This is from Ed from www.thelodownny.com , thanks Ed for sharing this with the Chinatown community :
City Councilmember John Liu grilled a Department of Transportation official this morning about the agency's dealings with the community in Chinatown over the reconstruction of Chatham Square. Liu, chair of the Council's transportation committee and almost certainly NYC's next comptroller, was presiding over a hearing to consider two bills that would require the DOT to notify residents about major construction projects and seek out feedback from impacted communities.
The bills, proposed by Councilmembers Alan Gerson and Vincent Gentile, are meant to address concerns that in cases like Chatham Square and the controversial Grand Street bike lanes, the DOT has kept residents in the dark and has made changes that are potentially dangerous and harmful to local businesses.
DOT spokesman David Wallach defended the agency's outreach efforts, saying they have gone to extraordinary lengths to solicit opinions from residents and get the word out about ongoing projects. He said the DOT is concerned the proposed bills would delay necessary road work, and possibly put lives at risk. Wallach said he was confident the Council was not advocating a "rigid and parochial approach," but suggested that's the impact these bills would likely have.
Liu said he found that point of view "disturbing." He acknowledged that there have been projects in which the DOT has worked well with communities. But in a tense exchange, he argued that Chatham Square has seriously damaged the city's credibility in Chinatown:
Earlier this year, the city declared it was going ahead with the Chatham Square plan, in spite of widespread opposition in Chinatown. Then, in June, DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan, speaking at a private political gathering, indicated the project would be delayed. Finally, last month, the DOT announced it would be shelved for two years because the Brooklyn Bridge revamp was a higher priority.
Jan Lee, a Chinatown community leader, isn't buying the DOT's shifting explanations. He's convinced the delay is all about election year politics. And he was especially critical of the way the decision to delay was revealed - in Sadik-Khan's closed-door meeting.
The Council is in the preliminary stages of drafting these bills. With John Liu's impending departure, the fate of the legislation is uncertain. Another complication: Alan Gerson, having lost his bid for re-election, will not be able to see his own bill through the Council. His (all but certain) successor, Margaret Chin, was highly critical of the DOT's outreach efforts during the campaign - but has not yet weighed in on specific legislation. She was present in City Council Chambers for some of this morning's testimony.
Great testimony Jan, just marvelous. Thanks for being a pillar of the community.
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