Neighborhood Chatter

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Raccoons Rampant in Central Park Last month, Upper West Side Council Member Gale Brewer wrote to the Parks Department to get some answers to a curious concern her office had been hearing about-the raccoon population in Central Park. Apparently the critters had been spotted at several playgrounds throughout park, including the Rudin Playground near 96th Street, and parents were concerned that the rascals might pose a danger to little ones. The Central Park Conservancy responded, assuring the public that the raccoons are a natural part of the park's ecosystem and not to be automatically feared. The group estimates the population of raccoons hovers around 500. Doug Blonsky, the CEO of the Conservancy and the Central Park administrator, assured Brewer in a letter that there haven't been any confirmed reports of rabies in the raccoon population, and that seeing them out in the daytime is likely more a symptom of bad habits of the people who feed them than of a disease. "We are also at a time of year when young raccoons are being extricated from nests by parents, so we are seeing an increasing number of raccoons during the day right now who are looking for homes," Blonsky said in the letter. "Food is probably more important than shelter in these warm months, so they will go the easiest route to a snack." He said that while odd behavior in racoons-irregular gait, lethargy, looking disoriented-should be reported to a park worker on sight, the best way to handle raccoons is to give them a wide berth and don't feed them, even if they stand with their adorable little paws outstretched. Urgent Care Grand Opening New York Doctors Urgent Care is celebrating its grand opening at a new location at 205 Lexington Ave. (at the corner of East 32nd Street) on Thursday, Sept. 13, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Local residents are invited to tour the new facility, meet the staff and share appetizers and refreshments. To RSVP, email Susan Nock at or call 212-684-4700. Krueger Hosts Event for Immigrants State Sen. Liz Krueger, along with Assembly Member Richard Gottfried, is sponsoring an event called "Immigrants Connect" on Monday, Sept. 16, from 1 to 3 p.m. at the American Red Cross, 520 W. 49th St. The event will provide information on services available for immigrants who own or are interested in starting their own businesses, citizenship and naturalization processes, and health and government resources available. The event is also sponsored by the Housing Conservation Coordinators and the New York State Department of Labor. Hunter College Writing Center Announces Fall Lineup The Hunter College Writing Center offers free lectures and book talks this fall at their 695 Park Ave. location. Joyce Carol Oates will give talks on Oct. 9 and Nov. 27; Daniel Rose will give the annual Jack Burstyn Memorial Lecture on Oct. 16, and Sidney Offit will speak on "The Life and Work of Kurt Vonnegut," on Oct. 22. Gay Talese will deliver the first Elizabeth Strong-Cuevas Lecture on Nov. 5. All book talks and receptions are at 7 p.m., and refreshments will be served. The Writing Center will also be offering their standard professional courses, led this semester by Daphne Merkin and The New Yorker's Patricia Marx, who will give master classes in comedy and memoir writing. New course offerings include "Writing and Selling Personal Essays," with Nancy Kelton and "Editing for Self-Editors," with Beena Kamlani. Space is limited at all events; register at, or call 212-772-4292.

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