On the Harlem Watch: A Response To Our 125th Street Post

04Mar08

In which The Gay Recluse agrees with a reader.

As regular readers know, we recently took a field trip to Harlem, which led us to make the case that the city should “aggressively” rezone 125th Street. Of the many responses we received — some of which (as expected) were caustic to the point of incoherence (but whatever dude, thanks for the link!) — here is the one that struck us as the most reasonable:

Dear TGR: Your article was tough but yes development is needed as long as it’s responsible. I urge you to also get the official responses from all three Community Boards on the re-zoning of 125th Street. CB9 (West Harlem) and CB11 (East Harlem) voted yes with conditions. CB10 (Central Harlem) voted no with conditions. Nonetheless, the conditions are pretty consistent. Some are “in scope” and some suggest that City Planning will consider what’s called “follow-up actions.” One of the conditions is a local business requirement that would provide certain advantages to encourage the inclusion of new minority-owned businesses in any development scheme. Also, we are pushing for something very unique, which is a “cultural bonus” as an incentive for developers versus the “arts and entertainment” requirement, which is too vague. (The city seems to be supporting this recommendation, which was initially put forth by the 125th Street Business Improvement District and Barbara Askins.) This way local cultural organizations would have an opportunity to get space and bring more vitality to the strip that would support more restaurants, which everyone agrees is needed. We also support consistent streetscaping along all of 125th Street — trees, lighting, trash receptacles, benches that would make 125th Street look more attractive and open; we also recommend a see-through gate requirement so it wouldn’t look so dark. These are some of the additional requests local folks are asking for. And ordinary citizens can still send letters to Amanda Burden. The vote is Monday, March 10th. Send letters directly to Amanda Burden, 22 Reade Street, NYC 10007. Afterwards flood the City Council particularly Councilwoman Melinda Katz, Inez Dickens and Councilman Tony Avella. Hope you and your uptown readers will consider and send letters.

Savona Bailey-McClain

Thanks Savona! (Btw, the bolding was Savona’s, not ours.) We couldn’t agree more, particularly with the part about ordinary (and uptown!) citizens getting involved. (And for the record, we are most definitely ordinary to the extent that we hold no political office, although we sometimes like to think of ourselves as extraordinary, e.g., “we are extraordinary gardeners” or “we have extraordinary appetites when it comes to donuts.”) Seriously, we look forward to seeing how the vote turns out on March 10 and hope — for your sake as well as ours — that it leads to a refurbished 125th Street. Naturally, we will keep our readers apprised of the situation as developments warrant.

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