A better park or an unfair tax? Debating the NID

Downtown Express photo by Milo Hess Tribeca section of the Hudson River Park.

Downtown Express photo by Milo Hess
Tribeca section of the Hudson River Park.


PRO:  By H. Claude Shostal  |  As a residential property owner within the boundaries of the proposed Hudson River Park Neighborhood Improvement District, I fully support the formation of the H.R.P. NID.

Hudson River Park and the other waterfront parks that have been developed over the past few years have brought us back to our harbor roots, improved our quality of life and vastly upgraded nearby neighborhoods and their property values.

I have had the good fortune to be involved in many of these efforts. Beginning as the general manager of the State Park Commission for New York City, I helped start the planning and construction of Riverbank State Park, and opened Roberto Clemente State Park in the Bronx, the first state park in New York City. In that role and then working for the City, we helped to bring the South Street Seaport into being. Then, as president of the Regional Plan Association, I served on the board of Riverside South with the creation of that waterfront park space as out highest priority.

At R.P.A., we also led the efforts to create Governors Island as a great public open space and helped in the advocacy for Brooklyn Bridge Park and the evolution of the conservancy on whose board I still serve. I also served on the steering committee with Al Butzel that spearheaded the creation of the Hudson River Park Trust.

The lessons from this experience are clear. First, the value of these parks to neighbors, users and the city as a whole is immense. Second, since the new state park investments of the early 1970s, all of the new waterfront parks came into being only as the result of a new model of public/private partnership. In this model, state and city government has come up with all or most of the capital funding and private revenue streams account for most or all of the operating funds. They would not have happened if government had been locked to bear the ongoing maintenance costs.

Third, waterfront parks are uniquely costly to maintain. The upkeep of bulkheads and piers built out into the water combined with exposure to waterfront weather, which is growing ever more severe, require ongoing costly capital maintenance to keep these investments from crumbling in their difficult environments.

Finally, looking to government to be responsible for this capital maintenance sentences these great new parks to a life of deterioration and decay.
The budget shortfalls facing Hudson River Park have been well documented and are alarming. Filling the gaps will require a variety of new revenue sources and probably state legislation to permit some of them. The proposed Neighborhood Improvement District takes a proven tool that has served many commercial and residential areas extremely well and adopts it imaginatively to the needs of Hudson River Park. It is a tool that other parks would be wise to investigate.

The Hudson River Park NID proposal has been diligently researched and exhaustively vetted. It is reasonable, it is prudent and it is necessary.

Government has done its part. It is now time for us — local residents and businesses — to do our part and support the creation of the Hudson River Park NID.

H. Claude Shostal is a residential property owner within the boundaries of the proposed Hudson River Park NID. Information on the plan is at HRPNID.com.  

CON: By Lynn Ellsworth  |   If you live near the river, watch out:  a new tax is coming.  The tax will be managed by an undemocratic organization called a “Neighborhood Improvement District.” Only the few who live near the river will be in the NID and pay its tax, raising $10 million a year.  Sixty percent of that will go for Hudson River Park maintenance, 40 percent is a slush fund that the NID board will dole out.  Bad idea.

I already live in two taxing entities more democratic than NID’s:  the City of New York and the State of New York.  Those entities already have a process to distribute my tax dollars.  So why create a private government for Hudson Park?  Inside that private government, why deny people the right to vote on the basis of one-person, one-vote?  Supporters sniff that the tax will be small, aren’t I rich enough to ignore it, don’t I love parks?  The answer is simple: I love many public goods, not just parks.  I also believe in democratic ways of doing things: NIDS (and BIDs) create private governments that undermine democracy.

Hudson River Park is a textbook case of a broad public good, as close to a public roadway as a park can be — 17 million people use it.  The Hudson River Park Act even says so:  “The planning and development of the Hudson River Park as a public park is a matter of state concern and in the interest of the people of the state.”

NID marketers point to a self-financed study that says buildings near the park gain in value from proximity to it.  But statistical models like these are just marketing ploys.  There are too many confounding variables that affect property values such as sea levels, hurricanes or historic district status.  What is really going on is this:  they want to tap into a guaranteed revenue stream without having to go mano-a-mano with the city and state legislatures every year. Wouldn’t every city agency love to have a guaranteed budget every year?

NIDs are undemocratic and inappropriate for residential areas.  Here’s how.  “Tax-lots” — not people — get the right to vote in a NID.  Market-rate renters get zero votes but they still pay in:  the landlord votes for them, then raises rents.  The structure is bad for co-ops.  My 30-unit co-op is a single tax-lot with one vote, but my neighbor’s five-unit condo gets five votes.

In the long run, our city and state legislators need to revisit legislation so the park can be like Central Park or Jones Beach. It will then compete with all the other public goods, city or state, for a limited supply of money under the control of elected officials.  It will end up part of our city or state parks systems.
There are other problems with this proposal. The Orwellian process of “balloting” for NIDs merits a separate essay.  NIDS create an incentive to overbuild — not good for historic districts.  NIDS also divide communities through an unaccountable board that will make non-profits from Chambers to 59th Sts. dance to their tune:  they’re hinting at $600,000/year in slush to get us to ignore the bigger picture.

