New York CIty Council Member Ben Kallos

Marc Bussanich

TAPinto Ribbon Cutting for the 17th Precinct’s New Mobile Command Center by Marc Bussanich

Ribbon Cutting for the 17th Precinct’s New Mobile Command Center

New York, NY—Thanks to Councilman Ben Kallos’ (D-5) office, the NYPD’s 17th Precinct now has a state-of-the-art mobile command center that will be parked at East 47th Street and 1st Avenue.

Kallos joined the 17th Precinct’s brass this morning for a ribbon cutting to officially launch the deployment of the new $500,000 mobile command center that will be used for large-scale events such as the United Nations General Assembly, street festivals and parades.

Kicking off the speaking portion of the event, the 17th Precinct’s Commanding Officer, Captain Aaron C. Edwards, thanked Kallos and his office for the funds to purchase a critical asset for policing in the community.

“This vehicle is going to serve as our mobile workstation at large scale events, it's equipped with computer equipment, secure Internet, surveillance cameras, and it allows us to really work outside the precinct seamlessly, and so this is a tool that we really need. [We] really appreciate this from the constituents, from [Kallos’s} office—this just keeps us going into 2022 and beyond with the technology. I just want to thank you again for this. This is a wonderful gift, and we are going to use it,” said Edwards.

Kallos followed Edwards, and he noted that the city currently has incredible challenges fighting crime.

“If you paid attention during the June election or if you are paying attention to the November election, it is something that residents are particularly concerned about. And as we fight crime, we need to have modern tools, and also helps to have a good relationship and listen to the experts,” said Kallos.

TAPinto Elected Officials Announce Nearly $9 Million to Renovate Ruppert Park by Marc Bussanich

Elected Officials Announce Nearly $9 Million to Renovate Ruppert Park

New York, NY—A coterie of elected officials, community groups and advocates gathered on Monday at Ruppert Park during a press conference led by Councilman Ben Kallos (D-5), who announced nearly $9 million to renovate Ruppert Park on the Upper East Side.

The location of Ruppert Park at East 91st Street and 2nd Avenue has a storied past. It used to be home to the Jacob Brewing Company, which started in 1866. It remained in operation for nearly a century, and then in 1969 the 35 buildings between 90th and 94th Streets and 2nd and 3rd Avenues were levelled to make way for the eventual construction of apartment buildings that housed 1,500 affordable housing units.

TAPinto East Side Group Says R8B Zoning Has to Be Preserved by Marc Bussanich

East Side Group Says R8B Zoning Has to Be Preserved

Councilman Ben Kallos (D-5) attended Tuesday’s meeting, citing the concerns of the community and noting, as he did in a statement to the Eastsiders for Responsible Zoning two weeks ago, that the Blood Center does very important work and can expand without a massive rezoning.

“This is why we insist that the Longfellow proposal, which would make the building as tall as a 33-story residential tower, is excessive and if allowed to go through unchecked will change our neighborhood forever. Every East Sider who could be affected by this proposal should be showing up to every Community Board and Department of City Planning meeting on the project,” said Kallos. 

TAPinto City Council Passes Bill to Ban Toxins in Parks by Marc Bussanich

City Council Passes Bill to Ban Toxins in Parks

New York, NY—The City Council, on Earth Day, passed unanimously Council Member Ben Kallos’ bill to ban toxic pesticides in parks, playgrounds and public spaces.

It’s a hard-earned victory as the Council Member first introduced the bill, which is sponsored by 31 other Council Members, back in 2015, so the passing of the bill on Earth Day is more than just symbolic.

At a press conference earlier today at the Stanley Isaacs Playground on East 96th Street and 1st Avenue, just before the council voted unanimously, Kallos stood with the Council Speaker, Black community and think tank leaders and environmental advocates to say that the bill bans all city agencies from spraying highly toxic pesticides such as glyphosate.

Kallos also noted it is the most far-reaching legislation to implement pesticide-free land practices in New York City Parks and public spaces.

TAPinto East Siders Welcome Funding for Esplanade Repairs by Marc Bussanich

East Siders Welcome Funding for Esplanade Repairs

Councilman Ben Kallos, who co-chairs the East River Esplanade Task Force with Rep. Maloney, said that since he’s been the co-chair, there has been approximately $872 million invested in the East River Esplanade going back to 2014 for repairs and infrastructure upgrades.

“At this point, we’re more than three quarters of a billion in, some money is moving. Now the challenge is: start the work now,” said Kallos.  

TAPinto Community Board Committee Votes to Oppose NY Blood Center Proposal by Marc Bussanich

Community Board Committee Votes to Oppose NY Blood Center Proposal

New YorkNY—The opposition to the New York Blood Center’s proposal to build a massive 16-story, 600,000-square foot campus on the Upper East Side is growing, as the Zoning and Development Committee of Community Board 8 voted yesterday by a margin of 16-1 to oppose the project.

First the committee heard presentations from several speakers before they voted. First up was Marty Bell, who during a Zoom meeting with Councilman Ben Kallos (D-Manhattan) last week made quite clear that he is opposed to the project. He believes that the Blood Center can easily build a new building within its existing footprint compared to building a new 16-story tower whereby it will only occupy the first five floors.

