When the CVP was first formed in 1990, The City of New York, Dept. of Transportation was starting the Fourteenth Street Reconstruction Project, which was a complete demolition and rebuilding of the 14th St. corridor's infrastructure, roadbed and sidewalks from 9th Ave. to the East River. The CVP organized the 14th St. Reconstruction Committee, which acted as the community watchdog for this monumental project. We cited the contractors' use of substandard concrete for the roadbed and sidewalks and worked with the DOT Project Engineer to make sure that the watered down concrete was replaced and we insisted that all of the sidewalks were replaced and reinforced with steel mesh as the original RFP required. The contractor was planning to replace only the worst parts of the sidewalk and leave out large sections from the reconstruction to save money, which would have made the pattern of the sidewalk very inconsistent. We also walked the entire length of the project citing substandard concrete used on the sidewalks where the gravel started to protrude from the surface after the first rainfall. The contractor subsequently had to remove and replace the areas that we cited with properly mixed concrete.
We also worked with the New York State Forestry Dept. to make sure that every possible location for street trees was utilized and that the most appropriate trees were planted for the best acclimation to the conditions on 14th Street. The contractor was only planning to install approximately half of the trees that we actually wound up with on the street!
The CVP was very involved in neighborhood projects to prevent crime during the early years with city grants secured by the CVP being used to purchase Operation Interlock/Interwatch radios and setting up stations for surveillance at key intersections with building doormen who were trained to report suspicious street activities. These stations are still operational today and they have made a tremendous difference in the quality of life in the area.
In the mid 1990s the CVP formed the Armory Action Association, which insured that the former 14th St. Armory site was developed in a way that would be an asset to the surrounding neighborhoods by working with the New York State Economic Development Corp., the local Elected Officials, and Community Boards 2 and 4. The AAA met monthly with these agencies to discuss appropriate developments for the site and we were very influential in the requirements and wording of the RFP for the bidders. We were also instrumental in preventing big box stores such as Costco from entering into leases with the developer for the retail space, which resulted in the very neighborhood friendly lease with The McBurney WMCA health club.
In 1997 the CVP was asked to represent the neighborhood on The Hudson River Park Conservancy and later that year to serve on the Community Task Force for the design of the Route 9A, 14th Street Park project between 14th and 15th Streets bordering Route 9A and 10th Ave. Both of these projects were very fulfilling to the CVP because we were able to make the desires of the community known to the designers and developers early on in the process and the results have been monumental to the Northwest Village and Southwest Chelsea neighborhoods. One of our most notable achievements with the HRPC was requesting a playground with a "Water Theme" on pier 51 due to the lack of children's playgrounds in the West Village and Chelsea and this idea was incorporated into the Segment 4 (West Village) design!
When the Hudson River Park Trust was formed in 1999 the Chelsea-Village Partnership was selected as one of 50 members of the Hudson River Park Advisory Council. CVP Co-Chair, George Watson was appointed to the Design Committee and the Finance Committee of the HRPT Advisory Council and was asked to serve on the Hudson River Park, Segment 5 Design Group. The 13 member design group was chosen form the Community Boards and Community Organizations and met with Michael Van Valkenburg Associates in 4 working sessions during the concept phase of Segment 5 which runs from Horatio Street to West 25th St.
In early 1997, the CVP sent out a letter to Pam Friedrichs, Chair of CB-4 and Alan Gerson, Chair of CB-2 requesting the formation of a Joint Committee to address the problems and needs of the 14th Street Corridor because both Community Boards were busy dealing with issues from the more central parts of each neighborhood and neglecting the pressing issues on West 14th Street because the Corridor was split between the two Community Boards and two police precincts. In mid 1997, Alan Gerson, Chair of CB-2 announced the formation of a Special Committee of CB-2 to address the growing needs of the 14th Street Corridor but we got no response from CB-4. In 1998 The Chelsea-Village Partnership hosted a meeting with Jennifer Byron, Community liaison to Manhattan Borough President, Virginia C. Fields, to discuss the continued need for a Joint Committee of the two Community Boards and later in 1998 the "14th Street Special Committee of CB-2 and CB-4" was formed!
On May 19, 1998 the CVP and 14th St. Special Committee hosted the first community forum to discuss concerns for The Meat Packing District's future and to determine how to preserve the character of the area and improve conditions in this historic section of Manhattan. We then hosted another forum on October 7, 1999 with a presentation by the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation (GVSHP), which started the movement to create The Gansevoort Market Historic District. In the Spring of 2000 the new Save Gansevoort Task Force was formed by CVP Board Members, Jo Hamilton and Florent Morllet, and the GVSHP. This task force achieved designation with NY City Landmarks as The Gansevoort Market Historic District in less than 3 years, which is the shortest period of time for Historic District designation in the history of NYC Landmarks!
The CVP has also been a supporter of the Friends of The High Line group founded in 1999 by Joshua David and Robert Hammond to convert the 1.45 mile long 6.7 acre elevated railway structure that runs from W. 34th St. to Horatio St. into open public park space. We are very pleased that the Bloomberg Administration has endorsed the idea of converting the High Line to public space rather than going along with previous plans to demolish the structure!
Imagine a pedestrian walkway only one story above our busy roads where residents and tourists could move about at their own pace. We envision the High Line as a public park linked to the Hudson River Park with the incorporation of a design proposal for Segment 5 from Michael Van Valkenburg Associates that included a bridge connecting the High Line with Pier 54. This bridge would provide a safe alternate way to the Hudson River Park as opposed to crossing Route 9A on street level. The steel structure of the High Line is similar to the remaining remnants of the head house of Pier 54 and because the High Line was severed and now ends very close to the pier, a bridge made of I beam steel construction would be a perfect connection to the Hudson River Park.
The Chelsea-Village Partnership Board is now in need of new members to fill vacant seats on the 15-member Board. Please send letters of interest in serving on the CVP Board of Directors with a brief explanation of any previous community involvement and your desires to improve the Northwest Village and Southwest Chelsea Neighborhoods to:
The Chelsea-Village Partnership Inc.
P.O. Box 30921
New York, NY 10011