Volume 73, Number 46 | March 17 -23, 2004


I.P.N. deal gives reason for hope

The agreement between Laurence Gluck, the new owner of Independence Plaza North, a middle-income Mitchell-Lama housing development in Tribeca, and the I.P.N. tenants association announced on March 8 and signed a few days later looks as if it will preserve the neighborhood’s main stock of affordable housing for the foreseeable future.

Tenant leaders, their attorneys and Gluck should be commended for negotiating a good-faith deal. City Council Speaker Gifford Miller also deserves praise. Tenant leaders credit his proposed bill for putting pressure on Gluck to negotiate.

Gluck, as he is legally permitted to do, is taking the complex out of the Mitchell-Lama rent protection program. But under the tenant agreement, most of the 3,000 or so residents will be eligible for federal sticky vouchers. This group, perhaps as many as two-thirds of the residents, will only have to pay 30 percent of their income on rent. Gluck will end up getting the market rent on these apartments with the federal subsidies. Those tenants who make too much to qualify for the vouchers will get rent increases in line with the rent-stabilization guidelines.

There are some concerns. The long-term future of sticky vouchers is uncertain. Yet, the deal, with its voucher system, is a major achievement and could be a model for other local Mitchell-Lamas facing buyouts, such as the West Village Houses and Land’s End One on the Lower East Side. We salute all involved in this stunning victory for affordable housing in the city.

Con Ed has more work to do on safety

On March 9, two dogs being walked on First Ave. near St. Mark’s Pl. were shocked on a rain-soaked sidewalk, because, according to Con Edison, a frayed 1930s wire touched a conduit to a building underneath the sidewalk. The incident comes two months after the electrocution of East Villager Jodie Lane on E. 11th St. when she was walking her dogs and came in contact with a live Con Ed service box cover.

Following Lane’s death, Con Ed did an inspection of all 260,000 of its service boxes and manholes in New York City and Westchester. Over 100 “hot spots,” street surfaces and even lightpoles energized with current, were found, and the problems were said to have been corrected.

But, clearly, troublingly so, the danger is far from resolved. We call on our councilmembers and state legislators to keep the pressure on Con Ed to insure the safety of its facilities. Several bills have been introduced at the local and state levels calling for more stringent inspection standards and reforms, and we strongly support their passage. Con Ed can’t be let off the hook, or more shockings — or worse — will happen.


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