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Uptown Precinct Council Meeting Location Sparks Confusion Yet Again

By Nigel Chiwaya | November 20, 2013 11:57am
 Precinct Council head George Espinal (right) says the council's monthly meeting will be held at the Fort Tryon Center. The precinct disagrees. 
Precinct Council head George Espinal (right) says the council's monthly meeting will be held at the Fort Tryon Center. The precinct disagrees. 
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34th Precinct Community Council/Facebook

WASHINGTON HEIGHTS — If you're planning on attending Wednesday night's 34th Precinct community council meeting, good luck finding the right one.

The precinct and its council have listed at least two different locations for the monthly public meeting, confusing residents and giving another black eye to the council's embattled president.

Council head George Espinal has been telling members of the group's Facebook page that the meeting will be held at the Fort Tryon Center at 801 West 190th St., while the precinct's community affairs department sent out emails saying that the meeting will be at the precinct station house on Broadway and West 183rd Street.

This isn't the first time the logistics of the precinct council meeting have caused confusion. Last month, the community board listed the incorrect meeting date, saying the meeting would happen a week before it was actually scheduled to take place. The actual meeting took place on the same day — and at the same location — as a separate meeting held by Assemblywoman Gabriela Rosa, prompting Rosa to publicly criticize Espinal at the council meeting. 

The council's February 2013 meeting was also the source of controversy, as fliers taped to buildings in Washington Heights listed different meeting dates in English and Spanish. Espinal denied responsibility for the error, saying that the council never distributed fliers for the meeting.

The confusion comes one month after the Espinal came under fire for allowing a prayer to Jesus Christ during the council's October meeting. Several restaurant owners, already incensed after they said Espinal spearheaded a letter-writing campaign against them to Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, criticized Espinal for the prayer and demanded his resignation.

Those calls have only grown stronger as residents have joined in calling for Espinal's ouster. One of those residents, Inwood's Susan Ryan, has sent several letters to Kelly asking that Espinal be replaced. 

"Mr. Espinal is a divisive and polarizing figure in this community who seeks to build his own constituency for political purposes," Ryan wrote in one such letter. "This community does not need dividers, we need leaders invested in uniting the community."

Espinal did not immediately respond to requests for comment.