Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver is calling for the relocation of the controversial Park51 mosque.
Silver, who agrees that the Constitution protects the rights of the developers who want to build the community center and mosque, also feels they should be as interested in compassion for 9/11 victim families
“They should find a suitable place that won’t cause the same controversy,” Silver stated at a press conference with Gov. Paterson.
The Governor also offered his help in relocating the Park51 development. Discussions between the developers and the Governor have not materialized.
Silver’s call for reconsideration came right before the Governor was set to speak with Archbishop Timothy Dolan to discuss Park51 and how to facilitate moving the controversial development.
Park51 and the Cordoba Initiative have stated clearly their resolve in staying at 45-51 Park Place, and show no signs of relocating their community center. Daisy Kahn, one of the founders and wife of Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, had stated that the relocation matter was “a bigger fight.”
Governor Paterson signed into a law a new bill that would enable the State Liquor Authority to crack down on noisy bars, clubs and nightlife operators who violate noise laws.
With the growth of bars and nightlife in the Financial District in the past few years caused an increase of noise complaints over crowds spilling out of bars in residential areas.
According to State Senator Daniel Squadron, “The new law, allows the SLA to revoke a liquor license from a nightlife operator for which police have referred six or more noise or disorder incidents to the SLA within a 60-day period, establishing a clear standard for determining when an establishment has become subject to repeated police attention.”
“For too long, our communities have been kept up at all hours of the night by operators who fail to control noise and unrly crowds.”
For residents of Battery Park City, there are very seldom occurrences where we would be disrupted by noise from unruly bar crowds — however, party boats on the water is another issue.
It is not clear if the bill stipulates and includes remedies for noise complaints stemming from party boats on the Hudson River.
Developers of the Park51 center have said they are open to dialogue with Governor Paterson to discuss alternate location options for the mosque.
Earlier this week, Paterson held a press conference requesting an open discussion, â€œI think itâ€™s rather clear that building a center there meets all the requirements, but it does seem to ignite an immense amount of anxiety among the citizen of New York and people everywhere, and I think not without cause.â€
The effort is to ease the tension and nationwide scrutiny the Park51 development has caused. A CNN poll suggested that nearly 70% of all Americans across political and age lines were opposed to what has been dubbed the “Ground Zero Mosque.”
Although developer Shari El-Gamal is open to options, they have been focused in opening their Park51 center in Lower Manhattan, according to a report in today’s New York Daily News.
Paterson had suggested offering state-owned land for the project. Battery Park City is a state owned land in Lower Manhattan, as is Governor’s Island.
The Associated Press is reporting that the Governor has offered state help to help the developers of the Park51 mosque if they are willing to relocate the project away from the surrounding Ground Zero area.
According to the report, Governor Paterson was quoted in a press conference today saying, “I think it’s rather clear that building a center there meets all the requirements, but it does seem to ignite an immense amount of anxiety among the citizen of New York and people everywhere, and I think not without cause.”
“I am very sensitive to the desire of those who are adamant against it to see something else worked out. We are really suffering in many respects — impassioned feelings were bound to emerge from a mosque just a couple of blocks from where nearly 3,000 people died at the hands of Muslim extremists.”
There was no comment yet from the developers of the project as well as from Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
According to the rest of the report, a recent Marist College poll released today found that 53 percent of New York City voters polled oppose the construction of the Ground Zero site, with only 34 percent favoring the developers plan.
One could easily agree that little has been seen from the LMDC– but might also argue that the dissolution of the organization might be a heavy handed option for a community still reeling from the after effects of 9/11 nearly a decade later. Although the LMDC will not be completely shut down, the Governor is proposing cutting the organization by 85% from 35 fulltime staffers to 5.
This is cause for some concern for residents of Lower Manhattan but especially Battery Park City being that the LMDC is the owner and responsible agent for the dismantling of the former Deutsche Bank building, a behemoth skeleton of a visual reminder of how much work is left.
From its inception in 2001 from government and by then Governor George Pataki and Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, the intent of the LMDC was to “work closely with the private sector to determine a proper market-driven response to the economic and infrastructure needs of Lower Manhattan, as well as with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to identify the appropriate redevelopment of the World Trade Center site.”
According to the LMDC’s website, some of its core responsibilities include city operations, communications, community relations, construction mitigation, environmental compliance, fraud prevention, small business development and marketing. Dissolution of the LMDC could affect our community in the following ways:
1. Safety and infrastructural hazards
As if it’s not dangerous or confusing enough to cross the West Side Highway to reach the subway, how will a 5-person team be optimized to make sure that our safety is maintained during the construction at Ground Zero?Â The implementation of crossing guards in our area, although fiscally insufficient, was still a step in the right direction. With all the confusing bridge detours being built and constantly changed — who will notify us of these changes? High winds during the winter also pose a serious safety risk during construction, if the falling glass panes from Goldman Sachs’ construction site can be used as an example.
2. Dismantling of the Deutsche Bank Building
The history of the former Deutsche Bank building post 9/11 has been riddled with corruption and safety concerns. From the issues surrounding the decontamination of the building to the safety of the workers dismantling the building, who will be accountable if something goes wrong? According to the LMDC, concerned residents can call a hotline to report incidents at the site as to avoid what happened on August 18, 2007 when a fire spread through the site killing 2 firefighters.
3. Environmental Compliance
The progress reports that are issued by the LMDC are important for our community as the demolition affects the health of the air we breathe during its decontamination. Although most of us probably haven’t even seen one of these reports — it’s important that they be maintained in order for us to be aware of the hazards that might exist during the demolition.
4. Small Business Development
The lack of business real estate means the lack of foot traffic of businessmen and women, which translates into the decimation of small businesses in our area. As we roll into our 9th year of waiting for the rebuilding of the World Trade Center site — who will help the small businesses that residents rely on in this underserved area? Although disbursements of small business grants have been slow from the LMDC — there is still almost $800 Million dollars of yet to be disbursed funds. These funds were meant for the development of Lower Manhattan distributed through the LMDC. When the governor dissolves the LMDC, what will happen to that funding?
These are four compelling reasons as to reconsider dissolving the LMDC. If the organization needs less ineptitude and better people to run it — why restructure and re-organize the LMDC instead? There must be a better option for the betterment of a still embattled Lower Manhattan.
David Paterson doesn’t like ineptitude. In fact, he abhors it so much that he’s going to go ahead andÂ gut the Lower Manhattan Development Corp. (LMDC) this summer.
According to the New York Post, Gov. Paterson will slash the 35-person staff — which reaps a combined annual salary of around $3 million — down to a crew of just five. The reason for this drastic measure: The LMDC hasn’t doled out $540 million of the $3 billion in federal funds it was created to dispense, and it has yet to carry out one of its primary duties, the demolition of the former Deutsche Bank building.
The LMDC’s critics, which not so shockingly include one of its own board members, say the corporation has devolved into a money-sucking bureaucracy with only one goal in mind: to justify its own preservation.
Gov. Paterson hopes that this slash-and-burn will jolt the corporation into action, compelling those still left standing after the shakeup to put the remaining Congress-allocated cash to good use in the rejuvenation of Lower Manhattan. This includes paying off cost overruns of the 9/11 Memorial and Museum, funding a planned performing-arts center, and giving money to non-profit groups and small businesses.
In fact, the LMDC still has $4 million in its coffers that is supposed to be dispensed in $25,000 increments as grants to local small businesses. And, according to a recent Community Board 1 survey, a whopping 66 percent of local small business owners didn’t even know they were eligible for these grants.
Sounds like the LMDC still has a whole lot of work to do — and pretty soon it’ll have 30 fewer people to do it.