Board 3 opposes Chatham Square plan

Community Board 3 on Tuesday passed a revised resolution rejecting the proposed Chatham Sq./Park Row redesign project, at least for the time being.

The resolution approved at the Dec. 16 full board meeting referred to the deep misgivings of Chinatown residents and businesses about a construction project that would take about three years in a neighborhood that has been severely impacted by the closing of Park Row seven years ago.

“It seems like we’ve won a battle,” Geoff Lee, a Chinatown activist said in a telephone interview on Wednesday. “At an earlier meeting Community Board 3 appeared to be pushing the project, or at best sitting on the fence.”

Several Chinatown residents at the full board meeting Tuesday said the estimated $50 million for a questionable project during economic hard times was a waste of public funds.

“We could grit our teeth and bear it if this were a good plan, but it’s deeply flawed,” said Jeanie Chin, a resident of Chatham Green.

But Councilmember Alan Gerson has said the plan has positive aspects although the city is moving too fast. Brian Ketcham, a traffic consultant to the opponents, has also praised part of the plan.

The final resolution that the board passed on Tuesday cited the Dec. 2 hearing by the Department of Transportation where the public overwhelmingly denounced the lack of sufficient public involvement in the design of the project.

“The Department of Transportation has not done adequate research regarding the economic impact of three years of construction … nor has the D.O.T. provided a business mitigation plan,” the resolution says.

An earlier version of the resolution said, the board “withholds our support for the Chatham Sq./Park Row redesign.” The final version passed on Tuesday says the board “rejects the Chatham Sq./Park Row design.”

The final resolution calls on the city to provide a detailed business support plan that goes beyond a proposed on-site community liaison office and Small Firm Assistance Program grants.

“Because C.B.3 and the community ultimately want the city to re-open Park Row, we believe it is necessary to plan for this eventuality now,” the resolution says.

The resolution also commits C.B.3 to holding another public hearing in February, after the Chinese New Year, which falls on Jan. 26 this year.

— Albert Amateau