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Uptown Pool and Playground Slated for Renovations, Councilman Says

By Nigel Chiwaya | April 7, 2014 11:09am
 Ydanis Rodriguez pledged millions of dollars in renovations to Northern Manhattan facilities during his State of the District address Sunday.
Ydanis Rodriguez pledged millions of dollars in renovations to Northern Manhattan facilities during his State of the District address Sunday.
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DNAinfo/Nigel Chiwaya

WASHINGTON HEIGHTS — Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez promised to upgrade a host of public facilities in northern Manhattan during his State of the District address, saying that the area was on the "cusp of something great."

Rodriguez said he's obtained more than $8 million in public funding and plans to devote it to projects that include renovating the swimming pool at George Washington High School, building the Highbridge Park ice rink and repairing Javits playground.

It's part of an effort to transform northern Manhattan and Marble Hill into "a model for success citywide," he said Sunday.

"We stand on the cusp of something great here at the top of the most famous island in the world," Rodriguez told constituents at Columbia Medical Center's Alumni Auditorium on 168th Street.

"We will create a place that embraces all who choose to live here, yet one that will remain a place where longtime residents feel comfortable, too."

Rodriguez promised to allocate $7 million of the council funding to fully renovate the George Washington High School swimming pool, located on Audubon Avenue and West 193rd Street.

The 75-foot pool has been closed since the 1990s, but Rodriguez said he would work with community groups to make sure it would be staffed on weekends for public use.

Rodriguez also promised to "allocate the millions of dollars necessary" to fully renovate the Javits Playground, located at Cabrini Boulevard and Fort Washington Avenue.

He touted the Highbridge Park ice skating rink, to which Rodriguez has previously contributed $1 million in funding, as a sign of progress for Uptown's outdoor spaces. The rink is slated to open next winter, officials said.

Rodriguez also announced plans to switch to a participatory budgeting model, and to introduce "participatory legislating," which would host a series of public forums later this year aimed at helping residents turn their ideas into laws that would be introduced in City Hall.

For drivers, Rodriguez pointed to legislation that he has introduced that would alleviate alternate-side parking frustrations by allowing drivers to park their cars as soon as the street cleaners pass without fearing they'll be ticketed, rather than waiting for the end of the final street cleaning window.

And the councilman promised to crack down on unruly motorcycle drivers, saying that he introduced a bill that would make all aspects of bike stunts illegal and promising to work with the 33rd and 34th precincts to hold riders to existing laws in the interim.

Full Text: State of Northern Manhattan 2014