New York CIty Council Member Ben Kallos

Elizabeth Kim

Gothamist Hudson River Park Takes Steps To Eliminate Disposable Plastics by Elizabeth Kim

Hudson River Park Takes Steps To Eliminate Disposable Plastics

The Hudson River Park Trust has announced an effort to dramatically reduce the use of disposable plastics by the park's vendors, restaurants, and other tenants, with the intent of becoming what the trust says will be the first public park in New York City to gradually move toward a “plastic free” environment.

Gothamist After Backlash From UES Residents & Officials, City Halts 'Building On Stilts' Over Fire Safety Concerns by Elizabeth Kim

After Backlash From UES Residents & Officials, City Halts 'Building On Stilts' Over Fire Safety Concerns

On February 15th, state Senator Liz Krueger, Manhattan Borough President Gayle Brewer, Council members Keith Powers and Ben Kallos, wrote a letter to the DOB citing its actions on the Upper West Side project. “Regardless of whether the void in the building proposed at 249 East 62nd Street is enclosed or open air as described to the press, we believe you must also refer this building to the FDNY.”

On Thursday, Kallos said the letter was intended to "call attention to the disparate treatment by the DOB between East Side and West Side." He said he was glad that the matter had been referred to the FDNY, noting that the measure "will ultimately keep residents safe."

Gothamist 'Building On Stilts' That Inspired City To Close Zoning Loophole May Get Built Anyway by Elizabeth Kim

'Building On Stilts' That Inspired City To Close Zoning Loophole May Get Built Anyway

City Councilmember Ben Kallos, who represents the Upper East Side, responded by saying that he was "horrified" that DOB's interpretation appeared to be at odds with that of City Planning. In the past he has asked City Planning to consider adding more height restrictions in certain residential neighborhoods.

Citing 180 East 88th Street and 200 Amsterdam, two other projects that opponents say have used loopholes to add building height, Kallos said, "It's DOB that has been willfully refusing to follow zoning regulations."

Similarly, Rachel Levy, the executive director of Friends, expressed disbelief and frustration at the DOB’s position.

Gothamist NYCHA Residents Excoriate The Agency's 'Desperate' Pitch For Privatization by Elizabeth Kim

NYCHA Residents Excoriate The Agency's 'Desperate' Pitch For Privatization

Gale Brewer, the Manhattan Borough President, and City Councilmember Ben Kallos both attended the hearing to oppose the project, and suggested that the issue may ultimately wind up in court. "I don't want to be specific but we're very serious about this project," Brewer added.

After the hearing, Gregory Morris, president and executive director of the Stanley M. Isaacs Neighborhood Center, a nonprofit at the housing complex whose services includes a community center, after-school programs and daycare, issued the following statement:

"NYCHA residents of Holmes Towers/Isaacs Houses and Members of Manhattan Community Board 8 made clear last night that they were uninformed about the Fetner project, as well as deeply concerned about its legality and potential environmental hazards. As the primary provider of social services in the development for more than 50 years, the Stanley M. Isaacs Neighborhood Center will continue to amplify the voices of public housing residents who have long been ignored and isolated. We will continue to stand with all stakeholders to ensure that this project is subject to the City's Uniform Land Use Review Process, as the preservation of public housing through private investment should never conflict with the preservation of human dignity."

On Wednesday night, after four hours of public testimony, NYCHA officials, who appeared both worn and frustrated by the outpouring of anger, stopped trying to sell the project and conceded the reality of the situation.