Save This Synagogue

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The EVCC joins a coalition of groups that want to preserve the 98-year-old Mezeritz Synagogue

On August 14, the East Village Community Coalition was the lead organizer of a press conference about the future of a historic synagogue at 415 East 6 Street:  The Adas Yisroel Anshe Mezeritz Synagogue.

For a variety of reasons, it looked as if the 1910 synagogue might be sold and demolished — which would have been a great loss to the community from a cultural, historical, and architectural perspective.

Joining with members of the congregation and local preservations groups (including the United Jewish Council of the East Side, Lower East Side Jewish Conservancy, The Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation and The Historic Districts Council), the EVCC helped spread the word about what was at stake.

A letter was drafted to the Landmark Preservation Commission, requesting an evaluation for landmark designation.  The EVCC also joined others in presenting a request to the State and National Registers of Historic Places, asking for the synagogue to be added to the list.  Though that designation would not prohibit demolition, it would officially confirm the value of the building.

As Dr. Gerald Wolfe, an expert on Lower East Side synagogues, says, this synagogue is “a jewel… an irreplaceable asset to its congregation, New York, and the world.  Its demolition would be an irretrievable, unforgivable loss.”

Since the press conference, the development company that was involved with the plan to eliminate the synagogue announced that it is not currently involved with the project. The EVCC will continue to collaborate with other neighborhood groups in working to preserve the beautiful structure.

The Letter to the Landmark Preservation Commission: download it (pdf)

The Letter Requesting Inclusion in the State and National Registers of Historic Places:download it (pdf)

Zoning for Local Businesses

By supporting Formula Retail Zoning, the EVCC tries to keep our neighborhood free from chains

Earlier this summer, on June 12, the Graduate Cener for Planning and the Environment  at Pratt Institute had some good news for the Lower East Side.  In a presentation at St. Mark’s Church for the Neighborhood Presentation Center, the Pratt Group discussed the first draft of a study that provides a comprehensive plan to encourage small local businesses on the Lower East Side and discourage large chains.

The primary recommendation of the study, lead by Professors Vicki Weiner and Jonathan Martin, is for the East veilfalls_cropVillage to seek designation as a “special district.”  This would allow the area to enforce Formula Retail Zoning — which is an imposing name for a system that sets some limits on the types of businesses in an area in order to preserve the local retail environment. The study, which was commissioned by the EVCC, is one of the most comprehensive investigations into Formula Retail Zoning in New York City’s history.

The EVCC’s goal is to present the study, when it is completed later this year, to locally elected politicians, city planning commissioners, and the Mayors office and help them understand why the “special district” designation is so important for the future of the neighborhood.

As part of that process, videographer Nicholas Whitaker (who did such a great job with his video chronicle of the first Lower East Side Kids’ Art Bike Parade in 2007) has been asked by the EVCC to make a film that demonstrates the way local merchants improve street life.  For instance, he will contrast vibrant streets full of local merchants — like East 9th Street — with “dead zones” where chains have invaded, like the stretch of Houston where Whole Foods has generated a wall of glass that discourages community-style street life.  The film, which will be shot this fall, will be ready for presentation to authorities by the end of this year.

As the EVCC gets closer to making an official presentation of a plan, community support will be needed.  If you have thoughts about the value of Formula Retail Zoning, please log-in or register in the left hand column of this page, and post your thoughts below.

Get Ready For The 2008 Kids’ Art Bike Parade!

Put Saturday October 4 on your calendar

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The neighborhood’s kids are psyched, waiting to unveil bikes they’ve transformed at the bike decorating workshops in September. The Rude Mechanical Orchestra and the Bari Koral Family Band are ready to play. Local chefs are cooking up treats for after the parade. And 47 bike-less kids now have donated bicycles that have been tuned up, decorated, and ready to take home after the parade.

The East Village Community Coalition presents…The Second Annual Lower East Side Kids’ Art Bike Parade!

When:  Saturday, October 4, 11 AM- 2 PM

Where:  Tompkins Square Park, northeast corner at Avenue A and 10th Street

Who:  You,  joined by Lower East Side neighbors, friends, and kids of all ages — from toddlers to senior citizens

What:  Decorate your bike either at our advance workshops or at our on-the-spot bike-decorating event starting at 10 AM before the parade — then hop on and join the crowd as we parade our human-powered wheels around the neighborhood

Why:  The East Village is always ahead of the game.  This time, it’s the youngest people in our neighborhood showing adults, the city, and the entire world how fun and healthy it is to enjoy non-polluting transportation powered by our own legs and (in this case) by our own imaginations.  By encouraging a new generation of bike riders, we cut back on the pollution that causes global warming and we establish a happy future for our neighborhood.

 

bike_parade_poster_webLast year, more than 100 people — including Commissioner Margarita Lopez, Councilmember Rosie Mendez, Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez, Borough President Scott Stringer, and Assembly Member Bryan Kavanaugh — rode their wildly decorated bikes around our neighborhood.  The event was attended and supported by The Lower East Side Girls Club, The Children’s Museum of the Arts, Recycle a Bicycle, the Clown Brigade from Time’s Up, the Rude Mechanical Orchestra, The Department of Transportation, the New York City Housing Authority, and many many other community groups.

 

This year’s ride promises to be an even bigger and better party.

New for 2008:  A special mini-parade for the tiniest toddlers and tots who will zoom their tricked-out scooters, bike seats, and carriages around the basketball courts, where they will also be entertained by carnival games.

Plus:  There will be refreshments, free bike helmets and bike repairs, t-shirts by donation, and much more.

HOW TO JOIN THE FUN:

Reservations for the ride and the workshop are not required.  However, it’s very helpful if you reserve your place in advance.

**To let the EVCC know that you will be riding on October 4,please register here.

**To findout about our super-fun bike-decorating workshops in September, click here.

**Volunteers are also needed to share the fun at the workshops and at the ride.  To sign up as a volunteer, please register here.

**Want a preview?  Check out our nutty photos from the 2007 Kids’ Bike Parade>

Don’t miss this once-a-year neighborhood bash!  Put October 4 on your calendar now! 

Timeline and Schedule for the Day:

What’s happening on October 4:

10:00 am-11:00 am: last-minute bike decorating, bike helmet fitting, Learn to Ride workshops.

11:00 am: speakers including Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, New York State Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh, and City Councilwoman Rosie Mendez.

11:30 am: parade forms up; music by Rude Mechanical Orchestra

12:00 noon: the parade!

1:00 pm: Celebrate with music by the Bari Koral Family Band, free snacks, games, face painting and more.

1:45: Bike decorating winners announced; raffle prizes (free raffle for all participants)
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P.S. 64: The Movie

Watch our video history of the landmarked building

The EVCC has created a film about the history of P.S. 64, which was shown to the Landmarks Commission during the hearings about landmark status.

The clip includes the details about the building’s architecture and famous students, and explains why it’s so important to preserve the school as an arts center for the community.

Watch it now.