Thursday, October 02, 2008

Community Armored for Scoping

As the NY Daily News is reporting this morning, the city's EDC will be holding a scoping session for the application to develop the Kingsbridge Armory: "The purpose of the scoping meeting is to solicit public comment on the scope of work for the Environmental Impact Study," said Janel Patterson, spokeswoman for the city's Economic Development Corp. The hearing, which will start at 6 p.m. at the Bronx Library Center, 310 E. Kingsbridge Road, will give community members a chance to be heard on the size of the area around the armory to be examined in studies of likely traffic, economic and environmental impacts."

The entire redevelopment project has been the subject of a comprehensive community organizing effort, led by KARA: "The Kingsbridge Armory Redevelopment Alliance, a coalition of community groups, churches and unions - including the Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition and the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union - worries that nonunion chain stores will drive small local retailers out of the area without bringing in living-wage jobs.

And worry they should, since the Related Company is doing the development and that company is known for blatantly ignoring community wishes. That being said, KARA's forces are well organized, and in an era of term limits uncertainty, elected officials should be extremely sensitive to community concerns.

And, as we told the News, there are a number of salient issues that need to be looked at in a scoping session: "Activists are encouraging locals to attend Thursday night's scoping meeting because it will be the public's only chance to help determine how much of the surrounding area will be studied to determine how the proposed development will affect them. "Too often the study area is much too circumscribed to give the affected neighborhoods a clear understanding of the impact," said Richard Lipsky, an organizer and consultant who works with small businesses and retail unions."

KARA needs to remain vigilant-but the city needs to be extremely sensitive to the community lest it find itself in the same position that it is with Willets Point-facing defeat because of an inability to be responsive to small businesses and elected officials. In any case, this fight will not be easy, but under the current political climate, the community ha a good chance to prevail.