Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Public hearing nonsense

Wakefield Area News

By Mary V. Lauro

BRONX, NEW YORK, May 22- The caller asked, "What is the New York Waterfront Revitalization Program and what is Charter Section 197-a?" The caller was referring to the notice recently sent out by Community Board 12 regarding a public hearing to be held on that topic on Thursday, May 24 at 7 p.m.

We give you the exact wording of the notice. "Community Board 12, The Bronx, will hold a Land Use Committee Meeting to gather the consensus/comments of the community regarding New York City Department of City Planning's proposed revision to the New York City Waterfront Revitalization Program for consideration under the rules for the processing of plans pursuant to Charter Section 197-a.” At the bottom of the notice it requests that those wishing to speak should contact the Community Board office by Wednesday, May 23.

Since we could not give an intelligent answer, we said, "Why don't you go to find out?"

“Whatever for?" she responded. “What am I going to learn in half an hour? The regular Board meeting is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. That means this so-called hearing is going to last only half an hour. If City Planning is going to explain the issue, it will take about 10 minutes. We won't be able to ask questions, only the Land Use Committee will and I bet you dollars to doughnuts the Land Use Committee members don't know what the issue is about either. So, who gets to speak? The Chairman gets to speak, that's who and the rest follow like sheep when they vote on it at the regular Board meeting less than half an hour later."

We laughed, "Sounds like you are familiar with the workings of our Community Board."

She laughed too. You never get to hear the other side of an issue at CB 12. Now it would be totally different, if along with the notice, an explanation was included on the revision to the Waterfront Revitalization Program and why City Planning thought a revision was necessary. Helpful, too, to include what Charter Section 197-a was about. This way one could give some thought to the issue; not only us, the public, but the Land Use Committee itself. Then we could participate.”

“You know,” we interjected, “You could call D.M. Carmen Rosa to ask what it is all about?”

“Sure,” she said, “Me and 50 other people. That's no solution. There is no reason for not explaining the issue other than the Board chairman does not want you or me or the public to really know the issue since there might be some controversy whether it is this subject or another and god-forbid the hearing might go over half an hour.” She took a breath.

We didn't dare interrupt. She went on. “Note that at the regular meeting, there will be a vote by all the Board members on the Waterfront Revitalization Program. That's half an hour later, mind you. The Land Use Committee will ask them to consent to the change and like sheep, they will follow the leader.”

Then the caller said something very important. “Generally I find the City Planning Commission is on target. What I am complaining about is the faulty process of the Board and what appears like deception.”

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