DOT fails to provide any near-term relief from Grand Street gridlock

Sean Quinn, Assistant Commissioner for street improvement projects at NYC Department of Transportation, visited the Community Board transportation committee last night to update CB and community members on DOT’s work to solve the gridlock around Grand Street caused by car traffic heading east across the Williamsburg Bridge.

Quinn gave a short presentation outlining two possible solutions, but did not present any proposal for the committee to vote on. He suggested he would be ready to do so in two months.

Quinn first listed several small changes that have been made to improve traffic flow toward the cramped Clinton Street on-ramp to the Williamsburg Bridge, admitting that none of these changes had made any significant impact.

He then discussed two possible solutions, both of which were first presented by community members at the GSD Traffic Town Hall in January 2018:

  • Opening Delancey Street under the bridge to thru traffic from the FDR Drive to the bridge entrance, in order to bypass Grand Street.
  • Forcing Grand Street traffic past Clinton Street (to Norfolk), in order to avoid the pinch-point at Grand & Clinton.

The first suggestion, he said, had been studied more completely, and presented several big challenges, including getting NYPD and FDNY to agree to having bridge traffic pass right by their stations at Pitt and Delancey. (Quinn said that neither department had yet been contacted to get feedback.)

The second suggestion, he said, had not yet been fully explored but looked more promising from a logistics point of view — but would not be able to be implemented until construction on Norfolk was complete, perhaps two years from now.

Community members asked questions and made further suggestions for over an hour, including many that have made repeatedly over the two years that we have been pursuing a solution to the traffic problem with DOT.

District Leader Daisy Paez presented Quinn with a petition with over 1000 signatures from community members demanding a solution to the gridlock.

Tuesday 12/10: Grand Street Gridlock meeting with DOT and CB3

We’ve been at this for a couple of years, but we still haven’t seen a reasonable response from NYC Department of Transportation to address the traffic madness on Grand Street, Clinton Street, and East Broadway. Tuesday’s meeting at Community Board 3 is the next chance for us to raise our voices. Please join us!

Tuesday, December 10, 6:30 pm
Dale Jones Burch Neighborhood Center
at Henry Street Settlement
269 Henry Street
CB3 Transportation, Public Safety,
& Environment Committee

DOT has promised to release data from traffic studies, and to respond to suggestions made by community members at our Town Hall back in 2018. We need to come out in strength to this Community Board meeting to hold them to their word.

In addition, please sign this petition, started by District Leader Daisy Paez, that we are proud to co-sponsor. Petitions will be presented to DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg and DOT Manhattan Commissioner Ed Pincar.

Holiday Party 2019 — thank you!

Thank you to the event’s hosts, who gave a little extra into the tip jar. Many of these friends have been graciously supporting GSD from the very beginning:

  • Courtney Allison & David Horowitz
  • Allison & Joey Gordon
  • Caroline Laskow & Ian Rosenberg
  • Yuh-Line Niou
  • Daria & Diego Segalini
  • Judith Wind
  • Kenny Wind
District Leaders Caroline Laskow and Lee Berman present GSD Citizen of the Year! awards to Pat Arnow and Tommy Loeb.

Also thank you to our 2019 Citizens of the Year!

  • Pat Arnow, in recognition of her vital and spirited defense of East River Park, and of her work to mobilize the community for a better flood protection plan.
  • Tommy Loeb, for his consistent and fierce advocacy before our elected representatives on behalf of the residents of Grand Street and the Lower East Side.

And thanks to all of you! Thank you for your support and continued advocacy for the neighborhood. Happy Thanksgiving and a full, joyous, holiday season!

City Council approves ESCRP — here’s Carlina Rivera’s statement

On Thursday, the City Council approved the East Side Coastal Resiliency Project unanimously; typically Council Members defer on Land Use bills to the representatives from the affected communities, which in this case meant Carlina Rivera, Margaret Chin, and Keith Powers.

Below is the email that Rivera sent out on Thursday, November 14:

Dear Neighbors,

For the last seven years, I have watched our community’s slow and painful recovery from the physical and emotional damage Superstorm Sandy wreaked on all of us. We are lucky that we haven’t seen a storm as bad as Sandy since then, but our good fortune has allowed many of us to forget just how vulnerable our coastal communities are to catastrophic destruction. But we know that as climate change accelerates we will face more intense storms, flooding, and destruction.

Today we voted to approve the East Side Coastal Resiliency Project (ESCR) that will not only provide real protections, but also address decades of environmental inaction from our government and provide a park that will be enjoyed by future generations, not just the current one.

Over a year ago, I moved forward with negotiations thinking of the many injustices our community has faced, from the FDR Drive built by Robert Moses with no concept of its environmental impacts, the lead lined apartments in our NYCHA campuses that have still not been repaired, and the mold in so many of our buildings that was exacerbated after the waters of Hurricane Sandy flooded our homes.

That is why the agreement we reached is so important for our communities. It not only protects us for the next 100 years, but phases in construction to keep our open space accessible while creating a world-class park with new ball fields, tennis courts, pedestrian bridges that better accommodate our neighbors with disabilities, and a revitalized amphitheater that is so important to our cultural celebrations.

With the approval of this plan we are also bringing a long list of community improvements to 17 other local park spaces and six NYCHA campuses, creating new partnerships with community gardens, extending hours at school recreation sites, and building new barbecue areas. We’re voting to expand pedestrian and bike-focused infrastructure, with commitments for new protected bike lanes in Alphabet City and the expansion of closed-street programming that includes pocket parks. And we’re planning for the future with both a new disaster-preparedness campaign for our front-line residents and a commitment to study the future of the FDR in a world that must include reduced vehicle use and emissions.

