PROGRESS REPORT: Keeping up the fight — win, lose or redraw

Terri Cude is relishing C.B. 2’s victories, but ready for upcoming challenges. Photo by Tequila Minsky
Terri Cude is relishing C.B. 2’s victories, but ready for upcoming challenges. Photo by Tequila Minsky

BY TERRI CUDE | Community Board 2 works to protect and enhance the neighborhoods in our service area — from 14th St. to Canal St., and from Bowery to the Hudson River. Part of this means reviewing applications for items not automatically allowed per city regulations.

We consider input and make recommendations, usually in the form of resolutions crafted in committee hearings that do a deep dive on issues and applications. An application may be supported, withdrawn or redrawn to better meet community needs. Committee recommendations only become official C.B. 2 positions after they are reviewed, possibly modified, and voted on at the monthly full-board meeting. Then government agencies and officials receive our advisory input before approving, rejecting or requiring changes.

We are a very busy board! C.B. 2 has the most landmarks applications of any community board citywide. More sidewalk cafes are in our area than in the other four boroughs combined — 19 percent of all sidewalk cafes in New York City are here in C.B. 2. Each month we consider various items, such as land use, liquor licenses, sidewalks, street activities, landmarks, traffic and transportation, education, the arts, local institutions, parks, waterfront, environment, social services, and more.

We’ve definitely had some recent “wins” achieved via collaboration among the board, local stakeholders and interested parties and politicians.

Under the guidance of prior C.B. 2 Chairpersons Tobi Bergman and David Gruber, our board recommendations for 550 Washington St. (the St. John’s Center development project) resulted in many community benefits as the process went through the City Council under Councilmember Corey Johnson’s careful watch and strong advocacy.

Among these benefits were needed funds to rebuild the deteriorating pilings below Pier 40; almost 500 units of affordable housing, with more than 170 for seniors; space for a much-needed supermarket; public open space and indoor recreation; a study that will address traffic around the Holland Tunnel and throughout the West Village; and no further development-rights transfers from Pier 40 into C.B. 2.

In addition, the community won landmarks designation of the third phase of the South Village Historic District — with guidelines proposed by the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation — right before the 550 Washington St. project’s approval. This was vitally important to prevent increased development pressure in the area from destroying nearby neighborhoods.

C.B. 2 supported and helped shape the New York City AIDS Memorial at St. Vincent’s Triangle Park. This included a public process at C.B. 2 where the board, advocates, neighbors and local politicians came together to create something unique and important for our area and well beyond.

We supported and welcomed the Stonewall National Monument. Now, National Parks Service signage at Christopher Park shows the importance of the Stonewall uprising. This is the first national monument focused on L.G.B.T. history anywhere in the U.S.

At the same time, there are challenges ahead for C.B. 2.

We support preservation of the Elizabeth St. Garden as a permanent public park. C.B. 2 identified an alternate location for affordable housing that could provide almost five times the amount of units that could fit into the garden location. This alternate site, at Hudson and Clarkson Sts., is currently a gravel-covered lot. Councilmember Johnson recently did a successful swap north of us — providing a better affordable housing location in exchange for creating a much-needed park on W. 20th St. We hope Councilmembers Margaret Chin and Johnson will work together for a similar a win-win result in Little Italy — affordability for more people while retaining a much-needed oasis for all.

Creating a consensus for the future of Pier 40, at W. Houston St., is a process just now beginning, with many stakeholders and groups represented and C.B. 2 meetings scheduled, which, as always, will be open to the public to attend.

Preserving the integrity of landmarked areas, such as the Gansevoort Historic District, is another issue on which C.B. 2 must remain vigilant. Despite a strong resolution by us seeking preservation, the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission approved what we deemed out-of-context heights for the “Gansevoort Row” project at 60-64 Gansevoort St. and demolition of 70-74 Gansevoort St. Save Gansevoort, a neighborhood group, is currently fighting this decision in the courts, and as of this writing a temporary stay of demolition is in place.

We will be collecting community input to weigh in on what might be best for our area, including 14th St., during the 15-month L train shutdown.

In battles for our neighborhoods, even if we don’t get a full win, we often greatly reduce negative effects. We invite neighbors to connect with us via meetings, e-mail, mail, Facebook and Twitter. Please visit www.cb2manhattan.org to learn more.

Cude is chairperson, Community Board 2