New York CIty Council Member Ben Kallos

Parks

Our Town Redeeming an Upper East Side eyesore by Douglas Feiden

Redeeming an Upper East Side eyesore

t was 1939, construction was wrapping up on the East River Drive, the waterfront was being reinvented and dozens of property holders were cutting deals as their riverside rights began to vanish.

Case in point: The Brearley School. It limited its claim for the loss of air and light and the surrender of riparian rights to a symbolic $1 when the city obtained an easement for its playground and pier.

It did not, however, walk away empty-handed: In return for getting out of the way of the highway, Brearley got the city to build a new elevated structure above the promenade deck for its use as a play space.

And for the past 79 years, the private all-girls school has been leasing the 3,720-square-foot, steel-and-concrete platform that rises above the East River Esplanade’s John Finley Walk between 82nd and 83rd Street.

Unfortunately, for the past half-century, the city-owned hulk — called “The Pier,” for the jetty it replaced, and “The Overhang,” because it juts out over the Esplanade — has become one of the most detested and unsightly visual objects on the Upper East Side.

“I have spent my entire life walking up and down the Esplanade, passing under this overhang — and watching it fall apart,” said 37-year-old City Council Member Ben Kallos, who represents the area.

CBS New York City Council Considering Ban On Sale Of Single Use Plastic Bottles At Parks, Beaches by Marcia Kramer

City Council Considering Ban On Sale Of Single Use Plastic Bottles At Parks, Beaches

People would still be allowed to bring their own plastic bottles to those places, but wouldn’t be allowed to buy them there.

The measure would also provide for filling stations at parks and beaches, so people could fill up reusable bottles at those locations.

The measure is backed by Council members Ben Kallos and Rafael Espinal.

As CBS2’s Political Reporter Marcia Kramer reported, Kallos wants to start by stopping the sale of bottled water at city parks, beaches, golf courses, skating rinks, etc. Espinal would like to extend it to anything in a plastic bottle, like juice, soda, tea, etc.

“It would actually help and make a dent in the one billion plastic bottles that New York City throws away every year,” Kallos said.

“There are studies that show that if we don’t stop the current trend of the amount of plastic we’re using, we’re going to have more plastic than fish in our ocean,” said Espinal.

It’s a controversial proposal, Kramer reported. The International Bottled Water Association worries about dehydration.

Curbed NYC takes aim at plastic with bills banning bags, bottles by Ameena Walker

NYC takes aim at plastic with bills banning bags, bottles

The bill must pass through the State Assembly and the Senate before it can move forward. Per the Times, the Assembly has been “generally supportive of a ban but not a fee,” however, the Senate has not weighed in yet on the proposal.

Last week, New York City Councilman Rafael Espinal Jr., and Councilman Ben Kallos announced plans of their own to introduce a bill that would ban the sale of disposable plastic bottles at the city’s parks, beaches, and golf courses, reports the New York Times. The proposed ban hopes to encourage more people to rely on refillable bottles, and while sales of beverages in plastic bottles would be prohibited, park visitors would still be allowed to bring in their own plastic bottles.

“New Yorkers love convenience, especially because we are always running from one place to another, but this will make us pause and realize the impact that our actions are having on our environment,” said Espinal in a statement to the Times.

Metro Council wants ban on single-use plastic bottle sales in NYC parks and beaches by Nikki M. Mascali

Council wants ban on single-use plastic bottle sales in NYC parks and beaches

After President Trump rolled back a six-year Obama-era ban on selling bottled water at U.S. national parks last year, New York City Council has responded by introducing a ban of their own on single-use water bottles at city parks and beaches.

“In the face of the Trump administration's regressive and profit-driven agenda, it is time we step up and do our part to curb our reliance on single-use bottles,” said Council Member Rafael Espinal, who on Monday introduced legislation alongside Council Member Ben Kallos and Environmental Protection Chair Costa Constantinides.

New York Times Could New York City Parks Be Going Plastic Bottle-Free? by Winnie Hu

Could New York City Parks Be Going Plastic Bottle-Free?

