Locals 'Reclaim' Hudson River Park After Rape Speaker Christine Quinn, Council Member Margaret Chin, other officials and downtown residents walked through Hudson River Park at 7:30 a.m. on Monday this week, to "reclaim" the streets after the brutal rape of a 21-year-old woman in the same park over the weekend. The incident, which marked the second rape in a city park in the last two weeks, stirred up local politicians, who demanded that the city drop its proposed cuts to the NYPD and Parks Enforcement Patrol budgets. "When news of a brutal rape feels like deja vu, immediate action must be taken to protect the safety of all New Yorkers," Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer declared. Meanwhile, Speaker Quinn and others announced that a free self-defense class will be taught in Tribeca later this month. In addition, on Oct. 7 at 2 p.m. Quinn and other council members will host a free self-defense class in Central Park's North Meadow Recreation Center. Proposals for Better Safety at NYCHA Complexes In light of a new report revealing safety concerns of New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) tenants in the Lower East Side, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, state Sen. Daniel Squadron and Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh released recommendations for changes last Friday. "This is a cry for help," Stringer said at the Seward Park Extension housing complex, site of the shooting of Officer Brian Groves this summer. "It's time to fix the damn doors." According to the report, which surveyed 520 residents at 10 developments, about half of respondents have broken locks and unsecured lobby doors, and 65 percent marked inadequate protections against trespassers. Tenant leaders joined the politicians at the press conference and echoed concerns. In some cases, a lack or shortage of security precautions causes residents to fear leaving the house, according Dereese Huff, president of the Campos Plaza tenants association. NYCHA is still sitting on $42 million budgeted for security cameras, and tenants are growing impatient. Though NYCHA recently announced camera installations by the end of 2013, Stringer insisted that changes be made now and that such standards of living would be unacceptable anywhere else. He proposed restructuring NYCHA, adding that "we don't need a whole bureaucracy to tell us what the tenants have told us in the survey." Besides equipping developments, the recommendations focus on re-evaluating the relationship with the New York Police Department. In a 1994 Memorandum of Understanding with the NYPD, NYCHA agreed to pay for "above baseline services," now costing $72 million a year. Housing developments account for 20 percent of New York City's crime but receive 9 percent of NYPD services. A renegotiated MOU would eliminate the surcharge without sacrificing current levels of police presence. "We have a problem with crime, and we have a problem in terms of giving people the comfort they deserve," Squadron said. Reps Pledge to Protect 9/11 Funds from Cutbacks The House sponsors of the 9/11 Zadroga Act have come out to defend their brainchild against imminent federal cuts. If Congress does not implement policies to lower the federal deficit by Jan. 2, 2013, the 9/11 health program and the Victim Compensation Fund will lose millions of dollars in funding, in an automatic cutback of federal expenses. U.S. Reps. Carolyn B. Maloney, Jerrold Nadler and Peter T. King, who were the House sponsors for the James Zadroga 9/11 Health & Compensation Act, promised last week to resist any attempt to cut this funding. The proposed cuts would lop off $118 million from the World Trade Center Health Program, and $211 million from the Victims Compensation Fund. Together, the representatives released the following statement: "Considering how long it took Congress to act, we cannot allow those receiving the care they need and deserve from the Zadroga Act to be stranded by a sequester. This is one of the many compelling and urgent reasons why we pledge to work together in a bipartisan manner to prevent deficit cuts from jeopardizing these vital programs." City Breaks Ground on Final Section of High Line Last Thursday, the City broke ground on the third and final part of the High Line, the famed park that reuses the abandoned railway between Gansevoort Street in the Meatpacking District to West 30th Street and 10th Avenue. The High Line has become a monumental part of Manhattan's West Side and an architectural wonder as it is elevated above the city's streets. Since its opening in 2009, it has attracted over 10 million visitors. The park's final installment is scheduled for completion in 2014, and will extend to West 34th Street. Mayor Bloomberg, who presided over the groundbreaking moment, celebrated the final wave of construction with this statement: "The park has become a local treasure and an international icon as well as an important generator of economic growth for our city." Compiled by Nora Bosworth and Naomi Cohen
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