Gay Marriage Sunday; Two LES Couples Celebrate!

Andy Berg and Dominic Pisciotta with twins Spencer and Olivia.

There was a media frenzy surrounding the first day of gay marriage in New York yesterday, but it wasn’t just a huge state and national news event. The momentous occasion was a Lower East Side story, as well.  This is because two local couples — who happen to live in the same section of the same building on Grand Street — ended up playing very high profile roles in the dramatic, history-making day.

Carol Anastasio and Mimi Brown, who may have gotten more ink in the Daily News this past week than Barack Obama, were among the first couples married at the city clerk’s office yesterday morning.  Meanwhile, their friends and neighbors Andy Berg and Dominic Pisciotta were the last of 484 couples to read their vows. Dominic had a few chores to take care of first. As an assistant commissioner of technology for the city, he was responsible for making sure everything went smoothly on a day in which all eyes were on New York.

CB3′s Full Board Approves SPURA Guidelines

The Seward Park sites south of Delancey Street. Photo by Vivienne Gucwa.

The Seward Park sites south of Delancey Street. Photo by Vivienne Gucwa.

The emotions ran the gamut last night inside the auditorium of P.S. 20 on Essex Street. Elation, anger, relief, regret and pride were all palpable as Community Board 3 held an historic vote on the future of the Seward Park Urban Renewal Area. At the end of the evening, CB3 members accomplished what seemed impossible to many not so long ago: unanimous approval of a set of planning guidelines (you can read the full document here) for a 7-acre development site the neighborhood has been fighting over for 43 years.

The decision, backed by all of the neighborhood’s elected officials, dramatically increases the odds that CB3’s vision of a mixed use (residential and commercial) project, including 50% affordable and 50% market rate housing, will one day become a reality.

CB3 Committee Makes History, Votes Yes on SPURA

SPURA

It was the deal most everyone thought could not get done. Four decades after hundreds of homes and businesses were bulldozed in the name of urban renewal, Community Board 3 took an historic step last night towards finally rebuilding on five blighted parcels known collectively as SPURA. CB3’s land use and housing committee voted 19-1, with one member abstaining, in favor of planning guidelines (you can read the full document here) calling for a mixed-use, mixed income community at the foot of the Williamsburg Bridge.

Immediately after the vote, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver released a statement backing the proposal for the Seward Park Urban Renewal Area. “The final guidelines that were approved by the committee tonight strike an appropriate balance between the needs and concerns of all stakeholders and will result in a development that will ensure our neighborhood continues to thrive,” he said.  State Senator Daniel Squadron also put out a statement last night, saying “the community board vote is a huge win for the community.  It is appropriate that after 43 years, a community-driven process has moved SPURA forward.”

TLD Interview: CB3 Chair Dominic Pisciotta

CB3 Chair Dominic Pisciotta

Is the Lower East Side ready to make a deal? That’s the question two urban planners hired by the city will be seeking to answer when they meet with members of Community Board 3’s SPURA Task Force Thursday night.  It will be the third of four “facilitated” sessions meant to determine if neighborhood factions can finally reach a consensus on a development plan for the Seward Park Urban Renewal Area.  Recently, I discussed the deliberations with CB3 Chairman Dominic Pisciotta, who played a central role in the creation of the panel.  The time is right, he said, for action, “to do something good for the neighborhood.”

People on the Lower East Side have been fighting about SPURA since at least 1967, when thousands of homes and businesses were bulldozed in the name of urban renewal.  Pisciotta first became interested in the issue in late 2003, not long after moving into the Seward Park Cooperative on Grand Street.  During an infamous public hearing to discuss Michael Bloomberg’s mixed-use plan for SPURA, Pisciotta witnessed first hand the bitter divisions that have sabotaged every redevelopment effort in the past 43 years. “That was a really crazy night,” he said, “I was shocked by the comments from both sides.”

CB3 Wrapup

We've already reported some of the news from last night's Community Board 3 meeting (see below). Here's a recap of the other noteworthy items discussed:

  • Dominic Pisciotta was re-elected as chairman of CB3. He held off a challenge from Barden Prisant, winning 29-12.
  • Pisciotta announced that the community boards appear to have (mostly) dodged the Bloomberg administration's budget cuts. The reduction in next year's budget will be less than 2-percent, unless there's a need for mid-year reductions. Each board will receive about $198,000.
  • CB3 has sent a letter to Councilman Alan Gerson's office expressing disappointment that it wasn't included in a recent meeting to discuss the potential rezoning of the Bowery.
  • A committee vote will take place next month on a set of principles for the redevelopment of the Seward Park Urban renewal Area. 
  • Borough President Scott Stringer and Councilman Alan Gerson have provided funding for the rebuilding of the ABC No Rio art center.

CB3 Wrapup

We've already reported some of the news from last night's Community Board 3 meeting (see below). Here's a recap of the other noteworthy items discussed:

  • Dominic Pisciotta was re-elected as chairman of CB3. He held off a challenge from Barden Prisant, winning 29-12.
  • Pisciotta announced that the community boards appear to have (mostly) dodged the Bloomberg administration's budget cuts. The reduction in next year's budget will be less than 2-percent, unless there's a need for mid-year reductions. Each board will receive about $198,000.
  • CB3 has sent a letter to Councilman Alan Gerson's office expressing disappointment that it wasn't included in a recent meeting to discuss the potential rezoning of the Bowery.
  • A committee vote will take place next month on a set of principles for the redevelopment of the Seward Park Urban renewal Area. 
  • Borough President Scott Stringer and Councilman Alan Gerson have provided funding for the rebuilding of the ABC No Rio art center.