Oct. 9, 2018 By Nathaly Pesantez
Several neighborhood groups are joining forces with more than 50 city-wide organizations Saturday to protest rampant real estate development.
The event, dubbed the “Rally For Our Neighborhoods,” is taking place at the steps of City Hall and includes groups like the Hunters Point Civic Association, the LIC Coalition, the Court Square Civic Association, and others from neighboring communities all working to denounce bad city planning, the influence of the big real estate lobby, and displacement.
The lead organizers, Human-Scale NYC, say the rally will focus on themes like ending the “affordable housing scam,” denouncing the city’s use of public assets for private development, and calling for reforms to make the city more equitable and free from the influence of money.
“It is time for a real affordable housing policy and to protect local residents, libraries, gardens, NYCHA, historic buildings, and playgrounds from the real estate machine,” wrote Human-Scale NYC.
The rally’s sheer size, the group said, is indicative of all the neighborhood battles that are taking place around the city.
“We originally thought it would be a workable event if we had just 20 co-sponsors,” said Lynn Ellsworth, a Human-Scale NYC board member. “It grew to the size quite organically.”
The participating Long Island City groups have all rallied and fought around overdevelopment and other themes, and have stepped up efforts in light of several large projects and developments in the neighborhood.
The Court Square Civic Association, for instance, recently rallied for more open space in the neighborhood. While open space has been a concern for the group since its founding, the topic has taken center stage because of a city deal to transfer its air rights from under the Queensboro Bridge ramps—lots the community has demanded to become open space—to adjacent private developers in Court Square.
The group, like other opponents, says the plan only adds density to the neighborhood and ignores demands made by the community to turn the lots under the Queensboro Bridge to green spaces for the public.
“We’re a community that’s hurting…we’re increasing the density of the neighborhood and adding more strain with no added immediate benefit to us,” said Pedro Gomez, CSCA President, at a prior community board meeting on the issue.
The LIC Coalition, meanwhile, recently helped organize a workshop series aimed at informing residents on the number of ongoing and future projects in the neighborhood, with a focus on environmental sustainability.
“It’s at a crisis point,” said Tom Paino, a member of the LIC Coalition, to the LIC Post in August. “The ultimate goal is to get a comprehensive plan for what are now all these overlapping, piece-meal, huge projects.”
The group was also instrumental in getting local leaders to denounce the city’s 44th Drive project as envisioned, and continues to call for an overhaul of the plan.
The Hunters Point Civic Association has also called for quality of life improvements in the neighborhood that all trace back to responsible development, like street improvements and the need for a recreational center in an ever-growing residential area.
Other participating area groups include Queens Streets For All, which has opposed the DOT’s roadway redesign in Sunnyside, the Justice for All Coalition, and the Sunnyside Gardens Preservation Alliance.
The rally will take place at the steps of City Hall, located at City Hall Park between Broadway and Park Row, on Oct. 13 from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m., rain or shine.