Three Candidates Vye to Lead Community Board 3

cb3 board candidates

(L-R) Jamie Rogers, Enrique Cruz, Anne Johnson.

Members of Community Board 3 next month will be selecting new leadership.

Gigi Li is relinquishing her position as board chairperson after four years (new rules prevent her from running for a fifth one-year term).  Last night, three candidates were nominated for chairperson.

They are: Jamie Rogers, currently CB3’s assistant secretary and owner of Pushcart Coffee; Enrique Cruz, founder of ALBOR (The Association of Latino Business Owners and Residents); and Anne Johnson, one of the longest serving members of CB3, a former board chairperson in the late 198os and a tax accountant.

The lead-up to the nominations was a bit confusing.  In the past month, a number of board members considered running for chairperson. There was a good deal of back-and-forth before one candidate, Alysha Lewis Coleman (CB3’s second vice chair), emerged as a leading contender. But she withdrew her name last night. In a phone conversation today, Coleman told us she decided against running for personal reasons.

The election will take place next month at CB3’s full board meeting. While Gigi Li’s tenure as board chairperson is coming to an end, she’ll be keeping a high profile. Li is one of several candidates running in the upcoming Democratic Primary to replace Sheldon Silver in the New York State Assembly’s 65th District.

In other board news, Li announced the appointments of two new committee chairpersons. Trever Holland, an activist in the Two Bridges area, is now head of the Parks Committee. David Ford, who works in healthcare marketing, is in charge of the economic development committee.


Seven New Members Join Community Board 3

Alan van Cappelle.

Alan van Cappelle.

Usually at about this time, the Manhattan Borough President’s Office puts out a master list of annual community board appointments. We haven’t seen this year’s version, but the new appointees have been added to Community Board 3’s website. So here you go:

Alan van Cappelle has been president and CEO of Education Alliance since 2014. Previously, he headed the Empire State Pride Agenda and Bend the Arc, a Jewish organization dedicated to social justice. Van Cappelle lives in the Grand Street cooperatives with his husband and two children.

Christian De Leon is a program coordinator for the YMCA and a former Community Board 3 intern. He’s an urban studies major at CUNY Hunter.

Veronica Leventhal is a Beacon program director at University Settlement, based at East Side Community High School.

Wilda Escarfuller is a writer who graduated from Columbia University with a master’s degree in Latin American and Caribbean Studies.

Robin Schatell is director of public programs at the Madison Park Conservancy. She’s also an occasional arts contributor to The Lo-Down. Schatell lives on Grand Street.

Joyce Ravitz is a longtime community activist who previously served on CB3, and is now rejoining the board.

Sameh Jacob is a former owner of Le Souk, a controversial restaurant that was first located on Avenue B, and is now on LaGuardia Place. His name was invoked during a liquor committee meeting earlier this week.

It’s going to be a year of change at Community Board 3. Chairperson Gigi Li is stepping down after leading the board for four years. She’ll be a candidate in the Democratic Primary coming up in September in the 65th Assembly District. The 50 members of CB3 will elect a new chair this summer.

Locals Suspect Newly Appointed CB3 Member Is Linked to Avenue B Restaurant Project

45 Avenue B/Google images.

45 Avenue B/Google images.

Community Board 3’s liquor permit committee last night balked at supporting a wine and beer license for a new restaurant at 45 Avenue B, citing the operator’s ties to an infamous night club. Much of the conversation centered on the man who wasn’t there, Sameh Jacob, former co-owner of Le Souk. While no one mentioned it last night, Jacob was just appointed as a member of Community Board 3.

The applicant is Lamia Funti, manager of Le Souk, now located at 510 LaGuardia Place. She outlined plans to open Lamia’s Fish Market, a restaurant and retail fish store with seating for 160 people. It would be located in Le Souk’s former Avenue B space, which has been vacant for the past seven years. The State Liquor Authority canceled the club’s permit in 2009, citing overcrowding and other “health and safety issues.” Funti is married to to Marcus Andrews, Sameh Jacobs’ brother and business partner.

Members of the East 4th Street Avenue A to B Block Association spoke out against the application. Funti said her husband and brother-in-law have absolutely nothing to do with the new business, although Marcus Andrews owns the building. The local residents weren’t buying it.

A leader of the block association, Frank Macken, said, “Personally, I don’t see how we could possibly support this application, given the history of the family involved.” Mark Hannay, the association’s co-chair, cited violent incidents at the new location in the West Village. They include an episode last summer in which a man was stabbed in the face with a “sharp object” during a late night altercation.

In a memo to the board, Hannay mentioned another restaurant owned by Marcus Andrews, Falucka on Bleecker Street. He said Community Board 2 had voted to deny a liquor license renewal for the location, because the venue was being run contrary to its “approved method of operation.” Other residents talked about the lengthy struggle against Le Souk on Avenue B, which infuriated neighbors with its loud, unruly and sometimes violent crowds.

Committee Chairperson Alex Militano went into detail regarding Sameh Jacob’s legal troubles. News reports and court records show he was sentenced in 2014 to two years in prison for using “structured account transfers” from his restaurants to purchase real estate. Federal prosecutors accused Jacob of making cash deposits in small batches to illegally circumvent bank reporting laws. “Once he was convicted,” said Militano, “he clearly changed the ownership of 45-51 Avenue B LLC.”

