In Winter 2011 CIVITAS, with the assistance of the Capstone consulting program at the NYU Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, administered a Community Engagement Survey of the Upper East Side and East Harlem neighborhoods.  The purpose of the survey was to evaluate community needs within the areas that CIVITAS addresses through its work:  land use planning and zoning, transportation, environmental quality and streetscapes.

More than 400 residents of the Upper East Side and East Harlem communities responded to the survey.  You can view the survey questions in ENGLISH or SPANISH.

Some of the intriguing results are below:


Zoning and Land Use

  • East River Esplanade: Almost two-thirds of responders were interested in improvements to the East River Esplanade and its surroundings.  Nearly 40% of responders in East Harlem cited concerns about the lack of access.
  • Park Space: Nearly one-third of responders in East Harlem expressed concerns about the lack of open space and the condition of existing parks.


  • Bicycle Lanes: Many survey responders who expressed concerns about inadequate enforcement and lack of education about bicycle lanes.  Of  the responders who commented on the issue, 51% were in favor of bicycle lanes and 49% were opposed to them.
  • Second Avenue Subway Construction: 22% of individuals who responded expressed concerns about the closing of businesses near the subway construction zones.
  • Subway Satisfaction: Responders commented on reliability and safety of subway service. Nearly 20% of them were dissatisfied with the cleanliness of certain subway stations, including 59th, 86th, 103rd and 116th Streets.

Environmental Quality

  • Excessive Noise: Noise pollution ranked high as a major concern.  Nearly 32% expressed dissatisfaction with nearly half blaming traffic for noise levels.
  • Tree Cover: More than 57% of responders who commented requested additional trees in both neighborhoods.


  • Sidewalk Obstructions: More than 45% of those who commented noted they would like to see a decrease in stationary objects that obstruct sidewalk space.  This includes sidewalk vendors, newsrack boxes, stands outside stores and other street furniture.

On April 27, 2011 the NYU Wagner team presented results from the Community Engagement Survey to a group of community stakeholders at a public forum held at the Museum of the City of New York.  Attendees participated in small break-out groups to further the discussion of survey results and presentation topics. CIVITAS will use information from the survey and community forum to build on its work to improve quality of life on the Upper East Side and in East Harlem.

Photos by Drew Dies,

CIVITAS in the News

Our Town “Hot on Esplanade Repairs, Cold on Overdevelopment” – July 6, 2011