Here’s the newest Week in Review.
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Here’s the newest Week in Review.
Riverspace Arts in Nyack estimates it will cost $100 million to fulfill its lofty plans to build a new arts, retail and residential complex in downtown Nyack.
The catchÂ is they want about a quarter of that funding to come from taxpayers, via support from state and local government. Riverspace, a not-for-profit organization, also wants to negotiate a lower tax rate by entering into tax agreements with municipalities.
Nyack Mayor John Shields said he would support an agreement letting Riverspace pay taxes equal to what is currently owed on the four-acre site, even after new real estate is developed.Â He believes the benefits – revitalizing downtown and supporting the arts – would outweigh theÂ cost.
Here’s more details on Riverspace’s plans, which were discussed at a meeting last night: Riverspace reveals plans for Nyack arts and retail complex.
The Rev. Patricia Ackerman has pulled plans to hold a second â€œHealing the Moment: Reclaiming our Youthâ€ rally on June 7.
Terri Kayden, who handled public relations for the first â€œHealing the Momentâ€ rally on April 27, said the event would not be held that day and has not been rescheduled. â€œAs far as I know, itâ€™s just on hold,â€ Kayden said.
Ackerman had pledged to hold the rally on June 7 at Memorial Park in Nyack, even though village officials said she could not use the park because two other events were being held there that day.
The first â€œHealing the Momentâ€ at Memorial Park sparked controversy because Ackerman did not seek permission from the village before organizing and advertising for the event. Also, some organizations were listed as sponsors without their permission.
The rally was organized in response to a street brawl April 16 that involved 40 to 50 young people, some of whom had bats, hammers and knives. Ackerman, an ordained Episcopal priest and peace-and-justice activist, said at the time that Nyack Mayor Shields had verbally agreed to let her use the park.
Here is the statement that Nyack Mayor John Shields gave at the start of a community forum Wednesday that was organized to discuss recent gang-related violence and ways to help young people:
Rockland County is a large, diverse community that must strive to meet the needs of its diverse constituents. The recent fight on Franklin Street is not an isolated incident but rather a symptom of larger problems. Gangs and other forms of youth unrest are not restricted to Nyack, Spring Valley or Haverstraw, but exist throughout the county in all schools and in all of the neighborhoods. The solution, then, must include all of us in Rockland â€” the county, towns and villages.
Certainly anyone who is part of a street fight, endangering the lives and well-being of citizens, must take responsibility for it. This may include criminal charges and the consequences of these charges.
That said, we understand that the issue of gangs and why people join them has much deeper causes. Gang membership is indicative of disenfranchisement, alienation and “not knowing a better thing to do.”
To that end, we met with local community leaders who recommended the following:
1. An athletic/community center so that youth in the community would have a safe place to “hang out” and engage in positive activities.
2. A stronger police presence.
3. More jobs.
All these proposals are important in addressing the issue of gangs. The Village of Nyack does not have the resources to do any of this alone. As I said, this is a county-wide issue and should include county-wide cooperation.
This is a beginning. We as a community need to work together to expand these ideas by supporting positive programs like Head Start, the Youth Bureau and the Nyack Center, by helping families in need, and by sharing responsibility for the future of our youth and our village.
For tonight, however, we’ll focus on the local and immediate.
The repercussions continue from a Spring Valley gang attacking Nyack gang members as a result of a gang-related bandanna snatching at Nyack High School.
Five Nyack High School students face disciplinary action for violating the district’s “Code of Conduct.” All five face superintendent’s hearings after being suspended from daily classes, district spokeswoman Gail Fleur said today. Fleur said she cannot disclose the names of the students, the potential lengths of suspensions or specifically how they violated the district’s “Code of Conduct.”
In a letter to the parents dated May 1, Nyack Schools Superintendent Valencia F. Douglas offers some vague insights. She discussed the Code of Conduct violations in terms of the students’ actions “apparently helped to fuel the fight in the village.” The letter goes on to state that, “We continue to have zero tolerance for students wearing any gang related apparel or expressing affiliation with a gang.”
Douglas’s letter also says only seniors will be allowed off campus during the day for the rest of the school year; students must wear their ID badges; and three additional security officers have been hired for the high school. She also wrote to parents that, “We will continue to work with the suspended students and their parents/guardians to ensure that our students are able to come to the campus in ways that are safe to everyone.”
The superintendent’s letter doesn’t discuss the issue of gang members attending district schools, but it is step up in reality from her initial e-mail to parents a day after the gang fight in the village of Nyack. In that e-mail, she assured parents that Nyack students weren’t involved in the fight. But she also said the high school would be a closed campus and security would be heightened in light of the fight.
