November 2008 Archives

Local Events Tomorrow (November 30th)

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Looking for something to do tomorrow? Here are some events via NoMAA's newsletter.

Inwood:

  • Closing reception for artist Juan Carlos Pinto's "Re-Collecting Roots" exhibition. 6-9pm @ the TWO-07 gallery. 634 west 207th street.
Washington Heights:

  • The Lounge at Hudson View Gardens will be host to Gabriela Lena Frank who will be playing the Brahms Piano Quintet in F minor. 116 Pinehurst; $12 - includes food.
  • Local historian James Renner will be conducting a walking tour of the Audubon Terrace Museum and Audubon Park. Meet at 157th street and Broadway at the triangle. The tour is $15 and $10 for seniors and students.

Warm Up At The Hebrew Tabernacle In December

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Thanks to Sue for giving me the heads up about a couple December events at The Hebrew Tabernacle.

December 7th (12pm) there will be a "Fall In Love With Art" fundraiser. "Enjoy the delicious cheese and fruit offerings (with wine available) while listening to dulcet piano music and viewing the amazing selection of international and affordable art...." Let them know you'll be attending by December 1st and you'll be added to a raffle to win a piece of art. Get there early (between 11am and 1pm) and you'll get some free coffee and bagels, while getting a chance to scope out the work being auctioned off.

On December 13th the klemzer band Yale Strom & Hot Pstromi will be performing at a 7:30pm concert/fundraiser. $18. $10 for children.Call or visit The Hebrew Tabernacle, located at 185th street and Fort Washington Avenue, for tickets.

CB12 Membership Application

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Via Inwood Livable Streets... (and read the comments)...

If anyone wants to become a member of CB12, now is the time to apply. There are almost no members on this board from Inwood (a disgrace, in my opinion), so I should think that Inwoodites would be preferred. Having more of us on the Transportation committee would not be a bad thing either...

Here's the link to the forms: http://mbpo.org/free_details.asp?id=64

Livejournal Find: Map Of Businesses/Places Of Interest In Inwood

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I came across this map of Inwood on an Inwood LiveJournal page. I think it could be useful for residents new and old, or people thinking about moving to the area. Here's a direct link. You can suggest additions to the map here.


CB12 Is Getting A New (Digital) Home

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At tonight's Community Board 12 general meeting Manny Velazquez, chair of the board, announced that the current website (which has been down for a while) is going to be replaced by a site hosted and run by New York City's Department of Information Technology & Telecommunications (DOITT). Mr. Velazquez described the new website as being "very modern and user friendly." He has been monitoring work on the website, and sounded very enthusiastic about its progress. Expected to launch within a month or so, the new site may also give board members a chance to converse with each other privately in a members section, which will presumably allow them to instantly communicate and update each other on various board activities and information. The full nature of the board members section was unclear, but a member of CB12 raised the issue with Mr. Velazquez during the meeting, and he confirmed that this was in the works.

The previous website had a calender of upcoming meetings and archived the monthly meeting minutes from each committee so it appears the new digital hub for CB12 will include that and much more.

We'll be keeping you updated on the status of the site, until then here is an example of a community board website (Staten Island CB1) currently being hosted by the DOITT.

Final "Fort Tryon Nature Walk" Of The Season

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This Sunday (November 23rd) Mike Feller will be leading his final regular nature walk in Fort Tryon Park for 2008. Weather permitting the walk will potentially lend views of eagles flying over the Hudson River, animals getting ready for the winter, and presumably much more. The walk takes place at 8:00 am and should last about 3 hours. The group will meet at the entrance to the Heather Garden and Fort Tryon Park, in Margaret Corbin Circle.

According to the nycgovparks.org website Mr. Feller will be holding occasional off-season walks as well, including an "Owl Prowl" in December.

Check out all the details here.

Bob Dylan Tickets Still Available For This Friday @ The Palace

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If you've been eyeing the Bob Dylan concert at The Palace Theatre, but haven't decided if you are going to go, there is still some (brief) time to make your decision. Tickets for the concert are available on TicketMaster, however you will need to enter the "Special Offer Code" to access them. I found the code on Bob Dylan's website here. The code is: chortled

The show is this Friday, November 21st, at 8:00pm.

Make sure to check that "code" link again if the code doesn't work on TicketMaster, in case it changes. All available tickets seem to be $129 plus a $13 convenience charge. It may be worth a trip over to The Palace tomorrow to see if you can secure them a bit cheaper. The Palace Theatre is located on the north-east corner of 175th street and Broadway.

Good luck Dylan fans, and enjoy the concert.

