Con Ed must cut deal
Last week Con Edison sent a letter to the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation stating its claim to $174 million in funds allocated by Congress to restore electric, gas and steam service to Lower Manhattan in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. This is in addition to the $164 million Con Ed has already received through this Housing and Urban Development program. We believe the utility company’s claim is much more complicated than it states, and that it may not be legally entitled to these funds.
In the original legislation passed by Congress, the funds allotted can be used either for utility repairs or for the cultural enhancement of Lower Manhattan. In its letter, the utility company states it is entitled to the money based on continuing work to support government infrastructure. However, terrorist attack or not, Con Ed would still be performing much of this work. It’s what it does. Con Ed does it anytime a new building is erected, anytime there is a population boom the company has a capital program and it is constantly upgrading service in the normal course of its line of work.
To its credit, Con Edison did indeed go to Capitol Hill and lobby successfully for the funds. But it’s been nearly nine years and the bottom line is there was simply more money allocated than Con Ed could justify through valid claims directly related to the damage suffered by the attacks of 9/11.
This is a time for mature minds to come together and cut a deal. It would be in no one’s interest for the remaining money to be tied up in years of litigation involving an alphabet soup of federal, state and city agencies. Perhaps utility companies should receive some of the funds, but they should no doubt receive the smaller portion of the remaining funding. There are other priority uses for the funds to revitalize Lower Manhattan, such as setting aside money for the performing arts center or perhaps increasing the pool of funds available to small businesses.
The situation cries out for all interested parties to sit down at the table, drop their statements that they are entitled to all of the funds, and make a deal in the interests of aiding the revitalization and improving the quality of life for all of Lower Manhattan. And sooner rather than later.
Seaport Drake disaster
The canceled Drake concert and riot at the South Street Seaport two weeks ago has led to grave concern on the part of local residents. It was unfortunate that General Growth Properties did not vet the concert’s promoter, Paper magazine, in a way that would have shown it was simply not experienced enough to host such an event.
Following the frightening incident, state Senator Daniel Squadron sent a letter to G.G.P. asking that it change the way it organizes free concerts. He asked G.G.P. to take a page out of the River to River Festival’s book. That festival holds a host of free concerts every summer and has a strong track record of making these concerts successful: Locations are set up where fans that would like to attend the free shows can go to pick up tickets; areas are fenced off and it’s required to show the tickets prior to entering.
We second Senator Squadron’s appeal to G.G.P. so that what happened that Tuesday night two weeks ago will never happen again.