Neighborhood Chatter

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SPURA SITE GETS 9,000 AFFORDABLE APARTMENTS Last week, Community Board 3's Committee on Land Use approved a proposal to develop affordable housing in the Seward Park Urban Renewal Area (SPURA), five vacant, city-owned lots on the Lower East Side. The site has been undeveloped for nearly 50 years and has been the subject of intense debate in the community for as long. In 1967, buildings in the area did not meet the acceptable city living standard. Authorities evicted 1,852 families and razed the site in an effort to build new and better low-income housing. The city then backed away from the original plan, and for almost 50 years the community has debated what to do with the properties while the site sits untouched. The approved proposal will create 900 apartments, with 50 percent of them meeting affordable housing criteria. CB3 has also decided to turn nearly 1 million square feet into commercial space. "Over the course of the last three years, it has been made abundantly clear that the issue of permanent affordability was one of, if not the, highest priority for this community board and Lower East Side residents," said Council Member Margaret Chin in a press release. "I hope that the city's commitment to permanent affordable housing renews your confidence in the public process," Chin said after the vote. SILVER URGES OPENING SCHOOL FIELD TO PUBLIC Last week, in an open letter to Department of Education Chancellor Dennis Walcott, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver asked for the Seward Park High School Field on the Lower East Side to be reopened to the public. The DOE only recently restricted access for nonstudents to the four handball courts, three tennis courts, six basketball hoops and track. In the letter, Silver reminded Walcott that 10 years ago, he helped the school win a "Take the Field" grant. Silver noted the grant "provided for extensive renovations, turning it into a thriving recreational space that served our area so well." Silver said local communities are suffering from a lack of open spaces that encourage physical exercise and prevent childhood obesity. "We should be providing more opportunities for our children to engage in safe, healthy physical activities, not shutting down public access to our parks," Silver said. CRABS IN CHINATOWN Wednesday morning, during rush hour, numerous crabs escaped from a bucket that fell on the road during a delivery to a local Chinatown market. Bystanders, shop workers and a deliveryman all blocked traffic on Lower Eldridge Street trying to catch the scurrying shellfish. Bowery Boogie, the Lower East Side website, reported that about a dozen people armed with plastic bags gathered the crabs on the street. Whether any of these crabs made it to the dinner table or a store shelf remains unknown. CHANGES TO METROCARDS This month, the MTA has increased the timeframe in which an unlimited MetroCard can be swiped at the same turnstile in an effort to combat fraud. Scammers are currently making a profit by buying monthly subway cards for $104 and then selling a single swipe for less than $2.50, the price of a single ride pass. Scammers often jam vending machines, which prevents passengers from purchasing their own tickets. The MTA claims these practices are costing millions of dollars each year. The Daily News reported that the MTA has changed turnstiles at 28 stations where they found fraud to be especially high. By increasing the time between swipes from 18 minutes to up to 60 minutes, the MTA hopes scammers will have to buy extra MetroCards to rotate during waiting times. With the longer waiting periods, it will be harder for scammers to make a profit. ANONYMOUS ONLINEPOSTING PROPOSAL Last week, the New York State Assembly and State Senate proposed a bill that would require all New York-based websites to "remove any comments posted on his or her website by an anonymous poster unless such anonymous poster agrees to attach his or her name to the post and confirms that his or her IP address, legal name and home address are accurate." State Sen. Thomas O'Mara, who is sponsoring the bill, said the legislation would help prevent cyberbullying. According to a National Crime Prevention Council survey, about 40 percent of teenagers have experienced some form of cyberbullying. Assemblyman Jim Conte, a co-sponsor of the bill, said in an online statement that if passed, the bill would also prevent anonymous users from criticizing local businesses. "The legislation will help cut down on the types of mean-spirited and baseless political attacks that add nothing to the real debate and merely seek to falsely tarnish the opponent's reputation by using anonymity on the Web," Conte said. The legislation would require website administrators to remove any anonymous comments from their pages upon request. Users would not have to reveal their identity when making a complaint for removal.

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