TAPinto UES Residents Voice Opposition to Proposed New York Blood Center Campus by Marc Bussanich

UES Residents Voice Opposition to Proposed New York Blood Center Campus

New York, NY—The New York Blood Center has big ambitions to build a brand-new campus with a 16-story building to replace its current home on East 67th Street. But some long-time residents are opposed to the project, with one of them saying that the massive redevelopment poses an existential threat to the quality of life on the Upper East Side.

The residents had a chance to weigh in on the issue during a recent Zoom meeting with Councilman Ben Kallos (D-Manhattan), who represents the district. The Councilman heard from approximately 10 residents, who each expressed different reasons why they are opposed to the proposed 600,000-square foot campus.

For example, Adam Kaye lives at 301 East 66th Street on the 14th Floor facing east, and he expressed astonishment that his open-air views will be compromised.

“I’m an owner, this is something that we extensively looked into what the zoning was, what the maximum height was in the area before we bought, and never in a million years did we think that someone would build such an egregious monstrosity on a block on the Upper East Side,” said Kaye.

He also expressed concern about the obstruction of sunlight to nearby St. Catherine’s Park, saying that part of the reason why he and his wife purchased their property was so that his two children could have access to an open-air park with plenty of sunlight.

“I can’t understand how any council member or any zoning person will allow something like that to happen in a playground that is so vital to the neighborhood; it’s the only open-air park space that we have. The core question is, what can be done to stop it,” Kaye said.

Paul Graziano was just hired by the co-op board at 301 East 66th Street to be its planning, zoning and land use consultant in response to the Blood Center’s proposal. He noted that there has never been a violation or a request for a rezoning within any R8B zone (a high-density residential zoning district found mostly in Manhattan on the Upper West Side and Upper East Side) since the adoption of the R8B zone on the UES in 1985.

In fact, he said, the adoption of additional R8B zones in Manhattan seemed to indicate that it was a long-standing position by the city and elected officials to protect mid-block areas. 

“This precedent would open the door not just for creating a disaster on this block, which is clear from the proposal, but I think it opens the door to this happening everywhere else. And, unlike the statement [by the city] that this is an exception, that this is the only site where this could happen, that is not true,” said Graziano.

Perhaps the most vociferous opposition came from Marty Bell, who lives at 315 East 68th Street. While saying that the project represents an existential crisis to the quality of life on the UES, he channeled his frustration towards Councilman Ben Kallos, whom Bell said isn’t doing enough to stop the project.

“The way all you ever talked about was sort of wishy-washy about St. Catherine’s [Park]…this building, you should be screaming from the ramparts to stop this building,” said Bell.

Bell continued by saying that he felt that the Blood Center wouldn’t be going ahead with the project unless “they felt they had you in their pocket.”

That prompted Kallos to calmly reply that he appreciated Bell’s remarks, but they weren’t accurate.

“I understand why you could come to the conclusions you have come to, but I will say that nothing could be further from the truth,” said Kallos.

Kallos then noted that the New York Blood Center isn’t even seeking input from elected leaders.

“This is not something that I can just simply come out and say I am against and the project [stops]. They are choosing to move forward without support from any local elected officials,” said Kallos.

“At this point, whether you support or oppose, or you have changes to the proposal, it’s going to be something that you are going to have to fight for.”

The city is in favor of the project because, as reported by The Wall Street Journal, Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration views public health and the life-science industry as the cornerstone of the city’s economic recovery from the pandemic.

In addition, the New York Blood Center says it needs the new campus to add more space for its research and to expand the number of companies it incubates in its offices.

TAPinto Isaacs Center Distributes Over 400 Turkeys to Families by Marc Bussanich

Isaacs Center Distributes Over 400 Turkeys to Families

Councilman Ben Kallos (D-Manhattan) said that one of the best aspects about his position is representing the residents at Isaacs Houses and Holmes Towers.

“Ever since I’ve been the council member, we’ve brought the funding for these turkeys to make sure that everybody can have a Thanksgiving. I’ll just say that in partnership with Greg Morris here at the Isaacs Center, we’ve increased the distribution to 400 this year—I’d like to thank Assemblyman Dan Quart, Assemblyman Robert Rodriguez and Governor Andrew Cuomo.”

TAPinto Roosevelt Island Parents Rally Virtually for Remote Learning Center by Marc Bussanich

Roosevelt Island Parents Rally Virtually for Remote Learning Center

New York, NY—Families of students who attend P.S./I.S. 217 on Roosevelt Island have no option on the island to send their children to a remote learning center because a long-standing childcare provider that applied to provide 45 seats was denied by the city. That’s why they joined a virtual rally earlier today with elected officials to ask the city to reconsider.

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Councilman Ben Kallos (D-Manhattan) hosted the rally, as he has been a leading advocate for expanding the number Learning Bridges seats. In fact, he wrote a letter to the Mayor first proposing the idea of remote learning centers for families who needed child care while students were learning remotely.

TAPinto New Bill Would Raise Wages of Human Services Workers by Marc Bussanich

New Bill Would Raise Wages of Human Services Workers

New York, NY—Human service providers would be able to pay their workers more money based on a new bill introduced today in the City Council by Councilman Ben Kallos.

Earlier today he was distributing face masks and hand sanitizer in Yorkville outside the Isaacs Center, a 50-year human services provider whose mission is to ensure that children are prepared to thrive in high school, young adults boost their earnings, and that seniors thrive as they age.

But the human services sector, which employs approximately 200,000 New Yorkers, pays low wages. According to a report published by a coalition of human services providers, the average pay is less than $30,000 annually.