BAN's town hall on the future of the Bowery drew a large crowd of eighty or more -- impressive for a community meeting. Everyone, both from the dais and from the audience, spoke in favor of BAN's plan to save the east side of the Bowery by simply extending the current zoning protections of the west side of the Bowery over to the east side.
Councilmember Alan Gerson, who is running for re-election in the district, helped BAN set up the meeting and co-chaired it with local zoning expert Doris Diether. Gerson made clear his support for preserving the Bowery and, pressed on the issue by a member of the Little Italy Neighborhood Association (LINA), committed to coordinating the effort at the political level. Margaret Chin, once again running against Gerson, also appeared in support of the BAN plan, as did a senior aid of Pete Gleason, the dark horse in the campaign who is garnering attention and interest as the candidate with the least political baggage and obligations.
Community Board 3 did not attend the meeting even though the area of the Bowery in question lies in Community District 3. Jim Solomon, however, of Community Board 2 and the Chinatown Working Group co-chair, did attend. The director of the East Village History Project was there, the JASA residence was represented and the Bowery Mission, among a wide array of local residents and community organizations.
Councilmember Gerson will be instrumental in the upcoming meeting with City Planning. It's fair to say that the future of the Bowery depends on the work Gerson can accomplish between now and that meeting.