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Holiday hopes for the return of old P.S. 64

BY THE VILLAGE SUN | Updated, Dec. 16, 6:45 p.m.: A rally — and also a party — calling for the return of the old P.S. 64 to community use are being held today and tomorrow.

Things will kick off with the party. Hosted by Guardians of Loisaiada, it’s being held this afternoon, Friday, in front of the old school building, formerly home to CHARAS/El Bohio, on E. Ninth Street just east of Avenue B.

Around 5 p.m., there will be free pizza from Two Boots. (The Village Sun actually helped hook up one of the Guardians’ leaders, Kenny Toglia, with Two Boots, which offered them a good deal. Chris Flash, publisher of The SHADOW, will reportedly be picking up the pies, courtesy of $50 PayPal’ed from John Penley, a “remote” Guardian who lives in Las Vegas.)

Word had it that “pot godfather” Dana Beal, yet another Guardian, would be handing out free weed. However, Beal, who recently relocated from a run-down Midtown synagogue to somewhere Uptown, told The Village Sun, “Kenny’s giving it away.”

“I want to see us open up the Bob Sisco Ibogaine Clinic in CHARAS,” Beal reiterated.

Due to the rain, the Guardians will have a tent set up at the location.

Last month, a team of artists decorated the dilapidated building’s E. 10th Street side with bright murals. (Photo by Bonnie Rosenstock)

Meanwhile, there won’t be free pot — but there will be free pizza — when SOCCC-64 (Save Our CHARAS Community Center / old P.S. 64) and local politicians rally outside the vacant building at noon on Saturday.

(Two Boots did reach out to the event’s organizers to see if they wanted any ’za — but initially no one got back to them. Phil Hartman of Two Boots said it could have just been “a communication glitch”… . Later on Friday, though, in an update, he reported, “There will be pizza at the event tomorrow, donated by Two Boots, longtime supporter of CHARAS, Inc.!”)

The rally will mark the 21st anniversary of the eviction of CHARAS — a Puerto Rican-led community and cultural organization — from the building. People will ask the mayor to make their “holiday wish come true” and return the building to the community.

There is a rumor that the Guardians, separately, may also do a “banner drop” during Saturday’s rally. …

The old school — whose alumni include Yip Harburg, the lyricist of “Over the Rainbow” — was purchased by developer Gregg Singer in 1998 for $3.2 million at an auction of city properties under Mayor Giuliani. CHARAS’s co-directors, Chino Garcia and the late Armando Perez, were political foes of local Councilmember Antonio Pagan, who was a Giuliani ally. With a force of hundreds of police in riot helmets and wielding batons massed on Ninth Street outside, CHARAS was evicted from the place at the end of 2001.

The building has sat empty since then as all of Singer’s development schemes have been frustrated by opposition from the community, local politicians and City Hall. He is currently suing the city, politicians and scores of activists for “tortious” — as in, “wrongful” — interference.

When he ran for reelection, Mayor de Blasio pledged that the city would try to reaquire the high-profile East Village property. But nothing ever came of it, with de Blasio and Singer each blaming the other for why things went nowhere.

4 Comments

  1. John Penley John Penley December 16, 2022

    Personally, I would really like for Charles King of Housing Works to buy the building ASAP. King has a longtime track record of helping people. He could use air rights for housing for low-income, disabled, immigrants and people with HIV. The ground floors could have a medical clinic and community center. In the back with a separate entrance he could open a cannabis dispensary because he has been awarded one of the first permits to do it legally. This store would help fund the whole project and provide jobs for residents of Housing Works buildings.

  2. urbanangelNYC BCapoNYC urbanangelNYC BCapoNYC December 16, 2022

    You’re trippin, sounds like one of Singer’s plans almost. We want the community center. The community spoke. It is not a building for housing. We have so much other need and have been waiting so long. We have community-based nonprofits that could use the space, in addition to all the uses and services CHARAS provided in the past. Lots more stuff for young bloods and artists. Everybody has a dollar and a dream. Leave it to the purposes that LES/Loisaida had fought for and expressed at town halls for 21 years. Don’t get me wrong, I worked on Ibogaine with Cosdco & Dana; someday it could be little piece of imaginings for OUR COMMUNITY CENTER. Someone just find Dana a home already. Dana, enough!

  3. John Penley John Penley December 17, 2022

    I hear that the Charas / El Bohio dinner yesterday went well and I feel really happy that I was able to feed the activists some fantastic Two Boots pizza. I miss that pizza and I used to live down the street from the Ave. A store and their office was in the basement of my building. If you run into Phil Hartman thank him for me. Also, thanks to Chris and Amy for arranging it for me. As a reply to Urban Devil….. Are you insane , the East Village and the whole city desperately need affordable housing and Charlie King has a fantastic track record and can access the money to do what I said. Unless you have a few million dollars then your wishes mean nothing.

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