Atlantis Alumni

Saturday, June 23, 2007

The Cherry Grove "Benefactor's Fund"

Happy Gay Pride Weekend!

We'll have our local gay pride parade here in Cherry Grove later this afternoon. The big annual pride parade and event in New York City has been in the news recently. Apparently, there are money concerns, and the Pridefest after the parade will not take place this year because the NYPD denied a permit for it to take place in Chelsea instead of in the Village. Some commentators wonder if these pride celebrations are relevant any more, or necessary given the state of the gay rights movement. I think that's the wrong question to ask. Yes, we have made progress toward equal rights, but not because of parades. The progress we've made has been due to other factors including the hard work of gay activists and gay rights organizations, and the very fact of our visibility, not on the streets of New York and other cities once a year, but the daily visibility of gays and lesbians leading their lives openly and honestly and out of the closet with family, friends, and on the job. So I'm ambivalent about the parades. I used to go many years regularly, but not any more. If young people find them affirming then why not? But they are essentially parties, and any benefit to the community's struggle for equality comes as a side effect. They can't take the place of the hard political work that still needs to be done.

I ran into my friend Charlie Isola yesterday downtown at the Cherry Grove Post Office. Charlie read my post a couple of days ago on the subject of the importance of focusing on preserving the Cherry Grove Community House. Charlie told me that's what the CGCAI's (Community Association) "Benefactor's Fund" is for. He also emphasized that it is the Property Owner's Association (CGPOA) that is working on the Top Of The Bay property issue, and not the Community Association (CGCAI), which are two separate organizations. Of course, the board of the Property Owner's Association is appointed by the board of the Community Association so they are connected. I remain highly skeptical of any plan to have residents pick up the tab for years of neglect of Top Of The Bay by commercial interests who made their money in the structure while allowing the property to gradually deteriorate to its current state. Let the bank that holds the property figure out what to do with it. Perhaps someone in the downtown business community will step forward with a solution. Let the market work. I've heard the argument that a benefit of having the community acquire it and demolish it would be an increase in our property values. I'm skeptical of that claim as well. First of all, property values have been doing pretty well on their own, having doubled or in some cases tripled in the last ten years. Second, I'm not convinced there is that much of a connection between the status of one downtown commercial property and residential property values. Third, who wants residential property values to go up even higher if that means our taxes will go up with them?


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