Volume 74, Number 28 | November 17 - 22, 2004


N.Y.U. does better, but more is needed

New York University’s announcement that it will build its new life sciences building in three existing university-owned properties on Waverly Pl. east of Washington Sq. comes as welcome news.

Ever since last year, when John Sexton, N.Y.U.’s president, and university trustees first spoke publicly of the need for a new life sciences building located near to the university’s Washington Sq. campus, speculation has swirled that it might be built on the Morton Williams supermarket site N.Y.U. owns at LaGuardia Pl. and Bleecker St.

This announcement doesn’t mean N.Y.U. will now forgo building on the supermarket site. To the contrary, the university says this remains a primary development spot for the school’s future and could support anything from housing to classrooms to different kinds of science labs.

But by reusing its existing buildings for its new genomic research center — and preserving these buildings’ street facades — the university, at least in this case, deserves thanks for not building another overly large, intrusive structure in the heart of historic Greenwich Village.

Yet, N.Y.U. continues to keep using the contentious community-facilities allowance. This new life sciences project will benefit from it, although from the description of university spokespersons, the added height at least will not be an egregious eyesore when viewed from the street.

We continue to feel that the community-facilities zoning allowance needs serious examination and modification and that wherever possible, N.Y.U. must refrain from using it. So far, to many Village residents’ and preservationists’ disappointment, the university has failed to make a commitment to renounce, or in any way curtail, use of this allowance on future building projects.

On N.Y.U.’s development front, as a result, trenchant problems remain. By using existing buildings for its new science facility, N.Y.U. has found a partial solution to the problem. However, the issue of the university’s expansion and use of the community facilities allowance persists. Just as we hope genomic research will lead to breakthroughs in health and understanding of the aging process, we await assurances from N.Y.U. that its future development plans will be equally revolutionary.

Why doesn’t Pataki want on-time budgets?
Governor Pataki’s vetoing of a budget reform bill that had bipartisan support in the State Legislature was a major disappointment, not the least because, in doing so, he failed to offer any counterproposal on just how he plans to insure the state’s budgets will be passed on time. For two decades late budgets and all this entails have plagued Albany. Too much time and energy are wasted on this repeated exercise in futility — time and energy that could be better spent working on laws and programs to help this state. If he is serious about passing the budget on time, the governor should step up and offer his own concrete reform proposal. Otherwise, it seems he is just playing power politics at the expense of New Yorkers.

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