Volume 18, Number 1 | MAY 27 —JUNE 2, 2005, 2005

Stand firm against the stadium, Mr. Speaker

Gov. George Pataki and Mayor Mike Bloomberg have finally returned the focus to Lower Manhattan where it needs to be, and that’s not only good news for Downtowners but also for all Americans and everyone else struggling against terrorism. Now that the governor and mayor are trying to get things back on track in Lower Manhattan, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, whose attention from Downtown never strayed, will undoubtedly face even more pressure to go along with the Bloomberg-Pataki plan to build a stadium on the West Side. We urge the speaker not to succumb.

Every time there is a positive announcement Downtown, you can count on Silver, Bloomberg or Pataki being asked how this will affect the stadium vote. To their credit, all three have repeatedly said it is unrelated. Silver continues to say Downtown decisions and the stadium must be evaluated on their own merits. The mayor and Silver both deny that the stadium has entered into their negotiations about Lower Manhattan projects.

In recent months, the mayor has agreed to do two things Silver has been fighting hard for: reopening Park Row to buses and building a K-8 school for Downtown. Wednesday, the mayor and governor agreed to spend the remaining $750 million of Lower Manhattan Development Corp. money on a series of worthy projects including traffic-pedestrian improvements in Chinatown, waterfront parks on the East and Hudson Rivers and the new school. Silver supports all of those projects, as do many other people Downtown.

The projects do in fact stand on their merits and we have every reason to believe the governor and mayor think so too. Bloomberg pointed out he has been talking about building new residential neighborhoods on Greenwich and Fulton Sts. since 2002, long before the stadium fight heated up. More residents require the schools, parks, and community centers that Silver has been pushing for.

With all of that said, it is likely that the day will come, if it hasn’t already, when the mayor and governor will pull out all of the stops with threats and carrots to get Silver to say yes to the stadium.

The stadium project is a giveaway to the New York Jets and is likely to cost New Yorkers somewhere in the $1 billion range and that’s not counting the higher subway fares, service cuts or capital cuts the Metropolitan Transportation Authority will have to implement because the M.T.A. would not receive fair market value for the stadium site in its truncated and failed bidding process.

The stadium is too costly, will add too much traffic, and will suck the energy out of Lower Manhattan’s revitalization. The mayor says we definitely won’t get the Olympics if Silver votes down the stadium. If Bloomberg is right, it means he boxed us into a corner inexcusably instead of giving the International Olympic Committee alternatives. If he is wrong, all the more reason not to make a foolish decision with a gun pointed at our heads.

The stadium does not stand on its merits. There is nothing that the speaker can trade off that makes it worth approving this project.

Vote no, Mr. Speaker.

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