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As a follow-up to council member Erik Bottcher’s local discretionary funding of $1m in May, the city is giving over $8m in grants to the West Side. Trees are among the winners again — with $600k allocated to planting in the area.

The West Side should be getting some new trees. Photo: Phil O’Brien

It’s good news for the West Side: the City Council has granted District 3 (which includes Hell’s Kitchen, Chelsea and the Village) millions of dollars to the area’s sustainability efforts, school infrastructure, social service support programs and several theatrical organizations in the 2023 fiscal year budget.

“In addition to getting a major increase in sanitation funding and other citywide victories, in this year’s budget we were able to secure many ‘wins’ for Council District 3, from capital improvements to parks, libraries, investments in our local non-profits, and more,” said Bottcher.

DescriptionAmountCategory
Elevator upgrades at Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen$1,500,000Vulnerable
Replace the old windows at Westbeth Artist Housing$1,200,000Vulnerable
Renovate Encore Community Services housing for seniors struggling with mental illness$1,000,000Vulnerable
More street trees, tree guards, and tree pit fill-ins district-wide$600,000Green
Renovate the auditorium at the Park West Educational Campus at 525 W50th Street, where five high schools are co-located$500,000Schools
Renovate P.S. 41’s playground equipment and yard$500,000Schools
Begin repairs on the High Line’s elevators$375,000Green
Replace the non-working air condition system in P.S. 111’s auditorium$350,000Schools
Renovate P.S. 33’s cafeteria, including new tiling and new HVAC in the kitchen$350,000Schools
Technology upgrades in schools all across the district$300,000Schools
Technology upgrades at libraries across the district$250,000Cultural
HVAC upgrades at the Museum of Arts and Design$250,000Cultural
Renovation of Playwrights Horizons$250,000Cultural
Complete P.S. 51’s auditorium HVAC replacement$200,000Schools
Upgrade the theatrical sound system at the Manhattan Theatre Club’s Friedman Theater$150,000Cultural
Enhanced lighting in and around Hudson River Park$150,000Green
Increased electrical capacity for P.S. 11$150,000Schools
Renovation of Rattlestick Theater, including additional ADA-accessibility$100,000Cultural
Complete 75 Morton’s hydroponics laboratory$70,000Schools
Times Square Alliance’s mobile stage$53,000Cultural
Total$8,298,000

The $8 million allocation includes the previously approved $1 million in approved participatory budget projects chosen by District 3 residents this spring.

Following on from a local vote to green up Hell’s Kitchen and the surrounding areas with more trees, the Council has earmarked $600,000 for planting street trees, tree guards, and tree pits around the district. Adding to the outdoor projects is an allocation for $375,000 to repair High Line elevators and $150,000 for enhanced lighting in and around Hudson Park. One point of contention remains in the price tag of planting the trees around town — while sowing the seeds of sustainability across the river in Jersey City only costs $500 per plant, installing a tree in New York sets the city back $3,600. City Council members have appealed to Garden State officials to see if it would be possible to contract out the service — even promising reimbursed tolls for workers to commute.

Park West School will get funding for its auditorium. Photo: Phil O’Brien

Local schools at the Park West Educational Complex at W50th Street between 10th and 11th Avenues will receive $500,000 to renovate their shared auditorium, while PS 111 will garner $350,000 to replace their broken air conditioning system. PS 51 was granted $200,000 to renovate their auditorium’s HVAC system, a valuable feature in the era of COVID-19. All schools across District 3 will also get $300,000 for technology equipment upgrades, including new computers and classroom smart boards.

Social service organizations across the West Side received a boost from the City Council’s budget, gaining $1 million for Encore Community Services, a Midtown-based senior housing, meal and health support organization known as “Broadway’s Longest Act of Running Care”. Other District 3 recipients include $1.5 million for elevator upgrades at the Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen in Chelsea and $1.2 million for window replacement at Westbeth Artist Housing in the West Village.

Council member Erik Bottcher (left) out delivering with Encore Executive Director Jeremy Kaplan in January. Photo: Phil O’Brien

Jeremy Kaplan, the Executive Director of Encore said that the capital money from the City will support the renovation of Encore 49, which is supportive housing on W49th Street (between 7/8th Ave) for older New Yorkers who are formerly homeless with a mental illness diagnosis. “The Encore 49 building is one of the oldest supportive housing buildings in New York City by age of the contract, age of the building and age of the residents who live there. The building is well over 100 years old and will benefit greatly from the Council’s renovation grant. Encore Community Services and the Residents of Encore 49 are deeply grateful to Erik Bottcher for championing the issue of senior supportive housing in the Council’s budget. The capital funds will help ensure West Side seniors have a safe and stable place to live for many, many years to come,” he said.

Cultural institutions, still navigating their way through pandemic reopening and a much-needed return of tourism, also won big. In addition to the $250,000 granted to area libraries for space upgrades, Playwrights Horizons, whose W42nd Street theater was originally built in 1977, was granted a $220,000 sum for venue renovations, while the Manhattan Theatre Club’s W47th Street theater will receive $150,000 to upgrade their sound system. The Museum of Arts and Design will be able to add $250,000 of HVAC upgrades and the Times Square Alliance will get a new stage to the tune of $53,000.

Playwrights Horizons on W42nd Street was granted a $220,000 sum for venue renovations. Photo: Phil O’Brien

“This budget is a down payment on New York City’s comeback – not the way it was, but the way it should be,” said Council Member Justin Brannan, Chair of the Council’s Finance Committee. “The City Council heard this clarion call and fought hard to deliver a prompt budget with both record investments and record reserves – a budget that puts money directly into our communities and back into the pockets of working families.”

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2 Comments

  1. Thanks for this informative article. Let’s hope that we can get whatever it is that keeps NJ’s tree planting down to a reasonable $500 per. We gotta ask how prices go out of control like this and rein spending in so that other worthy causes can benefit from savings. Also – it’s so disheartening to see newly planted dead trees…’way too many.

  2. It’s about time that more trees get planted along the side streets and particularly along the avenue now that there are bike paths!!

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