By Carol Tannenhauser
More than 200 people logged in to the Community Board 7 meeting on Tuesday night to talk bike lanes, liquor licenses, smoking laws and the most heated topic of the day — homelessness.
Early in the meeting, Captain Neil Zuber, commander of the 20th Precinct, logged in to urge locals to report crimes.
“Please, when you see something — drug use, public lewdness — you have to report it, call 911. If we’re not aware that something’s happening and when and where, we can’t possibly address it. Please call 911. It works. Yesterday, based on increased reporting and our investigation, we were able to make 12 arrests of dealers and people buying drugs on the street. This root cause of what is driving so much of the quality of life issues was addressed in a very big way, thanks to the partnership with the people of the community. A lot of people are afraid if they call 911, it will clog up the system. That’s not going to happen. If you’re not certain what to do, call 911. By all means, err on the side of caution.”
Next up was the business session:
Two liquor licenses were approved — one for a place called Bonita, at 483 Columbus Avenue, the old Bellini spot.
Six building renovations were given the go ahead, involving a rooftop air conditioner, a ramp, a door and a bay window.
Prolonged attention was paid to the resolution presented by Howard Yaruss of the Transportation Committee in favor of a two-way protected bike lane on West 72nd Street.
”I don’t like to think of it as solely a bike lane resolution,” Yaruss said. “It’s calling for the Department of Transportation and experts to come up with something that will make 72nd a better street – safer, more pleasant and, of course, with a protected bike lane, connecting the north/south lanes and Central Park West with Riverside Drive.” The resolution passed.
The last order of business involved smoking on the perimeter of city parks, for example, on the benches that sit outside Central Park. Interestingly, in 2002, when legislation authored by Gale Brewer to make NYC parks smoke-free passed, an exemption was made for the perimeters, as well as parking lots and medians. Last night, CB 7 passed a resolution banning smoking on the perimeter of parks and in parking lots and medians, but marijuana was not included.
Next came the public session. Unsurprisingly it centered on the issues surrounding the people experiencing homelessness who have been moved to hotels in the neighborhood. Several speakers spoke up in favor of hotels being used as shelters; most of the proponents said they were from neighborhoods other than the UWS.
A similar number spoke against the shelters, though they were all from the neighborhood. The opponents argued that the shelters serve neither the homeless clients nor the neighborhood well.
If you want to see and hear for yourself — and you’ve got five hours — check out the full September community board meeting below.