Today's event at Fort Tryon Park brought out hundreds of history buffs and park goers to enjoy the festivities. The Café Lawn, directly south of the New Leaf Café, was transformed into a Revolutionary War campsite. Margaret Corbin, the heroine who took over her husband's gun post in the battle, was in attendance, as were local historians James Renner and Barnet Scecter, author of The Battle for New York. The campsite also hosted a blacksmith, brigade of troops, bagpiper and activities for children.


The live musket firing demonstration was a high point of the day, which I was lucky enough to grab a bit of video of.


Pictures after the jump.

Geocaching In Washington Heights And Inwood

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Geocaching, for those who haven't heard of it, is a location-based "sport" that people can play using their GPS-enabled devices. Many phones these days have GPS chips inside them, which allow the device's owner to pinpoint their exact location. For example the iPhone 3G and some BlackBerry models are GPS-enabled.

To play the game, which is basically like a real-world scavenger hunt, you enter the coordinates of the "cache" and track them on your device. Once you find the cache (which could be small enough to just fit a pencil and paper, or large enough to fit other objects) you can log your find both in the actual cache container and online at Geocaching.com. Registration for the site is free.

I discovered geocaching this summer when I bought my iPhone 3G. Groundspeak, the company that runs Geocaching.com has now released a geocaching application for the iPhone. They also offer solutions for other mobile devices.

MTA Sets Up Shop On Fort Washington Avenue

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mta_sets_up_shop.jpgThe MTA will be using the entire west side of Fort Washington Avenue between 177th street and 178th street as a staging area for a variety of construction vehicles and what looks to be a mobile office in connection with repairs this weekend on the 'A' line. As previously mentioned, there will be no A-train service above 168th street this weekend.

The vehicles (as of 11:30pm Friday) were blocking crosswalks and lined the entire block, which is allocated for cars with handicap parking privileges. A worker at the site told me that the trucks and vehicles would depart by Monday morning, when A-train service is set to resume.

UPDATE 21:14: It's alive! "Camp MTA" has grown and received reinforcements. Pictures, video and details after the jump.

Charles Rangel No Longer Accepting Inauguration Ticket Requests

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Congressman Charles Rangel's house.gov page is now immediately informing visitors that "due to the high number of requests already received, we are no longer accepting requests for constituent tickets to the upcoming 2009 inauguration of President Barack Obama."

This doesn't really surprise me, though I admit I went to the site hoping to score some tickets. The buzz surrounding the inauguration has been insane this week, with eBay finally deciding to block sales of tickets "in the best interest of all concerned." Tickets for the historical event were being scalped on the site for thousands of dollars. Congrats to anyone who is able to attend the event.

UPDATE 11/18/08: A representative from congressman Rangel's office spoke at tonight's Community Board 12 meeting and said that the congressman had received only 200 tickets, with currently about 7,000 requests received from the 15th congressional district. The rep did seem enthusiastic about allocating several tickets to CB12 members, saying that "we need some of the members of the board here to go down," and suggested that a lottery or some other yet to be determined system would be used to get tickets to a portion of the many members of congressional district 15 that made requests.

A View From The Heights: How's The Market?

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Just about every day I get stopped on the street or on the phone with the question du moment..."Perry, how's the market?" Brows furrowed, jaws tense, eyebrows raised. The world these days is a scary place.

My answer is always the same. This is New York, for heaven's sake. It depends on where you're sitting. Are you interested in buying, selling, renting, or investing? There are opportunities all over the place.

But oh my lordy what if you're a seller? Quel horreur!

Settle down, missy. If you bought your apartment in the Heights decades ago, or even before 2000, then you bought in for twelve dollars and fifty cents and you're just whining. You're going to do just fine no matter what.

But even if you're a relatively new Heights-ite, you've probably watched your wealth grow in the last few years in real numbers: local appraisers have estimated home values more than doubling since 2003, until mid-September of this year when the world changed.

So maybe we're down seven to ten percent since then, and maybe we have another bit of downward push to endure. So what? For us in the Heights this kind of average year-over-year growth is pretty much unmatchable in other markets in which we might invest. And we understand that what goes up must come down, and if history is prologue will rise again.
Lack of consistent weekend A-train service has been aggravating many Manhattan riders uptown for a year or so now. The schedule of repairs to the line has remained extremely vague (and misleading about the true scope of the repairs) with small posters on trains and in subway stations suddenly appearing and announcing the lack of service "this weekend." These seemingly random sign placements are followed by similar signs weeks later, announcing further repairs. The pattern of announcing work (and lack of service) on the 'A' line week by week, and month by month, as opposed to letting riders know the full project's scope and calender, seems at odds with the high standards of operational transparency that one would hope to expect from an organization such as the MTA.

