Testimony of Assemblyman Sheldon Silver
Community Board 3 Public Hearing
Regarding The Proposed Chatham Square Redesign
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Good evening, I would like to thank Community Board 3 along with Boards 1 and 2 for sponsoring tonight's hearing.
I have been at the forefront of the fight to re-open Park Row since it was first closed after the tragic events of September 11th. Since then, I have worked with my colleagues in government, local residents and community leaders to re-open Park Row and was one of the lead plaintiffs in the original lawsuit
filed against the City to reverse the decision to close this vital lifeline to the Chinatown community.
After 9/11, Chinatown was one of the hardest hit communities economically in New York City and the closure of Park Row has been a major obstacle in the process of rebuilding and revitalizing the area. Prior to September 11th, Park Row served as a major thoroughfare that connected Chinatown to Lower
Manhattan. Scores of workers and tourists frequented this area throughout the day and especially at lunchtime. The partial re-opening of Park Row to bus and pedestrian traffic was a step in the right direction but is clearly not enough.
Now, the City is proposing to take steps that make the re-opening of Park Row more difficult by narrowing the roadway and investing funds to make this closure into a permanent condition. In light of the vast public outcry opposing the Park Row closure and its clear negative impact upon business and residents of Chinatown and surrounding communities, I oppose the City's Park Row Promenade proposal as well as the expenditure of any public funds for so-called mitigation measures which fail to bring about the full re-opening of Park Row.
I am also deeply concerned about aspects of the Chatham Square Reconfiguration and the timing of any major reconstruction in this area. With so many small Chinatown businesses suffering due to both the economic downturn and the closure of Park Row, they can ill-afford two plus years of construction and roadway closures that would further disrupt their daily business activities. Many groups have indicated that this project is being pushed through far too quickly and without sufficient community input. I urge the City to re-consider their Chatham Square / Park Row plan in light of the concerns raised here and elsewhere regarding this proposal.
The residents of Chinatown and Lower Manhattan continue suffering from increased traffic congestion, decreased air quality and delayed response times for emergency vehicles caused by the closing of Park Row. We need to ask ourselves whether the proposals being put forth by the City tonight adequately address these issues.
I want to make sure the voice of my Lower Manhattan community is heard. While I understand the need to protect our public safety, I believe these measures must be balanced with the needs of residents and businesses in the area.
Park Row must be re-opened for Chinatown and the surrounding communities to experience their full and complete revitalization. I look forward to continuing to work with the local residents, community leaders and my colleagues in government until the day we can announce that Park Row has finally been re-opened.
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver: "I am also deeply concerned about aspects of the Chatham Square Reconfiguration and the timing of any major reconstruction in this area. With so many small Chinatown businesses suffering due to both the economic downturn and the closure of Park Row, they can ill-afford two plus years of construction and roadway closures that would further disrupt their daily business activities."
I quite agree with Shelly, especially since Chinatown has not even recovered from many years of parking permit abuse, and, many years of the Park Row Closure.
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