Orangetown police burst that bubble by reporting the fight involved gangs from Nyack and Spring Valley. The police also stated the fight precipitated at the high school when a young woman wore a red bandanna around her neck, apparently boasting of affiliation with a Bloods street gang. A young man from a rival gang from Nyack yanked off the bandanna – a sign of disrespect and a gang challenge.
The girl called her Spring Valley boyfriend, a reputed gang member. By mid-afternoon, Spring Valley gangstas cabbed it over to Nyack, armed with bats, hammer claws and other weapons. Nyack’s gang members quickly organized and fights broke out, bringing in police from Orangetown, South Nyack, Clarkstown, the Sheriff’s Department, including officers on horseback. Police even set up a command post.
Among the five young men arrested, two attended Nyack High School.
Spring Valley and Nyack youths have a history of confrontation dating decades, regardless of gang affiliations.
Orangetown police were continuing to investigate the fight, looking for the young men who injured two Nyack residents with hammer claw blows and knifes. Detective Lt. James Brown said progress is being made and said the school district is cooperating, even though Orangetown police don’t have jurisdiction at any of the district schools. Clarkstown police have officers inside the Upper Nyack high school and the Middle School is under South Nyack-Grand View.
Another result of the gang fight has mobilized some Nyack elected officials and civic leaders to come up with programs for youths in the village – especially those who live in the Nyack Plaza apartments,Â which Â has one basketball court. A meeting with the public is scheduled for 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Nyack Center on Broadway.
Nyack will hold a community forum Wednesday to talk about the gang fights that took place on village streets last month involving between 40 and 50 teenagers.
The meeting was supposed to be held Monday, but was changed to accommodate the schedules of public officials. Nyack Mayor John Shields, the Nyack Village Board of Trustees, Orangetown Supervisor Thom Kleiner, and Orangetown Police Chief Nulty among others will answer questions and hear comments and solutions from the public.
The meeting will be held at 7 p.m. at the Nyack Center, 58 Depew Ave. For more information call Nyack Village Hall at (845) 358-0229 or the Nyack Center at (845) 358-2600.
This community forum comes about two weeks after Nyack leaders held a closed meeting about the fighting. Some members of the public wanted to attend, but were shut out. So was the press.
Here are a few stories about the melee:
Is Nyack Mayor John Shields back on the market? Looks that way.
The 64-old mayor, whose hobbies include cooking, working out and resolving parking conflicts, was featured in a photo in a recent singles-themed issue of New York magazine. In the photo, Shields is standing at a phone booth and an arm is extended over his head, holding a small white board that gives his email with the text â€œdinner & conversation.â€
In 2004, Shields and his partner Bob Streams famously sued the state and the Orangetown Town Clerk for the right to get married. Shields also led a group of same-sex couples dubbed “The Nyack 10” in that lawsuit, which they lost.
Asked about the photo, Shields replied: “Let me put it to you this way. I’m single.”
Thanks for your feedback about the new Nyack meters, which I blogged about here last week. Readers wrote and called to tell me they were ticked off that the meters were installed with little notice and no signage, and that they got tickets anyway.
Nyack’s Mayor John Shields believes that new signs, installed Friday, will put an end to the meter mess. See story here: Nyack hopes signs will clear up confusion.
In a sorta mea culpa, Shields said: “I’m very sorry this happened. I know it’s a difficult transition period, and at this point there is nothing I can do.”
Read the story and tell me, what do you think of the apology?
The Nyack Village Board’s decision to raise the cost of parking meters has sparked lots of a local outrage. People are complaining up and down Nyack that the increase Ã¢â‚¬â€ from 25 cents to 50 cents an hour, or one dollar an hour in the “priority zone” Ã¢â‚¬â€ is a bad idea. They don’t want to shell out the extra money.
This issue has been debated for more than a year and the price hike is supposed to kick in on Jan. 1. Seems a little late to weigh in now.
Oh, but it’s not. In fact, Mayor John Shields has been swamped with complaints and is rethinking his vote. On Thursday, he will ask the Village Board to repeal the $1 an hour increase, but keep the 50 cent hike in place.
The price hike is one of a couple of parking changes that have been debated back and forth. There’s been lots of talk, lots of fighting between the Village Board and the Parking Authority, and lots of confusion about what changes will take place and when.
Things are about to get murkier.
Months after a controversial energy drink was voluntarily pulled from some Nyack store shelves because of one local lawmaker, the company that makes the Cocaine drink says it’s pulling its product nationwide.
The Associated Press on Monday reported that Redux Beverages Ã¢â‚¬â€ that marketed its product as Ã¢â‚¬Å“Speed in a Can,Ã¢â‚¬? Ã¢â‚¬Å“Liquid CocaineÃ¢â‚¬? and Ã¢â‚¬Å“Cocaine Ã¢â‚¬â€ Instant RushÃ¢â‚¬? Ã¢â‚¬â€ agreed to pull the drink and resell the product under a different name.
