L I T T L E   I T A L Y
N E I G H B O R S   A S S O C I A T I O N   ( L I N A )

a b o u t   L I N A

The Little Italy Neighbors Association (L I N A) is open to local residents who are concerned with promoting the neighborhood's quality of life while preserving its multicultural identity and historical character. Our goal is to ensure that the community is consulted regarding neighborhood developments and allowed the appropriate opportunity to affect their course. To this end, we work with and monitor the conduct of local government agencies -- including the police, the State Liquor Authority (SLA), and the Department of Environmental Protection -- attempting to hold these agencies accountable to community concerns.

L I N A assists residents in their interactions with government agencies in order to reach solutions in the public interest. Among the tools we employ are petitions and telephone and letter-writing campaigns.

Through such means, L I N A has achieved important successes. For example, our efforts to sensitize the State Liquor Authority to problems associated with the unchecked proliferation of bars in the neighborhood have benefited residents of the buildings housing such bars, whose lives have in some cases been severely disrupted by noise, smells, and other nuisances. L I N A has nothing against people enjoying a drink and a good time, but we insist that bar owners and patrons not simply disregard residents' rights to peace and quiet. Unfortunately, Little Italy's nineteenth century tenements are ill-equipped to cope with the noise and smells created by bars and restaurants, especially those with backyard garden areas.

Among L I N A's other successes are improvements in the operation of the Mulberry Street Mall. In the spring of 1999, with the help of Community Board 2, we managed to draw attention to the problems caused by the mall, a street fair that closes several blocks of Mulberry Street to vehicular traffic. As a uniquely long-term closure of a major throughway -- three days a week, five months a year -- the mall causes immense disruption to the community without bringing corresponding benefits. Its continuance is resented for, among other things, its exemption from the normal rule that street fairs contribute to local charitable causes, freeing it from rules that apply to restaurants and cafes located anywhere else in the city, which must obtain sidewalk cafe permits to operate outside tables. Our success, as of this year, has been to convince the operators of the Mulberry Street Mall not to violate the exceptionally generous rules the City applies to them.

L I N A's ongoing projects include planting trees throughout the neighborhood and working to establish a sorely-needed local library.

As a non-partisan organization, L I N A does not endorse candidates for election to public office. It does, however, endeavor to make public officials aware of the issues that are important to the community; it also keeps the community informed regarding which officials are responsive to local concerns.

who we are
In keeping with the neighborhood's historic boundaries as recognized by the NYC Zoning Resolution's Special Little Italy District, L I N A is made up of people living in the roughly thirty-block area between Houston Street, Canal Street, Lafayette Street and the Bowery. (See map.) If you reside within this area and would like to stay informed of L I N A's meetings and activities, send an e-mail to little_italians@yahoo.com. We encourage people of all cultural, ethnic and religious backgrounds to join us.

L I N A has some 100 members, but its day-to-day work is managed by a steering committee of about fifteen active members. The group includes several issue-specific committees that focus on the most pressing neighborhood problems.

a brief history
L I N A was founded in the spring of 1998, holding its first public meeting at Old St. Patrick's Cathedral Youth Center on June 24, 1998. Among the issues raised by local residents attending the meeting were complaints about noisy bars and restaurants, the Mulberry Street Mall, the mismanagement of the San Gennaro Feast, uncontrolled new construction, a recent spate of violent crimes, and the disruption caused by film crews. That initial meeting was followed by more L I N A meetings, the participation of L I N A members in public policy meetings and community police forums, and petition and letter-writing campaigns on issues affecting the neighborhood.

Our neighborhood has been changing rapidly in the last few years. Indeed, almost all of the restaurants, bars, and boutiques that now crowd its northern reaches have opened since 1995; many did not exist even a year ago. Bodegas have been replaced by fashionable eateries; buildings have added extra stories; doorman-equipped condominiums have arrived.

But the fast pace of change should not obscure the fact that many Little Italy residents have lived in the area for decades. It is important that these residents not be forgotten as the neighborhood develops. Without attempting to turn back the clock, L I N A intends to fight to ensure that ongoing changes do not disrupt the life of the community.