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Full Text: State of Northern Manhattan 2014

Full Text: State of Northern Manhattan 2014

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Published by DNAinfoNewYork
Ydanis Rodriguez's annual state of the district address.
Ydanis Rodriguez's annual state of the district address.

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Published by: DNAinfoNewYork on Apr 07, 2014
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05/01/2014

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Thank you Feniosky for that great presentation; let’s give him another round of applause! And,
thank you to Columbia University Medical Center and Ross Frommer, for your hospitality this afternoon. Before we begin, I would like to acknowledge and thank my staff, Seny Taveras, Carmen De La Rosa, Lesly Almanzar, Yokarina Duarte, Russell Murphy, Rita Gomez, Tony Edwards, Noquel Matos, Fior Urena, Julie Cubillete, Eduardo Hoepelman and Kiana Diaz; our interns who help out in countless ways around the office; Camilo and the great volunteers who selflessly give their time; my mother, sisters and brothers; and especially my family, my wife Christina and my two  beautiful girls, Yarissa and Ysla. Thank you all for the endless support you provide me. I also want to dedicate this speech to a dear friend who could not be here today as she is fighting a tough battle against cancer in the Bronx, Altagracia Dilone Levat. Altagracia has been a leader in bringing cultural arts uptown and most recently ran the Alianza Dominicana Cultural Center that has grown so well since it opened less than a year ago with her vision. Altagracia, you are in our thoughts and prayers and we hope you pull through this struggle to continue the amazing work you have already done for our community. Thank you. Good afternoon and welcome, thank you all for being here, it means a great deal to me. As many of you know, we hold this event every year to update you on the work completed over the past year; to share what we are doing now; and, most importantly, to share the plans going forward. The future of Northern Manhattan and Marble Hill is bright. As we work toward filling in the details of this plan, I look forward to working with all of you to expand and refine these ideas to ensure your place in the discussion!
I’d like to thank my colleague, Senator Adriano Espaillat, for his kind words moments ago.
Senator Espaillat has a promising future in our community and the country, and we will be working with him for years to come to improve Northern Manhattan and Marble Hill in countless ways. Assembly Members Gabriela Rosa and Denny Farrell, who work tirelessly for Northern Manhattan up in Albany, and Council Member Mark Levine who has already stormed on the Council scene, hitting the ground running in his first term with a strong grasp of both policy and community relations. A lot has changed for this community in the past year, just as it has for our city. We now have a new mayor in charge, meaning a new day for New York! Mayor de Blasio knows and understands the needs of this community and has expressed to me his commitment to improving  Northern Manhattan and Marble Hill in a number of ways. In particular, working to find opportunities for the affordable housing we so desperately need; as well as improving our schools from pre-k to college, and supporting our small businesses to grow and thrive. We also elected a brand new speaker of the City Council from Uptown! Una Latina capaz y  poderosa, Melissa Mark-Viverito! Over the past few months since she began, time and time again Melissa has demonstrated a keen ability to lead our legislative body with great skill. In one
 
of her first acts as speaker, she helped to expand paid sick leave, a major victory of the council last year, to tens of thousands of new workers who were left uncovered in the previously passed law. With her leadership, our city is now moving in a new direction; a direction that takes the  plight of working New Yorkers seriously and seeks to create a place for all to live. With such monumental changes in city government, I have a resounding sense of hope for the future of both our city and this community. We have seen some major changes since last year, as well as some major improvements; and today, I will discuss the work that my office, the City Council and my partners in government have been working on, as well as the exciting new things to come. The biggest change for me personally came with the support of Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. I am proud to now chair the Committee of Transportation at the City Council. Our first priority has been to try to inspire a culture change when it comes to traffic and pedestrian safety, to limit injuries and deaths on our streets to 0 by 2024. This plan, called Vision Zero, needs the work of everyone in this city, drivers, cyclists and pedestrians alike. I have been and will continue to work with the Department of Transportation and my colleagues at the council and we will not only see a package of new legislation to put this plan into action, but a massive physical overhaul of the streetscape in New York City; making walking our streets and sidewalks more safe and enjoyable for all. To contribute to this plan, I have introduced legislation at the council that will: 1.
 
