Grand Street Settlement Continues its Protest of Masaryk Towers Path Closure
With the sealing of a gate, it was the clink heard ’round the Lower East Side.
Masaryk Towers sealed its passageway between Pitt and Columbia Streets last month, citing alleged proliferation of drug use/sales, fights, vandalism, speeding bikes and mopeds, and litter as the final cause. Many neighbors in the community were upset. Most vocal, of course, was the Grand Street Settlement. But there’s little recourse, since the complex owns the land.
The Mararyk board of directors finally decided to act in early May after years of grappling with the aforementioned obstacles. Indeed, the issue of gate closure was more seriously considered in 2006, and discussions seemed to revive every few years. The arguments then as now, were largely the same. As was the response. While the Masaryks concern is safety and security, the opposition feels it creates a “gated community” with the purpose of increasing property values.
Grand Street Settlement, meanwhile, is caught in the crossfire. Its entrance is located behind the lines, so to speak, affecting access for many local elderly and youth who participate in their programming. They continue to protest, as was the case yesterday afternoon. This gathering arrived a week after the Masaryk board of directors released a letter stating in no uncertain terms that the walkway will remain closed to the public (see below).
The community organization counteres that these problems have nothing to do with the Settlement, and even offered to extend its insurance to the path.
“We have done as much as we can do address concerns about Grand Street participants who use the pathway by extending our liability insurance an acre from our door that covers them,” Clovis Thorn, the settlement’s director of development and communications, told DNAinfo last week. He also added that no one from the organization has ever sued Masaryk.