Chairwoman of Community Board 1, Julie Menin, has called for the Battery Park City Authority to be “sunsetted,” according to DNAInfo. Â Control of theÂ neighborhoodÂ could be handed to Mayor Bloomberg. A state-led shut down of the organization was also suggested.
New York State Inspector GeneralÂ Joseph Fisch issued a press release last friday, saying the Battery Park City Authority “spent more than $300,000 on parties, lunches and gifts from 2005 to 2008, including $30,000 on employee meals, $13,000 for annual catered summer picnics and $14,000 for annual holiday parties for a 60-person staff and guests.” The release, available for download here, also notes questionable charitable donations. Between 2004 and 2008, over $4 billion was given to theÂ Yonkers Puerto Rican Day Parade and the Queens Botanical Gardens, which “had little or no connection to BPCAâ€™s mission.”
With such lavish spending practices in the past, and the planned rise of ground rent, should the Battery Park City Authority be closed down and the neighborhood handed over to Mayor Bloomberg?
Finding a place to smoke is becoming a real drag. After banning smoking in bars and restaurants, Mayor Bloomberg has announced plans to introduce legislation making it illegal to smoke in public areas.
The legislation will be introduced in City Council today, and if approved will go into effect in approximately 3 months after being signed into law.
Violators of this proposed law will be fined $50 by either a Police or Parks Department official.
The pedestrian plaza at Times Square, Central Park and other major public Â parks and areas, conceivably even the Battery Park City esplanade could be part of the smoking ban.
September 11th marked the line between a United States before and after terrorism. In New York City it also marked the changing of the guard between two mayors. Both of their legacies rely upon the memory of the World Trade Center’s reconstruction. Who would have guessed that an addition of a mosque at Ground Zero would serve as the dividing line between the two mayors.
On one side, Former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, a born and raised New Yorker, saw through New York’s change under his administration and after September 11th became “The America’s Mayor” for his poise during the terrorist attacks on New York.
On the other side, Michael Bloomberg, who upon his election as Mayor inherited the post traumatic New York environment, only three months after the attack. Bloomberg has been guiding the city for almost a decade after the attack.
Although both men have made major strides in what is arguably one of the toughest cities to run in the country — it’s interesting to note their divergent opinions sharing only one element — their vehement beliefs in their stance.
â€œItÂ sends a particularly bad message, particularly (because) of the background of the imam who is supporting this. This is an Imam who has supported radical causes, who has not been forthright in condemning IslamicÂ (terrorism) and the worst instincts that that brings about.
â€œSo it not only is exactly the wrong place, right at ground zero, but itâ€™s a mosque supported by an imam who has a record of support for causes that were sympathetic with terrorism. Come on! Weâ€™re gonna allow that at ground zero?
â€œThis is a desecration,â€ he added. â€œNobody would allow something like that at Pearl Harbor. Letâ€™s have some respect for who died there and why they died there. Letâ€™s not put this off on some kind of politically correct theory.
â€œI mean, they died there because of Islamic extremist terrorism. They are our enemy, we can say that, the world will not end when we say that. And the reality is, it will not and should not insult any decent Muslim because decent Muslims should be as opposed to Islamic extremism as you andÂ I are.â€
In response to all the opposition the building of the Park51 mosque has received, Bloomberg re-iterates the constitutional right for freedom of religion as the basis of his opinion.
â€œThe World Trade Center Site will forever hold a special place in our City, in our hearts. But we would be untrue to the best part of ourselves â€“ and who we are as New Yorkers and Americans â€“ if we said â€˜noâ€™ to a mosque in Lower Manhattan. â€œLet us not forget that Muslims were among those murdered on 9/11 and that our Muslim neighbors grieved with us as New Yorkers and as Americans.
We would betray our values â€“ and play into our enemiesâ€™ hands â€“ if we were to treat Muslims differently than anyone else. In fact, to cave to popular sentiment would be to hand a victory to the terrorists â€“ and we should not stand for that.
