Volume 18 • Issue 17 | September 16 - 22, 2005


Downtown questions for Messrs. Bloomberg and Ferrer

Anthony Weiner’s decision Wednesday not to campaign in a possible runoff with Fernando Ferrer establishes the November mayoral election as a head-to-head contest between Ferrer and Mayor Mike Bloomberg. It is now time for these two major candidates for City Hall to outline in detail their plans for Lower Manhattan.

Four years after the 9/11 attack, not enough progress is visible although we are happy to see work beginning on the World Trade Center transportation hub and the demolition of the shrouded Deutsche Bank building across from the site. Gov. George Pataki must shoulder much of the blame for the delays, but part of the problem is that Mayor Bloomberg seemed content to take the lead on the Jets’ stadium and West Side development and cede control over Lower Manhattan’s future to the governor. The next mayor must reinsert city government into a more powerful, and focused, role in Lower Manhattan, but voters need to hear how the candidates specifically intend to do this.

Wall St. is a huge contributor to the health of the city’s economy and any plans the next mayor has for improving schools, safety or parks for example, are dependent on insuring Downtown’s economic recovery from the terrorist attack.

Lower Manhattan is a key issue and both Bloomberg and Ferrer should start talking about it.

Where do they stand on art and culture near the proposed World Trade Center memorial? Do they support the original master plan that had an important role for art and cultural institutions at ground zero? If so, should all exhibits and performances have to pass muster with everyone who lost a loved one before it can be displayed or performed? Will family members be given the right to survey the merchandise sold at W.T.C. retail stores to make sure nothing offensive is for sale? Can sensitivities to family members be respected without placing undue limits on freedom?

What about transportation? How does the proposed rail link connecting Downtown with J.F.K. Airport and the L.I.R.R. fit in with other big ticket transportation projects such as the Second Ave. subway, the extension of the 7 Train, East Side Access, and Jerry Nadler’s rail freight tunnel? Which should have priority?

How long should the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation stay in existence? The mayor, technically if not practically, shares control of the L.M.D.C. with the governor. If it stays around, how should its tasks and priorities evolve?

When the mayor turned his attention Downtown we liked what we saw – particularly his move earlier this year to push for L.M.D.C. money for his East River waterfront plan and residential improvements near Fulton and Greenwich Sts. and in Chinatown.

Ferrer, the Democratic nominee and former Bronx borough president, has shown flashes of short-sighted, misguided feelings about Lower Manhattan, but he deserves a chance to outline his vision and clarify his remarks. Taxes on stock trades even for a worthwhile goal such as education are counter-productive. Ferrer has also knocked the deal to keep Goldman Sachs Downtown. There are legitimate criticisms of corporate retention deals, but does Ferrer have a better way to maintain Downtown as a financial capital or is that not a priority?

Downtown voters would like to hear answers to these questions. Bloomberg and Ferrer have two months before the election, but they should start talking about Lower Manhattan today.


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