New York, NY—It was an excellent turnout this morning along E 72nd Street as about 50 people from the community participated in the East 72nd Street Neighborhood Association’s second-ever ‘Love Your Neighborhood Day.’

They gathered at the 72nd Street and 2nd Avenue Subway, and after donning shirts that read “I Love the Upper East Side”, the volunteers fanned out in the area, cleaning up trash along 2nd Avenue, 1st Avenue and the East River Esplanade.

Nearly all the candidates running to replace Councilman Ben Kallos in District 5 participated, including Rebecca Lamorte, Julie Menin, Tricia Shimamura, Billy Freeland, Chris Sosa, Kim Moscaritolo and Mark Foley, who’s running on the Republican ticket.

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Also in attendance, Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney, who held a couple of press conferences this week in the district before she heads back to Washington on Tuesday to begin work and negotiations on President Joe Biden’s ambitious $2.25 trillion infrastructure plan, hoping to bring federal dollars home to extend the 2nd Avenue Subway up to East Harlem and eventually south to Hanover Square in the Financial District.

As the volunteers canvassed the streets with garbage bags, brooms and upright dust pans, their neighbors who walked by and several merchants standing in front of their businesses welcomed the clean-up effort, saying to the volunteers, “Great job,” and “Thanks for doing this.”

In an interview, the E72NA’s president, Valerie Mason, talked about the event’s significance

“We had one in October, and it went so well. Now we have the second one, and it’s an opportunity for us to engage the community in more than just advocacy issues,” said Mason.

“We’re here to do what needs to be done—whether it’s cleaning the sidewalks, interacting with the candidates who are running for the council, we’re all about our neighborhood.”

We also asked her about an issue that is very important to the neighborhood, which is the proposal by the New York Blood Center to build a massive 334-foot-tall tower in the midblock between 1st and 2nd Avenues on E 67th Street.

She first noted that the neighborhood and the association are not against the Blood Center and its mission, but rather the construction of a tower in which the Blood Center will only occupy the first five floors, while leasing the upper floors to start-ups and mature companies in the life-sciences industry.

“First I’d like to say that we are not against the Blood Center, we think the Blood Center is an important neighbor for all us,” said Mason.

“It can expand within its footprint, which is allowed by the zoning law to go up to 80 feet, and its new design shows that it does not need more than [that height]. What they are doing is a commercial expansion that would build a 334-foot-tall tower in an area zoned for an 80-foot-tall building, max. That is not what the zoning law is about [and] we need to preserve that for our neighborhood and for the city at large.”

Tomorrow, we’ll be publishing the council candidates’ reactions to their participation in the ‘Love Your Neighborhood Day.’

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