Mayor and gay marriage
In an exclusive interview this week with The Villager, and its sister publications Gay City News and Downtown Express, Mayor Michael Bloomberg made his strongest comments to date in support of same-sex marriage rights. Although the mayor prevailed in an intermediate-level appeals court last week on his challenge to a February pro-gay marriage ruling, Bloomberg expressed the hope that gay marriage will be ruled legal under the [state] Constitution, should the case be heard by the Court of Appeals. The mayor also declined to align himself with the city corporation counsels legal arguments against same-sex marriage.
Bloomberg had previously pledged to argue for a gay marriage law in Albany should plaintiffs statewide fail in their efforts to win in the courts. This week, he strengthened that to a promise to testify before the State Legislature. His special counsel, Anthony Crowell, said he is convening what he called a legislative meeting among L.G.B.T. advocacy groups in January to find common ground and agree on strategies. Gay rights groups would do well to take the mayor at his word and press him for concrete next steps at such a meeting. It seems unlikely that Bloomberg can be convinced to drop the citys opposition in court, but the mayors willingness to speak out more often unasked and within his own party can only hasten the day when gay marriage is a reality in New York.
N.Y.U. and the ecosystem
On Monday, New York University President John Sexton will host a town hall meeting with Downtown residents. At previous town halls and at meetings with local organizations, Sexton has spoken of the need to protect the Villages fragile ecosystem.
This phrase, of course, grew out of the uproar over two grossly oversized N.Y.U. building projects on Washington Square South undertaken just before Sexton became president, the Kimmel Student Center and new School of Law building, which benefited from extra height and bulk from the community facilities zoning allowance.
Now, in the first massive project under Sexton, the university plans to lease then probably buy after a year a 26-story dormitory a developer is contracted to build for it at the former St. Anns Church site on E. 12th St. This proposed building will hardly benefit from the community facilities zoning allowance, but will get a boost from air rights the developer bought from the nearby post office.
We anticipate Sexton will say N.Y.U. is already respecting the Villages fragile ecosystem, since, under zoning, a dorm as opposed to a hotel or condos means it will be set back from the street, saving the church tower.
However, it was N.Y.U. not a hotel or developer that pledged to protect the fragile ecosystem, mainly because it has violated it so often before. So we expect more. We expect serious considerations about limiting height and bulk and this is what community members sincerely will be hoping to hear on Monday.