COMMUNITY BOARD 3
BY DOMINIC PISCOLATTA and SUSAN STETZER | Community Board 3 seems to be busier every year. There seem to be more projects that we are involved in and always more to do. But after years on some projects, we are finally seeing results, such as with the Allen / Pike Sts. malls, the P.S. 188 playground and the waterfront. We also find our partnerships with elected officials, agencies and community groups, such as with the Delancey St. work group, described below, to be very productive.
The city is visioning plans for the Lower East Side waterfront, but C.B. 3 has been fortunate to have had a jump on this. The board has been planning for the waterfront since 2002. The city’s Design Commission has now completed approval for the section from Pier 35 to Pike Slip. This work is currently out to bid and responses are expected by the end of this year. We are looking at construction for this section starting about spring 2012.
Pier 36 reconstruction is complete, and Pier 35 reconstruction is underway and expected to be complete in the spring of 2013. The Economic Development Corporation is working on the design for the final section of the esplanade from Catherine St. to Pike / Allen Sts. and will present this later next year for feedback.
The board has renewed its focus on Pier 42 because of the recent and very exciting funding announcement. This has been a long process and a priority that the whole community has been advocating for. In October 2007 the board voted on a resolution for the development of Pier 42 as an open space for the community. Further resolutions were passed in 2009 to protect the use of the pier for community use. Funding to demolish the shed on the pier as a necessary first step has been a priority in several C.B. 3 District Need Statements. This September, the board resolved “that Community Board 3 considers funding be allocated to dismantle the shed over Pier 42 as the first step to reclaim this pier for community use, and that elected officials and relevant agencies allocate funding to complete the shed dismantling work on Pier 42 as a necessary first step to reclaiming this pier for the community.”
We were amazed and excited when Senator Schumer and state Senator Squadron the very next month announced that they had secured Lower Manhattan Development Corporation funds for this next step and the visioning process. This is an example of the community board’s strategic planning and working together with our elected officials and community leaders to make change in our community.
St. Mark’s Bookshop
C.B. 3 is proud to have been a part of the successful drive to keep St. Mark’s Bookshop in our community. Promoting retail diversity and retaining local “mom and pop” shops has been a signature issue for C.B. 3. In September, the bookstore owners met with our Economic Development Committee to discuss their status, which resulted in a letter from the board to Cooper Union supporting the bookstore in negotiations that would allow it to continue as a very important business in our community.
Delancey St. safety
C.B. 3 has been participating with an interagency working group to address pedestrian and cyclist safety along Delancey St., the heavily trafficked connection to the Williamsburg Bridge. State Senator Squadron has hosted a series of meetings, where he has kept the focus on practical safety improvements that can be implemented immediately. Already, the Department of Transportation has adjusted traffic-light cycles at a number of intersections to provide pedestrians more time for crossing Delancey St.
At our Dec. 7 meeting, the C.B. 3 Transportation and Public Safety Committee will be considering another safety measure suggested by the Seventh Precinct to the interagency work group — whether to approve an around-the-clock, left-turn restriction off southbound Essex St onto eastbound Delancey St., which is one of the deadliest intersections in Manhattan, the one with the most vehicle accidents involving pedestrians. The interagency group is also looking closely at the intersection with Clinton St. because that is where Delancey St. has a service road around the entrance to the Williamsburg Bridge, helping make this intersection the widest street crossing in Manhattan.
In addition to its focus on short-term improvements, the interagency working group has also been trying to identify funding sources for long-term projects, such as enlarged pedestrian islands at major intersections along Delancey St. and a neighborhood traffic study of transportation conditions and safety issues.
We are thrilled with the new playground outside P.S. 188. This playground, used by the school and the residents of Lillian Wald, was in terrible disrepair. C.B. 3 worked with parents and City Councilmember Rosie Mendez’s Office to advocate for redesign and construction of this playground as a very necessary priority for the neighborhood children. In September the new playground was opened. The play equipment in this unusual playground is themed for Lillian Wald, a public health pioneer and leader of the recreation movement. The play unit’s roofs are modeled after Lower East Side tenement cornices to recognize those visiting nurses who used to jump from rooftop to rooftop so they could provide health services more rapidly. There is also a custom stethoscope balance beam and nurses cross climber.
The board is continuing to work closely with the Lower East Side Employment Network. This coalition of local workforce development organizations trains our residents with skills and provides them with tools necessary to find jobs and advance their careers. The organizations also provide many services to the clients to enable them in other areas, such as language development and social services. The community board’s role has been to connect local businesses to the network. This is a great benefit to businesses, which can interview trained and screened applicants who live nearby and which benefits the job-seeking residents of C.B. 3.
Jan. 25, 2011, was a historic day for the Lower East Side. Community Board 3 voted 44 to 0 on a comprehensive consensus for the Seward Park Extension Urban Renewal Area, ending a 42-year-long struggle over what should become of this land. Where multiple administrations and community interest groups had failed in the past to push forward a plan, we made the most significant progress in more than four decades. This effort came about from more than two-and-a half years of hard work by many diverse community interests who brainstormed and debated through monthly meetings.
The key tenets of the agreement call for a mixed-use and mixed-income development consisting of roughly 50 percent market-rate and 50 percent permanently affordable housing (comprised of 20 percent low-income, 10 percent senior, 10 percent moderate- and 10 percent middle-income); the sites should not exceed more than 60 percent of F.A.R. (floor area ratio); except for a supermarket, no store should exceed 30,000 square feet and nothing more than a “mid-box” store — as opposed to “big box” — should be part of the development; and it includes civic-use preferences, including a public primary and/or secondary school. You can read the full set of guidelines at: http://www.nyc.gov/html/mancb3/downloads/cb3docs/Seward%20Park%20Guidelines%20FINAL.pdf.
Progress on the SPURA project continued to advance in June with the approval of a set of guidelines for the site’s program design. This enabled the Bloomberg administration, along with January’s comprehensive agreement, to create its environmental impact scoping draft, followed by our response in late September.
The next steps planned are the city-conducted environmental impact study (E.I.S.) and then the start of the uniform land use review procedure (ULURP) in spring 2012. It is our hope to be able to support a ULURP for SPURA that maintains the compromise we have achieved thus far.
Pisciotta is chairperson and Stetzer is district manager, Community Board 3