Hey, Blaz and Chin, please ‘tune’ in!

Hundreds of residents from Little Italy, Soho, Nolita and environs — joined by a “Reveille”-playing trumpeter — rallied in front of the City Council offices at 250 Broadway Wednesday to try to “wake up” Councilmember Margaret Chin and Mayor Bill de Blasio, who have been “asleep at the switch” on major real estate development decisions. Chin is defying constituents who overwhelmingly support saving the Elizabeth St. Garden. She backs develoment there. The activists announced the creation of a $100,000 fund to support a long-term “Wake-Up Campaign” to educate Chin and all those seeking to destroy Elizabeth St. Garden. Using social media, direct mail and a 7,500-person mailing list, they are halfway to their fundraising goal. Photo by Tequila Minsky

From left, at Wednesday’s “Wake Up Chin and de Blasio” rally, professional trumpet player John Thomas Burson, who specializes in classical but also plays rock and jazz; Lindsee Silverstein, a volunteer at the Elizabeth St. Garden; Christopher Marte, the first candidate to declare that he plans to challenge incumbent City Councilmember Margaret Chin next year; and Jeanine Kiely, president of Friends of Elizabeth St. Garden. Photos by Tequila Minsky

Residents from Little Italy, Soho, Nolita and environs, plus Community Board 2 leaders — joined by a “Reveille”-playing trumpeter — rallied in front of the City Council offices at 250 Broadway on Wednesday morning. Their goal was to try to “wake up” Councilmember Margaret Chin and Mayor Bill de Blasio, who they charge have been “asleep at the switch” on major real estate development decisions. Chin is defying constituents who overwhelmingly support saving the Elizabeth St. Garden. Instead, she is stubbornly backing a plan — that was hatched in secrecy — to develop senior affordable housing there. The protesters, meanwhile, identified four other sites that are better suited for the affordable housing, which would preserve the Little Italy garden and allow it to become a permanent park. These include a vacant water-shaft site at Clarkson and Hudson Sts.; the now-vacant Rivington House on the Lower East Side; 137 Centre St., a city-owned building under the jurisdiction of the Department of Citywide Administrative Services; and 2 Howard St., an underutilized parking garage near the garden. After each alternative site was announced at the demonstration, the trumpeter lustily tooted his horn to try to get the message through to the so-far deaf-eared political pair. The activists also announced the creation of a $100,000 fund to support a long-term “Wake-Up Campaign” to “educate Chin and all those seeking to destroy Elizabeth St. Garden.” Using social media, direct mail and a formidable 7,500-person mailing list, they are already halfway to their fundraising goal. The gardeners have several times now asked Mayor de Blasio, in face-to-face encounters, to come and visit the green oasis. Encouragingly, he has never said no, and he has previously said on Brian Lehrer’s radio show on WNYC that he would “happily, happily” visit the garden. Hey, would it help if the trumpeter played a concert at the garden? Just call the tune! The community is waiting and hoping, Mr. Mayor! 

Soho activist Pete Davies

Soho activist Pete Davies held up a placard by a young P.S. 1 pupil. The nearby school’s students enjoy learning about gardening and the environment at the rare urban patch of green — which sports a real grass lawn and trees — in open-space-starved Little Italy. It’s much more than a typical blacktop playground. And it also sports curated artistic sculptures and monuments to boot. Simply put, it’s a very special open space.

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