Friday, July 22, 2005
New York City Economic Development Corporation
110 William Street
New York, NY 10038
Dear Mr. Adasko,
GWEN GOODWIN, CITY COUNCIL DISTRICT 8 CANDIDATE, DENOUNCES PROPOSED "UPTOWN NY" PROJECT
My name is Gwen Goodwin and I am a candidate for the Democratic nomination for City Council in District 8, which includes the proposed site for the Uptown NY project.
I am writing this public comment to put on record my response.
I am totally opposed to the proposed "Uptown NY" project, and the use of eminent domain to seize the business and properties located on the intended site.
I feel it is not only unacceptable but unamendable I am opposed to entertaining this project with any form of negotiation over details. In my opinion, no change of detail can overcome the overall catastrophically negative impact on the surrounding neighborhood and its people. The sheer enormity of the project would unavoidably overwhelm the socioeconomic character of East Harlem/El Barrio.
Some people ask me, "Should that land be allowed to just sit there, under-utilized?" I tell them yes, until there is a community-initiated plan, with community-based developers, constructing a community-controlled project uperated under community-control for the benefit of the present community population, let the land remain empty. The community should be on strike against these outside developers who are mainly looking to profit at our expense.
I have expressed my opposition to this plan from first time I hard about it, and formally at three public meetings concerning "Uptown NY": most recently on Tuesday, July 12, 2005, Monday, July 11, 2005, and going back to last month's Community Board 11's committee meeting on Economic Development, where well-known community architect Ray Plumey, who first introduced me to this project and businessperson Peter Paris both came out against the plan, at least in its current form.
Peter Paris denounced the "Uptown NY" proposal as the "height of arrogance," which it of course is.
This plan was hatched by upscale developers to make a financial killing on the backs of the poor and working class of East Harlem.
Why this attempt to fast-track "Uptown NY" into some kind of official approval? The developers must have senced that East Harlem/El Barrio would be virtually unanimous in its opposition.
The sudden public announcement of the project left inadequate time for any public discussion.Thus not giving people in the community a chance to participate, thus resulting in a panicky feeling that it is "too late" to stop the project.
Once the developers give the illusion that "Uptown NY" is inevitable, this leads people to think that it is in their best interests to negotiate pitiful concessions for a project which has not even begun to be built!
The project would displace two residential buildings and nine businesses through eminent domain. This is another abuse of eminent domain laws and a disdain of small business owners as well as residences of this community.
These small business owners were the last to know of the threat to their business by government bureaucrats. I say, that this is another land grab for big corporations at the expense of the little guy..
The businesses and residential housing that would be hosted by the proposed "Uptown NY" will indirectly drive out many more small businesses and what little affordable housing that currently exists. All this is conceded in the official reports commissioned by the Uptown NY developers, and is cavalierly dismissed as "no significant adverse effect". "Uptown NY", would be the largest single project since the construction of the World Trade Center. It is yet another outbreak in an epidemic overdevelopment:
East River Plaza, Harlem USAand now a proposal for Uptown USA all within a three mile radius promises a rise in traffic which will only compound the current health crisis facing Harlem and East Harlem, including higher levels of cancer and asthma in a community which already has the highest level of asthma in the United States.
Harlem USA" has spearheaded the gentrification of Central Harlem and the break-up of the long-targeted community there, as Columbia University expands into a growing real estate monopoly.
We need development that serves the human needs of our community, and we need community control at every step to guarantee that it stays that way. That is the spirit in which I am running for City Council in District 8, and which I pledge will guide me when I am elected.
Gwen Goodwin, Candidate for City Council, District 8