Volume 22, Number 24 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | October 23-29, 2009
Mayoral candidate Bill Thompson
Community project will rise near the Hudson, Thompson pledges
By Josh Rogers
Bill Thompson promised Downtown neighbors last week that if elected to be mayor, he would build the community alternative sanitation garage in Hudson Square.
“The one thing I haven’t done in this campaign is to say ‘if I were elected mayor, I would do this,’” Thompson told Downtown supporters Oct. 15. “Let me tell you, if I were elected mayor, Hudson Rise would happen. It is the right thing to do.”
The crowd of about 100 cheered his Shermanesque statement, which Thompson made during a campaign stop at Renwick Gallery in Hudson Square. But not everyone was convinced that Thompson will get the chance to build Hudson Rise, which includes room for two sanitation districts and a rooftop park.
“Too bad, he’s not going to win,” one woman said as others were sill applauding.
“It’s true,” a man replied.
Thompson, the city comptroller, was not nearly as definitive about the garage project two weeks ago during an interview with Downtown Express and other Community Media L.L.C. papers. Asked about the city plan for a three-district garage at Spring and Washington Sts., and his expected appearance at last week’s event supporting the community alternative, Thompson was not sure if he’d be able to do anything two months from now. He also did not say anything in support of Hudson Rise.
“I’m not sure if there’ll still be time,” he said Oct. 8. “Come Jan. 1, is it something I’d take a second look at? Absolutely.”
As he was leaving last week’s event, Thompson said his staff in the comptroller’s office had looked at the Hudson Rise plan a while ago and it is a “no brainer” because it will save money and is better environmentally, necessitating less truck traffic than the city plan. Proponents estimate their plan will cut about $200 million from the city’s $520 million plan, in part because air rights could be sold to the St. John’s building, which supports Hudson Rise and coincidentally leases some space to Bloomberg L.P.
Hudson Rise proponents, who have sued the city, have suggested numerous alternative sites for the third district, and say the city has not given serious consideration to any of them. The city says the three-district garage is the most cost effective solution. Thompson said if elected, he would consult with other communities before selecting a site for the other district. The district, covering the Community Board 5 area includes Union Square, Gramercy Park, and parts of Midtown and Chelsea.
Local celebrities including James Gandolfini and Michael Stipe have joined the neighborhood fight. Husband and wife singers Lou Reed and Laurie Anderson attended last week’s event, which was organized by Rosemary Kuropat and others.
Margaret Chin, the Democratic City Council nominee for the neighboring district, also attended. “I mean, how can the mayor say no,” she asked. “It does make sense to have a beautiful park on top of a garage — right?”
by Lincoln Anderson