Volume 74, Number 14 | August 04 - 10 , 2004

Bloomberg will attend town hall

By Lincoln Anderson

Mayor Michael Bloomberg and a good number of his agency commissioners will come to Greenwich Village for a town hall forum next Mon., Aug. 9. The event, sponsored by the Greenwich Village Block Associations, will be held at Village Community School, 272 W. 10th St., between Greenwich and Washington Sts., starting at 7 p.m. and is expected to last several hours.

The forum is by invitation only. Those not on the list will not be able to get in.

Marilyn Dorato, secretary of G.V.B.A., said the auditorium, with a capacity of 300 people, is already overbooked. “We just could not handle the crowd if we opened it to the public. If there’s a group that we’ve overlooked, we’ll try to accommodate them. At this point, I’m hoping some people drop out,” said Dorato, who will lead the meeting, which has no set agenda. “It’s an opportunity for people to ask whatever they have on their minds,” she said. “The focus is Village issues. We’re not discussing the war on Iraq, or things like that. We want him to really focus on the Village,” said Dorato.

Dorato said it would be a good bet to assume there will be discussion of porn shops, the State Liquor Authority and the granting of liquor licenses, New York University and the problem of large institutions’ impact on residential communities, perhaps the New York Is Book Country festival planned for Washington Sq. Park, as well as expansion of historic districts and landmark protections, to name a few.

Among the commissioners attending will be those from the departments of Parks, Sanitation, Film, Buildings and Transportation. While the mayor has held similar town halls in the outer boroughs, this is reportedly the first planned for Manhattan.

Dorato said the meeting came about after she was invited to attend a breakfast at Gracie Mansion in February for community activists to meet with the mayor. One thing led to another, and the mayor agreed to do the town hall.

Former Mayor Giuliani used to hold town halls regularly, with the goal of having at least one in every community board. Giuliani’s town hall meetings were always open to the public and no reservations were required.

Dorato said she doesn’t know how Mayor Bloomberg conducts his town halls in the outer boroughs, but in this case the town hall is being led by G.V.B.A., a 12-year-old group including more than 30 block associations between 14th and Houston Sts., west of University Pl., that meet monthly. As a result, the forum will not be open to the public, she said.

Attendees will be asked to write questions on index cards and Dorato will select the questions.

“We’re not under any obligation to open the doors [to the public],” she stated. “We wanted to make sure that people involved in community affairs would be accommodated. We’re not a public group or a government group.”

Initially, the idea was just to invite the block associations, but, on second thought, G.V.B.A., understanding that many businesses are good neighbors and a vital part of the community, too, decided merchants and merchants groups should also be invited, Dorato said. In addition, community groups were invited. It was up to each block association to make the invitations of community groups in its particular area.

Some of the over 50 invited groups include Bailey House, a residence for people with H.I.V./AIDS; Village Nursing Home; local schools; Our Lady of Pompei Church, since it has a senior center; parks groups; and Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation.

Activist groups that have clashed with residents at past meetings, like FIERCE!, which represents gay and transgender youth, were not invited.

“We really don’t consider them a community group,” Dorato said. “I don’t see that FIERCE! is involved in solving community problems. I want to be productive. We’re not interested in creating problems; we’re interested in solving problems.”

For information on the Aug. 9 town hall with the mayor or to find out if there are any seats available, visit www.gvba.org.

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