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April 7, 2015- By Steven E. Greer
For nearly a decade, the BPC subcommittee of the CB1 has held the monthly meetings inside the borders of BPC. Then, last year saw an Arab Spring of sorts, when more and more members of the community began to attend the meetings, expressing outrage over one issue or the other. Then, CB1 Chair Catherine McVay Hughes inexplicably moved the location of the meetings to 49 Chambers Street, making it very difficult for elderly, or anyone for that matter, to attend.
Ms. Hughes has hung up on our calls to her personal phone and refused to reply to our emails asking her why she made the move. The only explanation given by the CB1 has come from Anthony Notaro who stated in February, “All of the other meetings take place there.”.
At the BPC CB1 meeting held tonight, Ms. Hughes was present. We asked her why she moved the meetings, and she stared at us, not making a sound.
Meanwhile, the inconvenience of the meeting location meant so many of the CB1 members were absent that there was no quorum. After the resolution votes were postponed several CB1 members strolled in late. (Notably, Jeff Galloway was absent again. Mr. Galloway has had a high absentee rate over the last six months.).
If Ms. Hughes moved the meetings to discourage the angry mob from showing up, she succeeded. There were only a few people from the community in attendance (BP.TV almost bailed out too.).
New York Open Meeting law requires that public meetings be held in appropriate venues that are reasonably convenient for the public to attend. Rooms that are too small, for example, would be illegal locations. In §103.(d) of the law, it states, “Public bodies shall make or cause to be made all reasonable efforts to ensure that meetings are held in an appropriate facility which can adequately accommodate members of the public who wish to attend such meetings.”.
The 49 Chambers Street office is too small of a venue to host any discussion that attracts more than a dozen or so members of the public. Whenever a large crowd gathers at 49 Chambers, the public is pushed into the hallway, to the convenient benefit of the CB1 who would otherwise be overwhelmed and have to deal with the public.
For the recent North Cove Marina public discussions, hundreds of people attended the meetings at the public library on North End Avenue. The same crowds would have been unable to voice their opinions in 49 Chambers Street. Even if the office were bigger, 49 Chambers Street is a very far walk and there is no easy taxi route to it, making it an inappropriate venue to host public meetings discussing Battery Park City.
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