EAST HARLEM — City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito set a timeline for East Harlem’s rezoning during the first public forum on the issue Wednesday evening.
The rezoning — which is also slated to happen in East New York and Jerome Avenue in The Bronx — is part of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s 10-year plan to preserve and add more affordable housing units in the city.
“Every community is different,” the speaker said. “The needs in 10029 may not necessarily be needs that you have in East New York or may not be the needs that the Jerome Avenue area has. There is not a one-size-fits-all model and I think that’s something that we as a city council have been telling this administration.”
In April, Mark-Viverito formed a steering committee made up of local organizations, activists and politicians to help recommend a rezoning plan to the city. That steering committee is going to rely on the issues raised by residents from June to October.
There will be five public forums (not including Wednesday’s forum) and seven steering committee meetings before they submit recommendations to the city, she added.
“By November our goal is to have a clear community based neighborhood plan that is going to reflect our vision for the community’s future,” she said.
More than 100 people attended Wednesday evening’s public forum at El Museo Del Barrio. Many had concerns about how the rezoning will affect their homes, jobs and neighborhoods.
The process is meant to give residents a voice in the rezoning process, said Matthew Washington, chair of Community Board 11.
“As we think about rezoning some people think about this in a negative way,” he said. “But it is not a negative tool. Rezoning should be a tool that we really use to build up our community and for us to address the things that we need within our community.”
The discussion should stem beyond affordable housing and touch on topics like public health, safety, education, green space, jobs and transportation, he added.
The upcoming public forums are the community’s chance to speak out and all residents should take advantage of that opportunity, said District Manager Angel Mescain.
“We need to hear from you,” he told the crowd Wednesday night. “You need to call us, you need to write to us, email us, bug us every day. It’s perfectly fine, it’s what we need.”