For the past several years, a coalition known as the Chinatown Working Group has been trying to come up with a long-range plan for the neighborhood. This month, they’re taking a set of new proposals to local community boards for review.
The Chinatown Working Group, a community coalition, is looking for a planning consultant. The person hired will help in the “preparation of a planning proposal that is focused on the work of its Cultural, Affordability, Preservation & Zoning and Economic Development committees.” The organization received a grant from the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation to pay for the project. University Settlement is acting as the “fiscal conduit” for the grant. You can find out more information here.
It should be an interesting evening at Community Board 3’s land use committee meeting tonight. Representatives of the Chinatown Working Group (CWG) will detail their proposals for moving forward on a potential rezoning of the neighborhood. Among their ideas: reassessing the sweeping rezoning of the Lower East Side undertaken by CB3 in 2008 and pushing for more affordable housing on the Seward Park redevelopment site (see above).
Members of the Chinatown Working Group (CWG) will try, once again, tonight to elect new leaders and vote on other key issues. Last month, the community planning organization met but accomplished very little, since they couldn’t muster a quorum. The CWG hopes to elect new co-chiars, replacing Gigi Li and Mae Lee, who have been serving in an interim capacity since last fall.
CAAAV, a neighborhood advocacy organization and CWG member, held a news conference yesterday in Sara D. Roosevelt Park. They announced that representatives from three residential buildings (11 Allen, 197 Madison and 61 Delancey) would be joining the Chinatown Working Group. In April, the CWG passed new rules making it easier for LES/Chinatown buildings to meet membership requirements.
Last fall, the Chinatown Working Group (CWG) began a top-to-bottom re-assessment of its governing structure, an exercise designed to make the community-based organization more democratic. This week, that process came to an end, as the organization approved governance tweaks.
The new system is meant to give leadership responsibilties to a wider variety of members. In the past, some participants felt the CWG’s two co-chairs ended up doing the bulk of the work and controlling the agenda. But another proposal, aimed at proportional representation, went nowhere Monday night, in a session that ended in sniping and ill-will.
Note: an original version of this story erroneously stated that the Coalition plan would mandate 100% affordable housing in Chinatown and the LES. The proposal does call for 100% affordable housing in specific areas, such as the Seward Park development site. But it also allows developers to receive density bonuses, if the community agrees and at least 60% of the housing is affordable.
The Chinatown Working Group (CWG), a community planning organization, is locked in a seemingly endless debate about how to govern itself. But that hasn’t kept CWG members from developing their own proposals to deal with the thorny issue of affordable housing in Chinatown and beyond.
Back in December, we reported on a new zoning study conducted on behalf of the Two Bridges Neighborhood Council, a non-profit housing developer and advocacy group. This week, another CWG player, the Coalition to Protect Chinatown and the Lower East Side, took its turn.
Earlier this week, members of the Chinatown Working Group (CWG) met to discuss proposed changes in the community organization’s governing structure. While these deliberations drag on, the CWG’s comprehensive blueprint for the neighborhood remains in limbo.
When the full board meets next week, however, they’ll try to move forward with some of the less controversial aspects of their proposal, including “action plans” for education, immigrant services and parks. Members will also hear a revised plan from the Two Bridges Neighborhood Council addressing zoning and preservation (a subject that has caused great dissention on the CWG).
In a sometimes tense two-and-a-half hour meeting last night, the Chinatown Working Group (CWG) chose new interim leaders, created a new committee to look at overhauling the organization and scheduled a vote on several “action plans” covering important neighborhood issues.
Members elected two new co-chairs, Gigi Li and Mae Lee, who agreed to head the two-year old community planning group until the end of the year. Thomas Yu and Jim Solomon, the previous chairs, decided not to accept nominations to serve another term. Under the present governance structure, one co-chair represents the three downtown community boards (1, 2 and 3), while the other co-chair represents community-based organizations. Gigi Li, member of Community Board 3, was elected as the community-board representative. She is co-director of the Neighborhood Family Services Coalition. Mae Lee will serve as the community organization representative. She is executive director of the Chinese Progressive Association.
During the summer, it looked like the Chinatown Working Group (CWG) was on the verge of finalizing a comprehensive neighborhood development proposal for submission to the city. That was before a blow-up over the hiring of a planning consultant to help refine a 197A Plan and a more recent campaign by some participants to restructure the 51-member organization in the name of greater democracy. Now it appears likely the CWG will spend the remainder of this year regrouping and will not be ready to forward their proposal to the Department of City Planning until sometime in 2011.
A few weeks ago it looked like a community planning organization was at long last poised to finalize a comprehensive proposal for Chinatown’s future. But following a dispute about the hiring of planning consultant, it appears the Chinatown Working Group (CWG) is going to be in limbo at least until next month.
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