Notes from the Neighborhood

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Food & Music Fest The Murray Hill Neighborhood Association is holding its annual Taste of Murray Hill festival next Sunday, May 20, from 11 a.m. ? 6 p.m. The event will be held on Park Avenue between East 34th and 40th streets, and will include food for sale and tasting as well as crafts, antiques and collectibles for sale. There will be musical acts performing continuously throughout the day on a 34th Street stage, with tunes from Rhythm & Blues ensemble The Mondays, the Gemini Brass Quartet, jazz band Blue Haze and folksinger Mara Levine. Local restaurants participating include the Black Shack, Smorgas Chef, Curry & Curry, Kitano, Libretto and Sarge's, and this year the entire block between 39th and 40th streets will feature all Japanese food. The festival is free and open to all. Call 212-764-6330 for more information. Quart Introduces Autism Bill Upper East Side Assembly Member Dan Quart introduced legislation to create a New York State Autism Council, a body that would bring together different fields to share resources and information on how to treat and care for adults and children with autism. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows autism rates are increasing across the country, and there are 17,000 people in New York state who have been diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. Quart said he was motivated to address the issue after he met a man in his district with a 13-year old autistic son. "He explained to me in very personal terms, emotional terms, what it was like for him and his wife, not to have a son with autism, but to try to maintain their jobs and their home and maintain their son in their apartment," Quart said. He hopes that the bill, which is also being sponsored by Republican Sen. Roy McDonald, would enable government services to become better equipped at working with autistic clients. "The bill sets forth a protocol to coordinate government agencies, government services, medical professionals, to try and be more holistic working together, to try and come up with guidelines," said Quart. The Autism Council, if created, would include representatives from the Departments of Health and of Education, the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities and the Office of Children and Family Services, as well as parents of children with autism. Help for Unhealthy Air Last month, Mayor Bloomberg announced deadlines for eliminating the use of heavy heating oils, No. 6 and No. 4, in all city buildings. While these oils are used in only 10,000 of the city's buildings, a mere 1 percent, they account for more soot pollution than car and truck usage combined. Many of these buildings are located in Manhattan, emitting a substantial amount of pollution on the Upper East and West Sides, where many older buildings use the outdated systems that rely on these heavy fuel oils. Air pollution contributes to 6 percent of annual deaths in New York City, afflicting those exposed with ailments ranging from asthma to heart disease. NYC Clean Heat, an initiative to expedite the city's conversion to cleaner fuels, anticipates that full compliance with these regulations will save 1,500 lives by 2030, alleviating the burden on our neighborhoods and health care system along the way. The initiative helps building owners by providing information, technical assistance, financial resources and incentives to encourage immediate action to convert heating systems before the compliance deadlines. For more information on the program, dial 311 and ask for Clean Heat, call 212-656-9202 or email Happy Birthday, Dear Katharine The Turtle Bay Association and the Friends of Dag Hammarskjöld Plaza are throwing the late great actress Katharine Hepburn a 105th birthday celebration this Saturday, May 12, at 1 p.m. at the Dag Hammarskjöld Plaza on East 47th Street between 1st and 2nd avenues. The event will feature a free screening of Adam's Rib, a 1949 comedy starring Hepburn and Spencer Tracy as husband and wife attorneys working opposite sides of a case in which a woman shot her husband. Hilarity ensues! There will also be free coffee and birthday cake, an unveiling of a stone marker for a bench dedicated to Hepburn, and a tour of the Katharine Hepburn Garden. Kellner Wants Racing Loot for NYC Schools Legislators are getting more and more creative when it comes to finding school funding. Upper East Side Assembly Member Micah Kellner, who sits on the Racing & Wagering Committee, is calling for the return of betting machines to New York City bars-provided that they give a cut to the state education budget. Before the city closed down Off Track Betting in 2010, there were six bars around the city that had pari-mutuel machines (a type of computerized betting machine), and events like the Kentucky Derby would bring in millions in revenue. The New York Racing Association has proposed returning these machines to bars, eventually installing up to 40, which would give bar owners a cut and generate an estimated $165 million for the state. "New York State is losing out on easy money. New Yorkers are losing out on the chance to bet legally and simply by going to their neighborhood bar. New York's schoolchildren-most importantly-are losing out on resources for their future," Kellner said. He wants the state's Racing, Wagering & Gaming Commission to approve the plan and install machines in time for the second and third Triple Crown horse races this summer.

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