MAHN Lawmakers May 28, 2019

Manhattan Lawmakers on the Move bannner

Speaker Johnson Calls On Mayor To Give Weeksville Heritage Center NY’s Cultural Affairs Designation

Council Member Corey Johnson (Credit: Jeff Reed)

City Council Speaker Corey Johnson (D-Chelsea, Hell’s Kitchen) today will call on Mayor Bill de Blasio to designate the last remaining early African-American settlement in Central Brooklyn as one of the city’s Cultural Institutions Group (CIGS).

Earlier this month, the center, which preserves the history of one of the largest free black communities in pre-Civil War America, indicated that without immediate funding they would be forced to close. President and Executive Director Rob Fields of the organization sent out an email notifying the public that the center could close as soon as July due to “high operating costs and challenging fundraising environment for black cultural institutions”, according to initial reports.

The center launched a crowdfunding campaign as a response with the hope of raising $200,000 by June 30. As of press time, the institution has raised $262,181.

Under the CIGS designation, Weeksville would get regular funding and maintenance instead of having to crowdsource for survival. Already, there are 33 institutions in this group, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Bronx Museum of the Arts. The last institution added the list was The Museum of Jewish Heritage in 1998.

The event is slated for 3 p.m., today, May 28, on the Steps of City Hall in Lower Manhattan.

Chin, Advocates Call On Congress To Permanently Fund 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund

Council Member Margaret Chin
Council Member Margaret Chin

City Council member Margaret Chin (D-LES, Chinatown) alongside other electeds and advocates this week will rally in support of the Never Forget the Heroes: Permanent Authorization of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund Act (H.R.1327/S.546).

The Council Members will introduce a resolution calling on Congress to pass the bill to make the VCF permanent, and provide full financing. The bill, sponsored by Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, has earned the bipartisan support of nearly 300 congressional officials, and will be heard next month by the House Judiciary Committee.

The Victim Compensation Fund is due to expire on Dec. 18, 2020. The Special Master, Rupa Bhattacharyya, earlier this year, determined that the funding remaining in the VCF would be insufficient to pay all pending and projected claims under current VCF policies and procedures and, consequently, announced modifications to VCF policies consistent with her statutory obligations.

Bhattacharyya specifically announced that new claims would be reduced by as much as 70% due to the surge in 9/11 illness related claims badly depleting the fund’s $7 billion reserve.

The September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (“VCF”) was created to provide compensation for any individual (or a personal representative of a deceased individual) who suffered physical harm or was killed as a result of the terrorist-related aircraft crashes of September 11, 2001 or the debris removal efforts that took place in the immediate aftermath of those crashes. The original VCF operated from 2001-2004.

The event is slated for 12-noon, Tuesday, May 29, at Greenwich Street (between Fulton Street and Dey Street) directly across from the 9/11 Memorial & Museum in Lower Manhattan.

Brewer, Rosenthal Hold Ribbon Cutting For P.S. 84 Fearless Garden

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer
Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer
Council Member Helen Rosenthal
Council Member Helen Rosenthal

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and City Council member Helen Rosenthal (D-Central Park, Lincoln Square) officially opened the Roof Garden at P.S. 84, The Lillian Weber School of the Arts, on Manhattan’s Upper West Side last week.

The rooftop garden, known as The Fearless Garden, will serve as a teaching space, an arts center and a space for the community to gather.  The primary focus will be to provide hands-on science learning to students as they grow a multitude of fruits, vegetables, herbs and flowers.   

Parents, students and school staff began planning for the roof garden ten years ago, initiating extensive community engagement efforts and developing partnerships with local businesses, residents and community organizations. Additionally, the project received sustained capital commitments from Brewer and Rosenthal.

“The beautiful new PS 84 roof garden is an investment in the education of the future. School communities thrive when families and children work together in fostering growth in their gardens—and I’m so honored to have played a role in its funding,” said Brewer.

“I am beyond delighted that the rooftop garden at PS 84 is opening today. School gardens offer a wonderful opportunity for young people to explore environmental science, develop a life-long passion for cultivating the earth, and experience the healing power of stillness. Introducing young people to the power and beauty of gardens is a positive for our society and the health of our planet,” said Rosenthal.

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