Some wishes at the new year
Winter is upon us, 2007 is almost over, and so once again we turn our thoughts to New Year’s wishes of the community kind:
We hope Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau continues to make progress in his investigation into the fatal fire at the former Deutsche Bank building. With our report this week of more safety violations at the building, it is clear the only way to shake officials out of their “business as usual” attitude and secretive leanings is public exposure of their misdeeds and criminal trials if they are warranted. Safety must be the first priority, a particularly important wish given that construction activity throughout Lower Manhattan is expected to increase even more next year.
Our wish is for construction progress at the World Trade Center site to continue apace while respecting the sleep needs of local residents. With so much construction all over Lower Manhattan we renew last year’s wish for help for small business owners struggling to stay afloat near ripped up streets. The Lower Manhattan Development Corp. and the city have suggested a retail rent subsidy, which should help. Officials should make sure they finally approve the plan next month, and checks are really put in the mail this spring.
The long-delayed idea of arts and culture is dusted off, and private and public fundraising finally begins in 2008.
A congestion pricing plan in line with Mayor Bloomberg’s idea to reduce pollution and raise money is approved, thus providing the only realistic way to adequately improve, rather than debilitate, mass transit.
More money is found to avoid halting construction of the Hudson River Park’s Tribeca section. The Park’s Trust should also reject both plans for Pier 40 and give serious consideration to the Pier 40 Partnership’s conservancy idea. Related Companies has not made nearly enough changes to its Pier 40 plan to win community support, and can’t even commit to going forward with its plan within current law. The CampGroup/Urban Dove plan is less problematic, but the team has financial uncertanties and a partnership with the Partnership may be a good solution.
On the proposed three-district Department of Sanitation garage on Spring St., we hope the city realizes this would be, by definition, a “regional facility” under fair-share guidelines, requiring extra review. The precedent was the Lower East Side’s Pier 36, where Assemblymember Sheldon Silver successfully sued the city in 1993, arguing the pier was a “de facto dumping ground” for city operations.
Given the history, perhaps it’s merely wishful thinking to hope that last week’s announced park plan for Governors Island makes real progress in 2008. Leslie Koch, who heads the island’s development corporation, is right to try to implement the free bike program this summer and we wish her well.
General Growth Properties unveils a community-friendly plan for the South Street Seaport and moves quickly to make it happen.
Pathmark supermarket, which many Downtowners rely on for affordable, good food, stays open in 2008 and long into the future.
Finally as we look beyond our backyard, we hope America elects a president whomever she or he may be who will end the war, reestablish better relations with the world, get universal health care passed and reverse many other disastrous Bush policies.