Recently re-elected 71st district assemblyman Herman D. Farrell Jr. sent out a newsletter to upper Manhattan residents in his district this week, and one item really caught my eye: on Thursday, November 20th at 7:00 p.m., Farrell will be holding a "town meeting" with the MTA Transit President, Howard H. Roberts.

The meeting will be held at the Mount Sinai Jewish Center of Washington Heights and will give residents a chance to engage the MTA about the full timeline involved for the repairs. If you are concerned about any issue you may want to consider attending the meeting and raising your concerns with Roberts and Farrell.

While I'm on the subject of random lack of A-train service, I might as well mention that you can expect another weekend with no A-train starting this Friday (November 14th) at 11:30 p.m.

It should be noted, that in the process of writing this entry I discovered an April 24th, 2008 Manhattan Times article that stated the repairs could go well into 2009 (and that was in April so who knows what the current situation is.) In addition Community Board 12 had apparently received no complaints as of April about the lack of service. Perhaps no complaints were lodged because of the approach the MTA has been taking to this situation. People don't feel like they have any say in the matter, instead they are randomly dictated when the service will be interrupted without being given the full scope of the project at hand, which apparently involves track replacement, structural enhancements and lighting improvement. There is a level of arrogance here on the MTA's part. Vocal opposition to this project could perhaps effect the way they continue.

To reiterate: The town meeting with assemblyman Herman D. Farrell Jr. and MTA Transit President Howard H. Roberts is at 7:00 p.m., November 20th, 2008 at the Mount Sinai Jewish Center of Washington Heights, 135 Bennett Ave (at 187th street). Attend. And speak. The MTA will be listening.

Indian Road Playground To Be Renovated

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The Indian Road Playground in Isham Park, located in Inwood, is journeying down a warpath towards renovation. Expect to see the playground enhanced with canoes, an expanded sprinkler area, enlarged sand box, and two modern play structures, among other things.

Several representatives of the city's Parks Department, led by Jennifer Hoppa, the Northern Manhattan Parks Administrator, revealed detailed renovation plans to residents attending the monthly Parks and Cultural Affairs meeting that Community Board 12 held on November 6th. Hoppa was joined by the project's manager and senior designer; the three presented a set of illustrations and maps of the park and project. All very impressive.

Here are some details outlined at the meeting:

  • The playground is using "native woodlands," as the designer described it, as an inspiration for incorporating Native American themes into play areas.
  • There will be an enlarged (double the current size) sand box which will include a "dig area" with objects inspired by findings from local archeological digs in the early 20th century.
  • The playground's sprinkler system will be a water area that includes a tyke-sized river for kids to splash around in on warm days.
  • There will be two play structures, one for younger children and one for older. Both are constructed with safety (and fun) in mind and one of them is special-needs accessible (apparently a rarity in New York City.)
  • Total funding for the project is 1.2 million dollars.
  • Construction will begin this spring and is expected to last 9 months to 1 year.
A "scoping meeting" (these meetings involve the Parks Department, Community Board and local residents) in March yielded suggestions from the community, many of which were ultimately implemented in this revamp. Elizabeth Ritter, Chair of the Parks and Cultural Affairs committee for CB12, commented that the designs were reflecting a lot of what was suggested at the scoping meeting in March and were an example of "how government is supposed to work."

There were several concerns raised at the meeting, however, mostly about slides. Local parents and representatives of the Friends of Indian Road Playground suggested that another slide might be added to the design because the two slides pictured in the plans seemed either too advanced for some children or too boring for others, depending on their age group. The representatives from the Parks Department seemed willing to consider this request, perhaps at the expense of some park benches.

Overall, the response was positive, and after the presentation the supporters of the renovation had a chance to chat with and engage with the designers of the new playground. More information about the presentation will most likely be available in CB12's minutes for November. From the plans, the new playground looks really cool. But if you are a parent who shuffles your younglings to the park to burn off excess sugar highs, expect some whining over the the temporary lack of the old stomping ground next spring.

Welcome

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This is The Uptown Current. The blog has been created to provide northern Manhattan residents with a wide range of stories and information about our area of New York City.

In the coming weeks expect to see a variety of content covering news, local politics, real estate, food, arts & events and much more. Besides myself several other bloggers have already volunteered to help me out with the project, and our web developer, Vincent Hamilton, has been working non-stop getting the website ready for everyone (thanks Vincent!)

Make sure to track our progress. We are planning on covering a lot of events, happenings, and much more down the line.

Thanks for stopping by,

Alex