Volume 20, Number 50 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | December 8 - 14, 2010
C.B.1 gives thumbs up to the C.W.G.
BY Aline Reynolds
The Chinatown Working Group is two steps closer to its goal of meeting with citywide agencies to implement its infrastructure plans for the community.
Four of the C.W.G.’s six preliminary action plans addressing youth and education, parks and open space, transportation and safety, and immigration and social services have now been approved.
Chinatown Working Group Co-chairs Gigi Li and Mae Lee presented the latter two plans to Community Board 1’s Planning and Community Infrastructure committee last Thursday. After hearing the proposals, the board voted unanimously in favor of both plans. The resolutions deemed C.W.G.’s two plans as “part of a precise, comprehensive, meaningful timely and broadly supported community-based plan to improve the greater Chinatown community.” They will be presented to the full board on December 16.
Once all six plans are adopted, the C.W.G. will reach out to the Department of Transportation and other city agencies to discuss the logistics of the various projects. The organization will then present its entire plan to City Planning next spring, once it gains the community board’s approval.
“The beauty of [the plans] is they encompass what the community feels it should be addressing,” said Michael Levine, director of land use and planning for C.B. 1. “It can encompass any area we feel needs to be addressed.”
Sub-groups within the C.W.G. did research to come up with more job training, police enforcement, affordable housing, health care and domestic abuse prevention programs for the neighborhood.
The group’s transportation proposal includes a redesign of Chatham Square, an intersection that is deemed by many as dangerous to walkers and bikers alike.
“It’s just a very complicated intersection,” said Li. “We’re suggesting… a redesign that looks at pedestrian safety and cyclist safety, especially now with a lot of the traffic changes that are going on along the Bowery.”
The C.W.G. is also hoping to increase public transportation for Chinatown residents. “We’re discussing the possibility of there being some sort of traffic hub or drop-off and pick-up center,” said Li.
She and her colleagues plan to research the idea further and then propose it to the city Department of Transportation in the New Year.
“We don’t know that every proposal will make it to the final plan,” Levine explained. It will be up to the city agencies to determine whether certain proposals are fit for the final draft of the plans that will be presented to City Council.
Board members had questions about the affordable housing category. Levine responded by saying that he would arrange for Richard Lee from Asian Americans for Equality or another affordable housing expert to present more concrete plans to the board at Community Planning and Infrastructure’s next committee meeting on January 6.
Despite a few unanswered questions, board members praised the C.W.G. plans. “I’d support this in full,” said Committee Co-chair Anthony Notaro. Ro Sheffe, another committee member, said that the C.W.G. has done a “great job” thus far in researching and presenting its proposals to the board.
“[Chinatown] is a great community to come and be a part of,” said committee member Tom Goodkind. “An integration of the community,” he added, “is very important.”