â€œFor that reason, I believe that this is an important test of the separation of church and state as we may see in our lifetime â€“ as important a test â€“ and it is critically important that we get it right…
â€œPolitical controversies come and go, but our values and our traditions endure â€“ and there is no neighborhood in this City that is off limits to Godâ€™s love and mercy, as the religious leaders here with us today can attest.â€
What do you think about the divergent ideas from both mayors?
After successfully seeking control over Governors Island and Brooklyn Bridge Park, Mayor Bloomberg continues his game of Monopoly with his piece set on buying Battery Park City.
Comptroller John Liu is tasked with determining whether the takeover of Battery Park City from New York State makes sense for New York City. In a bid to help close the city’s budget deficit, acquiring Battery Park City would mean a constant flow of revenue from ground lease revenue and property taxes.
Although the city has had a longstanding option to acquire Battery Park City for a mere $1 dollar, tacked along with the purchase would be nearly $1 billion dollars in debt and high maintenance costs for the area.
The comptroller is also considering Battery Park City residents and commercial tenants opinions on the acquisition.
Whether or not the acquisition would follow through has yet to be seen, although it’s quite obvious that the plan has kicked in. Especially in light of Governor Patterson’s recent nomination of William Thompson as Battery Park City Authority’s new chairman.
New York Magazine’s Intelligencer has an interesting take on what this means, also mentioning that if the deal does not go through before September’s political primary — the likelihood that it deal would go through at all would be all but nullified.
How do you feel about about the possible acquisition of Battery Park City by the city and do you think this is a step in the right or wrong direction?
Any condo owner in Battery Park City knows that the cost of living in our neighborhood can be astronomical. Our land lease subsidies were originally meant to fulfill a need for affordable housing that had been usurped with the building of the Twin Towers back in the early 60’s. The fund has largely gone towards it’s original intent and maintenance of Battery Park City itself.
As the city and state face their own budget crises, Battery Park City’s surplus’ are now being allocated at a city and state level to fill their budget gaps. This controversial move has the blessing of the Governor, Mayor, Comptroller and the BPC Authority board.
The terms of the deal include allocating $400 Million to fill budget deficits on both city and state levels. The city will also borrow another $200 Million for affordable housing initiatives and another $200 Million for general capital projects. The deal involves borrowing nearly $900 Million dollars that will take two decades to restore from land lease charges from owners.
The city promises that the money borrowed will be matched and be dedicated to providing additional affordable housing between now and 2017.
This deal may have some unrealized ramifications to our neighborhood, including decreased property value. How do you feel about the allocation of Battery Park City funds throughout the city and state?
Governor Paterson announced his confirmation of former NYC mayoral candidate and Comptroller William C. Thompson to the Board of Directors of Battery Park City Authority.
According to a press release from the governor, “I am pleased to announce the confirmation of my colleauge and friend, Bill Thompson, to the Battery Park City Authority. Bill is a proven leader with significant experience in government. As the City’s former Comptroller, he worked tirelessly on behalf of all New York City residents. I look forward to working with him in making New York City and Battery Park City a better place to live, work and raise a family. ”
Mr. Thompson was most recently elected to serve two consecutive four-year terms as Comptroller of New York City, leading a team of 720 employees and managing a $66 million annual operating budget. Mr. Thompson’s early career roles included serving as Chief of Staff to a United States Congressman, and Deputy Borough President for the Office of the Brooklyn Borough President. Later, in the private sector, Mr. Thompson was a Senior Vice President in Public Finance at an investment banking firm. He returned to public service and was appointed to the New York City Board of Education where he served five terms as President of the nation’s largest school system with more than 130,000 employees and an annual budget of nearly $12 billion. As President, Mr. Thompson led policy development and implementation in a city of over 8 million residents with 1.1 million public school children.
Mr. Thompson received a B.A. in Political Science from Tufts University, where he currently serves as a Trustee Emeritus. He has received honorary degrees from Metropolitan College, Pace University, Mercy College and Long Island University.