Thursday, September 28, 2017

Another father and son duo attempt to open a bar on Mulberry St. This time its the Zabars

32 Mulberry Street on the corner of Mosco (formerly Park St. renamed after the passing of Frank Mosco, a community advocate) housed the infamous LeBaron nightclub. LeBaron's former owner Ron Castellano is no longer associated with the former club

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Chinatown Consolidated Benevolent Assoc. Formally withdraws from Chinatown Working Group



The much revered Chinatown Consolidated Benevolent Association, which represents numerous smaller family and merchant associations in Chinatown has formally withdrawn its membership and support from the Chinatown Working Group. In April of 2014 CCBA's Board of Directors voted NOT to support the CWG's plan, the formal withdrawal seems a logical and expected decision.


Though the boards of Chinatown Consolidated Benevolent Assoc. (CCBA) and its sister Organization Lin Sing Association deliberated over the merits of the plan submitted by the Pratt Group, (the planning agency tasked with formulating a plan to submit to the Department of City Planning, City Council and the Mayor), it was ultimately decided that for reasons that " the surveys were the unilateral product due to lack of communication, and did not reflect the true situation of Chinatown". This is after The Pratt Group and members of the Chinatown Working Group made a presentation to the Board of CCBA in June 2014 in an effort to iron out details and misconceptions they thought CCBA had with the plan.

 In short CCBA, Lin Sing Association and The Chinese Chamber of Commerce (all organizations that are over 100 years old in Chinatown), didn't have confidence in the surveys used to collect the "data" for the Chinatown Working Group's plan and they felt the list of properties included in the plan for special designation as historic and / or culturally significant was not necessary.

Surprisingly the Chair of the Chinatown Working Group had a flippant response to the ever growing number of long standing Chinatown groups withdrawing, he seemed to imply that "it doesn't matter" that these last three groups withdrew.

At what point then, does it matter, if more and more groups pull out of the Chinatown Working Group? What validity does the document hold if no stakeholders are supporting the plan?

So far the groups in Chinatown that have withdrawn from the Chinatown Working Group are:


  • Chatham Green Co Op
  • Chatham Towers Co Op
  • American Legion Hall
  • Chinatown Consolidated Benevolent Association
  • Lin Sing Association
  • Chinese Chamber of Commerce



A full translation of the World Journal Article :

社团退出华埠工作组
by 记者洪群超/纽约报导
                              Three Groups have withdrawn from the CWG
                                                         ------By Journalist HONG Chaoqun from New York

26日晚,纽约中华公所在常务议员会议中通过了中华公所、美东联成公所及中华总商会退出华埠工作小组的决定。中华公所主席伍锐贤表示,退出原因是与华埠工作小组理念相左,并对华埠工作小组委托普瑞特社区发展中心所做的华埠研究报告不满,认为是缺乏沟通的单方产物,不符合华埠情况。华埠工作小组共同主席王志杰回应,这三个社团已两、三年没有参加过会议,退出与否没有多大区别。

During the standing committee meeting of CCBA(Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association) on the evening of 26th this month, New York CCBA has passed the decision that CCBA, Lin Sing Association and China General Chamber of Commerce withdraw from the CWG. WU Ruixian, the president of CCBA, said it is the result of their different ideas with CWG and discontent for the Chinatown surveys made by the Pratt Center/Collective Partnership who is authorized by CWG. They believe that the surveys were the unilateral product due to lack of communication, and did not reflect the true situation of Chinatown. In response, WANG Zhijie, the president of CWG, said these three groups have not attended meeting for two to three years, and their withdrawal or not make no difference.

