In 1978 Manhattan Valley was in some ways a backwater. It was bounded by a distinguished park on its east, but ill-defined on its other sides. It had sketchy city services. There was a large amount of drug traffic. Its economic and housing issues were just not getting the attention they deserved. There was not a single block association between Park West Village on the south, 110th St. on the north, and all the way west to Columbus/Amsterdam Avenues.
So some neighbors met in Carmen and Winston Wilkerson’s living room and planned to unify all those streets under one encompassing neighborhood association. Thus the Northwest Central Park Multiblock Association was created to serve this most diverse community whose residents lived in treatment centers, public housing, brownstones, tenements and luxury high rises. The first President, Deloss Brown, focused and defined its mission. Fred and Judy Charles, along with Bob and Linda Prudhomme (who were all treasurers or presidents in turn) provided years of guidance. Secretary and Vice President, the inimitable Doris Parker, prodded everyone to keep the heat on public officials and to be a force at every level on District Service Committees, the Federation, and Community Planning Board #7. All the leaflets the block association distributed were in English on one side and Spanish on the other. *Today, the logo on the Multiblock’s masthead reflects what the organization has stood for from its start: Strength can come from hands stretched out in friendship and unity. The one hand clasped in another’s hand of a different color shows that we can prevail against any odds. And NWCPMA has done just that for over 32 years!
(*Update: Our logo is currently being redesigned, but the organization still stands for the same thoughts that defined our original logo)
Early Multiblock members honed their skills at Community Board #7’s Housing Committee by asking tough questions about Manhattan Valley Development Corporation’s activities regarding the sale of in rem housing in our area. Councilman Phil Reed, former NWCPMA President, secured funds for abating water seepage at the 103rd Street subway platform. The group continued to press forward on a wide-range of concerns from rat infestation to buildings in transition like The Castle Hotel, The Towers Nursing Home and more recently, Jewish Home Lifecare.
They established Brownie Awards, that over time recognized eleven individuals for outstanding service to the community, hosted 100 guest speakers at open meetings, underwrote holiday parties strictly with volunteer help, and most impressively—operated over 20 eight-block-long street fairs on Central Park West with rides, a sound stage, a craft fair and roving troubadours, all without the assistance of Mort and Ray Productions.
After two empty lots on West 104th St were taken by The City, the Multiblock assisted some green-thumbed neighbors in the long process of turning that rubble into two vibrant community gardens with separate governance and rules fully compliant with the Department of Parks. A rose garden exists today in gratitude for the formative work done on the garden’s behalf by their beloved late President, Jesse Crawford. The NWCPMBA continues to serve as the fiscal sponsor for the garden.
The Multiblock feels privileged to have sponsored or partnered with other community groups at critical points in their lives, such as The Duke Ellington Boulevard Neighborhood Association, The 109th St. Neighborhood Association, The Manhattan Valley Neighborhood Coalition, the 24th Police Precinct Community Council, and Veritas’ Friends of Charlie Parker. The NWCPMA remains committed to the philosophy of its founders: Neighbors can help neighbors make a better environment for us all. Officers Karl Porter, Donald McDonald, Linda Prudhomme, Jean Jaworek and their entire board look forward to sharing what they have learned with others.