David Dyssegaard Kallick in an op ed piece in Newsday says LMDC has made an Orwellian bargain of giving developers everything they want to support the Big Mall at Ground Zero at the expense of what the neighborhood wants.
After 3 1/2 years of sophisticated and passionate input from the public, the Lower Manhattan Development Corp., which controls the funds, recently issued a report on its funding priorities. The LMDC, which is a public authority controlled by the governor and the mayor, came to the conclusion that what the public wants is the same thing major downtown developers want: massive commercial office development, an underground mall, a series of large-scale projects around lower Manhattan, and a rail link for suburban commuters and the JFK airport.
It is an Orwellian distortion of the idea of democratic participation for the LMDC to take the outpouring of public interest in the rebuilding process and claim that it supports a program so deeply at odds with what the city wants.
People said they want to see projects that will maintain and enhance the texture, character and diversity of downtown neighborhoods. They want to expand the capacity of community institutions rather than parachuting in fancy new “destinations.” They want investments that benefit local residents and workers, not just tourists and commuters. And there has been a real Jane Jacobs, “small is beautiful” aesthetic to all of the input, with support for small businesses, schools, libraries, community centers, job-training facilities and day care - not for Robert Moses-style megaprojects.
David Dyssegaard Kallick is senior fellow of the Fiscal Policy Institute and coordinator of the Labor Community Advocacy Network to Rebuild New York.
There’s a bit of irony that Newsday, the Long Island commuters paper, would publish this since the biggest pork barrell investment downtown is the $6 Billion rail link from Long Island Railroad’s Jamaica Station to Downtown which will save commuters perhaps 20 to 40 minutes getting downtown and will provide a direct train to JFK Airport.
Even before 911 Downtown was being transitioning from a business to a residential neighborhood. The massive investments are intended to lure businesses back. However, business generally do not like the one-industry, narrow, dark confines of downtown while there seems to be no end to the number of individuals who are willing to live there.
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