The Food and Drug Administration issued a warning last month that said Redux was illegally marketing Ã¢â‚¬Å“CocaineÃ¢â‚¬? as a street drug alternative and a dietary supplement. The FDA set a May 4 deadline for Redux to respond.
Several months ago, Nyack Mayor John Shields called for a boycott of the product and local stores that sold it because, he said, it sent the wrong message to kids.
When this reporter went into one of the mini-marts that had it on display, the manager pulled it immediately; he said he didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t need to sell the drink. Another deli owner said he’d never sell it even though it was offered at a discount.
ShieldÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s call was similar to that of many other lawmakers across the country. Pressure mounted recently after many other lawmakers continued those calls.
The AP reported that attorneys general in Connecticut and Illinois recently announced that Redux had agreed to stop marketing Cocaine in those states and that a judge in Texas also halted distribution there.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Our goal is to literally flush Cocaine down the drain across the nation,Ã¢â‚¬? said Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, who announced the companyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s agreement with his state Monday. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Our main complaint about Cocaine is its name and marketing strategy seeking to glorify illegal drug use and exploit the allure of marketing Ã¢â‚¬â„¢Speed in a Can,Ã¢â‚¬â„¢ as it called the product.Ã¢â‚¬?
The AP contributed to this report.
Cocaine illegal? No kidding.
An energy drink that sparked an outcry in Nyack and across the country was illegally marketed, the federal government said this week.
The Food and Drug Administration said Redux Beverages LLC was illegally marketing the drink as both a street drug alternative and a dietary supplement, according to a warning letter dated publicly released today. (To read the full Associated Press story published today on USA TodayÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Web site, log onto www.usatoday.com.)
The FDA used the drinkÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s own labeling and Web site as evidence. Its owner called it the Ã¢â‚¬Å“Legal Alternative,Ã¢â‚¬? Ã¢â‚¬Å“Speed in a Can,Ã¢â‚¬? Ã¢â‚¬Å“Liquid CocaineÃ¢â‚¬? and used other catchy slogans.
Earlier this year, Nyack Mayor John Shields called for a boycott because he said it was irresponsibly marketed to minors and said the owners made light of the drinkÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s association with the drug.
The companyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s owner, James Kirby at the time said boycotts actually boosted sales; he thanked politicians like Shields for giving him the publicity.
The company now has 15 days to correct its violations.
One has to wonder if this is the type of publicity the head of the cocaine drink company had in mind.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Some village of Nyack leaders are calling for the symbolic elimination of the Ã¢â‚¬Å“N WordÃ¢â‚¬? and there has been no shortage of opinions on the matter.
Since writing about Mayor John ShieldÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s proposal last week to abolish the word from the village vernacular, several readers have given their two cents. The opinions varied, some complimentary, another message sounded a bit curmudgeonly. Another e-mail so outlandish, there was some humor to it.
HereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a quick recap:
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ Nice job, good initiative. Anything that focuses attention on eradicating this racist slur is good. Pass the ban and complement it with education and programming in the schools.
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s unconstitutional, do your homework. You canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t make language illegal, even if itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s vulgar and offensive.
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ WhatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s the word? Is the village board actually going to ban the word Nyack? (They were referring to the fact that we never use the actual word in the story).
The first one seems self evident. Shields and members of the local NAACP said the law is not about enforcement, itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s about education. Shed light on its history and people, particularly young African Americans, wonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t use the word, not even in a Ã¢â‚¬Å“friendlyÃ¢â‚¬? manner among peers.
The second concern is a fair one, but was addressed in the story; it sounded as if the anonymous caller didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t read that far. HereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s how thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s addressed in the article:
Gene Policinski, executive director of the First Amendment Center, which has offices in Washington and Nashville, Tenn., said it was important to separate the legal and social implications of such a resolution.
Policinski understood the benefits of enacting a local law to raise awareness and said it could be problematic if any penalties, fines or enforcement were attached to it. When challenged, he said the courts have historically protected people’s Ã¢â‚¬Å“ability to express ourselves, even if it is repugnant.Ã¢â‚¬?
Ã¢â‚¬Å“The courts have been very cautious to restrict language,” he said yesterday (Feb.14). Ã¢â‚¬Å“It’s unlikely that broad statutes would survive a constitutional challenge.Ã¢â‚¬?
The mayor also said the resolution was symbolic and not intended to be enforced. That removes the likelihood of any legal challenges.
Finally, there is no movement by the mayor or board to ban the word Ã¢â‚¬Å“NyackÃ¢â‚¬? from local use. I assume the reader knew this, but was just testing my chops.
The board will vote on the matter Thursday. Join the conversation and have your say on the topic at our forum section of the Web site.