New York CIty Council Member Ben Kallos

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DNAinfo.com New Pre-K Center Slated to Open on Upper East Side in 2019, Officials Say by By Carly Miller

New Pre-K Center Slated to Open on Upper East Side in 2019, Officials Say

"It's going to have a great impact in 2019," Upper East Side City Councilman Ben Kallos told DNAinfo, noting that the forthcoming program there marks the largest influx of universal pre-K seats in a single location in the neighborhood. "We’re working with providers and parents and public schools to identify anywhere and everywhere we can put pre-K."

 

DNAinfo.com 15 Bus Countdown Clocks, New Citi Bike Station Added to Upper East Side by Shaye Weaver

15 Bus Countdown Clocks, New Citi Bike Station Added to Upper East Side

UPPER EAST SIDE — Commuters will begin seeing new countdown clocks at more than a dozen bus stops in the neighborhood, as well as the area's final Citi Bike station, city officials said.

On Thursday, Councilman Ben Kallos and DOT Borough Commissioner Luis Sanchez announced 15 countdown clocks have been installed or will be at stops along the M15, M31, M57, M66 and M72 lines.

The clocks will appear at 70th, 72nd and 75th streets along First Avenue; on Second Avenue at 94th Street; on York Avenue at 72nd, 74th, 76th, 77th, 79th, 84th, 86th and 88th streets; on First Avenue at 57th Street; and on First Avenue at 67th and 72nd streets.

DNAinfo.com 15 Bus Countdown Clocks, New Citi Bike Station Added to Upper East Side by Shay Weaver

15 Bus Countdown Clocks, New Citi Bike Station Added to Upper East Side

On Thursday, Councilman Ben Kallos and DOT Borough Commissioner Luis Sanchez announced 15 countdown clocks have been installed or will be at stops along the M15, M31, M57, M66 and M72 lines.

The clocks will appear at 70th, 72nd and 75th streets along First Avenue; on Second Avenue at 94th Street; on York Avenue at 72nd, 74th, 76th, 77th, 79th, 84th, 86th and 88th streets; on First Avenue at 57th Street; and on First Avenue at 67th and 72nd streets.

DNAinfo.com Crosstown Bus Service Cuts Would Hurt Older Riders, Locals Say by Shaye Weaver

Crosstown Bus Service Cuts Would Hurt Older Riders, Locals Say

MTA spokesman Kevin Ortiz noted that the authority "reviews and evaluates bus schedules on a regular basis to ensure that they accurately match current rider demand and operating conditions, as well as to ensure there are resources available where needed to provide customers with the most efficient and effective bus service possible. 

"Schedule revisions also address the need to more accurately reflect changing traffic conditions which have generally slowed in recent years," he continued, without saying whether the agency is considering the community's requests.

Councilman Kallos said he and the other elected officials are pressing the MTA to release its swipe data to get the hard facts on how many people are using on the crosstown buses.

"They are not considering the Americans with Disabilities Act — this neighborhood has seniors almost more than anywhere else," he said. "We just have to keep making our voices heard."

 

DNAinfo.com Yorkville Middle Schoolers Help Write Law for New LGBTQ Support in Schools by Shaye Weaver

Yorkville Middle Schoolers Help Write Law for New LGBTQ Support in Schools

With their school’s support, Neil and his schoolmate Katerina Corr, who are leaders in the MSLC, testified in support of GSAs during the city’s Committee on Education on Oct. 19, 2016.

After that hearing, the MSLC met with Councilmen Danny Dromm, who is the chair of the council’s education committee, and Ben Kallos to work on the new legislation.

“The rise of hate crimes nationally and in the city means it is more important than ever that the City supports our LGBTQ youth through these student-run clubs,” Kallos said. New York City has always been a leader on LGBTQ issues and that includes supporting our students.”

Dromm said GSAs are vital to the physical and mental-well being of LGBTQ students.

DNAinfo.com Sutton Place Plan to Cap Building Heights Gives City Planners Pause by Shaye Weaver

Sutton Place Plan to Cap Building Heights Gives City Planners Pause

 The East River 50s Alliance is proposing to cap building heights at 260 feet.
The East River 50s Alliance is proposing to cap building heights at 260 feet.
East River 50s Alliance

SUTTON PLACE — Locals' bid for a zoning change to block super-tall skyscrapers in Sutton Place is undergoing formal public review after a year-and-a-half of planning — but city officials are concerned it could discourage affordable housing in the area.

On Monday, the City Planning Commission began its review of the zoning proposal, which would ban any commercial development between East 52nd and 59th streets east of First Avenue, except for “community uses” such as medical offices and day care centers. It would also impose a height cap limiting any new development to 260 feet, and mandate that 13 percent of any new development be dedicated to below-market-rate housing in exchange for bonus Floor Area Ratio (FAR).

