Lower Manhattan is about to up the artistic ante and prettify with parks and pedestrian amenities now that The Lower Manhattan Development Corporation has approved $137 million in grants for the region, according toÂ DNA Info. A performing arts center, a pedestrian bridge and an East River park are all being constructed as a result of the funding. The federal money, which is part of the 9/11 recovery effort, was originally set aside for utility companies like Con Edison, but the LMDC are spreading the wealth to other downtown interests.
$100 million has been set aside for the performing arts center, which has been languishing in development for a whileÂ Â and will be erected at the World Trade Center site. $20 million has been allocated for the foot bridge, which rises over West Street and West Thames Street. $17 million will be used to finish pieces of the East River Waterfront, which includes a path in front of the Battery Maritime Building.Â Â The allocations won’t be enough to finish any of the jobs, but the approvals might convince other sources to contribute so the projects can be completed.
The LMDC also created a $4 million program to encourage business to start-up downtown.
Are you excited about these planned improvements downtown?
In an effort to beautify the multitude of cold construction sites in and around Lower Manhattan, the Downtown Alliance has announced three new art pieces as part of their Re:Construction initiative.
Re:Construction is a local construction site beautification project spearheaded by the Downtown Alliance.
“Now Lower Manhattans workers, residents and six million annual visitors can enjoy Richard Pasquarelli as part of our program to recast construction sites as canvases for innovative public art and architecture,” says Elizabeth H. Berger, President of the Downtown Alliance.
Re:Construction is a public art program which is funded by the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation. The program has produced 16 pieces since 2007, seven of which are currently up for viewing.
“These additional installments by Richard Pasquarelli are worthy additions to the success of the Re:Construction program” said Lower Manhattan Development Corporation President David Emil. “We’re proud to fund these exhibitions and look forward to our continued partnership with the Downtown Alliance to ease the negative impacts of Downtown’s rebuilding projects.”
The three pieces unveiled this week, will be placed at three construction sites south of Chambers Street. The first piece “Restore the View” can be seen at the site of CUNY’s Fitterman Hall, a building which was destroyed on 9/11 at Barclay Street.
The two other works are: “Secret Gardens” will be installed at the Chambers Street road construction project which spans from West Street to West Broadway, and “Hours of the Day” which is set to be installed at Washington and Albany Streets.
Once construction is completed at these areas, the pieces will come down.
Richard Pasquarelli is a 41-year-old Bronxville born artist whose paintings have been seen nationwide, including at the National September 11 Memorial Museum.
“As a painter, my work has a psychological intimacy,” says Pasquarelli, “My work tends to have an element of mystery and ambiguity that leaves it open to many interpretations and I hope that passersby will each have their own individual response to these works.”
In a vote yesterday, the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation (LMDC) will allocate nearly $200 million dollars initially earmarked for a variety of utility costs around the World Trade Center site allocated instead for quality of life programs in the downtown area.
The variety of utility costs include those associated with the World Trade Center Memorial, transportation, cultural institutions, affordable housing and other programs.
Another vote will be scheduled to appropriate specific costs from the funding from this decision.
Con Edison is unhappy with the decision, as the utilities company was the sole recipient of the $200 million funding for the rebuilding of their infrastructure after September 11th.
Con Edison’s current costs of rebuilding amount to Â $186 million, but has already received $161 million for those costs. Con Ed claims without the subsidies, the Public Service Commission can allow Con Edison to increase energy costs to its customers.
Julie Menin, chairwoman of Community Board 1 and an LMDC board member, “It’s the first step in what will result in a very large amount of funding going to the Lower Manhattan community, and that’s what Congress intended,” according to a report in Crain’s New York.
The vote is seen as a win for the community groups, but is not over yet as representatives from the Mayors office and LMDC have meet with Con Edison to hammer out utilities deals.
Besides the World Trade Center Memorial, reports have been unclear as to who these community interest groups are. One mentioned group would be the 3LD theater on Greenwich street, which has faced bankruptcy in recent years.
The LMDC is charged with allocating almost $800 million in September 11th funds before the corporation is formerly shut down.
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.
A long-delayed project to erect a performing arts center at Ground Zero is finally picking up steam. New York City has stepped up to the plate with $44 million to help build the center’s below-ground foundation, according to the Associated Press.
The board of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey approved a deal last week that will have the city repay the Authority for the work at the World Trade Center site.
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.