Direct the DOT to study heavily trafficked streets where a disproportionate number of crashes and deaths occur in our city; 2.
 
Legislation with my colleague Mark Weprin, that will increase the penalties for drivers who fail to yield to pedestrians; 3.
 
A resolution calling on Albany to give the city the ability to decide its OWN speed limits on OUR streets because 30 miles per hour has proven to be too fast as speed is a leading cause of death in car crashes;
 
And I, along with Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and a number of my colleagues at the council have held and continue to hold major town hall meetings in every borough of the city to seek feedback and input from you, the residents that will be affected by these changes. But my goals at this committee go well beyond Vision Zero. I will promote new alternatives to existing transportation options; in addition to expanding what is already in place to underserved communities across our city. By 2030, New York is expected to gain five-hundred and fifty thousand new residents, all of whom will need transportation options. To tackle this vital challenge, I will seek out partnerships with academics and industry leaders and work to put together a think-tank for the future of NYC transportation. I want this community to be a part of this effort going forward and my office will always be open to innovative ideas. Areas that I seek to expand, both here and across the five boroughs, will be the increased ferry service to more areas, including developing an eco-dock with the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance and the western edge of Dyckman Street. This can provide underserved communities
 
with a fun and useful option and can even open up our community to others upstate, providing opportunities to bring new products like fresh produce right into Inwood via boats. I also am looking to help stabilize and expand the great NYC Bike Share program. With recent reports of financial trouble, I have introduced legislation that will open up the books for this  program so that we can determine how best to revitalize it and bring it to more communities like ours, eager to participate. Transportation must be a service available to all New Yorkers, and accessibility is one of the  primary focuses in these plans. I have had conversations with the DOT about increasing the number of Accessible Pedestrian Signals so that the visually impaired can feel safe on our streets too. This is why I support legislation sponsored by my colleague Mark Levine and our Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, that would greatly expand this program to intersections that undergo almost any modification.
I have supported legislation requiring half of the city’s taxi fleet be made accessible by 2020.
This means 7,500 taxi and green cabs that will be able to pick up just about anyone, regardless of if you have a wheelchair, motor scooter or walker. And I continue to push the MTA to bring more elevators to Uptown train stations, constantly pressing for accessibility at the 168 and 181
st
 street 1 train stations in particular. This was done recently at the Dyckman street 1 station, with a fully functional elevator and a beautiful renovation, but this work is not complete until the Uptown tracks have accessibility as well. And, at long last, the Port Authority is set to begin construction on their new Bus Terminal at 178
th
 Street. I have joined my Uptown colleagues in government at several meetings with the Port Authority, calling on them to provide community space in a project that will also bring thousands of square feet to new businesses. As our great communities organizations know, space is at a premium and this could have a tremendous impact. They are now on the clock as this is something we have held as a sticking point; when this project will disrupt traffic in Washington Heights for over a year, there must be concessions to our community. Here at home, we are going through some new changes together. I now represent new sections of  Northern Manhattan, something I am delighted for, as I know this is one of the most active and diverse communities in the city. I am adding a wonderful group of committed individuals who will push even harder for greater resources and access to quality services for our community. Already, we have had some great events; ongoing struggles; and one victory. Late last summer, I held a Northern Manhattan parks walk joined by Jennifer Hoppa and many engaged community advocates. We toured our parks west of Broadway and I got some great feedback and knowledge while exploring more intimately the treasures we have Uptown. When it comes to your concerns, I continue to support the efforts to curb the LG building across
 
the river in the Palisades, joining Senator Espaillat, Assembly Member Rosa and Council Member Levine in a letter to the New York State EDC requesting an end to all LG related  business in the state for their arrogance and potentially devastating actions in New Jersey. Bronx Community Board 8 in Riverdale and Marble Hill has passed a resolution calling for a boycott of

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