By Carol Tannenhauser
In late April, the West 79th Street Block Association held a Beautification Day, with volunteers caring for trees and planting flowers in beds from Columbus Avenue to Broadway, and on Amsterdam between 78th and 79th Streets. It was just one example of how block associations and local community groups improve the quality of life in neighborhoods.
Now, a nonprofit group has been formed to support and connect the many existing block associations and community groups on the Upper West Side, and to foster the creation and success of new ones. Called the Upper West Side Coalition of Block Associations and Community Groups (UWS Coalition), it is one of the positive consequences of the pandemic. Chris Giordano, president of the organization, explained its evolution to WSR.
During the pandemic, individual block associations started connecting with each other. We suddenly found the group growing in number. We were all seeking to get a better understanding of what was going on. So, we started inviting people to our Zoom gatherings. Roderick Jones from Goddard Riverside, Mark Diller, who was the Community Board 7 Chair at the time, talked with us about how to expand the role of block associations when our Community Board is tackling an issue, and the directors of the three BIDS on the UWS were among those who joined us.
We benefited greatly from speaking with each other, listening to how different parts of our community were coping with so many issues, many of which were happening pre-pandemic and only getting worse — congestion, street cleaning, park conditions, crime, and the increased number of shuttered stores.
It was through this process that we realized that in forming the Coalition we could play a constructive role for the broader Upper West Side community.
With widespread support from local elected and NYPD officials, UWS Coalition is urging block associations from West 59th Street to West 110th Street to join. It will be hosting upcoming online forums for the Manhattan Borough President (MBP) and District Council 6 (DC6) candidates, in advance of the Democratic primary on June 22nd. The forums will be held on May 18 (DC6), and May 25 (MBP), and are each scheduled from 6:00-7:30 PM.
For more information, contact: Chris Giordano, president, or Steve Anderson, chairman of the Board of Directors of UWS Coalition, at UpperWestSideCoalition@gmail.com