Land Use: West Side Stadium Deal
Despite strong opposition, the MTA and the Empire State Development Corporation have approved the Jets’ proposal to develop a $2.2 billion dollar stadium over the Hudson Rail-yards. Community organizations, major civic groups and elected officials have criticized the MTA for not holding a fair bidding process for the property and depriving the MTA of much needed revenue. A similar coalition of critics has formed in Brooklyn to prevent the Brooklyn Atlantic Yards from being sold to the current bidder, Forest City Ratner, for less than its “fair market value.” The MTA is expecting to make $1.4 billion dollars from the sale of its Hudson and Atlantic Yards properties which it will use to help fund capital programs in 2005-2009. These deals not-withstanding, the Authority still anticipates a $600 million dollar deficit in 2006 and a $1 billion dollar deficit in 2008.
nytimes.com, gothamgazette.org and tstc.org
Widening sidewalks, crosswalks and curb cuts for people in wheelchairs helps people with strollers, or packages, or dogs. Audible pedestrian signals for people with limited vision helps everyone to know when it is their turn to cross the street. Maintaining the streets and giving someone with a ser-vice dog and a cane enough time to cross the street without falling is beneficial to seniors who also need this additional time. The list goes on. The goal of this work, as always, is to improve the streets to encourage walking and improve people’s health. Designing streets for the most frail or vulnerable pedestrian in mind just makes sense. With the addition of people with disabilities this campaign has come full circle, back to the basic goal of creating accessible infrastructure for all New Yorkers.
The City Council is proposing changes to City legislation that may limit future ‘big-box’ store developments until the City’s zoning laws concerning these large retail developments are better established. Under the current zoning regulations developers can design future stores much like suburban-style malls. The standard design includes huge parking lots and barren facades facing the sidewalk, which deter pedestrian activity and lead to massive increases in motor vehicle traffic. If their proposed designs conform to standard health, zoning and safety regulations, developers can override the public review process altogether.
The idea for the moratorium was prompted by a coalition of residents and retailers, headed by the Neighborhood Retail Alliance, that successfully blocked the building of a BJ’s Wholesale Club in the Castle Hill/Soundview section of the Bronx and of a Wal Mart in Rego Park, Queens. The residents of these areas fought to prevent massive amounts of new traffic from degrading their quality of life.
gothamgazette.org and The Daily News
On March 22nd, the City of New York reached an agreement in principle with the MTA and the private bus company New York Bus Line over the transfer of the private franchise to the MTA; a move Mayor Bloomberg hopes will lead to a more efficient bus service at a lower cost to the City. New York Bus Line was the third of seven operating companies subsidized by the City now transferred to the MTA. While New York City transit advocates favor the change, they fear that turning over another bus company to the MTA will further reduce the City’s financial contribution to mass transit. In 2003, City contributions to the MTA’s capital budget fell to $75 million down from $205 million in the early 1990s.
The bus franchises have accused Mayor Bloomberg of starving them of funding for capital improvements over the last two years in order to speed the transition. They specifically have criticized him for holding $150 million federal dollars that the City could have used during this time period to purchase new buses and improve bus facilities for riders. The seven bus companies combined move 400,000 riders and 1,250 buses along 82 routes daily.
gothamgazette.org and nytimes.com