I want to pause to send you a note of thanks.
The work we do in the Lower East Side is often long-term and the difference we make can be slow-moving and incremental. But every once in a while, something changes in a very definite way.
FAB was just involved with such a change — and it seems right to mark it and to share it with you, because you’re part of this story.
This past year, FAB joined with community residents and local nonprofits in a campaign to have the Stanton Parkhouse returned to community use. We were one of several partners, and we came in during the final year of the campaign, but we played a significant role in constructing a creative event that served as a tipping point for a decades-long effort.
With its windows boarded, its doors locked, and the area adjacent used as a site for vehicles, trash, and a makeshift latrine, the Stanton Parkhouse in Sara D Roosevelt Park resonates with neglect and vacancy, which, in turn, has drawn a concentration of challenging activities. Drug dealing has escalated in the vicinity of the building, and that activity, combined with an expanding homeless population, has created conditions for abuse and violence, which culminated, devastatingly, in multiple assaults and a murder in recent months.
Residents have been working hard to re-open theparkhouse, believing that activating it with community programs, including an expansion of services to the homeless, could transform the site, making this area of the park welcoming again for families, seniors, and children, particularly those living in nearby public and subsidized housing. When we joined the local task force, they had already secured support from local electeds, yet Parks wasn’t moving out and things seemed stuck.
With support from the SDR Park Coalition, University Settlement, Green Map Systems, and others, FAB organized a festival on the doorstep of the Stanton Parkhouse. It was a great day, a day of arts and community engagement, followed by an evening of projections on the building by the Illuminator. Each part of making that day, from the epic struggle to get Parks to approve a permit, to passionate speeches and dancing on the day itself, helped move the campaign forward.
A few days ago, at a sizable meeting of stakeholders, Parks finally committed to actually moving out of the Stanton Parkhouse. Money has been allocated to them to lease a new site. Electeds are following up with renovation funds. Now, instead of joining residents in the fight, we’ll be joining them in the planning for a future community center.
Many people at that meeting spoke about the recent festival, about the strong sense of community it engendered, about how it confirmed, in a concrete way, the creative potential for the Stanton Parkhouse and the site.
I’m so proud that we played a real role in helping change happen. We’ve built new partnerships, gained new trust, and are looking forward to playing a supportive role as residents figure out the future for the parkhouse.
Thanks for supporting us so that we could be there.
with Addison, Dakota, Emilio, Imani, and Kim