Last week, at a Town Hall meeting in Chinatown, the Department of Transportation presented its plan for rerouting traffic at Chatham Square in the heart of Chinatown. In the course of the Q & A, DoT asserted that their plans would go ahead regardless what the community says, wants or does; the DoT will respond only to the "city administration." The DoT interprets "city adminstration" to mean the Mayor alone, not the City Council nor any Community Board, as was clear from the meeting: the City Councilmember who represents Chinatown, Alan Gerson, spoke out plainly critical of the plan and the process, as did the CB1 and CB2 members present.
The plan will close Park Row permanently. The community has been pressing the city to reopen Park Row, which was initially closed in the wake of 9/11. But when it comes to Chinatown, the "city administration" does not appear to care for community wants or needs.
Also last week, CB1 voted to reject the DoT plan. Residents of Chinatown have now drawn up a resolution which they will present to CB3. Here's the notice, thanks to Jan Lee of CCRC, with the text of the resolution, which is also available here at the CCRC blog:
Community organizers are collecting signatures in support of this community authored resolution to submit before CB3's full board on Dec. 16th at P.S. 20 at 166 Essex Street near East Houston and Stanton at 6:30 pm.
Please attend the CB3 hearing this Tues.! Let your voice be heard and voice your opinions on the Chatham Square
Here is the document:
We, as members of the Chinatown Community, respectfully request that the following resolution be passed by Community Boards One, Two and Three with regard to the Mayor’s and DOT’s proposed Chatham Square Reconfiguration Plan in order to:
1. Give the community time to access and review all details of the proposed Chatham Square reconfiguration, with special attention to pedestrian safety, potential negative economic impacts upon local businesses and cost-benefit analysis,
2. Allow full community input; and,
3. Mitigate the effects of any construction on the local economy and its character.
4. Ultimately have the City work with the community to develop a plan that works for the community.
Whereas, the Department of Transportation has stated a desire of improved pedestrian safety yet has proposed a plan that appears to decrease pedestrian safety; and
Whereas, the Department of Transportation has not done adequate research regarding the economic impact of three plus years of reconstruction at Chatham Square, nor has the D.O.T. provided a business mitigation plan to the Chinatown community prior to the reconstruction of Chatham Square; and
Whereas, the Department of Transportation did not give the public opportunity to view detailed plans of Chatham Square’s reconstruction until 6 days before the public hearing of December 2, 2008 ; and
Whereas, the Chinatown community has not had ample time to caucus and present alternative plans for the reconstruction with alternative construction schedule; and
Whereas, the unanimous opposition expressed at the December 2, 2008 public hearing regarding Chatham Square reconfiguration accurately reflects the vast majority of Chinatown groups comprised of residents, businesses, and nonprofits; and
Whereas, Councilman Alan J. Gerson testified on December 2nd that “I believe it is way too premature for this community and this community board to take a position. I believe it is even too premature for the City to, at this stage, to ask the community board to reach a position or to approve this plan at this stage.”, thereby reflecting the opinions of his constituents; and
Whereas, State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver submitted a letter to the December 2nd hearing in support of the community’s efforts to have a voice in the details of the plan; and
Whereas, the DOT’s plan currently does not provide details of the Park Row improvement portion of the plan. In particular, the artists images of the proposed pedestrian walkway does not even include provision for the current driveway of the Chatham Green Cooperative; nor does it address the existing problem of handicap ramp access at Chatham Towers. Despite many requests by Chatham Tower’s Board, it remains off limits to this day causing a great hardship to residents and visitors of that co-op.
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Community Board will reject the most recent plan for Chatham Square’s reconstruction as presented by the Department of Transportation, and,
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Community Board will call for a moratorium on all construction work at Chatham Square pending further examination of the plans by concerned stakeholders and input from Community Boards 1, 2 and 3.
Jan Lee - Sinotique 19 Mott St. NYC 10013, Hamilton Madison House Board
Jeanie Chin , CCRC, Chatham Towers Board
Danny Chen Chatham Green, Board
Toby Turkel, Pres. of Chatham Towers