On Tuesday night the Lower East Side’s Community Board 3 met to discuss plans by Greyhound Bus Line to transform the historic Seward Park into an inter-state bus terminal- and voted unanimously to deny the proposal! After three and a half hours of heated discussion, CB3’s board denied Greyhound’s plea for the Essex Street location, and asked the company to come up with alternative locations. Yet despite the overwhelming vote by CB3 and its residents, the actual decision lies in the hands of the New York Department of Transportation (DOT), who didn’t send any representatives to the meeting — and some local residents believe may have already given Greyhound bus company a pass to take over the nation’s oldest public playground, destroying the neighborhood social fabric, without any input from the local community.
Local Lower East Side news site the Lo-Down reports that the vote brought one of the largest crowds in recent years to the meeting of Community Board 3. With an overflowing room of local residents of the Essex Street area, the topic of heated debate for the evening was the proposed bus station for “Yo! Bus,” a new venture partnership between Greyhound and Peter Pan bus lines. The bus company said that they were uninterested in compromising over the location, and refused to answer any questions from the local residents about how they planned to deal with crowds and trash on the street and in the park. The crowded room of passionate local residents who gathered to defend the nation’s oldest park provides a hint of the uproar that is likely to occur should the DOT override the Community Board. The DOT did not send any representatives to the meeting.
Yo! Bus representatives present at the meeting stuck to their pre-rehearsed “talking points”, and said that they would reduce their planned service from 28 to 16 trips a day, utilize only lower emission vehicles, and that the park area would not be used as a waiting area, though they refused to answer any questinos about how they are planning to keep the public out of a public park. After all, one can’t stop people from going into a public park when they have no place to sit and no place to use the bathroom. The crowd and CB3, not surprisingly, found Greyhound’s answers to be unrealistic and unbelievable, and even suggested that station be relocated around the corner to 98 East Broadway, which will house the ticket office and a bathroom. Greyhound refused to consider this possibility or any other locations in the Lower East Side or Chinatown, stating instead that ‘We’re following the process of the city, and we’ll let this process run its course’.
Some local residents even went as far to suggest in the CB3 meeting that the city and Greyhound think they can ram this down the community’s throat, considering lower-income Chinatown and Lower East Side children to be less deserving of public city resources and that their parents and local elderly Chinese who use the park won’t care enough to protest. Emissions and pollution, traffic, safety of children and idling buses are just a few concerns that the bus station could bring. Not to mention the loss of the oldest public playground in the country that is really the heart and social fabric of this historic New York City neighborhood.
Read more coverage of this unfolding debate at:
If you are interested in this public space debate, local residents who are in opposition to this Greyhound takeover of the nation’s oldest public playground are suggesting that concerned New Yorkers email the Department of Transportation through their online form and the Mayor Bloomberg’s office: