In the summer of 1991, two couples residing in the neighborhood learned of plans to convert a vacant lot at the corner of 63rd Street and Second Avenue to a parking facility. Alarmed by the prospect of more traffic at one of neighborhood’s busiest intersections, and eager to shape decisions affecting their own backyard, they created a committee to oppose the parking facility. Instead they brought the Elizabeth Street Garden, a paying tenant, to the MTA. (It is currently an active construction site for East Side Access, the MTA’s project to bring the Long Island Railroad to Grand Central Terminal.)
The committee's success in countering plans for the parking lot sparked the formation of the East Sixties Neighborhood Association (ESNA), a forum for all area residents concerned with quality-of-life issues. Confident that a focused group could indeed make changes for the better, ESNA set about its work. In December 1991, the organization was incorporated.
In 1996, the South York Avenue Neighborhood Association (SYANA) merged with ESNA.
The Association’s work is done by members who volunteer their time and skills to participate in one or more projects. ESNA reaches out to the community in numerous ways. Projects are funded by annual membership dues, contributions, special events and grants. An all-volunteer board of directors meets monthly. A general meeting for the entire membership is held once a year in the fall.
The ESNA boundaries include the blocks within the East Sixties. Membership is open to residents, commercial businesses, and building owners, as well as anyone else with a compelling interest in the neighborhood.