Councilman Kallos said the Trump decision spurred him to action. He said he has wanted to ban disposable plastic water bottles since trying to buy one himself while visiting San Francisco several years ago and being told he could not. So he bought a reusable bottle to tote around — something he now does in New York.

“You see plastic bottles everywhere,” he said. “It makes New York look like a dump and we can do better.”

This is not the first time that New York has taken a stand against plastic bottles. In 2008, the office of the City Council speaker, Christine C. Quinn, stopped buying bottled waterfor Council offices. A 2009 state executive order barred state agencies from buying bottled water, to save taxpayer dollars and improve the environment.

The city has also targeted other plastic waste. In 2016, the Council sought to encourage shoppers to give up plastic store bags by charging 5 cents for most plastic and shopping bags. But that law was blocked last year by state legislators, some of whom argued that it imposed a regressive tax on the poor, and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo.

Mr. Kallos and Mr. Espinal said their proposed ban on plastic bottle sales was more limited than the plastic bag fee and less likely to draw interference from state lawmakers.

City Councilman Ben Kallos, left, a sponsor of the ban, discussed its merits with Michael O’Neal, a co-owner of the Ballfields Café in Central Park. A manager at the café said a ban could cut into his bottom line. CreditChang W. Lee/The New York Times
City Councilman Ben Kallos, left, a sponsor of the ban, discussed its merits with Michael O’Neal, a co-owner of the Ballfields Café in Central Park. A manager at the café said a ban could cut into his bottom line. Credit Chang W. Lee/The New York Times

 

Michael Whyland, a spokesman for the Assembly speaker, Carl E. Heastie, said that while Mr. Heastie, a Democrat from the Bronx, had not yet seen the proposed ban, “The speaker has always said that the city has the ability to enact a ban on unnecessary plastic waste.”

Mr. Kallos and Mr. Espinal said they will introduce bills next week to lay out more details about the proposed ban. Mr. Kallos said that vendors in city recreational areas could face penalties for selling plastic bottles, including possibly having their concessions revoked.

Upper East Side Patch Queensboro Oval Will Not Become A Park, City Says by Brendal Krisel

Queensboro Oval Will Not Become A Park, City Says

UPPER EAST SIDE, NY — The Queensboro Oval will remain home to a sports facility — not a park — for at least another 10 years, according to the city Parks Department.

The Parks Department released a request for proposals in February seeking a partner to develop, operate and maintain a sports facility at the space located underneath the Queensboro Bridge on East 59th Street between First and York avenues. Community boards and elected officials representing the Upper East Side and East Midtown had advocated converting the space into a public park.

"For many months last year, NYC Parks engaged in an extensive dialogue with elected officials, community board members, local residents and those who have enjoyed tennis at the Queensboro Oval for the past 40 years, and determined that open to the public sports recreational use of this kind of space is the best, safest, and most accessible," Parks Department Spokeswoman Crystal Howard said in a statement. "We look forward to continued engagement with the public as we move forward."

The Queensboro Oval site is owned by the city Department of Transportation, which will not allow the construction of any permanent structures on the property, according to a Parks Department spokesperson. The inability to create permanent structures such as tree and shrub plantings or play equipment makes the site unfit for a traditional park space, the spokesperson said.

DNAinfo.com Hospital for Special Surgery Pitches In to Build East River Esplanade by Shaye Weaver

Hospital for Special Surgery Pitches In to Build East River Esplanade

New York Presbyterian Hospital/Cornell-Weill Medical Center and the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center have also agreed to coordinate with the city as it upgrades the waterfront, according to City Councilman Ben Kallos.

New York-Presbyterian is currently constructing an ambulatory care center and Sloan Kettering's new outpatient cancer care facility and science and health building are also under construction.

"Revitalizing and improving the East River Esplanade has been one of my top priorities and one of the best ways to do this is to engage in active public-private partnerships, like this one with HSS," said City Councilman Ben Kallos. "Everyone benefits when the Esplanade is improved and maintained, especially in a part of the city that has one of the lowest amounts of open space.”