On Tuesday morning, I joined a group of my friends from the Elizabeth Street Garden for a wakeup rally to Mayor de Blasio.
The invitation declared:Join our next Wake Up Rally - Tuesday, February 7 at 9:00 a.m....
Prospect Park Y in Park Slope Brooklyn (Where the Mayor works out!)
Leave from Garden at 8:15am or meet there at 9:00am:
357 9th St, Brooklyn, NY 11215
F train to 7 Avenue
Exit: 7th Ave & 9th St, NW Corner
Let's Wake Up the Mayor; tell him why breaking this Garden in half will break our community.
"We are here to send a wake-up call to Mayor de Blasio that we will use all our resources to save Elizabeth Street Garden," said Janine Kiely, President of Friends of Elizabeth Street Garden. Why would the city every destroy much-needed park space when superior housing sites are available nearby?"
"Mayor de Blasio and Council Member Chin are single mindedly focused on developing the Garden, while ignoring other nearby opportunities," said Emily Hellstorm, longtime resident and Garden volunteer. "Meanwhile they have been asleep on several other major recent real estate decisions that would have allowed the creation of significantly more affordable housing on publicly owned land."
The mayor did say hello to us as he made his way to the gym, suggesting, we could work something out.
But nothing needs to be worked out. The mayor needs to follow his commitment to listening to community groups, collaborating with communities of people who understand the best way to build community is to leave open space for the public, who need it to organize, socialize and beat back despair. The Save the garden, save the city mayor.
|Garden supporters defending the Elizabeth Street Garden during the Morning Wake-Up Rally!|
Led by Friends of Elizabeth Street Garden, dozens of residents from Little Italy, Nolita and the surrounding neighborhoods gathered in front of the Prospect Park YMCA on Tuesday, February 7, at 9 a.m. in an attempt to convince Mayor Bill de Blasio to halt plans to destroy a treasured Manhattan park space.
Residents are outraged that the de Blasio administration has repeatedly turned a deaf ear to constituents and local community groups, who overwhelmingly support saving Elizabeth Street Garden. Located between Prince and Spring streets in Little Italy, an area starved for open space, the 20,000-square-foot park is open to the public year round, offers more than 200 free public events annually and attracts more than 100,000 visitors each year.
Neighborhood residents have committed to a long-term “Wake-Up Campaign” directed at educating ayor, local Council Member Margaret Chin and all those seeking to destroy Elizabeth Street Garden. The group will use social media, free media, direct mail, protests, a 7,500-person mailing list and other forms of community outreach to reach all those who are affected by the attack on the beloved park space. A trumpeter played reveille at the rally in an attempt to ‘wake’ Mayor de Blasio.
Council Member Chin included Elizabeth Street Garden site in a back-room deal, with no public review whatsoever, as part of the Essex Crossing development in Community Board 3 on the Lower East Side. Since learning about this side deal in 2013, Community Board 2 has held four public hearings during which the overwhelming sentiment has been to save the Garden
Remarkably, NYC HPD’s plan to develop the arden is supported only by Council Member Chin. Every other area local elected official supports saving the arden, favoring an alternative proposal by Community Board 2 for affordable housing at 388 Hudson Street, a vacant city-owned lot just 0.9 mile away, where five times as much senior housing can be built.
Community Board 2 the de Blasio administration to work with them on opportunities they have identified for affordable housing in their District while keeping this much-needed arden. In addition to the nearly 500 affordable units recently approved at 550 Washington Street, CB 2 supports development of affordable housing at 388 Hudson Street -- but only if the Elizabeth Street Garden remains a public park in its entirety.
If is so focused on affordable housing, why did pave the way for Rivington House, an enormously valuable piece of property, to be turned into luxury condos by lifting a deed restriction? The city let 150,000-square-foot building slip away for just $16.1 million, despite the clear recommendation to “deny sale” and to support an “affordable housing plan.”
“The Elizabeth Street Garden open space is an asset that should be protected at all costs, and yet the city insists on developing it despite the availability of alternative sites with greater potential housing,” Kiely said.
The protesters, who plan to advance their protests in the months ahead, called on Mayor de Blasio to listen to his constituents, focus on the better alternatives and preserve the park for generations to come.