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Turning over the Port
The Lower Manhattan community has a special relationship with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. This was made clear when Community Board 1, upon hearing that Governor Andrew Cuomo, shortly after taking office, was thinking of removing Chris Ward from the Port’s helm, unanimously passed a resolution calling on the new governor to rethink his decision and to keep Ward on board.
The resolution most importantly pointed out the fact that it was under Ward’s watchful eye that this community, this city and this country finally saw the “hole in the ground” disappear, and in its place, saw rising steel, towers of concrete and memorial pools. For the first time, there were visible, tangible signs of progress.
But, as Ward pointed out to us before his recent departure, we are in the midst of a transition period as it pertains to the 16 acres worth of construction he helped move forward while serving as the Port’s leader.
It was Governor Cuomo’s prerogative to have Ward step down as executive director. We think Cuomo made a wise decision in asking Ward to remain on board with the Port in an advisory role until the end of the year to help with transition issues.
And to Patrick Foye, the governor’s choice to replace Ward, we say, “Welcome to Lower Manhattan.” If there is one piece of advice we would offer, it is to recognize the aforementioned special relation between the Port and this neighborhood. We hope Foye will pick up where Ward left off in terms of heeding the concerns of Downtown residents and business owners. Specifically, we hope the track record of transparency, communication and the dedication to meeting construction deadlines at the W.T.C. site, will continue.
The rebirth of Lower Manhattan depends on it.
Too brusque at B.P.C.A.
Last month the Battery Park City Authority laid off 19 employees. Reports indicated they had no prior knowledge of the impending pink slips they found on their desks, no prior knowledge that the Authority was even considering a scaling down of the agency and no previous indication that their jobs were in jeopardy. To our dismay, these reports proved factual.
Seven months ago, our sister paper Downtown Express called for this city-state agency to implement a sunset plan. That suggestion was made in the wake of an inspector general’s report that showed the agency had “overspent” in regard to a corporate party. However, the overspending paled in comparison to private-sector corporations’ overspending on the same type of events.
Nonetheless, B.P.C.A. had fulfilled its role, citing the development of 99 percent of the land it was created to oversee. Downtown Express said, seven months ago, that the Authority should sunset and praised it as an example of urban planning that the rest of the country could aspire to. But, a sun sets slowly and carefully. It doesn’t simply disappear without warning.
We cannot ignore the obvious link between the Authority’s board chairperson, William Thompson, his mayoral ambitions and how this downsizing is meant to burnish his credentials come campaign season.
B.P.C.A. needs to wind down after a successful run, but we are sad to see it done without respect for the people who helped build the foundation on which it will be remembered.