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BY MARGARET S. CHIN | On June 28, the New York City Council passed the city’s budget for Fiscal Year 2013. This year’s budget was unique in many respects. In my three years serving on the City Council, I have never seen so many community members raise their voices against the mayor’s cuts to childcare, after-school and essential services in our city.
With your help, the Council was able to restore massive cuts to after-school and childcare programs in Chinatown and the Lower East Side. In fact, our community actually gained an after-school program, which will serve P.S. 126. I want to thank everyone that came out to show their support over the last few months: We could not have done it without you.
I would like to take this opportunity to update residents on the exciting capital projects and programs that I was able to fund in this year’s budget. This year, I was able to secure $3.9 million to fund capital projects in District 1 and nearly half a million dollars for youth, senior and cultural programs in our community. This is in addition to contributions from Speaker Christine Quinn and my colleagues in the Council’s Manhattan delegation, which will also support programs and services in Lower Manhattan.
I am happy to announce several large capital grants to improve our Downtown schools and ensure our students have the best learning environment possible. The number one request from our elementary schools is for upgrades to existing technology. This year, P.S. 134 will receive new laptops and printers; P.S. 137’s computer lab will be upgraded; P.S. 20 and P.S. 2 will receive SmartBoards; and P.S. 142 will receive new classroom computers. These improvements will be accomplished with grants from my office ranging from $40,000 to $75,000.
In addition, P.S. 130 will receive new desktops in their computer lab, as well as new technology to specifically serve special-needs classes. P.S 124, the Yung Wing School, will receive $100,000 for building renovations and technology upgrades; and P.S. 110 will receive funds to conduct a study of potential building improvements, including a green roof. M.S. 131 students and their parents will receive computer workshops through a partnership with the Computers for Youth Foundation.
I am also pleased to allocate funding to five local high schools: $60,000 to Urban Assembly Academy of Government and Law for upgrades to its art room; $58,000 to L.E.S. Prep for a new P.A. system; $35,000 to Marta Valle High School for the creation of a video production studio; $45,000 to New Design High School for technology upgrades; and $75,000 to University Neighborhood High School for upgrades to its library and media center.
In this year’s budget I also funded several important improvements to our neighborhood. Sara D. Roosevelt Park will receive $500,000 for new bathrooms; Forsyth Plaza, alongside and underneath the Manhattan Bridge, will receive $200,000 for its streetscape and improvements; DeSalvio Playground in Soho will receive $70,000 toward its play area; and the Lower East Side Business Improvement District will receive $138,000 for safety and lighting improvements on Delancey St. To help combat a string of robberies in Chinatown’s Jewelry District, I will provide $100,000 for Police Department security cameras on Doyers and Catherine Sts. and along the Bowery. In addition, I have allocated $12,000 to New York City Housing Authority tenant associations in our district to help pay for family days and other events.
As always, it is imperative that we support the local organizations and nonprofits that aid underserved communities in our district. In the year ahead, Chinatown Manpower Project will receive a capital grant of $83,000. Citywide capital grants were also awarded to Henry Street Settlement, for $500,000; Educational Alliance, for $2.25 million; and the Lower Eastside Girls Club, for $910,000, to allow these organizations to continue their good work in the community and citywide.
Additional grants will support local organizations that serve those in need, including Asian Americans for Equality, Good Old Lower East Side (GOLES), Manhattan Legal Services, MFY Legal Services, NYLAG, MET Council on Jewish Poverty, New York Rescue Mission, Urban Justice Center, and Tenants and Neighbors. This year, I will also continue my support for Charles B. Wang’s hepatitis B awareness and prevention program, the Asian & Pacific Islander Coalition on H.I.V./AIDS, and for the New York Alliance Against Sexual Assault.
Once again, I was happy to support an array of senior services in our community. Discretionary grants from my office will support programming at Chinese-American Planning Council, Educational Alliance, Grand Street Settlement, Greenwich House, Greater Chinatown Community Association, Hamilton-Madison House, Henry Street Settlement, Japanese American Social Services, University Settlement, and the Institute for Puerto Rican/Hispanic Elderly. This funding will help provide E.S.L. classes, adult computer classes, art classes, transportation, meals and a variety of recreational activities to help keep our seniors active and healthy. In addition, grants were provided to the Mott St. and LaGuardia Senior Centers through New York Foundation for Seniors, as well as to the United Jewish Council, to support their adult lunch program.
It’s equally important to provide programs and services that cater to our youth and keep them safe and engaged in the after-school and summer months. I am pleased to provide funding to support Asian Professional Extension’s test preparation and basketball program; the Youth Leadership Program run by Asian American Coalition for Children and Families; L.E.S. Girls Club; the Sol Lain Athletic Club; New York Junior Tennis League; and the YMCA. American Ballet Theatre’s “ABT at School” and Chess in the Schools will introduce public school students to new and exciting activities; and the violin program at Hamilton-Madison House and instruction in traditional Chinese instruments at the Mencius Society will help inspire a new generation of musicians.
It is incredibly important to me that all our kids have a safe and secure environment to turn to for support. To this end, I have funded programs for L.G.B.T.Q. youth at Chinese-American Planning Council and the Hetrick-Martin Institute on Astor Place; as well as after-school programs that provide prevocational and work-readiness training for homeless youth and for blind and visually impaired young people.
This year, I was happy to support Downtown Community Television Center with $40,000 toward upgrades to its post-production equipment. DCTV also received $75,000 in citywide funding from the entire Council. Soho Think Tank, which promotes independent theater, received a $32,000 capital grant. In conjunction with my colleagues in the Manhattan delegation, $1.1 million in capital funding was provided to the Lower East Side Tenement Museum. In the year ahead, discretionary grants will support the Soho Repertory Theater, New York Asian Women’s Center, and the Washington Square Association Music Fund’s free concert series.
Over the last three years, the amount of resources available to our community has continued to grow. I remain dedicated to fighting for the resources to support the projects and programs that keep our community strong and vibrant.
Chin is city councilmember for the First District (Lower Manhattan, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and parts of Greenwich Village, the Lower East Side and East Village)