During questioning from Militano, Funti said Jacob isn’t involved in the new venture in any way. “He doesn’t even know the menu or the concept or anything,” she explained. As for her husband, Marcus Andrews, Funti said he’s simply her landlord on Avenue B and has no involvement in the new project. Asked if Andrews owns Falucka, Funti said, “No.” [His name is listed on the liquor permit on file with the State Liquor Authority].

The Manhattan Borough President’s office has not yet released the names of this year’s community board appointees. But during a Community Board 3 meeting last week, Chairperson Gigi Li named the new members. They included Sameh Jacob. The borough president selects board members and oversees the screening process.

As for the current permit application, Militano acknowledged that the State Liquor Authority typically approves wine and beer permits, even when local communities object. But in this case, she told Funti, “I think (there’s) a sufficient history for the SLA to not grant you a beer/wine license.” Committee members agreed, voting to deny the application.

Two Key Community Meetings: Zoning Proposal, Grand Street Ferry Plan

CB3 Member Ayo Harrington Calls Decision Not to Reappoint Her a “Shameful Outcome”

Responding to Diversity Concerns, Community Board 3 Makes Leadership Changes

Gigi Li Re-elected CB3 Chair, Promises “Structural and Leadership Changes”

Op/Ed: Community Board 3’s Race Debate

Editor’s note: The following opinion piece was submitted by K Webster, a new member of Community Board 3 and a longtime community activist.  The Lo-Down accepts unsolicited op/ed articles.  Submissions should be emailed to: 

Race & Politics: CB3 Chairperson Gigi Li’s Leadership Appointments Criticized (Updated 2:40 p.m.)

“Dear Dwellers:” Community Board 3’s Letter to Suspended Neighborhood Group

There’s a lot of interest in CB 3’s decision to suspend the LES Dwellers neighborhood group for three months. Here’s the full text of the letter sent by Chairperson Gigi Li to the Dwellers on October 1. 

Eight New Members Appointed to Community Board 3

Teresa Pedroza, Dashane Santana's grandmother, looks on as Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver praises Delancey Street safety improvements last year.

Teresa Pedroza, Dashane Santana’s grandmother, looks on as Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver praises Delancey Street safety improvements last year.

The Manhattan Borough President’s office announced the appointment of 76 new community board members today.  There are eight new members on Community Board 3, which covers the East Village, the Lower East Side and most of Chinatown.

Among the appointees: Teresa Pedroza (pictured above), the grandmother of Dashane Santana, the 12-year old girl who was killed on Delancey Street last year.  New safety measures were implemented on the dangerous thoroughfare after her death.  Pedroza is a resident of the Baruch Houses and a member of Good Old Lower East Side.  City Council member Rosie Mendez recommended her appointment.

Community Board 3 Posts April Liquor License Agenda

Alias, 76 Clinton St. Photo via Facebook.

Alias, 76 Clinton St. Photo via Facebook.

Community Board 3 is out with the agenda for its April 8th liquor licensing hearing.  There are some potentially interesting items here, including a new proposal for the Alias space at 76 Clinton St.  More details as full applications are posted online.

Soho House Pulls Liquor Application at 139 Ludlow

139 Ludlow Street, the possible future home of Soho House on the Lower East Side.

139 Ludlow Street, the possible future home of Soho House on the Lower East Side.

As we have reported, Soho House planned to go before Community Board 3 next month, seeking support for a liquor license at 139 Ludlow Street.   But the operators of the members’ club have decided to take some more time for community outreach before moving forward with their Lower East Side expansion plan, so the liquor application has been withdrawn, for now.

Soho House staff held several open houses the past two weekends inside the former funeral home on Ludlow Street.  Letters were sent to around 1800 residents in the immediate area, explaining the project and inviting people to stop by to check out the plans.   Yesterday afternoon, the community board was notified of the withdrawal.

CB3 Panel Rejects “Finale,” Approves Most Other Liquor Licenses

Mark Birnbaum and Eugene Remm at last night’s CB3 meeting.

It was a rough night at Community Board 3’s March liquor license hearing for the New Kings of New York Nightlife.  Mark Birnbaum and Eugene Remm of the EMM Group wanted the board’s blessing to move the dance floor at their huge Bowery club, Finale, to the ground floor (from the basement).  The committee voted 5-2 (with one member abstaining) against the application.

Residents of 199 Bowery, where the club is located, have filed a lawsuit against the EMM Group, claiming that late night noise and crowds have made their lives miserable. More than a dozen opponents of the club testified last night.  Committee Chair Alex Militano says Remm and Birnbaum appear to have pulled off a “bait and switch,” promising to open a “bar/restaurant/bakery/lounge” and then morphing into a full-fledged night club.  In their defense, the nightlife impresarios said they were making a real effort to address resident concerns.  They said there’s an adjustment period any time a club opens.  CB3’s full board will vote on the application later this month before forwarding a recommendation to the State Liquor Authority. 

Yo! Adds New York-Boston Round Trip Service From Pike Street (Updated)

Yo! Bus began service on Pike Street December 18, 2012.

The New York Times reported today that Yo! Bus is “rushing to fill the void left by the shutdown of Fung Wah,” the Chinatown bus company which was forced out of service by the federal government last week due to safety concerns.   Yo!, a joint operation of Greyhound and Peter Pan, began service from Pike Street last December.  The company was forced to move from a proposed location in front of Seward Park after a neighborhood uproar.

Following the Times report, YO! put out a press release today announcing six daily round trips between New York and Boston, a route previously served by Fung Wah.  The new service begins on Thursday from the same Pike Street location, near East Broadway.  As the Times story indicated, the Department of Transportation “updated (Yo!’s permit)” to allow the additional stops.