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BY KAITLYN MEADE | A cigar store located at 75 Broad St. will not have its lease renewed after students and parents complained that smoke has been permeating their multi-purpose room, according to Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.
At a Friday education meeting, Silver’s chief of staff Judy Rapfogel said that Silver had spoken with JEMB Realty, the landlord of the building at 75 Broad St.
“The landlord is in full agreement that he doesn’t want children to be suffering from smoke inhalation, so they are not going to be renewing the lease which opens all sorts of possibilities for a gym and all sorts of things that people here have been working on,” said Rapfogel.
The Financial District office building houses Millennium High School, but is also home to a number of other businesses, including Barclay-Rex, a pipe shop that sells rare cigars, tobacco and accessories. It is legal to have smoking inside the shop as long as it is enclosed, includes a humidor and has proper ventilation.
Students and parents had complained about the fumes and tobacco smell getting into their multi-purpose room on the ground floor of the building, and brought the matter to Community Board 1, which passed a resolution in December asking the School Construction Authority and the Department of Education to remedy the situation.
“This is great news that the students, teachers and administrators at the Millennium High School will now have cigar-free air. Clean air has always been a top priority for C.B. 1, especially for our children that are especially vulnerable since their bodies are growing,” Catherine McVay Hughes, the board’s chairperson, wrote in an email to Downtown Express.
Hughes is also the founder and president of Asthma Moms, an online support network for parents of children with asthma.
After repair work on the ventilation system failed to fix the issue, Silver spoke to the landlord.
The owner, JEMB Realty, did not respond to a request for comment.
The school opened in 2003 with no gym, but hoped to build one on the 34th floor once funding came through. However, the city said the planned space was too high for a gym and unsafe. In 2009, the School Construction Authority suggested a ground-floor multi-purpose room as an alternative to having a full gym facility. Empty space on the ground floor may mean opportunities to expand the room into a larger fitness area, which Silver has funded in the state budget.
“I am thrilled that the air will be cleared and work will move forward on the multi-purpose room,” Silver said in statement to Downtown Express. “I want to thank the owner of 75 Broad St. for working with me and the Millennium High School community to resolve this issue.”
With reporting by Josh Rogers