常务议员会议上,全体成员一致通过决定中华公所退出华埠工作小组,美东联成公所和中华总商会代表亦决定和中华公所同进退,共同退出。伍锐贤表示,华埠工作小组委托普瑞特社区发展中心(Pratt Center/Collective Partnership)进行的华埠共同研究计划没有和中华公所等社团进行充分沟通。美东联成公所主席萧贵源认为,华埠工作小组对华埠的具体情况不了解,所提计划未能照顾华埠切实利益。这三家侨团将在今(27日)下午2时30分在中华公所会议室召开记者会,希望告诉市府华埠发展真正的困难在哪里。

In the standing committee meeting, all member of the CCBA unanimously agree to withdraw from the CWG, Lin Sing Association and China General Chamber of Commerce followed suit. WU Ruixian said Pratt Center/Collective Partnership did not communicate with CCBA and other groups durning their Chinatown Collective Studies Project. XIAO Guiyuan, the president of Lin Sing Association, argued that the CWG did not fully understand the actual situation of Chinatown and thus can not take the practical benefit of Chinatown into account. In 2:30 p.m 27th this month, these three Chinese groups will hold a press conference in the meeting room of CCBA, aiming to told the real difficulties of Chinatown development to the municipal government.

2008年成立的华埠工作小组几经改组,内部分歧越来越大,其委托普瑞特社区发展中心所做的华埠研究报告在去年年底出台后即引发社区反对声,认为其中的土地使用规画(zoning)发展方向将限制华埠现行业主和小商家,阻碍华埠未来发展。华埠工作小组共同主席王志杰重申,华埠工作小组的成员由志愿者组成;对于任何计划,工作小组都乐于向社区进行解释,有问题可以提出来商讨,但「不参加会议」的做法对解决问题无济于事。

Since the establishment in 2008, the CWG has went through several reorganization which leads to increasing internal divergence. In the end of last year, the Chinatown surveys made by the Pratt Center/Collective Partnership who is entrusted by the CWG has generated discontent in the communities. The zoning in the plan was deemed to restrict the development of property owners and small tenants in Chinatown, and hinder the Chinatown development. WANG Zhijie, the president of the CWG has reiterated that all members of the CWG are volunteers; CWG is glad to explain any plans to the communities and all problems are open to discussion, but ‘refuse to attend the meeting’ is of no help to solving the problems.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Court House Plaza about to be closed to pedestrians?


updated photo april 11 2014 Worth St. and Mulberry

Around the time that Osama Bin Laden's son in law, Suleiman Abu Ghaith, was being tried at the Federal Court House on Worth and Mulberry Street, we noticed two small guard booths had sprung up. These two white low quality structures were placed at either end of a public plaza that sits between The Moynihan Court House and the back entrance to the U.S. Supreme Court building.




We can't help but think that the appearance of these two guard booths (currently unmanned) signify the eventual closing of the much-used public plaza that is home to Maya Lin's sculpture installation "Sounding Stones" created in 1996 - Commissioned by the US General Services Administration's Art in Architecture Program .


Lin says of the work  "I design works to create an intimate dialogue with the viewer, allowing a place of contemplation, sometimes an incorporation of history, always a reliance on time, memory, and a passage or journey. The relation between the viewer and the artwork does not require a knowledge of a specific language of forms, but instead relies on a direct empathetic response to the work. This experiential reading of the work, utilizing modulations in the light, sound, texture, materiality, subtle changes in height, depth, or grade, has helped define my work." 

If you ever had the pleasure to experience this sculpture as it was intended, before the barricades cordoned off the area around the sculptures, you would hear a wonderful gurgling noise from fountains within each stone. It seemed fitting that Lin's sculptures enticed the participant to walk up close, place their ear next to the holes and listen intently as this is what we're expected to do in a Court of law. Ironic then, that the whole auditory experience is removed from this piece by the placement of barricades, not to mention the obvious visual message that "security" trumps art in the eyes of Homeland Security.

How much do we have to give up in the name of "security"? To that extent just how effective are these measures anyway? Just last week a teenage boy was able to reach the top of the Freedom Tower ALONE.  A few years ago Police Headquarters was the sight of a mugging under non-functioning surveillance cameras. And in January a court officer was violently mugged on Court House property while she exited the building.

The closure of public plazas has done nothing to enhance the safety of residents and pedestrians, one can argue that in fact the lack of pedestrian activity makes the area prone to crime. 


