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This monthly feature profiles a plan included in Planning for All New Yorkers: An Atlas of Community- Based Plans in New York City, an interactive, online tool created by the Municipal Art Society and the Community-Based Planning Task Force.

May is Labor History Month, and given the current economic climate and the national push toward a sustainability agenda, the talk of the town is creating jobs in the sustainability industry.  A New York Times article last year described the national attraction to these “green jobs”: “Labor unions view these new jobs as replacements for positions lost to overseas manufacturing and outsourcing. Urban groups view training in green jobs as a route out of poverty. And environmentalists say they are crucial to combating climate change.”

Last year, Bronx environmental organizations Sustainable South Bronx (SSBX) and Green Worker Cooperatives released a plan for an Eco-Industrial Park at Oak Point. This plan explores the feasibility of developing a $36 million dollar eco-industrial park on an approximately 28-acre, waterfront brownfield site in Hunts Point, in the South Bronx. The site is located in the western corner of the Oak Point rail yard next to Bruckner Boulevard, across the river from Rikers Island.
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The Yolanda Garcia Community Planner Award (YGCP) acknowledges the hard-working leaders of grassroots, community-based planning. The award was created to commemorate Yolanda Garcia, a community activist in the South Bronx (seen at work in the photo at left). Under Garcia’s leadership, the residents of Melrose challenged the city, created an alternative to an urban renewal plan, and transformed a neighborhood. The organization created by Garcia, We Stay/Nos Quedamos, is bringing that community’s vision to life through planning, design, construction, and programming.

In 2007, the Municipal Art Society (MAS) presented the second annual YGCP award to Elizabeth Yeampierre for her work with the United Puerto Rican Organization of Sunset Park (UPROSE), which has engaged local residents, particularly youth, in multiple community planning and environmental justice initiatives along the Sunset Park waterfront in Brooklyn.  Last year’s winner was Jeanne DuPont, Executive Director of the Rockaway Waterfront Alliance. The award recognized her work engaging a diverse community and local youth in open space and environmental issues on the barrier island of Far Rockaway, Queens.

MAS will accept nominations online for the 2009 YGCP award now through May 29.  For a printed copy of the nomination form, please contact us.

Award criteria and more information after the jump.

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On December 2, a coalition of civic leaders, neighborhood advocates, community development organizations, labor unions, affordable housing groups, environmentalists, immigrant advocates, and other stakeholders launched One City/One Future: A Blueprint for Growth that Works for All New Yorkers. The Community-Based Planning Task Force is part of this broad and diverse coalition, which is led by New York Jobs With Justice, the National Employment Law Project, and the Pratt Center for Community Development.

The document provides 54 recommendations for policies following three fundamental strategies:

  • Raise the Standards: Government should set clear standards for economic activity in New York City, especially activity that benefits from public spending or actions. Meeting these standards — whether they concern the quality of jobs created or the environmental sustainability of new buildings — must be a prerequisite for anyone doing business with the city.
  • Invest for Shared Growth: The city and state currently spend billions keeping New York’s economy humming. These investments in housing, transportation, and employment need to be designed and managed with the explicit objective of improving opportunity and strengthening neighborhoods.
  • Reform the Process: Planning and development must take place in an open and democratic environment, in which communities and the city work as partners, not adversaries, with the objective of building a prosperous city on the strength of livable neighborhoods.

The Task Force contributed policy recommendations dealing with planning reform. These include a call to implement a citywide planning framework that represents a conversation between the City and communities, as well as recommendations for how to make community boards effective partners.

The full report is available for download at

Recently, with the help of the Newtown Creek Alliance and HabitatMap, residents of east Greenpoint and Williamsburg have learned about contaminant plumes of chlorinated solvents (TCE & PCE) in their neighborhood’s soil and groundwater. Caused by local industry such as dry cleaners and soap manufacturers, these pollutants have been linked to the development of autoimmune diseases, birth defects, nervous system disorders, infertility, and cancer.

On Wednesday morning, brownfields experts Lenny Siegel and Peter Strauss will lead a walking tour of the area. They will also answer questions about hazardous vapor intrusion in homes, the health effects of TCE/PCE exposure, and how to get the Meeker Ave. Plumes mitigated and remediated.

Visit HabitatMap’s interactive map for more information on the contaminated area. For a larger version of the map above, visit the Newtown Creek Alliance.

Where & When:
Meet at the corner of Kingsland Ave. & Norman Ave. at 9:00am on Wednesday 11/19 (MAP)

More about Lenny Siegel after the jump.

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In the Inbox today:

In partnership with the Newtown Creek Alliance, HabitatMap invites you to participate in a community mapping workshop at LaGuardia Community College on the evening of Monday, October 20th. Space but you can RSVP here to reserve your spot.

