Volume 74, Number 3 | June 8- 14, 2005

Villager photo by Josh Argyle

Postcards from the edge (of Tompkins Sq.)

Michael Rosen, right, and fellow East Village Community Coalition members were at their usual weekend post, with their informational table, outside Tompkins Sq. Park last Sunday afternoon, asking people to sign postcards to Mayor Bloomberg, Deputy Mayor Dan Doctoroff and Commissioner Robert Tierney of the Landmarks Preservation Commission in support of landmarking the old P.S. 64/former CHARAS/El Bohio building on E. Ninth St. near Avenue B. This spring, the Parks Department told E.V.C.C. it needs a permit for the postcard signings, though different Parks officials have given different reasons as to why. After the policy change, E.V.C.C. initially did apply for a permit. They’re not sure whether they have a permit for June, though, but went ahead and did the postcard signings last Sunday anyway. Rosen claims he’d been told before by a Parks official that he would face arrest if he did the postcard signings without a permit. But he said he was willing to take that risk, and that the real wrong is being done by the Bloomberg administration by refusing to landmark the old school, the rear of which a developer plans to demolish so he can construct a 19-story, 222-unit university dormitory.

The group found support at the recent Community Board 3 full board meeting, at which speaker after speaker during the public session held forth on how the permit policy is out of step with the park’s long tradition of free speech and political activity, and the board passed a resolution opposing the permitting demand. Rosen said he has been “trading phone calls” with Elaine Crowley, the local park district manager, but so far has not been able to have a sit-down with her on the issue. However, speaking on Tuesday, a Parks spokesperson said, “This is not a First Amendment issue, this is an operations issue. The permit is just for the table, so that it’s not blocking an entrance and so that we don’t have every single group vying for space on the same day.”

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