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CB1 Report: Terror Trial Battle, MTA Service Cuts, Charter Revision Commission

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via NYC Transit Forum

Community Board 1 convened last night for their monthly meeting. Top items on the agenda included: the MTA’s overhaul, the upcoming Charter Revision Commission (and its potential impact on the community boards) and the terror trials, which could still be held in Lower Manhattan.

The topic the board kept revisiting was, of course, the terror trials. On Monday, during a press conference, Attorney General Holder declined to rule out holding the trials in New York.  CB1 Chairperson Julie Menin, who has been at the forefront of the fight for relocation, expressed her determination to keep the trials out of Lower Manhattan.

“I will continue to fight tooth and nail for this,” she said.

Last month,  Menin asked the Community Board to consider backing four other locations, three of which were military installations. The day after the meeting, she sent a letter to Attorney General Holder, requesting a feasibility study of the 500 Pearl Street venue, along with the alternative trial locations. Menin never received a response.

“It’s unacceptable that Attorney General Holder and the Obama administration are not being clear whether these trials are not going to be held,” she said.

Menin believes her proposals are a “political hybrid”—they bridge the divide between those who want Khalid Sheikh Mohammed tried in military tribunals, as well as those who would like the trial to be held in civilian court. Despite offering the administration “outside-the-box solutions,” as Menin calls them, she remains frustrated, as do others on the Community Board.

“We still have to keep the pressure up because they might come back and say, ‘We couldn’t find any other place to do it,’” said CB 1 member Marc Ameruso.

Menin is sending out another letter, demanding a response.

In a separate discussion, CB1 outlined its involvement in the WTC development battle. In response to a 60 Minutes story aired last Sunday, Menin and another board member, Catherine McVay Hughes, will be meeting with the WTC Committee to discuss what role community boards should play in this debate. March 8 is the tentative date – all are welcome to attend. Check the CB1 website for more details.

Other matters before CB1: Mayor Bloomberg is in the process of appointing another Charter Revision Commission. The Commission, which is controlled by the mayor, will propose changes, some of which may affect the community boards. Some members were concerned the commission’s work could lead to new laws endangering their already meager budgets. They’re planning a campaign to show why community boards are necessary and demand adequate funding from the city.

The Board is also looking at revisions to ULURP, the standardized procedure for evaluating land use proposals . Board members acknowledged the more active role community groups played after the process was put in place, but they suggested there have been uneven results. CB1 is looking at proposing changes to the law.

Finally, in response to a sweeping overhaul the MTA revealed about a month ago to dig itself out of deep debt, CB1 passed a resolution supporting the retention of all bus lines running through the district. Proposed changes include:  the replacement of the M15/City Hall with the M9, which means bus-goers would have to transfer at the end of the line to find another way uptown. One of the speakers during the public session mentioned that, if the plan goes into effect, there would be no more weekend cross-town service south of 14th Street. Councilmember Margaret Chin is petitioning to stop these changes.

The Board was most concerned with maintaining full service for the M22, which runs from Battery Park City to the Lower East Side. While Quality of Life committee chair Patricia Moore concedes most of the community’s demands will not be met, she’s  adamant about keeping M22 service intact.

For those who would like to speak up, the MTA is holding public hearings to discuss these proposals, one of which will be held at the Fashion Institute of Technology’s Haft Auditorium on Thursday, March 4 at 6pm. For other public hearings click here.

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