Saturday, December 6, 2008
Voices of opposition are growing stronger by the day regarding the proposed reconstruction of Chatham Square. The conversation has moved from the printed page to the microphone to the streets, and soon, back again. Such is the ebb and flow of democratic discourse.
Despite attempts to stifle that discourse, by witholding information, meeting with community groups separately/secretly so groups were unable to hear and therefore understand each others' legitimate concerns and timing hearings during the holiday season, Chinatown voices, stereotyped as being hopelessly divided and difficult to unify, have been banding together with ease over this issue.
Notably absent from the conversation are Asian Americans For Equality (AAFE), and The Chinatown Partnership Local Development Corp.(CPLDC) Both 501-3c's have been under fire for supporting a Business Improvement District for Chinatown.
AAFE, in conjunction with (semi-defunct) Council for a Cleaner Chinatown in 2001 tried to form a BID, but that idea was shot down after much opposition from Chinatown businesses and property owners, culminating in a unanimous vote of "no" from CB3.
CPLDC has professed its many virtues including "partnership" but defies that claim by not supporting the very businesses they claim to be partnering with in opposing the Chatham Square Reconstruction project. Instead their website still exhalts the benefits of "adopting a garbage" can. If the reconstruction plan proceeds as scheduled, the only thing remaining of the businesses in Chinatown will be the names of the sponsors on those garbage cans. Sweet and Tart restaurant is long gone , but their adopted garbage can remains on the CPLDC website, an eery harbinger of things to come should the three year teardown commence.
Perhaps the CPLDC board has determined that sacrificing businesses now is the price Chinatown must pay to open the door towards the "new Chinatown" it envisions.
This smells like Bloomberg's grand scheme to me.