Our mission is to create a framework that harnesses local energy and creativity and empowers people to take ownership of and solve their local problems.
The Neighborhood Empowerment Project will advocate for the city to create and fund a government structure that supports and enables local public space ownership. This structure will include a local Public Space Manager and maintenance staff that will be housed in each District or City Council office and be mandated to respond to the requests, needs, and ideas of the local stakeholders. This team will implement and maintain changes that turn public spaces into places that work for its residents.
In a city of eight million, distant central agencies address large-scale problems and city-wide initiatives, such as the redesign of major avenues, snow removal and post-parade cleanup. Unfortunately, these agencies do not have the time, resources or focus to address the small offenses that pile up and degrade day-to-day life: the mounds of garbage on the sidewalks, the double-parked trucks blocking the street, the back-up of cars at drop-off and pick-up sites at local schools, the lack of play space.
Annually, local community boards provide city agencies with district needs statements and detailed resolutions for solving their problems. Yet, year after year, the city neglects these communities and ignores their concerns about trash and rats and speeding. Usually, the community boards receive no information as to why their requests were disregarded or declined. The Office of Management & Budget (OMB) simply states “rejected” or “no funds available,” providing no details on the decision-making process nor any transparency about the costs of requests.
When the Department of Transportation does approve simple changes, they require a local maintenance partner. In central, wealthier, mixed-use neighborhoods, these partners are typically Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) or businesses. In less affluent neighborhoods, organizations such as The New York Restoration Project and The Horticultural Society of New York (The HORT) maintain gardens and plazas in public-private partnerships. In total, more than 500 private and non-profit organizations tend to the green spaces in New York City. Unfortunately, no comprehensive coverage exists for our local residential streets and sidewalks. NEP will advocate for a local neighborhood team that can fill this void and respond to community requests, make simple changes, and maintain our public space.