Community and Politics

Vinegar hill is a very small and quiet community. Although it is a small community, it’s comes with a powerful voice. Vinegar hill is run by the Vinegar Hill Community Association also know as VHCA.  They are the community board that runs or controls most of the things that goes on in Vinegar hill. The VHCA is the political aspect of vinegar and they make most of the decisions regarding that neighborhood. It is run by people of the community and the president Aldona Vaiciunas. Vinegar hill is in a historical district and the VHCA tries their best to preserve the neighborhood as best as they can. Vinegar hill co exist beside the neighborhood Dumbo which has been gentrified for years and is in the process of still being gentrified. Many people believed that vinegar hill is next on that list. Gentrification carried from Dumbo and started making its way into vinegar hill. However, the VHCA made some decisions that slowed down the gentrification process.

In recent articles, there was a LGBT art  and event space that was throwing a party. The party or celebration was something that was supposed to be during weekends at a vinegar hill warehouse location. The people running the event were hoping to host weekend parties for up to 450 guests but the event planners had their bid for a liquor license turned down over concerns about the crowds it would draw to the quiet, residential neighborhood. The group wanted to get a booze license for their event so they had to go through the VHCA to get the license approved. The license however was not approved of the VHCA. The VHCA decided that granting the booze license would not be good for business. They believed that if granted, the license would attract unwanted guests in their community. The group was led by Guy Smith and Tadeu Magalhaes. They were looking to open a member-based community space for the LGBTQ community that would host weekday events like such as  art exhibitions, film screenings and fundraising events. They were in partnership with nonprofit organizations. The weekday events that the group was hosting would have been open to both members and non-members

Because the party was an open event, the VHCA believed that approving an alcohol license would really draw people in for sure. The VHCA wanted to keep vinegar the way it was and they did not want any wandering eye upon their community. They did what they thought was best for the community. Many people were upset at the decision that was made, but the VHCA stood by their decision and denied the license. Some of the reasons that the group was upset with the decision was they felt that the spaces were very politically and socially important and left an impact on the lives of the LGBTQ community. These spaces were safe spaces for them where they could be who they were without judgement. Although the VHCA agreed and praised their vision, they were concerned about the potential traffic that may have been added to the neighborhood and they were fearful of the noise disruption and traffic it would have caused. They wanted their neighborhood to stay as is and they wanted to keep gentrification from slipping through cracks onto their streets.

The VHCA also decided that they did not want bike lanes in their neighborhood. For the past ten years, the BGI (Brooklyn Greenway Initiative) had been working on producing bike lanes that was continuous for 14 miles along the Brooklyn waterfront. In order to connect two neighborhoods which are downtown Brooklyn and Williamsburg, the would have had to been a rebuilding of two streets in Vinegar hill. The VHCA and the residents of Vinegar Hill was not thrilled with this idea. This proposal meant that the preexisting cobble stone ground that gave Vinegar hill it’s originality would have had to been removed and replaced with more modern, smoother, bike friendly roads. The neighborhood did not approve of the idea of more bikes and cyclist riding through their quiet neighborhood and bringing on new noise. What really bugged them was the removal of their historical Belgian Block stones so they decided to start two petition to stop the BGI from touching their community even though this upset the cyclist.

These were not the only times the VHCA was successful in denying a change in their neighborhood. The owner of a vacant lot was trying to go forward in building a nine story residential building in the neighborhood. The VHCA did not feel as if this would be a good look for the community. They felt that a nine story building was too high and it would destroy the three story theme of their community which may later be an invitation for other. They denied the rezoning of the vacant parking lot. They were fighting to keep their quaint neighborhood from redevelopment and redevelopers. Residents believe that it would overburden their small quiet neighborhood

Although Vinegar hill is a small neighborhood, they stick up for what they believe in and what they think will benefit and preserve their historical community. They do this by using politics through the community board and the VHCA.