Tag Archives: Melissa Mark Viverito

A Walk in the Park: Community March/Rally To & At Randall’s Island

Sunday, February 24th – 1:00 PM
Meet at Triborough Bridge Entrance
Southeast Corner of 2nd Avenue @ 125th Street

Voice Your Concerns and Demand That the City & Parks Department:

• Stop the Construction! Go thru Land Review (ULURP) Process & Prepare Environmental Impact Statement
• Abolish the Private School Franchise Contract & Develop a More Open and Fair Permitting Process
• Develop a Community-Based Plan for Increased Access to Ball Fields for Local Schools and Organizations
• Provide Adequate Park Maintenance Funding & Open the 103rd Street Footbridge Year-Round
• Improve Safety and Public Transportation & Stop the Implementation of Artificial Turf
• End Private Parties That Prohibit Access to Public Park Land

PARTICIPANTS: Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito • East Harlem Preservation• Manhattan Borough President Scott M. Stringer • Class Size Matters • Citywide Council on High Schools • NYC Park Advocates • Friends of Brook Park • New York Environmental Law & Justice Project • East Harlem Little League • Puebla en Marcha • Urban Divers • No Spray Coalition • Save Our Parks, Inc. • Community Association of East Harlem Triangle Inc. Call (212) 828-9800 to Register Your School, Church or Community Organization.  For more information and links to recent news reports, visit: http://www.eastharlempreservation.org/docs/Randalls_Island.htm

A Walk in the Park: Community March/Rally To & At Randall’s Island

Sunday, February 24th – 1:00 PM
Meet at the Entrance to the Triborough Bridge Southeast Corner of 2nd Avenue @ 125th Street


• Stop the Construction! Go thru Land Review (ULURP) Process & Prepare Environmental Impact Statement
• Abolish the Private School Franchise Contract & Develop a More Open and Fair Permitting Process
• Develop a Community-Based Plan for Increased Access to Ball Fields for Local Schools and Organizations
•   Provide Adequate Park Maintenance Funding  & Open the 103rd Street Footbridge Year-Round
• Improve Safety and Public Transportation & Stop the Implementation of Artificial Turf
• End Private Parties That Prohibit Access to Public Park Land

PARTICIPANTS: Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito • East Harlem Preservation• Manhattan Borough President Scott M. Stringer • Class Size Matters • Citywide Councils on High Schools • NYC Park Advocates • Friends of Brook Park • New York Environmental Law & Justice Project • East Harlem Little League • Puebla en Marcha • Urban Divers • No Spray Coalition• Community Association of East Harlem Triangle Inc.

Call (212) 828-9800 to Register Your School, Church or Community Organization.

7th Annual NYC Brides March Against Domestic Violence, Wed 26 sep

New York Latinas Against Domestic Violence
c/o Violence Intervention Program, Inc.
P.O. Box 1161 New York, NY 10035
(212) 410-9080

For Immediate Release
September 25, 2007

Antonieta Gimeno (646) 672-1404, cell 917-981-1625
Janice Cruz (646) 672-1404

Seventh Annual NYC Brides’ March Against Domestic Violence
Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Scores of “Brides” and Supporters Will March Through Manhattan and the Bronx to Remember Gladys Ricart and Other Victims of Domestic Violence
For the seventh year in a row, scores of women dressed in wedding gowns, along with men dressed in black, will march through the streets of Washington Heights, the South Bronx, and East Harlem to raise awareness about the devastating effects of domestic violence on Latino and other families and communities.
Marchers will start gathering at 9 a.m. in front of the offices of the Dominican Women’s Development Center at 251 Fort Washington Avenue where they will hear from some of the march organizers. The six-mile march will begin promptly at 10:30 a.m. and will end after 3 p.m. in East Harlem at the Bonifacio Senior Center, 7 East 116th Street with a speak-out and closing ceremony (see attached march route).

The Brides’ March, also known as The Gladys Ricart and Victims of Domestic Violence Memorial Walk, is an annual event that was started in 2001 to remember Ms. Ricart, who was murdered by a former abusive boyfriend on the day she was to wed someone else, and all the other women who have been killed or injured in domestic violence incidents (see chronology of events attached). Because the wedding dress, the emblem of happiness and everlasting love, has been forever tainted in the Latino community by Gladys’ murder, it is a strong symbol for the New York Latinas Against Domestic Violence (NYLADV), the main organizers of the March.

