CB 2 maintains status quo and adds visitor amenities, community patrolling
A proposal to address late night crowds and noise in the West Village that was approved by Manhattan’s Community Board 2 left some residents of that neighborhood angry and the queer youth of color who for years have congregated on the Hudson River pier at the end of Christopher Street cheering.
“This is who they think is going to police this area,” said the president of the Christopher Street Patrol, longtime West Village resident David Poster, referring to a nearby group of young people, as he stood on Morton Street after the March 23 board meeting.
Just up the block, at the intersection of Hudson and Morton Streets, a large crowd of young people organized by Fabulous Independent Educated Radicals for Community Empowerment (FIERCE!), a community group that advocates for youth who frequent the area, had also just left the meeting. They were chanting loudly and in unison.
“I think it’s a victory,” said Rickke Mananzala, the FIERCE! campaign coordinator.
The full board easily passed a resolution recommending that the pier remain open until 1 a.m., that more amenities, such as portable toilets and food and beverage vendors, be allowed there, and that FIERCE! and other groups monitor the West Village and encourage youth there to be more respectful and quiet.
A six-week trial run of this proposal to be launched in May will end on June 30 when the parties will assess its effectiveness. That assumes that the Hudson River Park Trust, which administers the entire park that runs along Manhattan’s West Side from 57th Street to Battery Park, approves the proposal at its next board meeting in May.
Residents have long complained about noise and crowding. It is a particular problem late at night when the park closes and large crowds exit the park and move through the West Village, especially on Christopher Street. The residents had sought an earlier closing time and to have Christopher Street closed off. The March 23 proposal stated only that people leaving the park would be “permitted and encouraged to exit elsewhere.”
FIERCE! has proposed closing the park at 4 a.m. to allow people to exit in smaller groups over a longer period of time.
The board’s Committee on Waterfront, Parks, Recreation, and Open Space has considered several proposals over the past four months, but none has been supported by all parties. The March 23 proposal was effectively an endorsement of the status quo. It faces some significant obstacles.
Even if Park Trust approves the plan, it seems unlikely that the additional amenities can be placed on the pier in time for the six-week trial period. The groups, such as Poster’s Christopher Street Patrol, that are to join FIERCE! in neighborhood monitoring had not been consulted and may not participate.
“We have never agreed to it,” Poster said. He also doubted that FIERCE! would do it.
“If they truly cared they would have been doing this for the past three years,” Poster said.
Mananzala had more confidence, and was willing to call the bluff of his group’s critics.
“It’s a challenge not just to FIERCE!, but to the residents as well to work with us,” he said.