Volume 20, Number 51 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | December 15 - 21, 2010
Construction command center’s end worries residents
BY Aline Reynolds
Community Board 1 member Catherine McVay-Hughes, a stalwart advocate and resident of Lower Manhattan for over a decade, could soon be looking for a new place to call home.
She and other community members are distressed by the possibility that the Lower Manhattan Construction Command Center could soon cease to exist. The city-state agency, which oversees all Downtown construction projects with a price tag of over $25 billion, is due to expire on December 31, unless Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Governor David Paterson both sign off on its renewal by that date.
“We’re waiting anxiously, but we’re still not quite there,” explained Robert Harvey, executive director of the L.M.C.C.C. at the C.B. 1 World Trade Center Redevelopment Committee meeting on Monday.
Bloomberg plans to sign the executive order, N.Y.C. Deputy Mayor Stephen Goldsmith told Harvey on Monday, but Paterson must approve it first.
On Tuesday, Jessica Bassett, Paterson’s acting director of communications, confirmed the governor’s commitment to renewing the L.M.C.C.C.’s executive order. “We’re working with [Governor-elect Andrew Cuomo’s] team to determine the best method of addressing this issue,” she said.
Despite Paterson’s reassurance, however, L.M.C.C.C. officials are fearful of the looming expiration date, speculating that the executive order might be at the bottom of the hefty pile of paperwork on the governor’s desk. “I think it just got lost in all of the complicated issues associated with the [gubernatorial] transition,” said Harvey.
Downtown community members are equally concerned of the prospect of L.M.C.C.C. vanishing. “This is very, very disturbing news,” said Hughes, who has lived one block from the W.T.C. for 22 years. “If L.M.C.C.C. were not to be extended through the next couple of years, the peak years [of the W.T.C. redevelopment], it’d be an absolute gridlock down here.”
“The fact that politicians haven’t yet signed this is absolutely outrageous,” Hughes added. “This would be one reason to move out of Lower Manhattan.”
“It would be absolutely ridiculous,” according to committee member Pat Moore. “We couldn’t exist without this agency.”
The committee voted unanimously in favor of a resolution that states its support for the continuation of the L.M.C.C.C. The board, it says, is “concerned that failure to renew the executive order could place recent progress at the W.T.C. in jeopardy, especially in light of the upcoming 10-year anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and the various large projects that have just been initiated.” The resolution will be presented to the Community Board 1 full board on Thursday.
Harvey mapped out the L.M.C.C.C.’s role in bringing together officials from both state and city entities at Monday night’s committee meeting. Were the agency to sunset, its website, which consists of real-time traffic monitoring and daily construction updates, would have to be transferred to the state or the city.
The agency, Harvey explained, is also responsible for mitigating the pollution impact of construction trucks, 14,000 of which are projected to occupy the Downtown area on a monthly basis next year.
On Tuesday, State Senator Daniel Squadron held a press conference stressing the urgency of the issue. “We simply can’t afford to see this agency vanish at midnight on December 31,” said the senator.
The L.M.C.C.C. is comprised of approximately 100 employees, including 10-full time staff and 90 contract workers, whose jobs are on the line. Harvey recently informed them of the distressing news. “Everybody knows the situation, that we’re basically at this point waiting,” he said.