Marchers will be joined by Josie Ashton, a Dominican woman from Florida who originated the idea for the first march, after being strongly moved by the murder, slanted media coverage, and some community members’ insensitive response to Ms. Ricart’s murder. Ms. Ashton resigned from her job and sacrificed more than two months of her life away from her family to walk in a wedding gown, down the East Coast, from New Jersey to Miami, in an attempt to draw attention to the horrors of domestic violence.

Local government officials and community figures including Manhattan Borough President Scott M. Stringer, Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion, NYS Senator Erik T.  Schneiderman, Assembly Member Adriano Espaillat, Commissioner Yolanda Jimenez from the NYC Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence, Council Members Melissa
Mark-Viverito, Robert Jackson and Miguel Martinez, will also join the marchers and speak during the day’s events.

Dozens Of Deaths And Hundreds Of Thousands Of Domestic Violence Incidents Reported Each Year In New York City.
According to the NYC Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence, there were 71 family related homicides in 2006 as of December 31, 2006. Family related homicide includes intimate partner homicide as well as homicide committed by other family members and includes children who were killed as a result of family violence. 83% of these cases had no known prior police contact and 6% of these cases had a current Order of Protection. At present, there are 2,081 domestic violence emergency shelter beds citywide, a 35% increase since January 2002.
In addition, according to the Mayor’s Office, the police responded to 221,071 domestic violence incidents in 2006; this averages to over 600 incidents per day. And teen dating relationship abuse continues to be a problem as well. The City Domestic Violence Hotline received 9,462 calls from teens in 2006.
Rosita Romero, Executive Director of the Dominican Women’s Development Center said “domestic violence is not a women’s problem; it is a problem that affects the entire family and our society as a whole. It is also connected to other types of violence in our society. We have to find better ways of relating to each other as human beings; on a more equal level and with more kindness and compassion. We need to educate ourselves more about this pandemic to make a bigger commitment to prevent it and eradicate it.”
Josie Ashton who will address the marchers during the rally at the Bonifacio Senior Center stresses that “we continue with our commitments to every woman, man and children to work hard every day to fight domestic violence. Our hope is that our government and members of our community will do the same.”
A partial list of sponsors for the 2007 NYC Annual Brides’ March include:

New York Latinas Against Domestic Violence, the Ricart family, Josie Ashton, Nuevo Amanecer, Violence Intervention Program, Dominican Women’s Development Center, The National Latino Alliance for the Elimination of Domestic Violence, Northern Manhattan Improvement Corporation, Assembly Member Adriano Espaillat, National Dominican Women’s Caucus, Anthony Diaz from Fortune Society.
A partial list of participating individuals and organizations include:

Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrión, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, State Senator Eric T. Schneiderman, Congress Member Charles B. Rangel’s Office, Seny Tavera Special Counsel to Lieutenant Governor David Patterson, Crucita Medina Martinez, Bonifacio Senior Center, NYC Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence, NYC Mayor’s Office on Immigrant Affairs, New York City Police Department, New York City Department of Sanitation, Assembly Woman Noemi Rivera, Council Member Miguel Martinez, Council Member Robert Jackson, Council Member Helen Foster, Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito, Jorge Abreu from Heritage Health Housing, Reverend Luis Barrios from the San Romero de las Americas Church, Reverend Hector Laporte, Lucy Pizarro of Levántate Mujer, Planned Parenthood, CONNECT, In Motion.



$2 million grant is largest in museum’s 40 year history

New York, NY – Yesterday, Congressman Charles B. Rangel, joined by Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito, Luis Miranda, a member of the Board of Directors of the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone Development Corp., (UMEZ), and Julián Zugazagoitia, Director of El Museo del Barrio, announced today that the organization has awarded the museum a $2 million grant to implement a strategic plan that will complement renovations to the museum that are currently underway.

The announcement was made during Summer Nights at El Museo Del Barrio’s 2007 concert series at Teatro Heckscher, with Tito Puente, Jr. as the evening’s performer.

El Museo del Barrio was founded in 1969 by artist-educator Raphael Montañez Ortiz in response to the interest of Puerto Rican parents, educators, artists and community activists in East Harlem’s Spanish-speaking El Barrio, the neighborhood that extends from 96th Street to the Harlem River and from Fifth Avenue to the East River on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. The contexts of El Museo’s founding were the national civil rights movement and, in the New York City art world, the campaign that called for major art institutions to decentralize their collections and to represent a variety of non-European cultures in their collections and programs.

