Neighborhood Chatter: Bus Strike, Canal Street Building Collapse, Little League in Limbo
Bus Strike Hits Parents of the 152,000 New York City children who rely on school buses to get them to classes every day braced for the bus driver strike last week. The city is paying for MetroCards and reimbursing parents' auto expenses for taking their kids to school and picking them up, and attendance was reportedly close to normal levels for the first several days. Mayor Bloomberg said in a press conference after the strike began that approximately 3,000 of the 7,700 yellow bus routes would remain operational and would not be affected by the strike. The strike has come as a result of a stand-off between the city and Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1181. The union has alleged that the city's plans for bidding on new contracts for over 1,000 bus routes could result in inexperienced drivers and pose a safety threat to schoolchildren. Bloomberg has asserted that the union is demanding job protections that the city legally cannot guarantee, and has further made it known that the city's exorbitant spending on bus contracts-$6,900 per student, or $1.1 billion a year-is unsustainable. As of press time, neither side was willing to budge, and the thousands of children dependent on those yellow buses are finding their own way to school. Play Ball? The devastation of Hurricane Sandy is still actively present in Manhattan, especially in Battery Park City. With Little League season coming this April, the organization Downtown Little League is pushing for a particular repair: new turf ballfields in BPC. According to DNAinfo, approximately 1,000 Lower Manhattan children have already registered for this upcoming Little League season despite the unusable condition of the fields. While Downtown Little League President Bill Martino has expressed his confidence in there being a full season this year, the required repairs have not yet been made. Battery Park City Authority, the agency responsible for administering the necessary repairs, has officially issued requests for proposals to replace the destroyed turf. Even though the BPCA is taking all the necessary actions to get the ball rolling, they are not guaranteeing a successful completion by April 1. This hasn't satisfied Downtown Little League, and state Sen. Daniel Squadron and Speaker Sheldon Silver have both gotten involved to demand immediate action. "With Little League season only a few months away, work has not begun to repair the Battery Park City ball fields," Squadron said in a statement. "Let's be clear: It is absolutely vital that the BPCA figures out how to get work started on the fields by the beginning of next month-period." The senator suggested employing a temporary option to make the fields available for players for this upcoming season and stressed that neighborhood families rely on the fields for their kids' exercise and open space. "Downtown Little League has already begun registering families for the 2013 season. It is simply not acceptable to tell the children of Battery Park City and Lower Manhattan that there will be no season this year," Silver said in a letter to the BPCA. The Downtown Little League Board of Directors issued a statement on its website that addresses the basic intention of all those involved. "Our number one priority is the health and safety of our children and we are committed to providing them with a safe environment to play baseball and softball this spring." Walls Crumbling Down A 194-year-old building on Canal Street has finally done what nearby residents and government agencies had feared and partially collapsed. According to DNAinfo, a wall within the building came apart last week, resulting in a metal roll-down gate falling to the sidewalk. It appears that no one was injured and, since this building has been vacant for years, that no one was inside. New York City agencies have been informing Ponte Equities, the building's landlord, that certain repairs had to be made to ensure the building's stability. The Landmarks Preservation Commission decided that the building was in great danger of collapsing in 2010, and Ponte Equities promised to make repairs immediately. Department of Buildings records show that Ponte Equities had received building violations as recently as October of last year. Compiled by Megan Bungeroth and Jessica Mastronardi
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