Time To Close Dangerous Shelter? N90s Raises No-Drug Zone With Rosenthal

N90s asks Helen Rosenthal to account for the City’s failure to address deteriorating conditions at Freedom House shelter. We also announce an event dedicated to neighbor Amanda Larrick, and the campaign to bring stop signs to Riverside Dr. Service Road

Should City Close Shelter Over No-Drug Zone Enforcement? N90s Expresses Concerns To Council Member Rosenthal, Demands Action!

Neighborhood sent City Council Member Helen Rosenthal the following letter regarding the deteriorating conditions at Freedom House and the drug trade opposite a public school:

“There is growing concern in the neighborhood among parents, elderly, people walking dogs, other neighbors and legacy SRO tenants about the growing, unchecked drug trade in Freedom House, 316 West 95th Street. 
 
In fact, we know that you have heard from, and met with constituents on this very matter. The tenants have reported that there has not only been no progress in resolving the drug and safety issues inside, but there have been blatant signs of internal work to expand the number of beds at Freedom House.
 
There are also concerns about the increasingly aggressive, in-your-face panhandling from Freedom House DHS clients, and the negative impact on banks and restaurants and even the subway entrances between 93rd and 96th Streets on Broadway. 
 
In addition, comparisons have been made to the “contagion” that Freedom House creates when DHS clients engage the veterans at the Veterans shelter next door in the drug trade. Many of the transactions between the vets and the Freedom House clients are taking place right in front of the two buildings, which are directly across the street from P.S. 75 and its middle school, which house more than 1100 children.

We are aware, that for the past six months, you have been working on a “plan” with DHS to address conditions at Freedom House. However, it appears that the City has done little or nothing to address neighborhood concerns or improve the livability of the facility for its residents.
 
Further, we are concerned that, while we have been patient, there is little to show for these efforts.
 
The fact is, Freedom House is less than 100 feet from the entrance to a major public school, while New York State drug-free zones around schools are very strict about keeping dealers 1,000 feet or more from schools.  
Have you raised this legal issue with DHS/HRA? 

The City must be held responsible for enforcing this for the sake of our schoolchildren. We also need to consider the health and safety of veterans in the adjoining property, a concern that the operators, Harlem United and Bailey House share with the community.
 
The City also has refused to convene a Community Advisory Board to create a forum to raise these concerns about Freedom House. 

We would like to have an update on the progress in making Freedom House a good neighbor. The alternative is legal action and/or political action.

We ask that, in the absence of progress, that you raise your voice publicly to accelerate badly needed changes or the outright closing of this terribly run facility. We need Helen Rosenthal to raise her voice publicly for our neighbors, the veterans and especially the schoolchildren – with the greatest urgency!
 
Can we count on you to take action now”?
 
Sincerely,
 
Aaron Biller
President
Neighborhood In The Nineties

Update: C.M. Rosenthal has promised an update next Monday. Stay tuned

Joan of Arc Event May 30th Dedicated To Neighborhood Leader Amanda Larrick

On May 30th, the Joan of Arc Statue Committee will hold “La Fêtes de Jeanne d’Arc: Celebrate Summer at Joan of Arc Island Park” to reacquaint the community to The Joan of Arc Statue Committee and its efforts to raise the needed funds to preserve and restore the Joan Statue and its parkland surround.

The May 30th event will be held from 5 to 8 PM and dedicated to Amanda Larrick, who for many years led the volunteers or “park tenders” who revitalized the Joan of Arc Island of Riverside Park, West 91st to West 95th Streets. Ms. Larrick was also active in the West 93rd Street Block Association, a group that kept a watchful eye over the community and organized weekly street cleanups.

A French Jazz Band, Via Paris, will provide live music throughout the 5-8pm event, and refreshments will be available.  Representatives from the JOA Statue Committee and Riverside Park Conservancy will be in attendance to answer any questions regarding the preservation and restoration efforts.  City Council Member Helen Rosenthal  provided substantial funding to restore the park, while the Committee, headed by Randy Hugill, is raising funds to complete the work.

Riverside Residents, 97th to 99th Demand Stop Signs at 98th and 99th Streets

In last month’s newsletter, we asked neighbors to write in about their concerns on the Riverside Drive Service Road, leading north from West 97th Street to the Fireman’s Memorial.

Neighbors are upset by speeding traffic that use the road to bypass the main portion of Riverside Drive, which has traffic lights. In addition, northbound users of Riverside Drive have been forced to use the side road and turn onto 98th Street, then use West End south for two blocks in order to access the Henry Hudson Parkway.

Melissa White of Riverside Drive raised the issue before the Community Board 7 Transportation Committee and a representative of the NYC Department of Transportation (DOT). The first step for slowing traffic is usually speed bumps, because Federal law requires a certain level of vehicle or pedestrian traffic to place stop signs.

Neighbors on the 97th-99th Street corridor are campaigning for stop signs. Here’s a few letters:

Karen Marshall wrote:
Actually there should be a speed bump on Riverside Drive Street between 97th and 98th. When access to the Westside Highway was closed this small service road became a highway and the turn onto 98th street the only access to 96th Street and the highway. The service road has many children crossing at 97th and is dangerous and we can have a tragedy. A speed bump and a stop sign at 98th is needed for safely”.

Tania Kravath wrote:
“We would be much safer from speeding cars were stop signs to be installed on RSD service roads on 98 & 99th St”.

Shy Kline wrote:
“Actually there should be a speed bump on Riverside Drive Street between 97th and 98th. When access to the Westside Highway was closed this small service road became a highway and the turn onto 98th street the only access to 96th Street and the highway. The service road has many children crossing at 97th and is dangerous and we can have a tragedy. A speed bump and a stop sign at 98th is needed for safely”.

Jeff Walker wrote:
“I am writing to request that you support the placement of stop signs on these corners (98th and 99th Sts.).  Cars coming off of the West Side Highway have raced up the Riverside pass-through for years now.  It is a treacherous crossing and I am loathe to allow my young daughters (10 and 11) to cross alone to walk our dogs to the park, even mid-day.  The issue subsists regardless of the time of day.  Some cars move at an appropriate speed, recognizing that this is an ENTIRELY residential neighborhood, with no businesses whatsoever on Riverside or West End to the East, yet many vehicles treat it like an unpatrolled highway.  Please do what you can to support our effort for the safety of our families”. 

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