Volume 17 • Issue 34 • Dec. 31,Jan. 14 - 20, 2005

Talking Point

Mayor on the state of Downtown

Mayor Mike Bloomberg delivered his State of the City address Jan.11 at Hostos Community College in the Bronx. Below are excerpts from his official transcript that relate to Lower Manhattan. At one point, the mayor addressed Virginia Fields, borough president of Manhattan.

…Three years ago, I was inaugurated as the 108th Mayor of this great city. I remember looking out across the crowd that had gathered on the plaza at City Hall that freezing afternoon. And in the distance, above everyone’s heads, smoke was still rising from the World Trade Center site. New Yorkers there — and throughout the city — were asking ourselves the same questions:

Will we be able to come back? Can we recover? Will we be safe? Would we ever be the same?

Those were the question marks hanging over our City’s future.

Three years later, I can stand before you and tell you that, we have answered those questions.

We are safer today than we have ever been in modern memory.

We have taken our City from fiscal crisis to fiscal stability. …

New York City also leads the nation in homeland security. Before September 11th, terrorism was the farthest thing from our minds.

But we have had to adjust to the new reality — the more dangerous world we live in.

From the ground up, we’ve had to find innovative, tough-minded, and effective ways to protect our city.

I’m proud to lead an incredible team of professionals in this crucial and demanding task. And proud that whether it’s the FDNY’s superb hazmat and rescue teams, or the NYPD’s internationally recognized leadership in intelligence and counter-terrorism or the trailblazing syndromic surveillance performed by our Health Department, or the Office of Emergency Management’s simulations and training — working together as never before — City agencies are prepared to protect New Yorkers and respond if necessary against the unthinkable.

This is a job that will never be done.

We can’t rest — not for a minute — nor can we stop in our intelligence, counter-terrorism and response capabilities.

We’ve fought hard for the distribution of Federal Homeland Security dollars based on risk, and not as political pork.

We’ve made progress, but we won’t stop until all the money is distributed based on risk, and risk alone.

New York is protecting the nation, not just itself — and Washington has to do its part, too.

New York City can’t be short-changed any more. Enough!

We will never forget that the first battle in the global war on terror began on our streets 40 months ago today. Nor will we forget the New Yorkers who have fallen serving our country and our city on distant shores. …

And in a few weeks — less than 10 minutes from here — the biggest wholesale seafood market in the nation [the Fulton Fish Market] will open at Hunts Point, and bring with it 500 new jobs and $1 billion in economic activity…

All right, all right. I know what you’re thinking — we’re neglecting Manhattan. But yes, Virginia, we’ve got our eye on Manhattan, too. In the last three years, we’ve made great strides in stabilizing Downtown and preventing an exodus of companies.

Now we’ve got to dedicate ourselves to ensuring Lower Manhattan’s long-term future as a global center of commerce. It’s New York’s historic birthplace, and we can make it a great place to work.

This year, we’ll unveil our master plan to open up Downtown’s East River Waterfront. It’s part of our ongoing partnership with the State to revitalize Lower Manhattan.

Then there’s transportation. The reality is that it’s harder to get to Lower Manhattan than it is to get to Midtown — a major impediment to commercial growth.

The single most important project for the future of Lower Manhattan is the new rail link connecting it directly to JFK Airport and Long Island. And in 2005, we will succeed in converting unused Federal tax benefits into funds for that purpose.

Today, I’m also directing the Economic Development Corporation to explore with our partners at the State, and you have Charlie Gargano [chairperson of the Empire State Development Corp.] here, and with the Downtown Alliance, potential incentives for Lower Manhattan that would replace expiring Federal programs. They ensure- yes- and we’re going to ensure that existing companies stay — and new companies are attracted — Downtown….

I will never forget that freezing January day three years ago, but I take great pride — as every single New Yorker should — in what we’ve done, in how far we have come.

I remember one of the questions on every mind back then: Will New York ever again be the same?

The answer, of course is no. New York is going to be better. …

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