Volume 74, Number 14 | August 04 - 10 , 2004


Town hall holds lots of potential

Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s planned visit to Greenwich Village on Monday, when he is scheduled to hold a town hall forum — with a number of his commissioners on hand to answer questions — will be an excellent opportunity for dialogue between Villagers and the administration.

Organized by the Greenwich Village Block Associations, the town hall presents a chance to hear the administration’s position on key issues affecting the Village.

Of course, a key topic is the extension of landmark protection to endangered areas like the Far West Village/waterfront and South Village — as well as modifying zoning where necessary as a component of this protection. We’re interested to hear, in general, what the mayor will have to say about the idea of putting limits on development in our historic, low-scale neighborhood.

On a related point, the use of the community-facilities zoning bonus by large institutions — New York University, obviously, and now farther east, Cooper Union — is one of the most pressing issues. N.Y.U. has used this bonus to build its Kimmel Center and School of Law annex on Washington Sq. S., forever changing the world-renowned vista of the square to its detriment. Cooper Union will use this bonus to rebuild its Hewitt Building three times larger than exists now, and a developer building on Cooper’s Engineering site will use the bonus for a new office tower. We hope the mayor will come to realize it is time to readjust this harmful bonus that allows for new buildings that overwhelm fragile neighborhoods’ character.

No doubt, the proliferation of pornography stores will be raised. We look forward to hearing what the mayor has to say about the increase of these stores — often slipping in under the so-called 60/40 rule — in residential neighborhoods, and what can be done to reform this law, which, admittedly, is tied up in litigation.

One can take a guess at what other questions might be. For instance, does the mayor think Gansevoort Market should keep evolving into a monolithic, nightlife zone, or can he offer some ways to diversify the burgeoning district? Do Bloomberg and his police commissioner support the idea of the Paid Detail Unit — off-duty police in uniform — being hired to patrol outside bars and nightlife? Also, how might the mayor be able to help the Hudson River Park obtain the remaining $200 million it needs to finish the whole, five-mile-long park?

We’d also like to hear from Mr. Bloomberg how a West Side stadium won’t negatively impact the Village and entire West Side of Manhattan — and why, as many are arguing, a better idea might not be to just expand the Javits Center, extend the # 7 line and leave it at that. Finally, since the administration has made it clear the anti-Bush protesters can’t use Central Park on Aug. 29, but has given them the West Side Highway in Lower Manhattan, we hope to hear plans to insure protesters’ rights to free speech and assembly won’t be trampled by use of confining pens, as happened in February 2003, and that safety will be assured.

G.V.B.A. wants this to be a constructive meeting. Hopefully, the mayor, by addressing the issues that arise at this forum, will make it a productive one.

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