There was news last night from Community Board 3 regarding two controversial issues. At their monthly meeting at P.S. 20, members voted 19-10 (with one person abstaining) to approve new guidelines for working with community groups. Last fall, CB3 came under heavy criticism after one group, the LES Dwellers, were suspended as a recognized organization. During the past four months, community board members worked to a create a new policy. The “Community Group Principles and Protocols” essentially ends the board’s short-lived practice of evaluating the “legitimacy” of groups. Instead, community groups will be listed on CB3’s web site, along with applicants for liquor licenses, block party permits, etc. It will be up to residents and applicants to reach out to one another. There’s also a new voluntary comment form groups can use to express their opinions about applications to the board. There was a long and contentious debate about the new policies last night; some members said the process lacked transparency and that the issue required more review. We’ll have more on that later (it was a very involved discussion – more than we can address here). In the meantime, you can read the policy draft here (minor revisions were made during the course of the debate).
The other vote of note concerned an application to co-name the intersection of Ludlow and Rivington streets “Beastie Boys Square.” Earlier in the month, CB3’s transportation committee rejected the proposal from LeRoy McCarthy, in part, because he did not have sufficient petition signatures from residents in the immediate area. McCarthy has been working on attracting more local support. But last night, board members made it clear they would not be swayed by any number of signatures. The main stumbling block: the legendary hip-hop group’s lack of community involvement on the Lower East Side (a key requirement in CB3’s street co-naming guidelines). While several board members said they are big Beastie Boys fans, they said the honor should be reserved for people with strong local ties. Leroy chose the intersection because it was depicted in the 1989 album, “Paul’s Boutique.” The resolution passed last night (24-1 with one abstention) comes out firmly against the proposal, and discourages McCarthy from returning to CB3 with more signatures.
UPDATED: in a press release emailed to news organizations January 30, McCarthy wrote:
Community Board 3 under the leadership of Chair Gigi Li has acted in a capricious and arbitrary manner, illuminating once again a tendency to abuse the possession of its power. The Beastie Boys say it best, ‘I’m tellin’ y’all it’s Sabotage’
The statement went on to argue that McCarthy was denied a fair hearing:
At the January 14th meeting (of the transportation committee), it was recommended that the application be withdrawn and for the Beastie Boys Square co-naming proposal to return at a future date with 500 signed petitioners, and note contributions that the Beastie Boys made to the neighborhood…
But McCarthy’s campaign was upended when the full board voted against the proposal. He has now contacted the Manhattan Borough President’s office.
“Beastie Boys Square intends to “Fight For The Right” to be heard in a fair democratic process despite Community Board 3 abuse of power,” said McCarthy. “The actions towards Beastie Boys Square, and their history of circumventing the democratic process by certain members of CB3 can not be allowed to continue. I look to the leadership of NYC to uphold fairness.”
CB3’s Gigi Li said the decision is under review.