In a surprise U-turn, members of the New York City Redistricting Commission voted against sending newly drawn maps that would largely reinstate sweeping neighborhood changes for City Council approval — so that local activists implored the group to keep Hell’s Kitchen whole in the face of new released drafts leveling blocks in the district.
“The revised map presented this morning is certainly better than the old one as far as Hell’s Kitchen is concerned. But it’s not perfect,” said Christine Gorman, chairwoman of the Hell’s Kitchen Democrats, adding that she was surprised the bill – which even the commission spokesperson had publicly predicted would pass – would not pass. was not. “It divides Hell’s Kitchen into two parts instead of three – which has happened before. I lived in the same block in the north of Hell’s Kitchen for 30 years. I was once assigned to Council District 6 municipal and I’m currently in District 3. I still think Hell’s Kitchen should stay whole.
The current plan leaves a smaller but more intact Hell’s Kitchen – with six blocks relocated to Gale Brewer’s Upper West Side District 6 at W53rd Street – instead of the previously redesigned three districts at W49th Street. “District 3 was overcrowded by nearly 30,000 people,” commission chairman Dennis M Walcott said, adding: “There was clear evidence that Hell’s Kitchen wanted to remain intact – it was previously divided in the draft plan and that particular goal has been achieved with the revised plan.The new map would also mean that Hudson River Park would be split between council districts – in the past it was just part of District 3.
To approve the current project, nine of the 15 members of the commission had to vote in favor of sending the maps for final approval with the city council. Walcott Commission Chairman Yovan Samuel Collado, Marilyn Go, Monsignor Kevin Sullivan, Maf Misbah Uddin, Kristen Johnson and Gregory Kirschenbaum voted in favor of the current draft, while eight council members (Mike Schnall, Kevin John Hanratty, Maria Mateo, Joshua Schneps, Lisa Sorin, Kai-Ki Wong, Dr. Darrin Porcher and Marc Wurzel) voted against the proposed redistrictings. The city and state identified the members rejecting those plans as “appointees by Republican Council Minority Leader Joe Borelli to the commission — and several appointees by Mayor Eric Adams.”
Statements from the commissioner’s official votes did not mention the previously proposed Hell’s Kitchen split, instead focusing largely on the brewing dispute over the potential redistribution of some of Staten Island’s three districts to Brooklyn. Staten Island Commissioner Mike Schnall opposed the move, which would relocate thousands of Brooklyn residents to one of Staten Island’s neighborhoods.
“I am adamantly opposed to adding approximately 16,000 people from Brooklyn to Council District 50,” he said. “This decision disenfranchises those 16,000 people who deserve adequate and accessible representation. They will have to pay a $20 toll and drive 10 miles to see their council member. It is unfair, inequitable and totally avoidable. This edition of Brooklyn dilutes the political power of Staten Island and takes the borough back 10 years in the progress we’ve made in establishing ourselves and charting our own path as a borough.
There were also debates about the need for additional time for finalization. “We’ve listened to the testimony, but there’s still a lot to hear,” Commissioner Lisa Sorin said. Commissioner Marc Wurzel added: “I would rather miss a deadline or push it back to do something good than meet the deadline with a less than satisfactory product.
The commission must submit a finalized map to the city clerk by December 7, ahead of next year’s city council elections. Commission spokesman Eddie Borges told City & State that the commission will reconvene and hold a public meeting to discuss disputed district lines after the Rosh Hashanah holiday, on a date that has not yet been announced. not yet announced. He stressed that the maps presented at today’s meeting were by no means finalized.
Some local officials were still optimistic that Hell’s Kitchen would not end up on the chopping block. District 3 City Councilmember Erik Bottcher said, “I am grateful that the District Commission has listened to the hundreds of Hell’s Kitchen residents who have had their voices heard in the public process, although I wish that the northern boundary of District 3 extends further north. Although this map was not approved by the Commission today, I am confident that the Commission will keep Hell’s Kitchen in its entirety in the final version of the map.
Christine Gorman said: “I agree with Citizen’s Union that negotiations between Commissioners in the future should be held in a public manner. It already seems like too much is being decided behind closed doors. I also think the data behind the revised map, even if it was rejected, should be made public. After all, that’s more than 9,000 testimonials from City residents. We have the right to know exactly how our concerns have been handled, in order to assess whatever may come next from the Commission or the City Council.