Neighborhood Chatter: 9.29.11

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While water collecting on the streets and curbs of an urban thoroughfare after a rainfall might seem like a minor issue to most, this type of water accumulation, or "ponding," has reached a serious level in Chinatown. A report compiled by State Sen. Daniel Squadron's office released last week identified 93 unique ponds that weren't fully drained within 48 hours of a rainfall in the neighborhood. One-block stretches of five streets in particular-Bayard, Mulberry, Mott, Baxter and Elizabeth Streets, all in the heart of Chinatown-accounted for roughly half of all instances, 47 of the 93 ponds.

Ponding isn't only annoying or unsightly, the report revealed, it is a drain on the quality of life in the area and deters tourism. In a survey cited in the report, 72 percent of respondents noted that ponding negatively impacts their eating and shopping experience in Chinatown, with 40 percent noting they were less likely to visit the area due to ponding. And while the problem appears common and well known, 76 percent of respondents who observed these small ponds said they didn't report the problem. Citizens, however, might not know how to report these problems, as 58 percent of those surveyed didn't know who to contact or didn't know that reporting an instance of ponding was possible.

To fill in this communication gap, Squadron has called upon the city's Department of Transportation to create a 311 category specifically for ponding as a way to keep better records of these instances and track repairs. Squadron has also asked the DOT to collaborate with community organizations and elected officials to raise awareness about this enhanced reporting system, to continue evaluating the prevalence of ponding and to ensure the problem receives proper attention and funding.

"Until now, we haven't had a full picture of the effect ponding has on the Chinatown community," noted Council Member Margaret Chin. "This is more than an inconvenience after it rains. These pools of stagnant rainwater negatively affect the quality of life for residents, deter visitors and create a dangerous situation for pedestrians. I want to thank Senator Squadron and his office for conducting this study on ponding and giving us the evidence we need to fight this problem."

Hudson Square

The Children's Museum of the Arts (CMA) held an official ribbon-cutting ceremony this week to launch its new 10,000-square foot interactive museum facility at 103 Charlton St. The CMA team was joined by a handful of politicians, including Council Speaker Christine Quinn and Assemblymember Deborah Glick.

Designed by Dan Wood and Amale Andraos, the new facility will triple the museum's previous space on Lafayette Street in SoHo. In addition to hands-on, artist-led workshops and interactive workstations, the new space will feature a 2,000-square foot gallery and a new media lab featuring a sound station and video-making and animation equipment.

The new location will officially open its doors to the public Oct. 1. The grand opening event will feature workshops, tours and performances.


Looking to spruce up your drab city street? Hankering to start an outdoor beautification project with the neighbors in your building? Apply for a grant through the Love Your Block program.

The Citizens Committee, in partnership with the City of New York, will provide resident-led volunteer groups with cash grants of $500 to $1,000 and project planning and community building assistance to transform their city blocks. In turn, the city will match the cash grants by providing services such as trash collection, vacant lot cleanup, graffiti removal, dead tree removal, tree planting, providing woodchip mulch, repair and installation of street signs and street lights and traffic surveys through the departments of Parks and Recreation, Transportation and Sanitation.

The grant application deadline is Nov. 8. To learn more about the program, visit

Lower East Side

Last week, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver was on hand to unveil the first phase of Gouverneur Healthcare Services' $180 million modernization project, which will eventually add 108,000 square feet to the health center.

"More than 60 years ago, my parents, who were immigrants to this city, brought me to the old Gouverneur Hospital so I could receive a smallpox inoculation," Silver recalled. "I still have the scar?and it is an enduring reminder to me that ensuring the health and well-being of every citizen, regardless of the origin of their birth, is the mark of a truly civilized and democratic society."

Silver also commended the center's expansion of outpatient services, with the addition of a Women and Children's Center, on-site dialysis and an ambulatory surgery center. Once finished, the ambulatory care center will be able to accommodate a 15 percent increase in patient demand.

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