Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and the East Harlem Neighborhood Plan Steering Committee Announce Community-Based Planning Blueprint

CITY HALL – Today, Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and the East Harlem Neighborhood Steering Committee announced the goals and recommendations of the East Harlem Neighborhood Plan, a community-based planning blueprint for long-term neighborhood growth and development.

“Community-based city planning starts from the ground up, with residents and stakeholders coming together collaboratively to plan for the future of their neighborhood,” said Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. “The East Harlem Neighborhood Plan is the product of ten months of robust discussion, where we together identified how to leverage development opportunities to bring much-needed public benefits and investment to our community. Physical development and human capital development must go hand in hand – we need to be as focused on supporting neighborhood economies, re-investing in schools and open space, and creating room for social service and cultural organizations as we are on urban renewal, rezoning, and housing production. The East Harlem Neighborhood Plan will serve as a living document to guide and inform city planning that works for and with the East Harlem Community.”

For the first time, a community has come together on its own initiative, prior to the City’s application for a neighborhood rezoning, to create a roadmap for future success that prioritizes the needs of existing residents in addition to preparing for anticipated development.

Convened by the Office of City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Manhattan Community Board 11, Community Voices Heard and the Manhattan Borough President’s Office have come together to establish a process for a holistic community-based plan that fostered the following goals:

• Collect and organize community concerns and ideas in order to influence City agencies’ planning processes and rezoning efforts

• Create a human capital development plan that focuses on the advancement of East Harlem residents

• Develop approaches to preserve existing affordable and public housing and generate new, permanently affordable housing

• Develop new tools for preservation of culture, economy and neighborhood character

• Create a needs assessment that takes into account East Harlem’s current and future community

• Develop implementable recommendations that reflect community input

• Provide a model for other communities and neighborhood planning efforts

• Build a base of engaged residents ready to advocate collectively for community needs

“Zoning and development better fit our neighborhoods’ needs when driven by input, deliberation, and discussion among neighborhood residents and community stakeholders,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “I’m pleased that Speaker Mark-Viverito’s leadership and the efforts of the entire steering committee have resulted in East Harlem joining the Seaport and East Midtown as neighborhoods where pre-ULURP planning has created this strong, clear blueprint for the future.”

“Housing concerns are at the center of the concerns of those who attended diligently and faithfully to these [EHNP] meetings. Housing that residents can truly, sustainably afford, given what they earn. Most of these residents’ are low-income earners; are hard workers; many hold 2 jobs at a time. These are individuals who are the backbone of New York City. They do the work that is needed in order for the city to thrive. These undervalued citizens need, have a right to good, solid housing. Housing that their low-paying wages can afford,” said Sandra Rivera, Community Voices Heard Member-Leader.

“We are thankful to all of the participants in the East Harlem Neighborhood Plan and the hard work that has been put forth by the Steering Committee members. We are pleased that there were so many opportunities for the public to participate in crafting a truly comprehensive, community-driven plan for the future of East Harlem. The number of visioning sessions, the engagement with city agencies and the leadership of local stakeholders are unprecedented in a rezoning process, and we hope that the EHNP will serve as a model for all future community planning processes,” said Community Board 11.

“The East Harlem Plan offers hope to neighborhoods next in line for re-zoning. With the right combination of community participation, political will, hard work and resources, resident-led, comprehensive neighborhood planning is possible,” said Betsy MacLean, Executive Director at Hester Street Collaborative.

“The input from East Harlem residents and organizations in their community planning process has been inspiring to behold, and WXY is excited to have played a role in facilitating their engagement,” says Adam Lubinsky, Principal with the design and planning firm WXY. “This kind of community-based collaboration will help maintain the unique character and dynamism of East Harlem, and it sets a new standard for future neighborhood and regional planning initiatives.”

Through the guidance of a Steering Committee composed of representatives from community organizations, the East Harlem Neighborhood Plan has evolved through a series of eight large public meetings, which have averaged almost 180 people per session, approximately 40 meetings to develop the objectives and recommendations around the 12 key themes, and several informal meetings to gather more feedback and to provide more information on the ideas being discussed.

In many respects, the East Harlem Neighborhood Plan offers a new paradigm in neighborhood planning. Spurred on by both the City’s decision to rezone East Harlem and the dramatic changes already underway, this Plan provides both an ambitious and realistic path forward for City agencies to act on. Since the objectives and recommendations are integrated, this Plan urges a similarly holistic response from the City.

The full East Harlem Neighborhood Plan and more information about the process can be found at www.eastharlemplan.nyc.