Friday, March 20, 2009

Remember--Community Board 12 General Meeting THIS COMING TUESDAY.

General Meeting of Community Board 12
Tuesday, March 24th
Russ Berrie Pavilion
1150 St. Nicholas Avenue
(between west 167th & 168th Streets)

You like seeing green grassy areas turned into pavement? Of course not. Hardly any New Yorkers do--we all instinctively, reflexively, even obsessively look for places we can get off the concrete and asphalt, and reconnect with Mother Earth--all the better if Mother Hudson is there as well. But how often do we ever take a stand against the creeping encroachment of hard surfaces, based all too often on the desire of ambitious people to build yet another edifice to vanity on a little island that already ranks among the most paved-over places in the history of the world? Self-evidently, not often enough.

I've touted cb12 meetings in the past, some of which have been more important than others--but this meeting could not be more crucial to the cause of protecting green space in Fort Washington Park, and all along the western shore of North Manhattan. This is for all the marbles, people. This is where the community board is going to vote on whether or not to approve the plan as it currently stands, with greatly expanded paving in Fort Washington Park and elsewhere, and a lot less grassy weedy splendor for us and the dogs, and the wildlife in the park as well. And not one of the really good changes called for in the plan require this extra paving--we don't have to choose between getting the parks fixed up a bit, and keeping our little strip of grass by the river as it is now. Except they keep trying to tell us we do. And if we don't show up to tell them we don't accept this equation, they take that silence as consent.

Because it's mainly been the same small group of dog-loving people showing up month after month, the parks department and the community board people have been telling us we only represent a small minority of park users (even though we're one of the largest groups to show up at the parks committee meetings on a regular basis, if not the largest). Nothing would refute this falsehood better than having a bunch of Washington Tykes readers, and their friends, and their families, show up next Tuesday night. It's a matter of honor for us to show up en masse, as we did when we were opposing the dog run that would have taken away our offleash hours. This is a tougher fight we're in now, but it's also potentially an even more important one.

It will be a long meeting, and much of it will revolve around the renewal of liquor licenses, this being the primary purpose of general meetings for our community boards. But there will be a chance for us to make a short presentation--and our words will carry a lot more weight if we have a lot of supporters there at the meeting. There will not be a need for every person who comes to the meeting to sign up in order to make a statement, but the most important statement any of us can make is to SHOW UP. Being ready to put aside an evening to go to a public meeting speaks volumes about how much you care about keeping that narrow strip of grass by the river from getting narrower. And not coming makes a statement too.

Best for you to get there by 7pm (just to get your bearings, and connect with like-minded attendees), but the meeting won't really be underway until around 7:15pm, and you can walk in at any time, out at any time, back in again at any time--in other words, you won't be locked in a room for several hours with bureaucrats. If you fall a bit behind schedule, and look at the clock, and say "Damn, it's too late to go"--it's not. Trust me. Come on over. It's a big auditorium, people are coming and going all the time during these meetings, nobody cares.

Last time I went to one, I saw Councilman Jackson standing out in the lobby of the building as I was leaving--waiting for something he was particularly interested in to come up on the agenda. If you have other issues you're concerned with, this would also be a chance to hobnob with the hoi polloi, strike up conversations with influential people, get snippets of insider info. You learn a lot about how the city is run from these meetings, and they can actually be pretty entertaining at points. We expect our little moment in the spotlight to be very entertaining.

So please--if you've been telling yourself "I really should go to one of these meetings and tell the parks department how I feel about keeping the natural beauty of our parks intact"--this is the one. This may be the LAST one. It's almost certainly the last one you wouldn't have to take a whole day off work to attend. Go to your calendar, right now, and mark off the date. Next Tuesday. Eyes on the prize. Win or lose, let's make them know they were in a fight. Let's be dogs with a bone here, and let them TRY to grab our green space away from us! GRRRRRRRRRRR!!!!!!!!!!


Mark Levine said...

Chris, Great job on the presentation tonight. Your blog has also been very helpful. Would love to follow up with you on this. drop me a line if you're up for it.
Mark Levine
CB12 Member
marklevinenyc /at/

Chris said...

We'd certainly be delighted to talk, and I'm very glad you enjoy the website. I just wanted to give a little something back to the community.

To give some background, I was born in NYC, in a now-defunct North Manhattan Hospital, while my parents were living in Riverdale, and was raised in Monmouth County NJ.

I moved back to the city in the 80's, while going to Fordham (College at Lincoln Center), and have stayed ever since, living on the Upper West Side, in Hell's Kitchen, and the northwest Bronx--but on some level I never really felt like a New Yorker. Until I moved to Washington Heights. And got a really great dog, who made us a lot of really great friends.

It's the kind of space Fort Washington Park now provides that makes for such a great spot for people (and dogs) from the neighborhood to come together in a relaxed natural setting, and form lasting connections. Sure hope we can hang onto that.

Parenthetically, I tried to email you at the addy you provided, and got some kind of automatically generated message that it hadn't gone through. So hope you can read my response here. Talk to you soon.


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