The breadth of these investments can be seen in the many groups that have announced their support, including many who have previously expressed skepticism. We’re not just talking about elected officials, NYCHA residents, Little League Directors, or park tenants. We’re talking policy experts who were behind the original push for resiliency work in New York City, including Rebuild by Design and Regional Plan Association.

You can view a full list of both commitments secured and community supporters on my website by clicking here.

But as this project spanning three Council districts moves forward, it’s clear that the community’s trust with the City surrounding this project must continue to be repaired. I certainly understand the mistrust after decades of neglect certain neighborhoods have experienced at the hands of all levels of government.

The City, at my urging, is re-visiting the interim flood protection measures (IFPMs) they said “were not feasible” and will install temporary protections. And all analyses will be provided to the community on these measures, just as we have demanded throughout this process in order to make better informed choices.

And the City will need to respect the voices of all community members and experts who will comprise the ESCR Community Advisory Group we secured funding for. Whether they’re reporting on the city’s air quality monitoring, soil testing, construction noise mitigation, or how to incorporate new ideas and feedback into the project’s design, everyone’s voices matter and should be heard in the way I have heard them in my countless meetings with local groups and park stewards. 

We have to act fast to protect the East Side. And ESCR will not just ensure that protection, but also provide a historic investment that will help our communities reverse decades of environmental injustice. Regardless of how little or greatly involved you were in this process, I hope you will all continue to speak up about ESCR and work to make this project successful for our community and a model for the rest of our City’s resiliency work to come.

Sincerely,

Carlina Rivera

Letter to Councilmembers Rivera and Chin on ESCRP

Following last week’s vote by GSD members to recommend a “No” vote on the land use application for the East River Park flood protection plan, GSD president sent the following letter to our representatives on City Council, Carlina Rivera and Margaret Chin.

on the land use application for the East River Park flood protection plan, GSD president sent the following letter to our representatives on City Council, Carlina Rivera and Margaret Chin.

Councilmembers Rivera and Chin,

I wanted to let you know that at last week’s Grand Street Dems meeting, members voted to recommend that you vote “No” on the ULURP application for the East Side Coastal Resiliency Project.

The City has resisted too many of the community’s recommendations for changes to the plan, and has left too many questions unanswered about how its preferred alternative was developed, and the adverse effects its plan will have on the environment and the surrounding neighborhoods.

If delay of this project spurs the City to provide immediate flood protection to the East Village and Lower East, all the better — these neighborhoods remain unprepared for a major flood even seven years after Sandy.

We appreciate that you are both well aware of criticisms of the City’s plan and have been engaged this year in negotiations with the City to adapt its plan and get to a place where a “Yes” vote makes sense. Unfortunately, the City has not been cooperative enough, and a vote is coming soon.

Given the current status of the ULURP application for ESCRP, Grand Street Dems recommends that you vote “No.”

Respectfully,
Jeremy Sherber

Challengers line up to take on Maloney in 2020

There are now four announced Democratic challengers to Rep. Carolyn Maloney, starting to make their case for why voters should oust the 26-year incumbent.

At Grand Street Dems’ fall meeting, we had a chance for brief introductions to all four challengers.

Lauren Ashcraft, Suraj Patel, Erica Vladimer, and Peter Harrison (clockwise from top left).

Learn more about the candidates:

We plan on having an endorsement meeting in January when we’ll have more time to hear from all the candidates.

GSD recommends NO vote on ESCRP

With a City Council vote imminent on the East Side Coastal Resiliency Project — the plan to add 8-10 feet of land fill to East River Park for flood protection from Montgomery to 23rd Street — Grand Street Dems voted at our fall meeting to recommend that our Council representatives vote “No” on the ULURP application.

At our spring meeting, GSD passed a resolution expressing many reservations about the City’s plan. With most of those reservations unresolved, club members voted to reject the City’s plan and push for a new community-driven design process that could produce a better plan.

How our representatives — Carlina Rivera and Margaret Chin — vote may determine how the entire City Council votes, since on most ULURP votes Council members defer to the wishes of the local representative.

Thank you to the organizing done over the past several months by East River Alliance and East River Park Action, including several GSD members, to shed light on the many problems with the City’s plan.

GSD recommends YES on all five Charter revision proposals

At our fall meeting on October 16, Grand Street Dems members voted to recommend “Yes” votes for all five City Charter revision proposals that will be on the ballot in November.

We were fortunate to have three members of City Council with us to give us the Charter revision highlights — Ben Kallos, Mark Levine, and Brad Lander.

Councilmembers Ben Kallos, Mark Levine, and Brad Lander speaking at GSD Fall Meeting.

There will be five revisions to the City Charter that need voter approval in November:

  1. Changes to NYC elections, including introducing ranked choice voting for primaries and special elections.
  2. Reforms to the Civilian Complaint Review Board that adjudicates alleged misconduct by NYPD officers.
  3. Changes to ethics and governance statutes.
  4. Modifications to City budgeting, including allowing a rainy-day fund for the first time.
  5. Additional transparency to approving land use changes (ULURP).

There are a few very useful documents you can find online:

Again, Grand Street Dems recommends voting YES for all five Charter revision proposals on November 5.