Q&A with Amadeo Plaza from the Court Square Civic Association

Friend of The Court Square Blog Amadeo Plaza has started the Court Square Civic Association. What is it, and what are its goals? Amadeo was kind enough to sit down with us and answer a few questions about it, and his visions for the Court Square area:

1. Tell us about the mission of Court Square Civic Association.
Well, if I were to put it simply, it would be to create a sense of neighborhood and community in the Court Square area. I think of all “micro hoods” in LIC, Court Square had the biggest blank slate. The LIC arts scene has always been incredibly strong, and I objectively believe its heart beats in the Court Square area specifically. But there were also a lot of empty warehouses, taxi parking lots, and the like. It’s an area that’s really starting to come into its own, and I want the civic association to be there to foster a sense of community that is often forgotten in New York City neighborhoods. And in a neighborhood that’s heavily marked by towers that reach for the sky, it’s especially needed. These kinds of areas often lead to bedroom communities, where half if not more of the residents are here “just for now.” We want to avoid that from happening. We’d like to stymie that kind of transient behavior, and make those people stop to ask themselves if there’s really someplace else they’d rather be.

2. What was the impetus to you starting this?
I’d have to say that the Court Square Blog had a hand in it. Before my wife and I moved here from Jamaica, Queens, I was already following the local blogs. When we settled in on Court Square, your posts told the story of a community that was on the verge of exploding. But while we soaked in all there was to offer from the area — becoming regulars at a number of local spots in the process — we found that some of our friends simply weren’t as enthusiastic about staying on this side of the river. Moreover, although we were excited at the prospect of our community growing, we couldn’t help but also feel the squeeze of rapid development that many others talked about: overcrowded train platforms, scarce green space, a lack of school seats. We wanted people to come to LIC, but they won’t stay if the infrastructure can’t support the population. That means more parks, restaurants, retail, transportation, and schools. All these things. All these things make a community worth staying in.

3. Where do you envision this organization going?
That’s a tricky question. I want it to reach a point where residents, artists, and business owners, both new and old to the neighborhood, feel like they can turn to us not only to voice their concerns, but also their ideas. There’s a lot of change taking place in Court Square. Some of it good. Some of it not so good. The Elks Lodge demolition comes to mind. I’m not categorically against change. If that were the case, my wife and I wouldn’t have a home. But I think once Court Square gets through these growing pains — which I expect will continue to spark more concerns — we’ll enter a period of rapid idea generation. Looking to the future, I’m excited by the prospect of that; where we can start playing offense instead of defense, with fresh ideas that enrich the community in ways we can’t even conceive. And we look to the community to help with that.

4. How do I get involved?
As of right now, we’re still getting the house in order, including finalizing our last board member. Then we have to figure out our agenda and establish a community meeting place. Who knows, maybe one day we’ll meet in the Elks Lodge. Until that time, however, we urge people to sign up for updates on our website: www.courtsquarecivic.org.

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