El Museo del Barrio is among the leading Latino and Latin American cultural institutions in the nation. The New York Times recently characterized El Museo as “the first stop on Museum Mile,” an institution offering “some of the most beautiful and disquieting art there is.” One of only a handful of Latino museums in the United States with a permanent collection, El Museo maintains the most comprehensive collection in the eastern region and one of the most varied in the country.

The Museum recently embarked on a long-term, multi-million dollar capacity-building program, the “Re-Envisioning of El Museo.” It consists of a five-year strategic plan and institution-wide programmatic expansion, for which El Museo has already raised a substantial amount of leveraged funds. At the same time, the Museum is undergoing a physical transformation through a $20 million capital renovation project.

UMEZ helped El Museo lay the foundation for organizational development and expansion by providing the Museum a technical assistance award of up to $50,000 to complete a strategic plan. The plan addresses the Museum’s programming, educational offerings, community engagement, theater programs, membership program, and governance and board development. Full strategic plan implementation will require $5.5 million in funding. The Museum had already secured over $2 million toward project costs prior to the $2 million, three-year UMEZ investment.

As a result of UMEZ’s three-year investment in strategic plan implementation, the Museum will create ten new jobs, deepen its relationships in its founding community, increase its earned income, and establish its first formal marketing and communications department. A re-invigorated El Museo will serve as a driving force in revitalizing cultural tourism in the East Harlem community and help brand el barrio as ‘the center of Latino culture and a tourist destination.’

Mr. Miranda, who chairs UMEZ’s Cultural Industry Investment Fund (CIIF), said, “The history of El Museo del Barrio is not only inextricably
linked to the history of the East Harlem community, it is also linked to the history of our great City. Through its many outstanding exhibitions and programs, this unique museum has helped to enlighten the world in so many, many ways. That’s why we at UMEZ are pleased and proud to be able to provide financial support to this fine institution.”

“It is an honor for El Museo to accept this $2 million as it represents the largest grant ever received in our 40-year history,” said Mr. Zugazagoitia. “This funding from UMEZ marks an investment in El Museo and El Barrio at this transformative time for both our community and our institution, and will ensure that the museum will continue to excel in providing the best in Latino cultural resources to New York

Over the past two years, UMEZ has approved investments in East Harlem Business Capital Corporation, Taller Boricua, Art For Change, La Fonda Boricua, PR Dream, and East River Plaza. The East River Plaza investment, which totaled $55 million, is the largest single investment in UMEZ history.

UMEZ believes that investments in East Harlem will have a positive impact throughout upper Manhattan in terms of its economic impact, the creation of jobs and improvements to its infrastructure.

ABOUT THE Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone DEVELOPMENT CORP.

UMEZ seeks to revitalize distressed communities by using geographically targeted public funds and tax incentives as catalysts for private investment. In Upper Manhattan, the communities that lie within the Empowerment Zone’s borders include Harlem, East Harlem, Washington Heights and Inwood.


UMEZ’s CIIF celebrates Upper Manhattan’s rich past while creating new legacies. The work of the CIIF is two-fold: community building through a cultural and economic lens; and, a marketing of place that repositions Upper Manhattan as one of New York City’s primary cultural districts. The goals of the CIIF are sustaining the local economy by promoting development, revitalization and tourism; making strategic cultural investments; and, strengthening the cultural ecosystem.

The CIIF provides support to cultural organizations that use the arts as a tool for economic development, job creation and growth of cultural tourism, within the five communities of Upper Manhattan. Primary means of support include funding and provision of technical assistance.


The Community Supporters of the Violence Intervention Program (CSVIP) are calling a press conference to speak about the crisis situation confronting the Violence Intervention Program, Inc. (VIP) and the steps we are taking to try to save it.

Elected Officials, domestic violence survivors and advocates, and representatives from the CSVIP call upon YOU to exercise your leadership role in support of the battered women and staff of VIP by joining us at the press conference.

WHEN: Thursday, April 12, 2007, 10 a.m.
WHERE: Julia de Burgos Cultural Center, 1680 Lexington Av
Confirm your attandance email SaveVIP@aol.com or call 212.650.4938 or 212.423.9010

Community Supporters Unite to Save Domestic Violence Program

Recent Actions by Board Members Have Placed Organization in Jeopardy

The Community Supporters of the Violence Intervention Program (CSVIP), a group made up of domestic violence advocates and a wide array of community leaders, including elected officials, is demanding the resignation of the Board of Directors of the Violence Intervention Program, Inc. (“VIP”), the establishment of a new Board with the necessary qualifications and the reinstatement of Grace Perez as Executive Director.

