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April 10th, 2006

Discussion with David Reck: Community Activist and Leader

by D. Clark MacPherson

For some people, activism is in the blood. It literally burns the psyche when an activist feels that the community ship is heading in the wrong direction. Fortunately, there are a number of people Downtown who feel this pain more intensely than others. When things are not going in the right direction they see a ship heading off course. From politicians to political leaders, from community leaders to average citizens – we count on these people to do the heavy lifting in order to foster change. The quality of our lives is usually better as a result of their efforts.

David Reck, Community Board member, architect and political leader is one of those activists who is passionate about the direction in which our elected representatives and organizations are leading us. He was formerly the Chair of the Traffic and Transportation Committee and currently is Chair of the Zoning Committee of Community Board #2. He is also the founding member and president of the Friends of Hudson Square which has been instrumental in fighting the excesses of late night bars and nightclubs which have been the bane of our community. As resident and Community Board member he was instrumental in fostering the Hudson Square Rezoning enacted in 2003. He was Board #2’s representative involved with the rezoning of the Far West Village.

His passion for supporting Quality of Life issues– from noise to nightlife abuses, from air quality to traffic burden, and from real estate development to community improvements–Reck has consistently come out on the side of the community. While he respects the rights and understands the importance of business interests, his concerns have consistently been in favor first of the rights of residents in the community. He has shown us through his management of the open process and well-crafted resolutions emanating from the Zoning Committee that he can balance these interests intelligently.

He has done a tremendous amount of work through several organizations to fight the proliferation of bars, lounges and nightclubs. He was instrumental in fostering the 74-712 special text amendment (with the help of Alan Gerson and Melinda Katz of the City Council) which regulates the development of vacant lots to be developed in SoHo and NoHo–limiting the size and number of eating and drinking establishments. And, through his persistence and effort, nightclubs and lawless bars have become fewer and far between. This has substantially improved the quality of life for many downtown residents.

And, there are many organizations for which he has worked tirelessly. He has become intimately involved with:

The Committee to Save Washington Square (he is the founder)
The Manhattan Borough President’s Nightlife Taskforce
Trees Not Trucks (one of its founders)
The Citizens Advisory to the Hudson River Park
The First Precinct Community Council
and, The Canal Area Transportation Study

David has decided that the Community Board, which represents SoHo, NoHo, Hudson Square. Little Italy and Greenwich Village, is now like a ship that is off course. In his view, Community Board #2 “has lost its direction and needs to reconnect with the community.” As an activist, this is an untenable situation that needs to be changed.

As a result, he has decided to run for Chair of Community Board #2 this spring. Reck feels that an organization which purportedly represents the community must do just that–represent the community–not only business. Special interests or personal agendas have no place on Community Board #2.

For those of us who want to once again breathe life into the dynamic political spontaneity of the Downtown community–with passion and feeling–wish David much success in his election campaign. Let’s put the community back–first–in the political process at the Community Board. *

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