It has been well over a year since the team behind the LowLine, the proposed public green space beneath Delancey Street, went public. In that time, they have held countless informational sessions and fundraisers, met one-on-one with many groups, staged a high profile demonstration project in the Essex Street Market and generated a huge amount of media coverage. But in spite of these efforts, co-creators Dan Barasch and James Ramsey know there’s a long road ahead if they are to succeed in transforming an abandoned rail station. City and state officials in a position to move the project from the “cool idea” to “real-life project” phase have yet to come on board. Even within the Lower East Side community, where the LowLine has been met with a lot of enthusiasm, Barasch and Ramsey have some work to do. It’s in this spirit, that they’ll be appearing tonight before Community Board 3’s land use committee.
In the past several weeks, they have been circulating a “preliminary vision and planning study,” detailing how the underground facility might be used, how it would be financed and what the impact could potentially be on the surrounding area. This evening they’ll share some of the study’s fine points with CB3, which voted last June to “officially support” the LowLine project. It would be an overstatement to say opposition to the Delancey Underground concept is now emerging, but in a community board meeting late last year, there were signs of new skepticism from some land use committee members. Since that meeting, various activists have hinted that they’re concerned about the potential of the LowLine to be an agent of gentrification. Recently, we sat down with Barasch to talk about that specific issue.