Yesterday, Council member Chin called a meeting of community stakeholders to discuss the concerns of the Community Board 1 residents with representatives of Occupy Wall Street; as well as to learn more about the "Good Neighbor Policy" approved by the OWS General Assembly yesterday. A copy of the approved "Good Neighbor Policy" is available here: http://nycga.cc/category/news/
The meeting was attended by representatives from the offices of Congressman Jerrold Nadler, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, State Senator Daniel Squadron, and Borough President Scott Stringer, as well as Julie Menin, Chair of Community Board 1, representatives from Community Board 1's Quality of Life and Finance Committees, Downtown Alliance, New York Communities for Change, as well as several members of Occupy Wall Street.
The group discussed the enforcement of the "Good Neighbor Policy" as approved by Occupy Wall Street. Local elected officials advocated for the dissemination of copies of the "Good Neighbor Policy," to the group assembled in Zuccotti Park as soon as possible. Community Board 1 reiterated the needs for a dedicated phone number and email for residents to log complaints with OWS directly.
Local elected officials urged Occupy Wall Street representatives to identify individuals to monitor the drumming on site, and, to adhere to the 2-hour a day limit as called for in the "Good Neighbor Policy". They also asked that community relations officers, also called for in the "Good Neighbor Policy," be identified and made available to area residents.
"Now that the Good Neighbor Policy is in place, it is time for Occupy Wall Street to show they are serious about following through with the stipulations they have agreed upon as a body," said Council member Margaret Chin. "This is their opportunity to be responsive to the surrounding community. If they fail to institute serious changes, then they will lose the support they now enjoy."
"We can and must balance the needs of Lower Manhattan residents and businesses with the first Amendment rights of OWS activists," said Congressman Jerry Nadler. "Members of the Lower Manhattan community have legitimate concerns that must be addressed by both OWS and by the City. As they exercise their right to assemble and speak out, OWS activists need to follow and collectively enforce the agreed-upon code-of-conduct to show proper respect for quality of life in surrounding neighborhoods. Meanwhile, the City must work harder to safeguard public health and safety by curbing expressly illegal activity, while simultaneously protecting genuine freedom of expression. And if necessary, the City must commit additional resources to creatively mitigate remaining and future conflicts."
"Bringing all the stakeholders together is an important step in finding a solution that respects the protesters' fundamental rights, while addressing the very real quality of life concerns in this growing residential neighborhood," said Senator Daniel Squadron. "I thank Councilmember Chin and everyone who participated in the meeting."
"As Occupy Wall Street enters its fourth week, it is essential that the rights of the protesters and the needs of the local residents both be respected," said Borough President Scott Stringer. "I applaud the protesters for voicing concerns that are shared across the country, and I now call on them to adhere to the "good neighbor" policy they adopted and respect the residential neighborhood that is serving as their host. I will continue to work with the local community and the protesters to ensure that lines of communication remain open."
"It is imperative to respect the protesters 1st Amendment rights and the needs of the local community," said Julie Menin, Chair, Community Board 1. "The two are not mutually exclusive and the Good Neighbor Policy is reflective of that. We will continue to meet with the protesters to proactively address these issues and we thank the involvement of the elected officials in working to address these issues."