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Complete the Full Second Avenue Subway Now


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Second Aveue Subway construction (samschwartz.com)


Ask a hundred people who live on the East Side what they love about their neighborhood and you'll hear a hundred different answers. Ask the same people what is their least favorite thing about where they live and you'll hear the same refrain over and over: it's too far from the subway!

New York neighborhoods live or die based on their proximity to public transit. The far East Side, from Third Avenue to East End Avenue, has always suffered due to its distance from the Lexington line, the only subway line operating in the 8 full avenue blocks between Central Park and the East River.The Lexington line serves an average of 1.3 million riders each day – more than the average daily ridership of any other entire transit system in the US.

The Second Avenue Subway offers the promise of public transit to the East Side to neighborhoods long isolated. When Phase 1 opens in 2016, the entire East Side will enjoy the same easy access to subways as the rest of Manhattan. New Yorkers who live and work on the far East Side will finally know what it's like to catch a train just a couple of blocks away.

Where, though, will that train take them?

As of 2016, not very far. The first phase of the Second Avenue Subway, opening in 2016, will only extend the Q line from 57th Street to 96th Street. While this will provide some much-needed relief on the Lexington line, it doesn't truly solve the problem: a dearth of subway access east of the entire length of Lexington Avenue.

Extending the Q train four stops only helps Upper East Siders travelling to destinations near Broadway (mostly on the West Side in midtown.); it does nothing to connect uptown and downtown on the East Side, the route where the need is most critical. True transportation equity requires a full build of the Second Avenue Subway, from 125th Street to Hanover Square.

It is unclear if the MTA is prepared to seamlessly move forward with construction. The MTA's Twenty-Year Capital Needs Assessment, released in October 2013, devotes only three paragraphs (out of 140 pages) to the Second Avenue Subway construction, noting that "[i]mplementation of future...phases will need to take into account MTA's ability to fund and plan each functional incremental stage." The decade old Environmental Impact Statement for the project has not yet been updated, one of the very first steps the MTA will have to take to plan for future phases. As of yet, no concrete steps have been taken to ensure that construction of the Second Avenue Subway will continue past Phase 1.

This is an enormous mistake.

It's a mistake to introduce a delay of any kind into this construction process. When Phase 1 concludes in 2016, the team of thousands that has made this project possible will disband without a new phase to move on to. Any pause between phases, no matter how slight, will result in a loss of institutional knowledge, equipment, staff and experienced contractors, and cause future delays.

It's also a mistake to miss out on the lowest interest rates we're likely to see for decades. Right now is a perfect time to raise capital to continue Second Avenue Subway construction. In order to take advantage of this, we need to build as much as we can, as quickly as possible. Rather than simply moving forward on only Phase 2, the MTA should finance and begin construction on both Phase 2 and Phase 3 simultaneously. We must build a subway that meets the urgent need that was the impetus for the 2nd Avenue Subway more than 80 years ago.

As New Yorkers, we all know the benefits that subway access can bring. We've already seen the far East Side spring to life in the last few years in anticipation of the opening of Phase 1. However, we also know that partially finished projects usually don't deliver any of the promised benefits – building half a bridge is just a waste of money.

Extending the existing Q line a mere 40 blocks does not fulfill the promise of the Second Avenue Subway. It's time to boldly move forward and begin financing, planning and building the next phases of this project. The East Side has waited long enough for transit equity.

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Assemblymember Dan Quart represents the 73rd District on Manhattan's East Side and is a member of the Committee on Corporations, Authorities and Commissions, which oversees the MTA

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Unleashing the Economic Power of the 35 Percent


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Mayor de Blasio announces 'Jobs for New Yorkers' (photo: nyc.gov)


For many New Yorkers, the Great Recession is an increasingly distant memory. Employment in the city has surpassed pre-recession levels, bolstered by more than 312,000 jobs added between 2010 and 2013. Wall Street is enjoying a bull market stretching into its sixth year, and home values across the five boroughs have rebounded sharply. One group of New Yorkers has not shared in the recovery, however: low-skilled young adults. Indeed, their economic struggles predated the downturn, and absent drastic policy changes they will continue indefinitely.

