Volume 79, Number 29 | December 23 - 29, 2009
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933



End-of-year thoughts

As the year draws to a close, we pause to reflect on some of the major local stories of 2009 and to look ahead to the new year and envision what we’d like to see happen with these ongoing issues that affect our neighborhoods so significantly.

Development — in its many forms — continues to be the leading concern.

The situation in Hudson Square is perhaps the most egregious, because in this case, not only is the city the developer, but it is leading a terribly wrongheaded plan in the Department of Sanitation megagarage. No neighborhood should have to absorb three Sanitation-districts’ worth of garbage trucks and accompanying trucks trips. Two districts is the maximum any community should bear. And in today’s economy, a half-billion-dollar project is simply obscene. Another site for the third district must be found, and the Spring St. garage design lowered so it doesn’t stifle the positive transformation of this growing neighborhood.

As for St. Vincent’s Hospital, the zoning review of its new hospital building is underway. St. Vincent’s has, several times now, reduced the planned building’s size, and the Rudin Organization has also lowered the height of its planned residential development — the sale of the rights for which will help fund the hospital project. One thing is clear: Greenwich Village deserves a 21st-century St. Vincent’s to respond to the West Side’s many health needs and emergencies.

We agree with Community Board 2’s call for the Department of City Planning to expand the area in its draft scope of work for the St. Vincent’s project’s environmental impact study from a one-quarter-mile perimeter around the site “to cover all or most of the Greenwich Village Historic District,” since this is the largest project the historic district has ever seen.

At W. Houston St., Pier 40’s condition must be addressed — A.S.A.P. As the blocks-long structure continues to deteriorate, more of it will have to be roped off from public use, leading to decreased parking revenue for Hudson River Park. With all past ideas having failed, we support the efforts of some Hudson River Park Trust board members to search actively for new solutions for the pier. Hopefully, federal stimulus funds under some category can be earmarked for this vastly important public space.

It’s high time the stalemate ended at the Seward Park Urban Renewal Area. The obstacle is no mystery: Housing activists want affordable housing while neighboring co-op owners do not, preferring economic development on the sites, located south of the Williamsburg Bridge. A middle ground must be reached. We’re told the area’s new councilmember, Margaret Chin, has already met with the city’s Economic Development Corporation regarding the sites, and we’re eager to see what Chin — an affordable housing advocate — can do.

In Chinatown, it’s encouraging to see the community moving ahead with crafting a rezoning to protect this historic enclave from overdevelopment.

On the subject of education — primary and secondary — the Bloomberg administration has to do much better providing an adequate number of school seats for our kids. Creating a middle school at 75 Morton St. — a state-owned building formerly on the selling block — is a priority, an opportunity that must not be missed.

We’ll continue the theme of “end-of-year thoughts” in next week’s editorial, as due to space limitations and the volume of pressing issues, we couldn’t include them all this week!

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