Volume 22, Number 33 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | December 25 - 31, 2009
As the year draws to a close, we pause to reflect on some of the major local stories of 2009 and to look ahead to the new year and envision what we’d like to see happen with these ongoing issues that affect our neighborhoods so significantly.
A heated fight is continuing in Lower Manhattan over which children will get to go to which elementary schools. A few things have gotten lost in the bickering. We are lucky to have two new schools. All families will have a good place to send their children to kindergarten since there are now four good elementary schools here. That said, the Dept. of Education needs to understand that population projections are a crucial factor in making any zoning decision, and officials should weigh them heavily as they work with the Community Education Council on both temporary and then permanent zoning plans.
Long-term construction prospects at the World Trade Center remain bleak as the Port Authority and developer Larry Silverstein continue to be deeply divided. An arbitration decision is expected soon, but it is not likely to resolve the underlying problem — disagreement over how and when to rebuild the site. It is possible the effects of the decision could prompt the way to a negotiated resolution to the real dispute. That is our hope as it would be the best way to insure steady progress.
Development — in its many forms — continues to be a leading concern in many parts of Lower Manhattan. The situation in Hudson Square is perhaps the most egregious example of excessive development, because not only is the city the developer, but it is leading a terribly wrongheaded plan in the Department of Sanitation megagarage. No neighborhood should have to absorb three Sanitation-districts’ worth of garbage trucks and accompanying trucks trips. Two districts is the maximum any community should bear. And in today’s economy with the city facing tough budget decisions, a half-billion-dollar project is simply obscene. Another site for the third district must be found, and the Spring St. garage design lowered so it doesn’t stifle the positive transformation of this growing neighborhood.
At W. Houston St., Pier 40’s condition must be addressed — A.S.A.P. As the blocks-long structure continues to deteriorate, more of it will have to be roped off from public use, leading to decreased parking revenue for Hudson River Park. With all past ideas having failed, we support the efforts of some Hudson River Park Trust board members to search actively for new solutions for the pier. Hopefully, federal stimulus funds under some category can be earmarked for this vastly important public space. We hope to see work on the park’s Tribeca section continue and we’d love to take a long walk in 2010 on a beautiful, long Pier 25. Tens of thousands have been waiting five years.
It’s high time the stalemate ended at the Seward Park Urban Renewal Area. The obstacle is no mystery: Housing activists want affordable housing while neighboring co-op owners do not, preferring economic development on the sites, located south of the Williamsburg Bridge. A middle ground must be reached. Councilmember-elect Margaret Chin has already met with the city’s Economic Development Corporation regarding the sites, and we’re eager to see what Chin — an affordable housing advocate — can do.
Hope springs eternal this time of year, so here’s to Albany making 2010 the year it implements real election, ethics and campaign finance reforms. New York State has tough budget choices ahead and we hope to see them taken seriously. That includes a traffic pricing plan, which will insure a stable, growing transit system and economy while reducing pollution.
We’re not the only ones asking for big things this time of year. Envisioning better things is the first step to making them a reality.