New York CIty Council Member Ben Kallos


Our Town Finally, Sutton Place Park — almost by Leida Snow

Finally, Sutton Place Park — almost

You could practically hear the neighborhood’s sigh of relief. “I’ve lived near here all my life,” one woman exulted, at the unofficial opening of Sutton Place Park (SPP) overlooking the East River. “I was brought up here. And there were times I thought the construction would never end.”

The Guardian The unseen carcinogenic danger lurking in New York City's public parks by Ben Kallos

The unseen carcinogenic danger lurking in New York City's public parks

Parks are New Yorkers’ oasis. They’re where we escape the crowds, the din of traffic, and our often tiny apartments; where we play with our children, walk our pets, and relax in the sun. Parks should be a place where New Yorkers can relax and play without being exposed to dangerous chemicals. So why is a herbicide believed to cause cancer being sprayed in our parks?

The New York City parks department is a prolific user of Roundup, a popular weedkiller sold by Monsanto. Yet research by the World Health Organization has linked the active chemical in Roundup, glyphosate, to cancer – a finding buttressed by several major civil suits recently brought against Monsanto.

You may not hear about the dangers of Roundup from the Trump administration or the various agencies that are supposed to protect the American public from dangerous toxins. Earlier this month, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ruled that there is no risk to public health from glyphosate if it is used in accordance with label instructions. The EPA even went a step further, adding that glyphosate is not a carcinogen.

The problem with this assertion by the EPA – now helmed by a former coal industry lobbyist – is that the evidence Roundup may be unsafe is rapidly mounting. Three recent lawsuits brought against Bayer, Monsanto’s parent company, have resulted in the company paying nearly $3bn to people who have developed non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma after years of using Roundup.

The EPA, ostensibly tasked with “reducing environmental risks based on the best available scientific information”, is at odds with the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), an agency of the World Health Organization. The IARC identified glyphosate as a “probable carcinogen” in 2015, leading to the chemical being banned in some cities in the United States and many countries around the world.

New York City has 1,700 parks spanning 30,000 acres, most of which are dedicated for public use and the enjoyment of residents, tourists and most importantly children. There are currently no restrictions on the use of glyphosate, and according to the city government’s own data, the Department of Parks & Recreation continues to generously deploy Roundup. In 2017, city workers sprayed over 500 gallons of glyphosate, including in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park, which receives 8 million visitors a year. And we don’t even know how much glyphosate is used in parks like Central Park, which are managed by private conservancies that haven’t shared the data.


The Villager Rev. Billy ratchets up pressure to ban RoundUp by ALEJANDRA O’CONNELL-DOMENECH

Rev. Billy ratchets up pressure to ban RoundUp

Reverend Billy and the Church of Stop Shopping want the City Council to “cast out” Monsanto’s demonic spawn by passing Councilmember Ben Kallos’s bill banning chemical pesticides and herbicides in the city.

Upper East Side Patch New Stretch Of East River Esplanade Opens After $15M Renovation by Brendan Krisel

New Stretch Of East River Esplanade Opens After $15M Renovation

In addition to financing the $15 million renovation, Rockefeller University is creating an endowment to maintain the esplanade section and contributed $150,000 to the conservancy group Friends of the East River Esplanade, Kallos said.

"When I got elected the waterfront was crumbling, which is why I set a goal of involving local institutions in public-private partnerships to rehabilitate the East River Esplanade," Kallos said.

Upper East Side Patch UES Councilman Proposes Pesticide Ban In City Parks by Brendan Krisel

UES Councilman Proposes Pesticide Ban In City Parks

"Parks should be for playing not pesticides," Kallos said in a statement. "All families should be able to enjoy our city parks without having to worry that they are being exposed to toxic pesticides that could give them and their families cancer."

Kallos added that he doesn't allow his newborn daughter to play on the grass in city parks out of fear that she may be sickened by pesticides.

The legislation would force city agencies to switch from synthetic pesticides to biological pesticides made from naturally occurring chemicals. These natural pesticides are generally accepted as less toxic and break down more rapidly, the bill's sponsors said. In addition to banning pesticides in city parks, the bill would also prohibit spraying pesticides within 75 feet of a body of wate

Crain's New York Hospital for Special Surgery to revive FDR Drive project by JONATHAN LAMANTIA

Hospital for Special Surgery to revive FDR Drive project

Hospital for Special Surgery is moving ahead with a $300 million project to add patient rooms and physician offices by building above the FDR Drive. The plan is more than 10 years in the making and has been saddled with lawsuits from neighbors opposing it.

Upper East Side Patch Renovated 2-Block Portion Of East River Esplanade Unveiled by Brendan Krisel

Renovated 2-Block Portion Of East River Esplanade Unveiled

The city partnered with the Hospital for Special Surgery to conduct a $1.8 million renovation of the esplanade between East 70th and 72nd streets when the hospital requested permission to expand its Upper East Side campus, City Councilman Ben Kallos said Thursday.

"When HHS wanted to make a small expansion to one of its buildings they asked how they could best give back to the community," Kallos said. "In addition to the great work they do healing New Yorkers and their existing commitment to be part of the conservancy we asked if they could do even more and they obliged."

The newly-renovated portion of the esplanade features new railings, benches, planters and a new water station where runners and bikers can fill up their water bottles, city Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver said. The renovations also brought sound-resistant walls to the esplanade to reduce noise coming from the FDR Drive.

Our Town Safe space on Sutton Place by Douglas Feiden

Safe space on Sutton Place

Kallos tapped his discretionary funds to buy five security cameras for the northern blocks — each with a live 24/7 feed to the 17th Precinct — and Powers dipped into his Council funds to purchase two more for the culs-de-sac as far south as Beekman Place and 50th Street.

They don’t come cheap: Each camera will cost $35,000 for an overall tab of $245,000. It wasn’t immediately clear when they will be installed.

“Soon, the 17th Precinct will have eyes on the park — and it will be able to respond instantaneously and even proactively,” Kallos said in an Aug. 3 press conference at the river-facing dead end on East 54th Street.

New York Post Upper East Siders are sick of this expensive tennis bubble by Lorena Mongelli and Sara Dorn

Upper East Siders are sick of this expensive tennis bubble

“While the Upper East Side has among the lowest amount of public park space in the city, Sutton East Tennis sits on City park land but is not accessible to most community members, because it charges rates as high as $225 an hour,” Councilman Ben Kallos, who represents the district encompassing the courts, wrote in a letter to the Parks Department arguing against any private control over the Queensboro Oval Tennis Courts.

The Parks Department is set to award a contract for a new operator of the courts, according to Parks’ request for new operators issued in March.

Sutton East charges up to $225 per hour for doubles on weekends, but prices are as low as $15 an hour during the summer months. Those with a seasonal tennis pass from the Parks Department do not have to pay an added fee during summer months.

Upper East Side Patch UES Private School Pledges $1M To Esplanade Renovation by Brendan Krisel

UES Private School Pledges $1M To Esplanade Renovation

UPPER EAST SIDE, NY — An Upper East Side private school has pledged to complete a $1 million renovation project on part of the East River Esplanade in an agreement to lease the space, city officials announced this week.

The Brearley School will lease "The Pier" — an 3,720-square-foot elevated platform above the John Finley Walk between East 82nd and 83rd streets — for the next 20 years with the option for two 10 year renewals, City Councilman Ben Kallos announced.

The school will be required to make $1 million in capital improvements to the space, which has fallen into disrepair and often leaks water onto the John Finley Walk, and will be responsible for maintenance and upkeep for the duration of the lease, Kallos said.