If you are against the NID, you can contact nohrpnid@gmail.com to get a ballot to use to vote against it.  You can also sign a petition, the link to it can be found at Facebook/TribecaTrust.

Lynn Ellsworth founded the Friends of Duane Park in 1994 and is now involved with the Tribeca Trust.  

Spread the word:

33 Responses to A better park or an unfair tax? Debating the NID

  1. Just after study a couple of of the blog posts on your web page now, and I truly like your way of blogging. I bookmarked it to my bookmark internet site list and is going to be checking back soon. Pls have a look at my internet webpage also and let me know what you believe.

    michael kors hand bags

  2. Can I just say what a relief to get somebody who truly knows what theyre talking about on the web. You certainly know the right way to bring an issue to light and make it necessary. Alot more men and women must read this and have an understanding of this side of the story. I cant believe youre not extra well-liked considering that you unquestionably have the gift.

    michael kors hand bags

  3. Hello there! Quick question that’s entirely off topic. Do you know how to make your site mobile friendly? My site looks weird when browsing from my iphone. I’m trying to find a template or plugin that might be able to correct this problem. If you have any recommendations, please share. Many thanks! Fe Molette

  4. quite nice post, i absolutely enjoy this internet site, maintain on it

    michael kors bags cheap

  5. whoah this blog is magnificent i love reading your posts. Keep up the good work! You know, many people are hunting around for this info, you could help them greatly. czêœci rowerowe

  6. Nice post. I understand something additional difficult on unique blogs everyday. It’ll consistently be stimulating to read content from other writers and practice somewhat something from their store. I’d prefer to use some using the content on my weblog no matter whether you do not mind. Natually I’ll provide you with a link on your web weblog. Thanks for sharing.

    red bottom heels

  7. I am normally to blogging and i certainly appreciate your content. The article has honestly peaks my interest. I am going to bookmark your web site and keep checking for new info.

    new christian louboutin

  8. I haven’t checked in here for a while since I thought it was getting boring, but the last few posts are good quality so I guess I’ll add you back to my everyday bloglist. You deserve it friend 🙂

  9. When I originally commented I clicked the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and now each and every time a comment is added I get 4 emails with the identical comment. Is there any way you may take away me from that service? Thanks!

    christian louboutin shoe sale

  10. An intriguing discussion is worth comment. I think that you will need to write far more on this topic, it may not be a taboo subject but normally men and women aren’t sufficient to speak on such topics. To the next. Cheers

    michael kors bags cheap

  11. I can’t determine how do I subscribe to your weblog szkolenia bhp radom

  12. I would like to thank you for the efforts you’ve put in writing this site. I am hoping the same high-grade site post from you in the upcoming as well. In fact your creative writing abilities has encouraged me to get my own site now. Actually the blogging is spreading its wings rapidly. Your write up is a great example of it. Arron Tevlin

  13. An interesting discussion is worth comment. I feel that you simply should certainly write far more on this subject, it could possibly not be a taboo subject but frequently men and women aren’t sufficient to speak on such topics. To the next. Cheers

    new christian louboutin

  14. Many of the replica cheap fake oakleys sunglasses sellers on ebay rarely have a very 100 feedback rating or are incredibly recently registered members, who switch user names once their feedback score slips when the cheat buyers by promising them original Oakleys, and later delivering replica oakley sunglasses. These folks were several of the tips, that ought to allow you to distinguish between genuine Oakley sunglasses and replica oakley sunglasses. Yet still there are many replica oakley sunglasses, which almost complement with the main in matters of refinement. Cheap Oakley Antix Sunglasses White Frame Gray Lens

  15. Howdy! I know this is kinda off topic but I’d figured I’d ask. Would you be interested in trading links or maybe guest authoring a blog post or vice-versa? My website goes over a lot of the same subjects as yours and I believe we could greatly benefit from each other. If you might be interested feel free to shoot me an email. I look forward to hearing from you! Terrific blog by the way! liposukcja ultradŸwiêkowa bia³ystok

  16. Your location is valueble for me. Thanks!

    cheap michael kors bags

  17. WOW! Nice park and river. expressly that is a well and good blog. I like thine all supplements. In case provide minutia about this so will be good for me.

  18. Thanks for sharing.I really appreciate it that you distributed with us such informative post,great tips and very very simple to realise.

  19. When I originally commented I clicked the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and now every time a comment is added I get 4 emails with the identical comment. Is there any way it is possible to remove me from that service? Thanks!

  20. Wow, both sides of the issue make sense. I agree that there is a need to raise money specifically to support the waterfront; however I also see that having a separate entity collecting and deciding how to spend that money seems inefficient and ripe for consuming money for its own administration and desires.
    Is there an option somewhere in the middle, that would generate revenue for the express purpose of maintaining the waterfront while not creating a separate entity to administer those funds?

  21. It seems like public/private partnerships can provide good economic and social benefits when done right, as referenced in the pros for the H.R.P NID. I hope this fairs well for the community.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

× 8 = forty eight