When the Moynihan Court House was first opened there were lovely benches and trees immediately to the side of the court house which were designed for the public to use. The community used these inherently peaceful plazas to do tai chi and play chess. Sadly these benches and the stone sculptures are now off limits, and perhaps the entire thoroughfare will be closed. 
Updated April 11 2014, sculptures are now fully barricaded as are the benches, and trees.
click to enlarge photo
Updated April 11 2014
click to enlarge photo

FROM THE DOWNTOWN EXPRESS NEWSPAPER March 13th 2014:
Under Cover, March 13, 2014
March 13, 2014 | Filed under: Under Cover | Posted by: admin
TERROR TRIAL
Jan Lee, one of the Chinatown community leaders who has fought against many of Lower Manhattan’s post 9/11 street closures, tells us the Downtown federal trial of Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, Osama bin Laden’s son-in-law,  doesn’t seem to have worsened the traffic problems, but it does appear to have prompted the installation of an unsightly new security booth that is so far not been operational.

The biggest problem with the booth, Lee said, is it gets in the way at the Worth St. public plaza outside the Moynihan Courthouse. He fears that the plaza may close again as it did for several years in the ‘00s, which would close a shortcut to the subways and mar Maya Lin’s sculptures, which have auditory sounds designed to be experienced up close.

Adding insult to injury, Lee said, the booth is the “cheapest-looking, Home Depot piece of [crap].”

UPDATE UPDATE UPDATE
Turns out that the fencing and barricades were placed there
for the building of an addition to the existing courthouse.
What that addition will function as has yet to be revealed, metal detectors? screening?
See photo below of the rendering of the addition to the building.








Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Chinatown Working Group AUDIO - Questions and comments on the Pratt Planners presentation


This audio recording was made at the last Chinatown Working Group presentation by the Pratt planners hired by the CWG to come up with a finalized plan to present to the City. This session is the comment and questions period following their previous presentation two weeks earlier. The full plan is accessible here by clicking this link.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

L.E.S. Dwellers has been suspended by Community Board 3 Chair Gigi Li and district manager Susan Stetzer.








L.E.S. Dwellers has been suspended by Community Board 3 by Chair Gigi Li and district manager Susan Stetzer.



Highly-vocal block association LES Dwellers is being muzzled by Community Board 3. Effective September 23, 2013, the group will be suspended for three months. Timely news just ahead of the SLA subcommittee meeting later tonight where a number of Hell Square items are calendared.

Below is the LES Dwellers’ response to the seemingly controversial action…
"Community Board 3’s decision to suspend the LES Dwellers for 3 months effective Sept
23, 2013 – or more specifically, the procedurally deficient decision of CB3 Chair Gigi Li,
and District Manager, Susan Stetzer, without seeking Board approval – constitutes a
serious violation of the First Amendment’s right to free speech.  

Specifically, the LES
Dwellers was suspended not because the group engaged in unlawful behavior, but rather
because Li and Stetzer objected to certain opinions being expressed by the LES Dwellers,
the manner in which the group chose to express them, and the persons with whom the
group chose to communicate them.  

The First Amendment’s guarantee of free speech is
not only infringed when a government entity prevents one from speaking, but also when it
“chills” free speech by threatening or implementing punishments in response to the
decision to speak freely.  That is precisely what CB3, through its Chair and District
Manager, have done.

Specifically, the LES Dwellers learned of the following consequences for our fully lawful
behavior:
● CB3 will not recognize the LES Dwellers during public session
● CB3 will publicly discredit the LES Dwellers, stating our suspension at the meeting
and that we are not a recognized group
● CB3 will not refer applicants to our organization
● CB3 will accept testimony and agreements with applicants only from individuals and
not the LES Dwellers as a group

In response to Community Board 3’s actions, L.E.S. Dwellers filed a complaint with the
Manhattan Borough President’s office. The complaint includes an audio recording of the
entirety of the conversation between the LES Dwellers and Li and Stetzer, in which the LES
Dwellers were told of the suspension and the reasons therefore, as well as the Community
Board suspension letter and response letter from the LES Dwellers, including 81 pages of
supporting supplemental material.

