Volume 23, Number 7| The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | June 25 - July 1, 2010
Con Ed needs to cut a deal
This week Con Edison sent a letter to the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation stating their claim to $174 million dollars in funds allocated by Congress to restore electric, gas, and steam service to Lower Manhattan in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. This is in addition to the $164 million Con Ed has already received through this Housing and Urban Development Program. We believe their claim is much more complicated than they state, and that they may not be legally entitled to these funds.
In the original legislation passed by Congress, the funds allotted can be used either for utility repairs or for the cultural enhancement of Lower Manhattan. In their letter, the utility company states they are entitled to the money based on continuing work to support government infrastructure. However, terrorist attack or not, Con Edison would still be performing much of this work. It’s what they do. They do it anytime a new building is erected, anytime there is a population boom – they have a capital program and they are constantly upgrading service in the normal course of their line of work.
To their credit, Con Edison did indeed go to Capitol Hill and lobby successfully for the funds. But it’s been nearly nine years and the bottom line is there was simply more money allocated than Con Ed could justify through valid claims directly related to the damage suffered by the attacks of 9/11.
This is a time for mature minds to come together and cut a deal. It would be in no one’s interest for the remaining money to be tied up in years of litigation involving an alphabet soup of federal, state and city agencies. Perhaps the utility companies should receive some of the funds, but they should no doubt receive the smaller portion of the remaining funding. There are other priority uses for the funds to revitalize Lower Manhattan, such as setting aside money for the performing arts center or perhaps increasing the pool of funds available to small businesses.
The situation cries out for all interested parties to sit down at the table, drop their statements that they are entitled to all of the monies, and make a deal in the interests of aiding the revitalization and improving the quality of life for all of Lower Manhattan. And sooner rather than later.
Seaport Concert Disaster
The cancelled concert and riot at the South Street Seaport last Tuesday night has led to grave concern on the part of local residents. It was unfortunate that General Growth Properties did not vet the concert’s promoter, Paper Magazine, in a way that would have showed they were simply not experienced enough to host such an event.
This week State Senator Daniel Squadron sent a letter to G.G.P. asking that they change the way they organize free concerts. He asks them to take a page out of the River to River Festival’s book. That festival holds a host of free concerts every summer and has a strong track record in making these concerts successful. They set up locations where fans that would like to attend the free shows can go to pick up tickets. They fence off areas and require the tickets to be shown prior to entering.
We second Senator Squadron’s appeal to G.G.P. so that what happened last Tuesday night will never, never happen again.