If youve got it, spend it, Mr. Mayor
New York City wisely gave Mike Bloomberg a clear mandate Tuesday to run City Hall for four more years. For the most part, the mayor has had good instincts when he has tackled problems in Lower Manhattan and across the city and we are optimistic he will spend his newfound political capital smartly.
Yes, executives second terms often are problematic and yes landslide victories can lead to overreaching, but the early indications are that the mayor is reaching in the right places.
He has had a positive influence on World Trade Center planning when he has been involved - in fact one of the few criticisms we had when we endorsed him is that he allowed Gov. Pataki to dominate the decisions. With the mayor riding high and the governor about to begin his last lame-duck year in office, that dynamic will change.
Bloomberg is right to reopen the debate about building some residential and hotel units at the W.T.C. site. If we have to wait until there is a demand for 10 million square feet of office space, we are likely to be looking at a hole in the ground for at least a decade. The logical place to consider residential is at the Deutsch Bank site Site 5 at 130 Liberty St. And hopefully the mayor will get discussions energized about fast-tracking retail development on the Church Street corridor.
He is the best hope to help the Lower Manhattan Development Corp. in its desire to retain the semblance of the idea of creating a cultural center at the W.T.C. The mayor should move quickly to fill the vacancies he has on the L.M.D.C. board and together they should fight to get back the cultural space that Pataki threw off the area adjacent to the memorial. There is room to build performance and exhibition venues in the planned W.T.C. offices, in addition to the Performing Arts Center.
Reports are that the mayor is finally moving Governors Island to the front burner and might even be willing to touch one of the citys political third rails - tolling the East River bridges. Both would be wonderful developments for Lower Manhattan, where open space is scarce and pollution is abundant.
The state and city have let Governors sit inactive for years. The initial costs to make something happen on the island will be big, but the combination of Governors large park spaces and its beautiful historic buildings and views of Lower Manhattan should be enough to overcome the hurdle.
The mayor floated the toll idea early in his first term but was quickly slapped down by pols from Brooklyn, Queens and the Lower East Side who hate the idea. The bottom line is the poor and working class pay up to $2 to take the subway into Manhattan while those who can afford cars are encouraged to pollute our air and clog our streets by driving in toll-free. Congestion pricing and technology that surpasses E-ZPass would make tolls less painful, would reduce pollution and congestion in Lower Manhattan, and would provide valuable municipal revenues. Wed love to see the mayor take another crack at this one.
Bloomberg has just over four years to spend his capital and we like the things that are catching his eye as he begins a well-earned second term.