Volume 22, Number 52 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | May 7 - 13, 2010
Memo to Liu: BPC not for sale
BY John Bayles
On Wednesday, NYC Comptroller John Liu should have received a very loud and crystal clear message from the residents of Battery Park City; Mayor Bloomberg should look to spend his money elsewhere.
Since news broke that the mayor ordered Liu’s office to study the possibility of acquiring the neighborhood, which is currently owned by the state and presided over by the Battery Park City Authority, Liu stated that before he would move on the mayor’s proposal, he would first want to hear from the community members. BPC residents have been weighing the pros and cons of the transfer ever since.
But at Tuesday’s meeting of CB1’s BPC Committee, the entire discussion seemed to focus only on the cons.
CB1 Chairperson Julie Menin, though not present Tuesday, told the Downtown Express earlier in the week that she had major concerns about the proposal.
“While we have had over the years our differences with the BPC Authority, and while I am absolutely opposed to any additional layers of bureaucracy,” stated Menin, “I want to make sure that the needs of BPC are not lost in the shuffle in any transfer to the city.”
CB1 member Linda Belfer heads the BPC Committee and the first item on the agenda was the possible purchase of BPC.
“I am adamantly opposed to it,” began Belfer. “I personally feel that with the [BPC] authority as it exists today, and the way they were receptive to our neighborhood and to us, is something that we don’t want to lose. In my mind, we are a big fish in a small pond — if a takeover happens we are a minuscule fish in a huge pond.”
A spokesperson from Liu’s office, Asher Novek, was present and quickly assured everyone that no decision had been made. He said he was only present to hear their concerns, write up a report, and deliver it to the comptroller the following day.
The issue at hand is that under the possible takeover scenario, the Battery Park City Authority would be eliminated.
“The city does not have the time or money to oversee us that the authority does. We are their only child,” Belfer said.
Maria Smith serves as a public member of the committee. She seconded Belfer’s opinion.
“I’ve lived here almost as long as Linda [Belfer] — when I moved in they were literally paving the streets,” she said. “I don’t feel like we would get the same kind of accountability from the [mayor’s] staff. The [BPC] authority staff always has been accountable — they always respond to calls even when they don’t agree with us.”
Smith continued and said that under the control of the city, she was sure things would not remain the same.
The overwhelming sentiment Tuesday was that should the city proceed in purchasing BPC, the neighborhood would suffer. The committee praised the BPC Authority for the attention and care it has exhibited to the residents since its inception. However, it was also conclusive that it is an extremely complex issue and that in the committee’s opinion, it would be too heavy a burden for the city to bear. And according to Menin, presently the residents of BPC “have not yet seen anything” that would suggest a feasible or acceptable scenario.
Belfer concluded the discussion by suggesting to Liu’s spokesperson that the comptroller convene a public meeting and that he “publicize it well.” Novek said he would make sure to include that in his report.