Thursday, November 01, 2007

CB9 Members Oppose Street Fair Moratorium

CB9 Members Oppose Street Fair Moratorium
By Jordan Fraade

Worried that one of urban America’s most enduring neighborhood institutions may be in danger, several members of Community Board 9 have spoken out against City Hall’s proposal to reauthorize a 4-year-old moratorium on new street fairs.

The moratorium, which dates to 2003, was put in place by the Street Activity Permit Office.

According to Assistant Press Secretary Matthew Kelly, the office instituted the moratorium as a general “response to the needs and wants of the communities and neighborhoods across the city,” rather than as a reaction to a single event.

The moratorium, which prohibits new street fairs but allows those that have taken place in previous years to continue, distinguishes between block parties and street fairs.

Kelly explained “there is a moratorium and there has been a moratorium on several-block, several-day street fairs,” but block parties, which are one-day events that occur on a single city block, are subject to the same 90-day permitting process that SAPO has required for several years.

Since first being implemented in 2003, the policy has been reauthorized every year in a process that, according to Kelly, requires a public hearing and the involvement of community board officials.

But the wholesale prohibition of new street fairs has struck some Community Board 9 members as being an overreaction and with the moratorium now undergoing its annual reauthorization process, many of these members are voicing concern about a process they say harms neighborhood’s sense of community.

Dr. Vicky Gholson, a CB9 member who is also a founder of local nonprofit organization Designed Environment for Experiential Learning, expressed strong objections to the policy. “The block party is a ritual,” she said. “It’s the only time residents have when they can show off their wares. It’s the only time that young people, without cars and whole bunch of clutter, can actually play on their street, and it’s the ritual that builds memories for long-term residents.”

She stressed the function of the street fair and block party as a building block for community relations, especially for less wealthy areas of the city.
In particular, Gholson decried what she sees as the lack of dialogue between City Hall and uptown neighborhoods in regards to the moratorium. Listing rent hikes, displacement, and a lack of adequate facilities as concerns of uptown communities, Gholson said: “Just when people are becoming aware of the importance of these communities, now is not the time to say, ‘You can never do this.’ To me, it just sends the wrong tone.”
At a recent CB9 meeting, news of the proposal to reauthorize the moratorium faced widespread opposition from local community advocates and members. In a tone Gholson described as “furious,” neighborhood residents took the time to speak out and demand a greater voice in the decision-making process.
The office of City Councilman Robert Jackson, who represents parts of West Harlem, Hamilton Heights, and Washington Heights, has also been looking into constituents’ opposition to the moratorium. At the CB9 meeting, District Leader Martin Smith, who represents Councilman Jackson, described the city’s policy as “overkill.” In an interview, Smith said he had not looked over the regulations thoroughly enough to provide a definite opinion, but said he was aware of tension surrounding the policy, and promised more investigation.

Jordan Fraade can be reached at
TAGS: block party, community

View Comments ( 1)Post a Comment

Your headline "CB9 Members Oppose Street Fair Moratorium" is totally inaccurate and misleading.

Although some Board Members are displeased CB9M has not taken any positon on this issue to date.

The personal and private opinions of one Board Member does not constitute "CB9 Members Oppose..."

The statements of private individuals as well as those of elected officials or their representatives during Public Sessions are solely ascribable to them as their own positions and opinions and are not and do not reflect CB9M's position at any given time.

As new to our District you have not yet learned the nuances of the Board. Only the Board Chair may speak for the Board. Board members express their own personal and private opinions about different subjects, their being Board Members is stricly coincidental and not germaine, except as ancillary information.

Only after discussions in Committe and a Resolution has been passed and approved through the Executive Committee and the General Board, a position of the Board can be expressed and then only the Board Chair or designee.
Best Regards

J. Reyes-Montblanc
Community Board 9 Manhattan

WestSide Harlem:
................ Morningside Heights * Manhattanville * Hamilton Heights

Posted by: anonymous (not verified) November 1st, 2007 @ 12:26pm

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