Field Notes from an Upper West Side Community Board Meeting
My boyfriend and I travel to the wilds of the Upper West Side to attend a community board meeting. Truly - we are members of this community. But, as you shall soon see, we were not prepared for the machinations of the board members nor the collective outrage of the residents. There is a surprising amount of discussion on how to manage trash cans, but then they move on to the crux of the sturm und drang: public transportation. Specifically buses and CITIBIKES, aka the 5th horseman of the apocalypse.
Behold, my notes on the night’s proceedings:
7:43pm: I will not reveal the median age of the attendees, but I will say that someone just used the term "willy nilly."
7:43pm: They also admitted to buying a device to measure the speed of buses.
7:44pm: They clocked in at 19 mph which is just shocking I'm sure you'll agree.
7:55pm: Second person just used "willy nilly" but on the same topic.
7:55pm: A section of 86th street was just described as the “Wild West.”
8:05pm: “I just had 50 lbs. of granite delivered for my new kitchen. Get real!"
8:17pm: "How dare they" "unconscionable" "I spoke with the DOT for an hour" - these are just a few of the statements uttered tonight.
8:18pm: My boyfriend corrects me: “Actually I believe it was 400 lbs. of granite.”
8:19pm: A resident: "We are not going to stop." A threat and a promise.
8:20pm: "This is bullshit." - The octogenarian in front of me.
8:21pm: We're talking about CITIBIKE now so things are about to get even tenser.
8:24pm: "What's the point of discussing this?" Can this resident read my mind?
8:26pm: One board member just suggested we should manage expectations. This all-white audience has probably never heard that suggestion.
8:26pm: "Can we have some process please!?" - One man's urgent plea.
8:28pm: "There's a process here!!! Please let the process occur!" His plea has fallen on deaf ears.
8:29pm: It was just revealed that most CITIBIKE docking stations have 35 bikes, to many shocked murmurs.
Boyfriend: “And they're 80 feet long!”
8:35pm: "So are we going to wait for someone to die?" A sentiment I've heard several times tonight on several topics.
8:37pm: Someone just suggested the board resign en masse. Is this how the American Revolution started?
8:41pm: The process is sadly not being observed.
8:43pm: While the board votes on official business, two residents are revealed to be newly absent. A fellow resident explains: "Two people had to leave. They had dinner reservations at 8pm." I hope those are entered into the official minutes.
8:44pm: A Board Member: "This may be foolish to ask, but is anyone in favor of these CITIBIKE stations?"
8:48pm: "Here's the problem I see as an ex engineer."
8:49pm: "This (the CITIBIKE dock) is a huge dinosaur." Residents of the UWS are masters of the turn of phrase.
8:51pm: We're talking about marching now. #revolution
8:54pm: It should come as no surprise that there are few fans of our mayor here.
8:55pm: "Ethel was next."
8:58pm: "We all love Margaret (community board rep)." To which two ladies in front of me respond: "Pffffuhhh. No we don't."
8:59pm: "This isn't Amsterdam!" Possibly the overriding sentiment of the night.
9:00pm: I ask my boyfriend: “Do you want to leave after the next uproar?"
We leave. Several months later a CITIBIKE dock is installed across the street from our apartment.