Op/Ed: SPURA Plan Reflects True and Unprecedented Community Process

The Seward Park development parcels are depicted on the cover of the city’s request for proposals.

Editor’s note: Last week, we published an op/ed from Jenifer Rajkumar, a district leader and prospective City Council candidate, concerning the Seward Park development project. Today, here’s a related opinion piece from Dominic Berg, who was the chairperson of Community Board 3 from July 2008 – June 2012. He continues to serve as a member of CB3 and is a member of the Seward Park RFP Task Force. This Op/Ed is not an official statement of Community Board 3:

As the former Chairperson of Community Board 3 who oversaw a community consensus on this project, I would like to provide recent historical context about the progress taken thus far on the Seward Park Urban Renewal Area (SPURA).

The deal that allowed this development to move forward after over 40 years of inaction was a result of true common sense community consensus on what is best for the Lower East Side. I often said that we knew we had a deal because everyone gave up something and all felt a little out of their comfort zone. Every vote taken by the full Community Board on this project was unanimous.

Op/Ed: Let’s Not Miss a Once-in-a-Generation Opportunity to Get SPURA Right

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

Editor’s note: The following opinion piece was submitted to The Lo-Down by Jenifer Rajkumar, the Democratic District Leader for the 65th Assembly District and a prospective candidate for City Council in District 1.

We have waited 48 years to develop the Seward Park Urban Renewal Area (SPURA).  Lower East Siders left their homes so we could develop this public land.  The sacrifices have been enormous, and the potential moving forward is great.  Our City’s elected officials should not miss this once-in-a-generation opportunity to do it right, just because they lack the political will or courage.

Op/Ed: Our Children Want a Better Chinatown

The following op/ed was submitted by Patrick Y. Yau and David J. Louie, Chinatown businessmen and leaders of the effort to establish a Business Improvement District in Chinatown:

When 500 children at the Transfiguration School participated in a poster contest last year, they chose as a theme litter and dirt in Chinatown.  Some of their messages were:

“It’s Chinatown, Not Litter Town”

“A Cleaner Chinatown Depends on You and Me”

“Keep Chinatown Clean”

“Please Do It For Us.”

This is what’s important to our children, a cleaner community.  We must hear their calls and do everything we can to make Chinatown a better place for them – and for all of us, residents, property owners, business owners, for the people who live here, do business here and visit here.

Op/Ed: Saving After School Programs Critical to LES Kids

Robin Bernstein, Educational Alliance.

The following op/ed was submitted by Robin Bernstein, president and CEO of The Educational Alliance:

This year, Mayor Bloomberg’s Executive Budget will leave 16,000 kids without after school programs, due to an alarming $23.4 million cut to maintain these crucial programs (known as Out of School Time or OST programs). If this measure is enacted in the budget to be adopted later this month, 150 programs citywide would close, depriving working class families of what has proven to be an essential support. This massive cut will impact numerous programs on the Lower East Side and would leave thousands of our youth without a safe place to go after school, and without an outlet for academic support, personal development and creativity – and without alternatives to the destructive activities such as gang violence and teen pregnancy.

As the President & CEO of the Educational Alliance, a community-based nonprofit organization here on the Lower East Side, I have seen first-hand the great impact that these vital programs have on our youth. Every day, 1,400 low-income youth learn and grow in our after school programs. Without restoration of these critical funds, we will need to close 5 out of our 8 programs and significantly reduce the number of youth served in the rest of the programs. Close to 900 kids will have nowhere to go after school and many of their parents will be compelled to quit their jobs to ensure their kids are supervised after school. Even furthermore, 90 people from our agency alone would lose their jobs.