The proposal comes after plans were filed by the Bauhouse Group for a 900-foot skyscraper at 430 E. 58th St. in 2015, though the proposal later fell through.

Residents of 45 buildings totaling more than 2,000 individuals have supported the zoning plan, elected officials said.

"The community has won a major victory with the certification of our rezoning proposal to stop the march of super-scrapers and build more affordable housing in residential neighborhoods," said Councilman Ben Kallos, who supports the proposal with other local elected officials. "While I am disappointed with how long it took to certify, it is better late than never."

Robert Shepler, co-chairman of the The East River 50s Alliance Leadership Committee, which is behind the effort, said that developers in Sutton Place are not required to contribute to the city’s affordable housing goals.

"Nor do supertalls do much to address the City’s need for additional market rate units because they produce fewer apartments — often for absentee owners — than more modestly scaled buildings with comparable square footage," he said.

DNAinfo.com NYCHA Tenants 'Trapped in Shadows of Wealthy' Under City Plan, Electeds Say by Shaye Weaver

NYCHA Tenants 'Trapped in Shadows of Wealthy' Under City Plan, Electeds Say

"I attended these meetings and we weren't allowed to say 'no,'" Holmes resident and Community Voices Heard member Lakesha Taylor said. "We were given choices with no answers. What is this really for? You're not even fulfilling your deficit. We're getting darkness, we're getting dust...for a building [that] will be 50/50."

Roughly $40 million in repairs are needed at Holmes Towers alone, officials said.

"The city is losing money on this deal," Kallos said, explaining that the city will only rake in $25 million from the development, while it plans to give Fetner $13 million toward the building's construction and lose millions of dollars in unpaid taxes as part of the building's 99-year lease.

DNAinfo.com See the Controversial Mixed-Income Tower Set to Rise on UES Playground by Shaye Weaver

See the Controversial Mixed-Income Tower Set to Rise on UES Playground

The new tower will rise 47 stories and feature a recreation center and playgrounds, according to city officials.

Fetner Properties
YORKVILLE — The city finally released renderings of a mixed-income tower set to rise on top of an existing playground at the Holmes Towers public housing complex — and while the city is celebrating, some locals see the news as "salt in the wound."

The images released Wednesday are the first to come out of a year-and-a-half long debate between current Holmes Towers residents and the New York City Housing Authority about the logistics of the plan, which falls under the city's new NextGen program meant to raise capital funds for its existing developments across the city.

The renderings show a 47-story, off-white building rising among the red-brick Holmes Towers buildings on East 93rd Street, as well as a new 18,000-square-foot recreation and community center run by Asphalt Green and new playgrounds.

run its recreation center, which will include an indoor basketball court, a rooftop turf field and low-cost programming.

 

DNAinfo.com MTA Adding New Buses on East Side Routes To Speed Up Service by Shaye Weaver and Allegra Hobbs

MTA Adding New Buses on East Side Routes To Speed Up Service

A number of East Side politicians, including Councilman Ben Kallos, Sen. Liz Krueger, and Assemblywoman Rebecca Seawright, along with the East 79th Street Neighborhood Association, petitioned the MTA for the new buses after receiving a slew of complaints from commuters who wait long periods of time for their bus to come.

"Bus service on the East Side is about to get better with brand new buses that won’t cause disruptions in service from breaking down as often,” said Kallos. “Residents complain about poor bus service every day, but after years of advocacy, we are getting the new buses we need."

The new buses will eventually phase out the older buses, which is the primary cause of "missing buses," according to Kallos. 

The buses that run on all five routes come out of the Tuskeegee Bus Depot in Harlem and are some of the oldest, Kallos said.

"When local buses end up 'missing' that further compounds the problems," he said. "The M15 had the oldest fleet in the city. This is great news for M15 riders."

Locals and politicians on both the Upper and Lower East Side have for years been asking the MTA to fix the slow local M15 service or add additional Select Bus Service stops on the route.

Upper East Side residents have pushed for more local M15 buses or at least the addition of a Select Bus Service stop at East 72nd Street since the local bus takes too long to arrive. 

"You can stand there for 25 to 35 minutes and see three Select Bus Service buses go by," said Valerie Mason, president of the East 72nd Street Neighborhood Association, last year. "In the last six years, local service has deteriorated greatly."

DNAinfo.com 88th St. Developer Using 'Unbuildable' Lot to Skirt Zoning Rules, Foes Say by Shaye Weaver

88th St. Developer Using 'Unbuildable' Lot to Skirt Zoning Rules, Foes Say

"If you own a piece of land where the zoning says you can't build a skyscraper in this part of the district, you don’t get to draw an imaginary line in the sand," said City Councilman Ben Kallos, who filed the appeal with other elected officials and the Carnegie Hill Neighbors group this month.