Affordable Housing Activist Added to Seward Park Task Force

Rendering: NYC Economic Development Corp.

Last week we reported there was a lot of displeasure about the composition of the new community task force created to help guide the city’s selection of developers for the Seward Park redevelopment project.  In response to complaints lodged after Community Board 3 Chairperson Gigi Li announced the appointees, an additional community representative has been tapped to join the panel. Li made the announcement at last night’s CB3 meeting.

The task force will be working with city planning officials to draft a Request for Proposals (RFP) for the Seward Park sites and they will have a role in selecting developers for the large mixed-use project.  Initially, Li appointed five community board members and two representatives from local “stakeholder” organizations (the LES BID and University Settlement).  Local elected officials also have seats on the panel.  At last week’s land use committee meeting, community activists complained that the task force lacked racial and geographic diversity.

The new appointee is Tito Delgado, whose family was forced from the Seward Park Urban Renewal Area 45 years ago.  Delgado, considered a moderate voice within the affordable housing community, also serves as a public member of Community Board 3’s land use committee.

Last night, several community board members criticized the selection process, saying there should have been more robust efforts to reach out to a wider group within CB3 as well as in the community at-large.  Others expressed concerns about the task force’s lack of transparency. Members will be compelled to sign confidentiality agreements, and may not disclose details of any development proposal.  Li and city officials have said the task force’s secrecy is mandated by confidentiality provisions designed to ensure a fair bidding process. She said task force members will share as much information with the community as they’re permitted to share, and there will be ample opportunity for the public to offer feedback to the panel.

Earlier this month, in an historic vote, the City Council approved the land use application for Seward Park, which allows for 1000 apartments and a large amount of retail space on nine parcels near the Williamsburg Bridge.