At the Newtown Creek Neighborhoods Community Mapping Workshop participants will:
— discover how web-based tools can magnify the impact of community organizing campaigns;
— hear from experienced organizers who have been active in the Newtown Creek Neighborhoods for decades; and
— learn how to navigate and mine city, state, and federal databases for information relevant to their own personal health and the health of their families and communities.

Participants should come prepared to begin mapping their neighborhoods so bring any relevant documents and photos but most importantly, bring your ideas. Contact Michael Heimbinder at mheimbinder(at)habitatmap(dot)org.

The Newtown Creek Neighborhoods Community Mapping Workshop will be held at LaGuardia Community College, building E, room 228 on the evening of Monday, October 20th from 6:30-8:30pm. The entrance to building E is located at 31-10 Thomson Ave. between 31st St. and Van Dam St. For a map and directions click here.

This Saturday from 11am-1pm, the Municipal Art Society is presenting a bus tour of Harlem with Peggy Shepard, winner of this year’s Jane Jacobs Medal for Lifetime Leadership, and Executive Director of Task Force member organization West Harlem Environmental Action (WeACT).

This tour will examine how noxious hazards such as garbage and bus depots — often place there by the city government — co-exist with some of the city’s cultural treasures, such as the museums and arts institutions of “El Barrio,” Marcus Garvey park and the new Harlem Waterfront Park.

Tickets are $25, or $20 for MAS members/students. Purhcase tickets online or call 212-935-2075. Meet at WE ACT offices 71 West 125th Street, #308, just east of Frederick Douglass Boulevard next to the Blimpie and Duane Reade stores.

Two Task Force Organizations, UPROSE and the Fifth Avenue Committee, are hosting meetings this Wednesday and next, which may be of interest to Brooklynites. Wednesday, July 23 is the UPROSE Community Education Forum on the proposed USPowerGen update of the Gowanus Generating Station in Sunset Park. Wednesday, July 30 is the next meeting of the Accountable Development Working Group.

More info after the jump.

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Yesterday, during the last scheduled day of the legislative session in Albany, New York lawmakers reached a new deal on the revitalization of brownfield sites. Newsday reports:

“The old brownfields cleanup program provided tax credits of 10 to 22 percent of the cost of cleaning up and redeveloping contaminated land. But the program was suspended last year after spending $3.1 billion on a little more than 200 projects.

Under the old formulas, developers were able to claim tax credits of more than $100 million to redevelop sites in midtown Manhattan and other economically vibrant areas that had only scant contamination. This time around, Paterson said, the state will boost its maximum share of cleanup costs from 20 percent to 50 percent of the costs; it also will give tax credits for redeveloping the site equal to no more than three times the cost of cleanup, or $35 million, whichever is less. Manufacturing sites would get up to six times the cost of cleanup, or $45 million.”

According to the article, some involved in this legislation remained skeptical that the new program would benefit low-income communities or guarantee community benefits.

This Saturday, May 31, the South Brooklyn Accountable Development Initiative (a project of the Fifth Avenue Committee) is hosting the People’s Accountable Development Summit. The summit seeks to create dialogue and forge alliances among residents and various community stake holders in Brooklyn facing large developments, re-zonings and other land use changes.

The centerpiece of the Summit will be a series of panel discussions on four major accountable development topics: Housing, Labor, Environment, and Process.

The Summit will take place at PS 282 in Park Slope, Brooklyn, 180 6th Avenue (btw. Lincoln and Berkley) . It is free, and food, Spanish translation, and childcare will be provided. For more information, contact Dave Powell at or 718-237-2017 ext 148.

Check out the full schedule after the jump.

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Congratulations to the leaders of two Community-Based Planning Task Force Member organizations, Peggy Shepard of West Harlem Environmental Action (WeACT), and Alexie Torres-Fleming of Youth Ministries for Peace and Justice, this year’s recipients of the Rockefeller Foundation’s Jane Jacobs Medal.

The Rockefeller Foundation created the award in 2007 to, “recognize visionary work in building a more diverse, dynamic and equitable city through creative uses of the urban environment. ” Shepard will receive the Medal for Lifetime Leadership. She co-founded WeACT in 1988, and since then has worked on issues of environmental justice in the Harlem community. Torres-Fleming will receive the Medal for New Ideas and Activism. She has been an activist for the South Bronx since 1992, and founded YMPJ in 1994. YMPJ works to empower youth through faith, activism, arts, education/tutoring, health, and community-based planning. Each will receive $100,000. The Medals will be awarded at a ceremony on September 8th at the Morgan Library.

Since 2000, The Community-Based Planning Task Force has been leading the effort to create a more meaningful role for communities in New York City’s planning and decision-making processes.

This blog intends to connect our Task Force and the public with opportunities to participate in shaping the city's future, and to inform about issues related to planning, decision-making, equity, social justice, and public participation.

Visit our About page for more information.

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