The LES Dwellers calls on Manhattan Borough President to take swift action in response
to Community Board 3’s suppression of the group’s constitutional rights, including reversal
of the CB3 decision and whatever punitive action may be deemed appropriate given the
severity of a Constitutional violation by members of the Board.  Although the LES Dwellers
want to give the Borough President the first opportunity to condemn and rectify this highly
inappropriate behavior, the group is considering all available courses of action, including taking legal action against the board and the offending officers.

Writing for the Supreme Court of the United States, Chief Justice Warren Burger clearly
explained that “constitutional violations may arise from the deterrent, or ‘chilling,’ effect of
governmental [actions] that fall short of a direct prohibition against the exercise of First
Amendment rights. . . .  [G]overnmental action may be subject to constitutional challenge
even though it has only an indirect effect on the exercise of First Amendment rights.”  (Laird
v. Tatum).  Here, CB3’s position, that if and only if the LES Dwellers limit the way in which
they choose to lawfully advocate for their positions will we be officially recognized by the
Board, forces the LES Dwellers to choose between fully exercising our right to free political
speech and participating fully in the CB3 process.  No government entity has the lawful right
to insist an advocacy group make such a choice.  This attempt to intimidate and punish the
LES Dwellers into advocating according to CB3’s wishes is a low point in the history of
New York City Community Boards."-   L.E.S. Dwellers




Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Chinatown's Garbage Juice - smell the progress

     
      It's July, we're in a heat wave. The stench rising from the streets and gutters of Chinatown is enough to make you lose your appetite. The kids going to and from Columbus Park are holding their noses while they squint their eyes nearly shut trying to avoid the sickeningly sour rotting smell that hangs in the summer air.

Despite efforts of restaurant owners diligently scrubbing their sidewalks every morning, the stink remains.
The stains from nightly drenchings marinate the porous cement and macadam until every pore is glazed over with a slick pungent goo.

It's garbage juice.

The garbage trucks that come around to pick up the black bags of food scraps from hundreds of restaurants, leave behind a toxic stew of fermented and rotting food mush as they crush and compact the bags in the back of their trucks with 15000 lbs of pressure. Every squeeze dribbles or vomits another load of who-knows-what.


The summer heat cooks the mess.



Stand too close to a garbage truck on its rounds and you'll be the unlucky recipient of a garbage juice shower as the muffled "pop" "pop" "pop" of black bags burst open and spray and arc of brown liquid.

There was a day when the City of New York would open fire hydrants, wash streets and even come around nightly with a street sweeper that wet down the streets while it scrubbed with hard rotary brushes every inch of gutter. No more.  There were promises of a "Cleaner Chinatown" , promises of a more "tourist-friendly" environment from millions of dollars taken from Chinatown itself, but frankly I can't see it, and I certainly don't smell it.

These days when a street sweeper comes around , it's as though the smell offends even the driver, he speeds through as fast as he can, rendering the machinery useless.

And so, Chinatown and its residents, its businesses ,the oh-so-precious tourists are left to slog through the choking mist of summer garbage juice long after the ruptured bags have been scurried away in the dark of night.

The mystery remains though, in the light of day. "What the **** is that smell!?!?"  you hear it over and over again.  Who else can be "blamed" but the Chinese walking in the street?


Mayor Bloomberg and his high and mighty Board of Health stand proudly on their pedestals for having "successfully" installed the letter grading system for "some" but not all food establishments (delis that cook and serve food are mysteriously exempt). Ironically they would FAIL their own grading criteria for providing a dangerous and toxic environment for the residents of Chinatown. It's simply, there is no adequate cleaning of City owned streets in all of Chinatown.

      So the next time you hear about how successful the "clean streets" program is, and how a Business Improvement District will "fast track" problems straight to City Hall,

walk through Chinatown in mid summer,

take a deep breath, (that's it both nostrils, no cheating)

 - and smell the progress.