The current board members are Vivian Selenikas, newly appointed Chair, Kenneth Diaz, Acting Chair, Sandra Quilico, Treasurer, Nancy Nazario, Secretary, Zarah Guzman, member, and Vivian Rivera, member. Calling the Board’s actions “irresponsible, arbitrary and capricious,” the CSVIP has issued an Open Letter and Petition to the Board (“The Petition”), seeking their resignation.

The reasons for this request include the following: their failure to respond to repeated requests made by community leaders to meet with them; their refusal to bring a neutral third party to facilitate whatever conflict that may have existed between them and the Executive Director; the unjustified discharge of VIP’s Executive Director; their failure to have a plan in place to ensure the management of the organization and the provision of services for VIP clients (battered women and their children); and their failure to fully explain their decision to not purchase a building that could have become a permanent home for VIP.

VIP is a very important organization that has been at the fore front of serving battered women and their children since 1984 when it opened its doors in East Harlem and became the first bilingual/bicultural (Spanish/English) domestic violence service provider in the state of New York, and one of a handful in the entire nation.

Over the years, VIP has developed and grown tremendously expanding its services beyond East Harlem to also serve women and children in the Bronx and Queens. Today, VIP provides crisis intervention, counseling, support groups, case management, and residential services to hundreds of women and children in
three boroughs.

The Board Has Refused to Meet With Community Leaders to Resolve Situation

For months, VIP’s Board of Directors has refused to meet with or respond to the calls of various community leaders who have knocked at their doors trying to prevent the very crisis that they have now created. On Monday, March 26, Jenny Rivera, who was recently appointed by Attorney General Andrew Cuomo as Special Deputy Attorney General for Civil Rights, resigned her position as Chair of VIP’s Board. However, before she did this, she made sure that the Board fired Grace Perez, who has served as VIP’s Executive Director for the past 17 years, helping to make it the exemplary organization that it is today.

The Board made this arbitrary and capricious decision without adequate reason and without having an interim director or a plan of action in place. Furthermore, prior to the discharge, the Board refused any attempt on behalf of Ms. Perez or community leaders to resolve whatever management/governance differences may have existed between the Board and the Executive Director with a neutral third party.

What we find illogical and absurd is that the only reason that this Board cited for dismissing Grace is the actions that she took related to the purchase of a building in East Harlem that would serve as a permanent home for VIP.

We know that for more than a year, Grace Perez, with the help of Councilwoman Melissa Mark Viverito, and with the approval of this Board, was able to obtain a $500,000 grant from the NYC Council to renovate the building once it was purchased; a $140,000 down payment for the purchase of the building and $40,000 for closing fees; the pro bono services of an architect to draw up the floor plans; as well as the pro bono services of a real estate lawyer to represent VIP in the purchasing transactions. However, at the last hour, without consulting it with Grace Perez or Councilwoman Mark Viverito, the Board decided not to go through with the purchase.

The Board cited as the reason for this decision, the advice of an unnamed financial advisor, whom they claim determined that VIP was not in a financial position to move forward with the purchase. However, this conclusion is not supported by the review of VIP’s finances by the City Council and its approval for a $500,000 grant nor by the two banks which had provided letters of intent for a mortgage of up to $1.2 million.

Board Failed to Appoint Someone to Manage the Organization Before Firing ED

The discharge of Grace Perez, and the manner in which she was terminated, demonstrates the Board’s abuse of power and the fact that they seem to care very little about the lives of the women and children served by VIP. To this day, two week after her dismissal, there is still no one appointed to manage the organization.

While the Board carries out their supposed “national search” for a new Executive Director, who is in charge of VIP’s operation and management? They took the time to find a lawyer to advise them in connection with their decisions, but they did not take the time to find someone who could oversee the operations and management of the organization before they fired Ms. Perez.

Thanks to the dedication of VIP’s staff who have taken it upon themselves to carry on with their work, the women and children have been shielded from the unconscionable chaos and atmosphere of insecurity which the Board has created.

