March Newsletter

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Friends and neighbors,

It’s been a bone chilling time for us all, but there’s still a lot going on to share with you all.

Fulop is Coming to our March Meeting

We have been working with our friends with the Downtown Coalition of Neighborhood Associations to organize a Q&A with Mayor Fulop for our March meeting (at Grace Van Vorst Church, 7:30pm, second Monday of the month, March 10). All are welcome to any of our general meeting, of course.  All of the DCNA members (all the downtown NAs) will be soliciting questions to ask the Mayor, then a moderator will select questions to pose to our Mayor.  Please submit your question by filling out this form.

EMS Contract: JCMC v. McCabe

As you may be aware, the city is considering changing EMS services providers. As this decision affects every citizen that would possibly need this care, we invited the two providers vying for the contract: JCMC and McCabe.  McCabe declined to attend. JCMC sent their current head of EMS Services, Rob Luckritz.

Luckritz went into the history of the JCMC, and the reasons why the JCMC had been charging the city in the past. Essentially, the non-profit JCMC and its EMS services are complementary. The EMS service on its own is not a strong business for the JCMC, but it does bring in patients to the facility who are then provided services that does bring in significant revenues – so you really cannot separate the hospital from the EMS services when speaking about the EMS services from the JCMC.

Luckritz explained that several years ago, the JCMC was in very poor financial condition.  The payments, which ended 12/31, allowed the JCMC to invest in technology and new vehicles from a fleet that was past its prime. Since then, JCMC has improved its finances, and the city is the beneficiary of an EMS service with a six-minute response time (national average is nine minutes) and a cardio resuscitation rate of 50% up from 17%. Also, JCMC has the experience to handle the volume of calls (about 90,000 last year) as it is already doing it. McCabe, according to Luckritz, in total handled 22,000.
Luckritz offered us a tour of the JCMC facilities. Reach out to us if you are interested and I will make the arrangements for the tour. Here are the open dates:

  • Wednesday, March 12th, 8:45 AM
  • Tuesday, March 18th, 5:45 PM
  • Tuesday, April 8th, 5:45 PM
  • Wednesday, April 16th, 8:45 AM

For these reasons, and others that I haven’t cited, it was resolved that the HCA would write a letter to the Mayor and to City Council in support of JCMC for the EMS contract.

8 Erie – the Battle for the Sidewalk Continues!

We are approaching a year since we have been trying to get the City to see it our way on 8 Erie Street, where the sidewalk is fenced off by the construction on one side of the street. Originally, there was a small walking path that had been coned off, which didn’t offer much protection from vehicular traffic. What the HCA wanted was a substantial barrier, but the city just took the path away entirely, and we’ve been working on getting it back ever since.

Well, it seems we may have finally gotten through to the City. Last week, we heard from the Building Department that they will be moving in the fence by about three feet to allow for pedestrians. This was to happen either last week or early next week. We’re curious as to how this will be done, but we will stay on top of it. A special thanks to the vigilance of HCA board member Jeremy Jacobson on his ceaseless efforts on our behalf.

Key Foods and the Double Parked Delivery Trucks

As you may be aware, when delivery trucks pull up to Key Food on Jersey Avenue, many times they double park on Jersey Avenue, causing congestion and unsafe conditions since northbound traffic then has to go in the southbound lane to get through.

The HCA met with Key Food and discovered that the larger trucks cannot make subsequent turns once on Third Street, where the loading zone is currently. We suggested that the store move the zone to Jersey Avenue, with the stipulation that the store fence off the unsightly dumpsters on the side of its building. Well, the Historic Preservation Commission officer wouldn’t allow for the fencing. So, the HCA is now pushing the city for a loading zone for Jersey Avenue, but with limited hours. The HCA board will also be seeking a waiver for a tasteful fencing around its dumpster, in teak or another quality material. The grocer must submit a letter to the city requesting the change of location of the loading zone, which it has yet to submit at the time of this newsletter.

RIP, SeeCLickFix

Since the city has adopted its own issue response application, JC RRC Fix-IT, the HCA has decided reluctantly to cease using the SeeClickFix app as part of its method of resolving issues in the neighborhood.

The HCA used SCF to great effect as it allowed us to hear from anyone in our neighborhood on an issue and immediately see the scope of the problem, which we then could update to let people know that we had reported the problem to the appropriate person and when we had done it.

We are not pleased with the closed nature of the city’s app. You can’t see other people’s reports, or respond to them, only the City government can see what is reported. As such, the HCA will be working with OpenJC and reaching out the City to seek such improvements to the software.

A Big Victory to turning the Embankment into a Park

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington agreed with the 2013 ruling by the U.S. District Court that the Harsimus Branch is a rail line subject to Surface Transportation Board jurisdiction. What the heck does that mean? It means that this latest ruling supports that Conrail didn’t follow the proper process and offer the embankment to the city, making the sale to Steve Hyman improper (if that’s the right legal term). While this fight is far from over, we are excited at this latest victory for our friends in the Embankment Preservation Coalition who have been carrying on so long with the efforts to bring a park to all of us. Thank you, EPC. A victory well deserved.

Our City’s new Recreation Director Visits

Ryan Strother, the city’s new Director of the Department of Recreation, paid us a visit at our February meeting. Now it’s the new boxing program that has been getting all the press, but Strother has a plethora of programs the department is running, including: Cricket, indoor volleyball, swimming (youth and adult classes), free SCUBA classes, golf, dance, senior programs and other activities like the ski trip to Mountain Creek that included transportation, lift ticket and the equipment rental at ridiculously low price.

 MICROUNITS in Van Vorst Park

The city recently seems to have reversed course and is now backing our friends at the Van Vorst Park Association in their opposition to the micro unit apartments in their neighborhood.

The Office of Housing, Economic Development and Commerce issued a letter to the developer  stating that the "proposed 87 micro unit project at 268 Varick is denied based on ambiguity pertaining to density". (the original application didn’t discuss density in any detail, according to the VVPA) The developer has the right to appeal.

This is excellent news for our friends in Van Vorst Park, but this fight is far from over. Stay tuned for more details.

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