Volume 79, Number 30 | December 30 - January 5, 2010
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933


End-of-year thoughts

Continuing our last week’s theme, we’re taking this moment — in part two of our year-end thoughts — to pause and reflect on some of the major local stories and issues of 2009, and to envision what we hope happens in the new year with these ongoing matters that affect our neighborhoods so greatly.

As for New York University, we’re waiting to see this institution’s long-anticipated, long-term planning scheme. We hear it will be unveiled sometime early in the new year. We have to say, though, that N.Y.U., in the past few years under John Sexton, its president, has turned over a new leaf in terms of its community outreach and consultation on both its planning process and its projects. That doesn’t erase what’s been done over the years by N.Y.U. in terms of unplanned and inappropriate development, but it does offer some hope. And we continue to urge the university to keep looking at remote sites to expand, whether they be Governors Island, Long Island City of parts elsewhere.

Regarding the South Village Historic District, it appears there won’t be a vote by the Landmarks Preservation Commission until the spring on the first third of the district as being proposed and advocated by the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation. L.P.C. has said its next step is to look at part of the remaining two-thirds of the proposed area. Our concerns are twofold. First, the longer a vote is put off on this designation, the more irreplaceable buildings will be destroyed and altered and this neighborhood’s fabric harmed — so every effort must be made to designate as soon as possible. Second, we’re fearful that L.P.C. will only consider a small part of the remaining hoped-for district, which would leave large parts of this unique area at risk of development. L.P.C. must expedite this process, and will regret it if it doesn’t do so.

Farther Downtown, long-term construction prospects at the World Trade Center remain bleak as the Port Authority and developer Larry Silverstein are deeply divided over Silverstein’s part of the project — three of the five office towers to be built. An arbitration decision is expected soon, but it is not likely to resolve the underlying problem — disagreement over how and when to rebuild the site. It is possible the effects of the decision could prompt the way to a negotiated resolution to the real dispute — which is our hope since it would be the best way to insure steady progress.

On a positive note, it’s been truly uplifting recently to witness anonymous donors so generously give millions of dollars to save and assist treasured institutions on the East Side of our community — namely, St. Brigid’s Church on Avenue B and, just last month, ABC No Rio arts collective on Rivington St.

In that vein of giving, during this holiday season, we want to thank all those who regularly volunteer to help others, whether they be members of the Ninth Precinct Community Council giving free gifts to hundreds of local kids, Sixth Precinct police officers serving Thanksgiving dinners to seniors, people helping out in local soup kitchens or folks lending a hand to seniors with errands and trips to the store or doctor or mentoring our youth. These people are the “bricks and mortar” that hold our communities together.

Looking a bit to the north, hope springs eternal this time of year, so here’s to Albany making 2010 the year it implements real election, ethics and campaign finance reforms. New York State has tough budget choices ahead and we hope to see them taken seriously. That includes a traffic-pricing plan, which will insure a stable, growing transit system and economy while reducing pollution.

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