On the day that Ms. Perez was fired, 10 representatives from local organizations went to the offices of VIP, as a group, to demand an immediate meeting with Board. Zarah F. Guzman, the only Board member, who went to VIP that day to try to change the locks on the door, took the names of the 10 representatives and promised the Board would contact them for an emergency meeting. The representatives are still waiting to hear from the Board.

As a Board that heads such an important and necessary organization, they have placed this organization and the people it serves in serious jeopardy and numerous community members have signed the open letter and petition asking for their resignation and making room for a new board that has the knowledge, experience, and credibility necessary to lead and govern VIP.

Please eMail your Comments & support to The Community Supporters of the Violence Intervention Program (CSVIP), SaveVIP@AOL.Com.

# # #

People in a community do not embrace gentrification…

they embrace bettter services, clean streets, good schools, drug free parks and playgrounds, etc. And everyone is entitled to that, not only those who are coming into a community and displacing those who already live there. That is the case in West Harlem, Central Harlem and East Harlem. Whoever posted the question GENTRIFICATION: GOOD OR EVIL? is basically propagandizing for the forces at work that are displacing good, hardworking, decent people, their children and the elderly. Without giving much thought to his or her views, he or she displays simple biases that equate good city services and schools, etc. with gentrification. Displacing a population by stimulating certain types of economic development is a choice or a decision based on policies that favor one economic class over another. Good government and social policies generate a civil society in which everyone can share in the common weal of the nation, city, and community. Poor policies generate fear, class hatred, displacement and exclusionary practices. Singling out for attack the bright, fine councilwoman is useless. The community of East Harlem knows quite well that she is judicious and fair– with an interest in enlightened policies to guide the development of the community she represents. That is why Melissa Mark Viverito is being maligned by our pro-gentrifier who clearly is not interested in maintaining the integrity and soul of either Black or Spanish Harlem.  Both Melissa Mark Viverito and Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer bring thoughfulness and humanity to their administrations, and an earnest search for more balanced and fair ways of developing communities.

Gentrification – Good or Evil?

On August first, the New York Times had a special supplement covering Harlem Week.  It was a glorious celebration of…..Gentrification.  Parts of Harlem, which is generally inclusive of West, Central and East Harlem, seem to have embraced gentrification zealously. 

The reasons are obvious; there has been no real displacement, most of the development has been vacant buildings and the residents are benefitting from the influx of working people, professionals and developers into the area.  Unfortunately, the east side has been noticeably lacking in enthusiasm and, although it has been gentrifying, the pace is slower than in other sections of Harlem.  If you try and build anything other than low income housing in East Harlem, there is a public outcry.  Yes, there is a place for low income housing but in moderation.  Why would we want to import large numbers of low income and public dependent people when we already have an extremely large indigenous population?  We obviously wouldn’t, unless we were a local politician and dependent on maintaining the status quo. 

Melissa Mark Viverito, the council member for East Harlem, made preventing gentrification one of the key elements of her campaign and her constituents bought into it.  In one of the Times articles, they trumpet the success of the Auto Mall on East 127th Street and it is described as housing several of the largest black owned dealerships in the northeast and the first new car dealership in the area for 40 years.  But, wait a minute, this is on the east side, commonly referred to as Spanish Harlem, so why not the largest Hispanic owned dealerships?  The answer is that the Hispanic population on the east side keep getting in their own way while the black population on the west side is accepting change.  They are working together, bringing in capital, developing political muscle and solving problems while we beg for money to keep our low income population intact. 

There is no real difference in the gentrification process on the west side or the east side; for both it involved renovating empty buildings and developing vacant lots into livable space. However, our narrow minded councilwoman and her narrow minded constituents seem to want to turn back the clock to a time when crime, rape, drugs and gangs were rampant and El Barrio was a dirty word.  Melissa Mark Viverito has gone on record as decrying the fact that building a Home Depot in the East River Mall would be a boon to building owners and hasten gentrification of the neighborhood.  This is being built on the site of the old Washburn Wire factory which has been vacant and falling down for decades, and will create hundreds of jobs for local residents. 

How about banding together instead and insure that there will be some Hispanic owned stores in the mall?  That’s the west side mentality….and the mentality of the far sighted people who came in when East Harlem was a ghetto and began the gentrification process that led to the nice neighborhood that it is today.  It could be nicer if we re-zoned Third Avenue, our Main Street, and allowed it to gentrify instead of maintaining the present eyesores.  That probably won’t happen until enough open minded people come here to live and vote for change.  Then, maybe, we will have East Harlem week and publically celebrate our gentrification.