Volume 79, Number 23 | November 11 - 17, 2009
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933

Progress Report

A special Villager supplement

Community board 3

Seward Park, Chinatown, bars, buses are on the C.B. 3 agenda

By Dominic Pisciotta and Susan Stetzer 

In the past year — Community Board 3 has continued to become busier and busier. The three years of work to pass a rezoning plan did not signal a time to rest and regroup — the success showed residents that it was up to them and within their ability to create more change to improve the community.

There were stakeholders in Chinatown that wanted rezoning efforts to extend further than the 110 blocks that were rezoned. Community Board 3 and people from the city administration convened the first Chinatown Working Group meeting to bring community members together to create a community-led plan. With strong support from the Manhattan Borough President’s Office, Community Boards 1, 2 and 3 have worked together with more than 40 community organizations to form the Chinatown Working Group.

The community board is committed to bringing consensus and development to the former Seward Park Urban Renewal Area (SPURA). C.B. 3’s Land Use, Zoning, Public and Private Housing Committee has public members from community organizations and residents to ensure representative and diversified input. The Bloomberg administration and local elected officials are also serious about assisting with resources to support a community board-driven and -developed program for potentially up to 10 sites owned by the city. The challenge will be the balance between establishing an economically self-sustaining program and one that serves a broad range of community needs and interests.

What are people complaining about in our district? More people than ever seem to be complaining — but that is a good thing. The community board has been reaching out to the community to make sure people know how to complain productively. This often means calling 311 — and if that doesn’t work or if the problem is too complicated, community members are directed to go to the community board Web site at www.cb3manhattan.org to fill out the “make a complaint form.” The cool thing about the form is that it guides you through questions necessary for the board to follow up effectively.

What specifically are people in our district complaining about? Community Board 3 continues to lead the city in the number of 311 Police Department commercial noise complaints — centered around nightlife activities. It is also the number one complaint to the community board.

People are also complaining about horn honking, especially from taxis and especially on weekends very late at night and early in the morning. 

One recent and exciting development on the board started in November with the inauguration of a stand-alone Economic Development Committee. The board has heard from the community about the loss of our retail stores that serve local needs. The urban planning fellow assigned to C.B. 3 from the Manhattan Borough President’s Office will be working with our newly reorganized committee to study why we are losing these businesses, what services are needed to serve local needs and what are viable businesses in today’s world. We hope this information will give us strategies to consider to turn around the loss of diversity of local businesses. The committee will also work to create local hiring for construction projects, as well as expand local hiring in businesses. This is especially important at this time since there are many public projects planned in the near future in the district.

One of a couple of key issues we worked through in 2009 was proposing alternatives and mitigation measures for the proposed reconstruction of Chatham Square. This project is now postponed for two years, but we will continue working with the city on this project. We also approved the park design for the Allen and Pike St. Mall, but will still keep a close eye on the traffic redesigns in the coming year. 

The board will continue work with the city and community in the reconstruction and revitalization of our East River waterfront. 

Another issue very important to the community is resolving problems of traffic congestion, bus layovers and loading and unloading of non-M.T.A. buses; our community has done its job of voicing loudly and clearly that this problem is increasing and causing public safety problems. The board will work with the city and community to ensure that a plan is developed to resolve this issue. 

Of course, 2010 will be a year full of other important issues not yet on our radar.

Pisciotta is chairperson and Stetzer is district manager, Community Board 3

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