Volume 17, Number 41 | March 4 - 11, 2005

Letter from the editor

Save our Olympic bid, Mr. Mayor

After being wined, dined and escorted by Mayor Mike Bloomberg and Dep. Mayor Dan Doctoroff for an intense four days of lobbying, Nawal el-Moutawakel, the chairperson of the International Olympic Committee’s site evaluation commission, surprise, surprise said she agreed with her chaperones that New York City will not get the Olympics unless the city commits to building an Olympic-size stadium on Manhattan’s West Side before the I.O.C. vote in July.

Would she have said that if Bloomberg had told her: “Look I want the stadium on the West Side, but many people don’t so here are a few alternative sites”? Of course not. If it is true that winning the bid is now dependent on making a commitment to the stadium this spring, the mayor has sold the city short, and he should now work to get us out of this mess.

The major Democratic mayoral candidates and the leaders of the state Assembly and Senate are all in favor of bringing the Games to the city in 2012 but none of them have endorsed the West Side stadium. There are many drawbacks to the stadium and while the pros and cons are being debated, the mayor should reach out to these state and city leaders to deliver this unified message to the I.O.C.: The city wants the Olympics and is committed to making sure there is a great place to host the opening ceremonies in 2012.

If he doesn’t, he may very well have himself to blame if the city loses the bid.

Hopes for Pier A to finally open

The plan to complete the restoration of Battery Park’s magnificent Pier A has had many positive developments over the last 16 years only to be followed by setbacks. Money woes, lawsuits, 9/11, bureaucratic delays, etc. kept the project stuck. Pier lovers may remember the late ‘90s when the park’s conservancy had an interim plan to improve the pier plaza, but the city’s Economic Development Corp. nixed it because it said its chosen developer, Wings Point Associates, was just about to start work on the “permanent plan.” Fast forward to 2005 and we still have a closed landmark building on the pier. But as we report in this issue, Wings Point and E.D.C. are likely to sign an agreement this month to get the restoration restarted and open the pier this fall. Given the history, we naturally have a fair share of caution, but we have optimism too.

Wings Point has a relatively new investor, William Wachtel, who has helped the firm settle the legal dispute with the city and hopefully has added the steadying influence the investment group has needed to get the important project back on track

The 1886 pier building, once a firehouse, could be open to the public for the first time this year. The bottom of the building will serve as a security check-in space for the millions of ferry riders who visit Lady Liberty and Ellis Island every year. It will be nice to free up park space, put the metal detectors indoors, and provide a sheltered amenity at one of the city’s most popular tourist attractions. The top floor is likely to be converted into a catering hall with spectacular views of the harbor. The pier will once again be used for boats.

It is great to hear Wings Point and the city are making progress and it is our hope that we can look forward to finally celebrating with them at the Pier A opening this year.

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