Neighborhood Chatter

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Compiled by Helen Matsumoto Officials Push for Domestic Violence Penalty Laws City officials, including Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr., are calling for immediate passage of a bill that would increase penalties for repeat domestic violence offenders. The legislation, led by State Sen. Daniel Squadron and Assembly Member Linda Rosenthal, would provide district attorneys with the tools to crack down on reoccurring violent abuse by establishing the felony-level crime of "aggressive domestic violence" for abusers who commit two or more offenses within five years. Under the current law, only those who cause serious physical injury or kill their victims face felony charges, and those who repeatedly commit domestic violence offenses can only be charged with a low-level misdemeanor. Quinn and Bloomberg Join to End Defense of Marriage Act City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and Mayor Michael Bloomberg recently announced that they will file a joint amicus brief to support Edie Windsor's constitutional challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Windsor sued the federal government after being forced to pay $363,000 in estate taxes on her late wife's estate because the government did not recognize her marriage to her partner of over 40 years. Under DOMA, homosexual marriages are not recognized as legitimate, and therefore only heterosexual couples are exempt from having to pay their spouses' estate taxes. "Edie Windsor's case is a tragic reminder of the work that still needs to be done to extend equality to all people," said Quinn. "As courts across the country continue to strike down DOMA's unconstitutional assault on our civil liberties, I'm proud to join Mayor Bloomberg and the chorus of voices that have called to repeal DOMA once and for all." Safety Improvements on Spruce and Beekman Streets After UPS worker Michael Rogalle, 58, was killed by an SUV on Spruce Street outside an elementary school, local parents have been petitioning for the addition of street signs and school crossing markings on Beekman Street between Gold and William streets. According to the office of Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, the petition passed and the signs will be put up in a matter of days and painted during the following weeks. Silver commented, "I look forward to further improvements so that we can do more to prevent tragedies such as the recent fatal accident at Beekman and Spruce streets." Newly Reconstructed Pearl Street Playground Gives Kids a Place to Cool Off Last Thursday, June 21, Parks & Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe joined Lower Manhattan Development Corporation (LMDC) President David Emil, City Council Member Margaret Chin, Community Board 1 Chair Julie Menin and neighborhood children to cut the ribbon on the $2.1 million reconstruction of Pearl Street Playground. Generously funded by the LMDC, the reconstructed playground creates another improved public space along the Fulton Street corridor. The park was expanded into the roadbed of "Little Pearl Street" to provide an upgraded playground, including play equipment that meets current safety standards, a spray shower, swings and plantings. The enlarged park also has a pedestrian link to Beekman Street, several additional seating areas, a rock feature referencing the sandy bluff that once existed at the site and direct views of the South Street Seaport district. First Tower on World Trade Center Site to be Completed World Trade Center Developer Larry A. Silverstein joined more than 1,000 construction workers at a topping out ceremony to mark the completion of the steel erection for 4 World Trade Center on Monday, June 25 at the corner of Liberty and Greenwich streets. The last steel beam was signed by a representative group of construction workers before it was lifted 977 feet in the air and placed atop the building, which will be the first tower completed on the 16-acre WTC site when it opens in fall 2013. Funding for Millennium High School's new P.E. Space Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver announced that he has allocated $400,000 to Millennium High School in Lower Manhattan to replace its exercise equipment and renovate an auditorium so that it can serve as a space for physical education. "Millennium High School is one of Lower Manhattan's great success stories," said Silver, "and I am proud to be able to allocate crucial funding to renovate this space and purchase new exercise equipment for students to have physical education. Providing the best possible environment for our children is a top priority of mine and I will continue to fight to ensure that Millennium High School, and all of our excellent Lower Manhattan schools, receive the resources they deserve." Compiled by Helen Matsumoto

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