Neighborhood Chatter: Back to Business; Gun Control

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Downtown Getting Back to Business The Downtown Alliance has made it their mission to mold and maintain Lower Manhattan as a world-leading central business district of today. The devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy pushed this organization to launch the Back to Business Small Business Grant Program that is now able to provide grant distribution for the first time. "Small businesses have been instrumental in the success of Lower Manhattan as a premier destination to live, work and visit, and so it has been vitally important to come to their aid during this period," said Liz Berger, the president of Downtown Alliance. As a result, small businesses located in Flood Zone A below Chambers Street, including a nail salon, dry cleaners and wine shop, have been awarded $266,000 in grants and $120,000 in deferred grants. These businesses were the first to apply on the first-come, first-serve basis, and were certainly not the last. The period for small businesses to submit a grant application ended Dec. 13, but all applications received after will be held and processed if funds are still available. Contributors to the grant fund include Goldman Sachs, Trinity Church, Citibank, the Durst Organization, Howard Hughes Corp., AT&T New York and Deutsche Bank Americas Foundation, CB Richard Ellis, the FiDi Association, Platinum Properties and real estate brokerage firm Cushman & Wakefield. Sen. Squadron Presses for State Gun Control New York state Sen. Daniel Squadron has strongly advocated for gun restriction legislation throughout his time in Albany. In light of the unimaginable tragedy in Newtown, Conn., other politicians are now joining the fight. Squadron announced last week that the special legislation session he had called in October to pass essential gun control laws may soon be taking place. After thanking Gov. Cuomo and fellow colleagues pushing the cause, Squadron said in a statement, "A package of common-sense measures-including my bill to crack down on assault weapons, as well as critical background checks and limits on guns sales, and the vital crime-solving tool of microstamping-would create the basic protections we need to truly save lives." He added that the military-style weapon used in the Newtown attack would be banned if his assault weapons bill were passed. In a statement issued in October, Squadron had called for stronger legislation before another murder could be committed with an assault weapon. "There is simply no reason for a civilian to carry these types of high-powered weapon," he said. "Before another drop of blood is spilled and another innocent life is lost, New York's Legislature must do our job and pass these bills." An Early Christmas Feast Last week, New York chef Daniel Boulud and chefs from his finest restaurants teamed up with Citymeals-on-Wheels to make sure the elderly confined to their homes could taste a bit of gourmet comfort this holiday season. On Dec. 20, elderly residents of Stuyvesant Town affected by Hurricane Sandy opened their doors, and mouths, to meals of expertly prepared shepherd's pie, beef ravioli with carrot confit, coq au vin with pasta, braised lamb with polenta and cassoulet Toulousain. The meals-300 in total-were prepared by Boulud and his team, who volunteered to help make Christmas extra-special this year. Joining Chef Boulud was William Cox, Bar Boulud; Aaron Chambers, Boulud Sud; Gavin Kaysen, Café Boulud; Eddy Leroux, Daniel; Jean Baptiste Alexandre, DB Bistro; Eli Collins, DBGB; Beth Shapiro, executive director of Citymeals-on-Wheels; and Robert Grimes, Citymeals-on-Wheels board member. "As a professional chef, I have the privilege of cooking for food-loving guests every night, but Citymeals provides the opportunity to share my passion with those who are less fortunate," Boulud said. Citymeals-on-Wheels will continue to provide nourishment and companionship through the weekend and on Christmas Day, supplying over 7,455 meals and 14,694 "Season's Greetings" boxes to elderly residents throughout the city when many senior centers are closed. Compiled by Jessica Mastronardi

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