At last night’s Community Board 3 meeting, City Council member Rosie Mendez took a few moments to address the controversy surrounding a new restaurant coming to 106 Rivington Street. The State Liquor Authority will soon rule on an application from operators Jose Rodriguez and Robert Payne for a full bar. Members of the LES Dwellers neighborhood group oppose the permit, saying Rivington Street is already overburdened with nightlife establishments. In a close vote, CB3 chose not to support the application, although it did sign off on a beer/wine permit for the Latin-style restaurant.
At City Hall yesterday, City Council member Rosie Mendez, along with fellow lawmakers and public housing residents, blasted the New York Daily News for a series of articles critical of the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA).
In the past, many of those gathered before TV cameras and microphones have themselves been highly critical of NYCHA red tape and incompetence. But during the midday news conference, Mendez and others defended the agency, saying Chairman John Rhea had made major strides during his short tenure. They said there’s real concern that continued bad press will jeopardize federal funding for public housing, which has been decimated in the past decade.
Yesterday we were at the Campos Plaza Housing public housing complex, where elected officials announced the creation of an after-school recreational program. Community activists, who have repeatedly called for more programs aimed at keeping kids off the streets, were clearly pleased.
During a news conference, they also praised the police department for stepping up patrols in the aftermath of the murder of teenager Keith Salgado in the housing project’s courtyard back in October. “It’s sad to say it took a murder, but I’m glad there’s better security,” said Dereese Huff, Campos Plaza’s tenant association president.
For many years, residents have urged the New York City Housing Authority to install security cameras at Campos. In this year’s city budget, Councilmember Rosie Mendez allocated $400,000 for cameras at the development. Huff has said she’s convinced the cameras would be a strong deterrent to crime and drug dealing — and she’s expressed frustration that it’s taking so long to complete the project.
Earlier this week, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer called on the City Council to reform the way it awards grants to community organizations. The grants, known as “member items,” are seen by many as pork-barrel spending, tools elected officials use to repay political supporters. Others view the “discretionary” fund as an essential lifeline to the city’s many non-profit social service and cultural institutions.
Stringer released a report detailing which Council districts get the most money. The unsurprising conclusion?
“Although the Seward Park Urban Renewal Area is not in my Council District, I want to add my voice to the many others in praise of a process that has resulted in guidelines for the land’s redevelopment. Anyone who has been involved in the Lower East Side community during almost half a century was aware of the controversy that left a huge parcel of highly valuable land standing idle for far too long. Over the years, very disparate opinions have sometimes been expressed with anger and a lack of respect, and it was not easy for all of that to be overcome. But the process which Community Board #3 began and which was open to broad participation by all aspects of the community, and was aided by City agencies and facilitated by a skilled urban planner, has resulted in a compromise. I join with many others who wish we could get even more affordable housing from the site, but salute all who were able to agree to find a middle ground to move a process forward.“
From City Councilmember Rosie Mendez:
What does it take to fix a sidewalk in New York City? Quite a lot, it seems. For the past several years, local residents have been complaining about large holes in the crumbling sidewalk on Columbia Street, in front of Masaryk Towers. The privately-owned affordable housing complex received $8 million in government money (from the Lower Manhattan Development Corp.) to fix the problem and make other exterior improvements to the buildings. Residents were promised the work would be done last year. But still, no repairs are underway.
Yesterday, we posted the list of community-based projects City Councilmember Margaret Chin has decided to fund this year. Today, we’ll take a look at Councilmember Rosie Mendez’s funding choices. Last week, the city’s $63 billion budget was approved, including about $50 million in “discretionary spending” controlled by individual Council members.
Actress Rosario Dawson will direct a special benefit reading of selections of Eve Ensler‘s new book, “I Am an Emotional Creature: The Secret Life of Girls Around the World,” on Monday evening at P.S. 122 at 6:30pm. The performance will feature 20 girls who are members of the LES Girls Club and will be introduced by Councilwoman Rosie Mendez.
This past weekend we checked in on the "open mic & local talent" day, sponsored by GOLES (Good Old Lower East Side) at the Generation X Garden on East 4th Street. It was part of SummerFest, a series GOLES is starting up to engage the community. Since 1977, the organization has been "dedicated to tenants’ rights, homelessness prevention, economic development and community revitalization." You can find out more about their services and mission here. There were some great performances on Saturday. but also important messages from City Council member Rosie Mendez and GOLES community organizers: embracing the neighborhood's traditional culture and fighting displacement due to gentrification have never been more important. Take a look: