Good morning. It’s Friday. We will see why a coalition from across the city is challenging street rows. We’ll also look at a program that makes art accessible and is establishing a new home in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn.
The coronavirus pandemic has driven restaurants and their customers outside, onto sidewalks and into the streets. Should they stay there?
This is not a new question. But a coalition of opponents is trying a different approach, accusing Mayor Eric Adams of executive overreach to keep outdoor dining open.
The coalition — Cue-Up, an alliance of community groups whose full name is the Coalition United for Equitable Urban Policy — contends that the city’s open restaurant program is the only pandemic-era initiative left by an executive order from the town hall is covered.
Michael Sussman, an attorney for Cue-Up, said the original order was issued in mid-2020 when Bill de Blasio was mayor. It expired after a few days. De Blasio issued one renewal after another until his term ended at the end of last year. Adams, who succeeded de Blasio, followed suit.
But Sussman said that “there is no longer a public health emergency” because the city dropped the other pandemic provisions covered by the original order and the renewals, including vaccine requirements, mask rules and the Covid test-and- track program. Every renovation now only serves the outdoor dining sheds, he said.
On Monday, Adams described himself as “a big proponent of outdoor dining.” “Whatever I can do to help our restaurant industry that employs dishwashers, waiters, busboys and busboys — it’s an important industry, and it’s an indicator of our city,” he said at a news conference. . “And so the lawsuit is going to play itself out.” He did not address the issue of executive authority; A spokeswoman for City Hall did not comment on that element of the lawsuit Thursday.
The city allowed restaurants and bars to move outside as an emergency measure to help a devastated industry, which employed as many as 340,000 people before the pandemic shut down restaurants, many for good. The restaurant industry now employs about 290,000, said Andrew Rigie, the executive director of the New York City Hospitality Alliance, a trade group pushing to make the outdoor facilities permanent.
Adams acknowledged during Monday’s briefing that “some of the outdoor dining areas have become a hazard” and “are not suitable.” He said outdoor dining structures “cannot be used for storage or other purposes. “And I think there is a way to change, to standardize, what the structure should look like,” he said.
The Cue-Up lawsuit, filed in state Supreme Court in Manhattan, was the group’s second attempt to block the city’s push to make food sheds permanent. The first ended with an order from Manhattan State Supreme Court Justice Frank Nervo ordering the city to conduct a thorough environmental review, something Cue-Up had demanded. The city appealed his order.
In the second lawsuit, more than 30 affidavits were filed from people in every borough except Staten Island who said street shops hurt the quality of life in their neighborhoods.
“Where I used to be able to smell the trees while walking my dog, now it smells like rot and urine,” Angela Bilotti, who has lived in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn since 1994, said in one affidavit.
She also complained that street shops made the neighborhood noisy. “One restaurant owner told a neighbor she was doing business, so just close their windows,” Bilotti said.
“That neighbor moved away” because of the noise, she said.
Get ready for a chance of showers and thunderstorms in the evening. Temperatures will fluctuate near 90 during the day, dropping into the mid-70s at night.
ALTERNATE SIDE PARKING
In effect until August 15 (Feast of the Ascension).
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A new home for community-based artistic enterprises
Risë Wilson started looking for a laundromat, but not for the love of laundry. She had an idea to make art accessible to neighbors in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn.
“I realized the laundromat was this incredibly democratic de facto community,” she told our writer Hilarie M. Sheets.
She incorporated her nonprofit in 2005 as the Laundromat Project to bring art projects into underserved areas, “not just for fun and play, but as this political tool,” she said. “Art has always been part of movements for Black liberation.”
But the grant money she received wasn’t enough to buy a laundromat, so the LP, as the organization became known, switched to a decentralized mode, supporting artists in communities of color across the city’s five boroughs. The projects were staged in local cultural venues, in parks and plazas and on streets, as well as in laundries.
Wilson passed the leadership of LP to Kemi Ilesanmi in 2012, and since then LP has directly invested in more than 80 public art projects and 200-plus multidisciplinary artists. And, after working from temporary offices on the Lower East Side and then Harlem and the South Bronx, LP returned to Bedford-Stuyvesant, with a 10-year lease on a storefront on Fulton Street. It will inaugurate its first public space with an open house on Saturday.
There’s a heavenly landscape by Bed-Stuy-based artist Destiny Belgrave, the first artist selected through the LP’s open call for a new annual commission. There is also space for exhibitions and public gatherings, as well as a communal administrative office for the dozen or so staff members decorated with limited edition prints by artists such as Nina Chanel Abney, Derrick Adams, Xaviera Simmons and Mickalene Thomas.
Last year, the LP received an unexpected gift, $2 million from philanthropist MacKenzie Scott – as much as the LP’s annual operating budget. Ilesanmi and MP Deputy Director Ayesha Williams decided to give away $200,000 immediately, making $10,000 grants to five former partner organizations across the city and $500 grants to each current and former LP artist and staff member.
Ilesanmi and Williams instituted an investment policy for the remaining money at financial institutions such as Brooklyn Cooperative, a credit union serving local small businesses and black-owned homeowners. According to 2020 census figures, Bed-Stuy lost more than 22,000 Black residents over the previous decade and gained more than 30,000 white residents.
“One of the things that happens with gentrification is that POC organizations are displaced along with the people,” Ilesanmi said. “So being part of the community, having a 10-year horizon on this space and a gift that builds intergenerational wealth for the organization just moves your head in a different way.”
I had just moved to New York from Texas, and I loved going to the city’s small neighborhood grocery stores. They were so different from the great big suburbans I was used to.
One day I went to Grace’s Marketplace on the Upper East Side and I heard a customer question the man behind the counter.
“Do you have fresh escargot?” said the customer.
“No,” said the counterman. “But we have snails in a can!”
— Kate Marcus