August 1, 2018
Hundreds of Inwood residents filled the gym at Washington Heights Academy on Sherman Avenue Wednesday evening to provide further evidence, if any were needed, of the community’s opposition to the EDC rezoning plan. The theme of the forum, organized by U.S. Rep. Adriano Espaillat, was “Rezoning…Opportunity or Gentrification?” Tomorrow morning the Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises is scheduled to vote on Inwood rezoning. In addition to the Congressman, Manhattan Boro President Gale Brewer, State Assemblywoman Carmen De La Rosa, State Senator Marisol Alcantara, and NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer were present. The community’s City Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez was not present.
Espaillat observed, ” I’m against it, Scott’s against it, Gale’s against it, Carmen’s against it, your State Senator is against it and you, the community, are against it.” The crowd leapt to its feet chanting “Vote No! Vote No!”
Community members submitted questions on little bits of paper, which Espaillat then read aloud for the panel of electeds to take turns answering. Brewer said, “this plan makes no sense,” adding that she’s the only one here tonight with a vote on ULURP and she’s a no. She contrasted Inwood rezoning with that of East Harlem. There the community met weekly for two years and developed a plan that passed the Council. The ULURP process needs reform, she added.
“As we speak the deal is being cut in City Hall and we’re not privy to it. The plan should be presented right here, in the community,” Espaillat declared. He wants it to include a commitment for 5,000 affordable apartments that includes 1000 for senior citizens. “We’ll see what happens tomorrow and then decide if we proceed in the courts.”
De La Rosa pointed out that the AMI is not reflective of actual incomes in the neighborhood which are far lower. Most of the rents in this community are already out of reach, she noted. The commercial U has to be removed to protect small businesses and preserve the community. The infrastucture can’t support redevelopment without more investment up here. She recalled the blackouts and asked what happens when there’s 20 or 30 thousand more people up here. “I oppose the rezoning plan and plead with our Council Member to vote no.”
The young woman who was providing real time translation at the forum submitted a question for the panel: “What about having a 7 years moratorium to study the effects on communities where it’s already been done?”
“I think that’s a great idea,” Espaillat answered.