BY TEQUILA MINSKY | The area in front of the Morton Williams supermarket at Bleecker St. and LaGuardia Place was the venue for the Village’s first-ever Accessibility and Resources Day on Mon., July 11.
Judith Walsh, co-executive director of the Washington Square Village Tenants Association, was concerned that some people in the community were having issues with Access-A-Ride similar to those she had experienced. Since state Senator Hoylman had worked with Walsh on transportation issues, she enlisted him as a co-sponsor for the information fair, along with state Senator Daniel Squadron.
All afternoon, visitors stopped by at the tables set up on the sidewalk, manned by representatives of the politicians, who provided information and resource guides. Hoylman and Squadron attended the fair, as did Borough President Gale Brewer and Assemblymember Deboroh Glick.
Metropolitan Transportation Authority Paratransit supplied information on Access-A-Ride and reduced-fare senior MetroCards. Hoylman’s staff offered information on SCRIE (Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption) and DRIE (Disability Rent Increase Exemption), plus healthcare proxy guides. Those who missed the fair can call his office, at 212-633-8052, to get the informational materials.
Three nurses from Visiting Neighbors provided free blood pressure screenings and health-related information. Some seniors who felt that they did not need Visiting Neighbors’ services volunteered instead to visit and help those who do.
Martin Baranski, Sixth Precinct community affairs officer, handed out pamphlets and advice on safety and avoiding scams — especially those that target seniors.
Fueled by snacks, healthy and otherwise, and also a lunch of couscous and chicken donated by Le Souk restaurant across the street, the informative though informal fair provided Villagers opportunities to voice their concerns to the politicians, all of whom pledged to offer help where needed.
Transportation, particularly the bus routes — the M5 (which no longer turns west from Broadway onto Houston St.) and M1 (discontinued) — were of concern to many.
Hoylman spoke with constituents mainly about Access-A-Ride, especially about ideas for making reimbursements easier if people choose to simply take a cab instead of using the regular service.
Anne Hearn and Judy Magida, W.S.V.T.A. co-executive directors, joined Walsh in manning the association’s table. They were asking people to sign two petitions, one demanding the return of the M5 bus turn-around at Houston St., and another asking New York University’s new president to pause and learn more about the N.Y.U. 2031 plan and its impact on the community before starting construction.
Other co-sponsors of the event included the Bleecker Area Merchants’ and Residents’ Association (BAMRA) and 505 LaGuardia Place, as well as Community Board 2. Four members of C.B. 2 were on hand, including Shirley Secunda, Lois Rakoff and Erik Coler, along with District Leader Terri Cude, who was a major organizer of the event.
More than 100 Villagers left with information on vital programs for seniors.
“We served a lot of people today,” Walsh said afterward. “It was a good thing. I saw neighbors who really needed information get it.”