The Stanton Building Task Force was formed by the Sara D Roosevelt Park Coalition, University Settlement and Green Map System to return a park building to the community’s use. Built for this purpose in 1934, the building became storage for all of Manhattan’s parks following NYC’s financial crisis in the 1970’s. Despite promises dating to 1998, now, in fall 2017, there is progress to report.
Centrally located just below Houston Street, one block east of the Bowery, the Stanton Building is outside NYC’s flood zone and perfectly sited to address the urgent need to develop climate change mitigation and adaptation skills. We envision a new kind of socially resilient community center where one can gain practical skills and knowledge to reduce impacts, increase voluntary care for nature and strengthen community relationships. This proposal, shaped by community visioning since 2012, addresses two of the biggest challenges facing our parks city-wide – climate change and homelessness. Let’s make the Stanton Building a creative climate action center plus homeless outreach service that, during disruptions, can also act as an emergency hub for the public. This forward-facing vision can become a model for under-utilized Park buildings throughout the City.
Our work began with visioning the Stanton Building’s indoor and outdoor uses and engaging a broad cross-section of the area’s diverse, often low-income residents, officials, NGOs, and press in the process. NYC Commons, AAFE and Hester Collaborative have been key supporters. Outcomes have been presented as testimony at City Council, at preparedness forums, etc. While the early-stage #StantonBldg lacks funding, recent milestones include:
The first $1M in funding, earmarked for new restrooms, was allocated by Manhattan Borough President Brewer and Council Member Chin. They have indicated their support (including financial) for the necessary renovations to return the building to public use. Approved by the Community Board, restrooms will open in 2019.
In July, the Stanton Building was a Design Trust finalist, for which 9 letters of support, 12 articles, over 300 petition signatures, 20 sketches and dozens of images were organized. With support from LES Ready, The New School, Parsons School of Constructed Environments and Tishman Environmental Design Center are hosting a public event to help the realize the full vision of this social resiliency project http://bit.ly/PreparingForToday.
Against the backdrop of increasing impacts from climate change and a 40% growth in the street homeless population, the City is inching closer to being on board with this bottom-up proposal. In keeping with NYC Parks mission, which highlights “resilient and sustainable parks, public spaces, and recreational amenities,” meetings with the Parks Department, Department of Homeless Services, and other agencies take place continually.
What would be inside this model green culture space? An all ages, hands-on Climate Action – Resiliency Lab with skills building programming led by numerous community members and organizations, including: bicycle innovation and ‘repair cafe’, gardening and nature care, local energy, waste reduction, community mapping and urban design – all will be part of this meeting and mutual aid ‘makerspace’, along with other community and family health, wellness, and creative activities that build self-reliance and self-esteem for all participants.
Goddard Riverside Homeless Services is involved and may provide expertise, partnership, guidance on program planning and on-site services. The concept of activating a staging area during disruptions with public communications and charging hub has been endorsed by LES Ready, CB3’s long term recovery coalition.
Find out more and get involved. Contact: Park President – K Webster at 212-925-7937; University Settlement – Jennifer Vallone at 212-505-1995; Green Map – Wendy Brawer at 212-674-1631. Coming soon: StantonBldg.org