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BRAMA, April 11, 2001, 11am EDT

'Demapping' Taras Shevchenko Place in New York City
The demise of a Ukrainian community?

- Hanya Krill, BRAMA

New York - Some years ago, the Ukrainian community of New York City mobilized to name a street in the East Village after the renowned Ukrainian poet, Taras Shevchenko. The street is a 1 block-long roadway connecting 6th and 7th Streets between 2nd and 3rd Avenues in the East Village. Taras Shevchenko Place has been a source of pride for area Ukrainians. It is situated between St. George Church at the epicenter of what has been termed the Ukrainian Village, and a property owned by the academic institution, Cooper Union.

 ·  Stop Cooper Union

A new zoning application has been submitted to the City of New York by Cooper Union which would 'demap' Taras Shevchenko Place. 'Demapping,' according to a representative at the Manhattan Community Board is the term used for removal of all references to the name from official maps. In effect, Taras Shevchenko Place would be terminated.

Claire McCarthy at the Office of External Affairs of Cooper Union informed us that the institution's plans were not aimed at removal of the name "Taras Shevchenko." Cooper Union's proposal is to create a pedestrian walk in place of the street. But this is only an interim plan. Long range, Cooper Union expects to build a new academic facility on that property. There are no plans at this time to displace the proposed pedestrian walk.

The downtown Ukrainian community of New York City has concerns that this could be another signal of the demise of their neighborhood. Last year, St. George School had experienced a serious financial crisis, with rumors circulating about the possible sale of the building to Cooper Union. The popular "Kiev" restaurant at the corner of 7th Street and Second Avenue was recently sold and renamed "Zoo" (the Ukrainian dishes on the menu were preserved). The Kobasniuk Agency on 2nd Avenue just announced that the affiliated travel bureau is being shut down.

Are these events indicating the end of an era? "Not likely," says one local Ukrainian-American who lives in the East Village. "My church is still there, the Ukrainian credit union, and other organizations too, so I don't think the Ukrainian Village will disappear," he said. "But I also think it would be a shame to lose Taras Shevchenko Place - it's our only street."

The Cooper Union proposal regarding the demapping of Taras Shevchenko Place is on the the Housing Committee of Manhattan Community Board No.3 agenda for discussion. A public meeting is scheduled for Thursday, April 12th at 6:30 pm at Kenton Hall, 333 Bowery (located between 2nd and 3rd Streets). Item #9 on the day's calendar is "ULURP Q10429MM, B462 L1, Taras Shevchenko Place". All interested parties are invited to attend the meeting.

According to the Housing Committee office, the proposal is to be reviewed at the April 12th meeting, and a recommendation for approval or disapproval will then be submitted to the Manhattan Community Board No.3. The Board is expected to meet on April 24th to approve or deny the proposal.

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