Yesterday, hundreds of residents from Little Italy, SoHo, Nolita and surrounding neighborhoods protested in front of the City Council offices on Broadway, to vocalize their frustration over major real estate development decisions getting greenlit through Margaret Chin and the de Blasio administration.
Of the many concerns included the lack of support on Council Member Chin’s part to save the Elizabeth Street Garden, located in an area argued to be starved for open space. The Friends of the Elizabeth Street Garden nonprofit maintains that the 20,000 square foot park offers more than 200 free public events year-round, and attracts more than 100,000 visitors every year.
Subsequently, a $100,000 fund to support a long term “Wake-Up Campaign,” directed at educating government officials and all those seeking to replace Elizabeth Street Garden with real estate, is now in full swing. It’s already halfway to its fundraising goal, and said funds will go towards “social media, free media, direct mail, protests, a 7,500 person mailing list and other forms of community outreach” to bring information to light for all those who are affected by what is to become of the beloved park space.
“Council Member Chin and the deBlasio administration are single-mindedly focused on developing the Garden, while ignoring other nearby opportunities,” said Emily Hellstrom, longtime neighborhood resident and Garden volunteer. “Meanwhile, they have been asleep on several other major recent real estate decisions that would have allowed the creation of significantly more affordable housing on publicly owned land.”
Council Member Chin included the Elizabeth Street Garden as part of the CB3’s Essex Crossing development. It’s worth noting that since this inclusion transpired, CB2 has held four public hearings on the matter, during which the overwhelming sentiment has been to save the Garden and to visit an alternative affordable housing site (388 Hudson Street), where five times as much senior housing could potentially be built.