An open letter to Community Board 3 from LES Dwellers

A map showing the current boundaries in which the needle-exchange outreach program can operate, in blue, and the proposed expanded boundaries, in red.

BY Diem BoyD  |  It is our view that Manhattan’s Community Board 3 and all block associations and community groups should be working together to solve the very real problems of our neighborhoods. For the LES Dwellers, this means improving the quality-of-life problems resulting from some of the worst liquor saturation in the United States.

A pattern of evolving block association regulations never voted on by the full board has challenged the organizing ability of residents, hindering the democratic process that C.B. 3 is mandated to uphold. Certain members of C.B. 3 leadership have taken action to quiet the very voices they are responsible to hear from among the community. The shifting “rules” culminated in the questionable “suspension” of the LES Dwellers in October. The representatives justified the three-month “suspension” with claims that the Dwellers have overstepped our role as a community group by contacting license applicants and the New York State Liquor Authority directly, and not adhering to the confusing criteria C.B. 3 leadership has instituted as to block associations’ geographic representation.

As Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer expressed in a thoughtful letter (available on our Web site along with other “suspension”  information, at https://lesdwellersupension.tumblr.com), even if a community board had the legal authority to put in place such a “suspension,” the lack of a transparent, “deliberative process” here would be worrisome. Moreover, the S.L.A. — in a meeting with the Dwellers and C.B. 3 leadership last week — has confirmed the rights of community groups to contact the S.L.A. and license applicants directly.  This very meeting netted tangible solutions to strengthen the democratic process and to create a more transparent and open format. We look forward to these recommendations being shared with all members of C.B. 3 and swiftly adopted.

It is clear that the way forward here is through greater transparency and a more democratic process. With that in mind, we would like to invite all members of C.B. 3 to do the following:

1.) Attend our next public meeting — and any future meeting — in order to better understand our mission, our membership and our methods. Our meeting schedule is posted on our Web site,  https://www.lesdwellers.org/Calendar.

2.) Contact us directly with any questions or concerns by e-mail at info@lesdwellers.org.

3.) Visit our Web site, https://www.lesdwellers.org, where you can learn more about our organization.

We remain confident that once C.B. 3 members know more about what we hope to achieve, and what we believe is our shared goal of neighborhood improvement, we can move beyond this impasse toward a productive future.

Ultimately, our goal and commitment is one and the same, a better tomorrow for the communities where we live.

Boyd is founder, LES Dwellers