington Avenues, Kallos announced. The Bronx-based nonprofit was one of two organizations that bid for the NYC Clean Up contract and currently work with 25 other members of the City Council in every borough except Staten Island through the initiative, Kallos said.

"We're cleaning up the neighborhood block by block, from a new covered trashcan on every corner, to launching and supporting community groups, to partnering with Wildcat to dedicating a crew to keep the Upper East Side clean four days a week," Kallos said in a statement.

A four-person team from Wildcat is expected to begin servicing the new routes as soon as next week, the organization's Manager of Operations Mario La Rosa said.

Kallos balked at The Doe Fund's claim that the organization was unaware of the pilot program funding, telling Patch that the organization's founder George McDonald helped create the NYC Clean Up initiative.

 

Upper East Side Patch Ben Kallos Announces Funds For Street Cleaning In Chaotic Presser by Andrew Fine

Ben Kallos Announces Funds For Street Cleaning In Chaotic Presser

It was quite the scene on East 86th Street early this afternoon as Council Member Ben Kallos hosted a press conference with supportive local community organizations to announce an $85,000 pilot program to fund street cleaners for areas of the Upper East Side not covered by the Doe Fund.

Our Town The subway and the soul of Yorkville by Doug Feiden

The subway and the soul of Yorkville

Upper East Side City Council Member Ben Kallos provided partial funding – $35,000 in the current fiscal year, $45,000 in the last fiscal year – for both the book and the documentary that accompanies it.

A lifetime Yorkville resident, he first moved to the neighborhood when he was just four years old, and three generations of the Kallos family have resided in the area.

The book pegs the evolution of Yorkville to five supersized, mass-transit projects — the building of two rail lines in the late 19th century, their demolition in the mid-20th century, and the arrival of a new subway in the 21st century.

Upper East Side Patch Bill Aims To Tackle Empty Stores And 'Landlord Extortion' In NYC by Todd Maisel/

Bill Aims To Tackle Empty Stores And 'Landlord Extortion' In NYC

"We thought the problems in the building were dangerous, but the landlord ignored us and there is no mechanism to get them to fix the issues," Velkov said. "The city said that they couldn't do anything and the landlord could just revoke the lease – we just don't have any rights."

Sarah McNally, owner of McNally Jackson Book stores in Manhattan and Brooklyn, said she is being forced out of her store in Manhattan and will have to relocate.

"We are being replaced by chains," McNally said. It would've helped to have the non-binding arbitration and mediation."

Councilman Ben Kallos, (D-Manhattan) a co-sponsor of the bill, ­­decried the spread of chain stores.

"New York City doesn't need another Starbucks or a bank – it's the last thing we need," Kallos said. "Instead, we get empty storefronts and there are vacancies everywhere. We need to save small business in this city instead of having darkness."

City Land Construction Begins on Renovation of Upper East Side Community Center by No Byline

Construction Begins on Renovation of Upper East Side Community Center

On June 8, 2018, City Council Member Ben Kallos, together with the New York City Housing Authority, announced the start of renovations and upgrades for the Stanley M. Isaacs Neighborhood Center.

Council Member Kallos allocated $680,000 in Fiscal Year 2015 and $350,000 in Fiscal Year 2017 for upgrades to the senior center and youth center. NYCHA and the City Council, including former Council Members who represented the neighborhood, provided the remaining funding.

Council Member Kallos said, “The Stanley M. Isaacs Neighborhood Center is truly one of our community’s cornerstones. I could not think of a better way to put this money to good use in a way that will benefit the everyday lives of my constituents. I am looking forward to the work being completed and happy for those who will reap the benefits.”

 

Upper East Side Patch Renovation Begins At UES Nonprofit Neighborhood Center by Brendan Krisel

Renovation Begins At UES Nonprofit Neighborhood Center

City Councilman Ben Kallos and the New York City Housing Authority teamed up to fund the project.

"The Stanley M. Isaacs Neighborhood Center is truly one of our community's cornerstones," said Council
Member Ben Kallos. I could not think of a better way to put this money to good use in a way that will
benefit the everyday lives of my constituents. I am looking forward to the work being completed and happy for those who will reap the benefits," Kallos said in a statement.

AM New York Roosevelt Island officials plan ‘art trail’ in an effort to boost tourism and business by Shaye Weaver

Roosevelt Island officials plan ‘art trail’ in an effort to boost tourism and business

“There are so many vacant spaces,” Councilman Ben Kallos said at the unveiling. “Hopefully we can turn those spaces into art spaces, as well. This is just the beginning.”

The island already has its share of public art with six sculptures and a few galleries, including the stunning white marble columns at the FDR Four Freedoms Park, the climbable “Blue Dragon,” Cornell Tech’s WPA murals on its campus, Gallery RIVAA, Motorgate Gallery murals inside the parking garage, among others — all of which will be included on the art trail, officials say.