Approximately 305,000 young adult New Yorkers - approximately 35 percent of the city's total 18- to 24-year old population - are either out of school and not working, or employed in low-wage jobs with limited advancement opportunities. Without targeted support, the large majority of them will struggle to achieve steady employment and financial independence, and many could face homelessness, incarceration and serious health problems. At the same time, New York City employers will miss out on the energy, technological sophistication and creativity of these young adults.

Since its creation in 2006, JobsFirstNYC has worked to develop strategies and mobilize stakeholders to connect young adults with limited education and work experience to the New York City labor market. In July, JobsFirstNYC released Unleashing the Economic Power of the 35 Percent, featuring a four-pronged plan to help New York City young adults get on a path toward career-track employment and economic security. Key elements of the plan include:

1. A set of sectoral partnerships to help young adults prepare for careers in high-demand fields;
2. Training and apprenticeship programs to create a pipeline of skilled workers within those sectors;
3. A network of community-based Opportunity Centers to help out-of-school, out-of-work young adults get back on track through employment and education programming; and,
4. A one-stop web portal providing career information and access to education, training and career resources.

Over the last several decades, New York City's labor market has changed in ways that have made it all but impossible for young adults without education and training beyond high school to access middle-wage jobs. For the most part, the city now creates high-wage jobs that require four-year college degrees and specialized training, or low-wage, low-skilled positions in sectors such as food service and retail. But young adults can fill many of the middle-skilled jobs that remain, in fields like computer support, building maintenance and welding, so long as they can get the required training and have access to employers—assets the public workforce system can help to provide.

Together, the four initiatives detailed in Unleashing the Economic Power of the 35 Percent would represent a seamless, employer-focused and community-based system to effectively engage out-of-school, out-of-work and at-risk young adults while adding to New York City's human capital stock. Successful implementation would require an unprecedented commitment not only from city government, but from the private sector and philanthropy as well.

From a public finance perspective, this is an investment with enormous potential return. Economists have estimated the aggregate cost of lower earnings, foregone tax revenues, and higher public spending for housing, corrections, and social services at nearly $300 billion over the course of the lifetimes of the "35 Percent." Reducing their numbers would free up tens of millions of dollars each year for other uses.

Improving the fortunes of the 35 Percent should be high on the de Blasio administration's to-do list. Few if any policy initiatives would do more to advance the mayor's goal of expanding economic opportunity, and the recent convening of the Jobs for New Yorkers Task Force to overhaul workforce development in New York City provides a perfect opportunity for the mayor to name support for young adults as a top priority. Above all else, leadership—from City Hall, the business community, and philanthropy—is needed to help young New Yorkers realize their full potential to contribute to the city economy.

***
Louis Miceli is Executive Director of JobsFirstNYC, a nonprofit focused on connecting young adults to the economic life of New York City.

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On National Night Out, Vision for a Safer Brooklyn


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Commissioner Bratton, left, and Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, the author (photo: Kathryn Kirk/BK BP's office)


There are many things that have contributed to the Brooklyn renaissance, but perhaps no factor has been more essential than New York's transformation into America's safest big city. Places like McCarren Park in Williamsburg, a hot spot for drug-dealing during my days patrolling the 94th Precinct, are now a peaceful haven for stroller sets, as real estate values in the surrounding area continue to climb to all-time highs. Every investment that the public and private sectors make in our neighborhoods is predicated on the foundation of public safety, either in its maintenance or its ongoing improvement.

The reduction in crime that began in the 1990s was sparked by the leadership of Bill Bratton, a public servant who our city is fortunate to have back as the city's police commissioner. Early on in this second tour of duty, we have seen his analytical, proactive approach to crime fighting be enhanced by the progressive vision of Mayor Bill de Blasio, who has turned the page on the days where bias-based policing was thought to be the only way to keep New Yorkers safe.

The duo has already moved forward to improve relationships between police and community by ending the arbitrary use of stop, question and frisk and halting the humiliating surveillance of Muslims, while instituting a seven-point plan to train officers on the norms of neighborhood courtesy, professionalism, and respect. They moved to improve security at NYCHA by adding more cameras, outdoor lighting, and patrolmen, and they introduced the "Summer All-Out" program to put more cops on our streets in response to community conditions on the ground.

More can and must be done to ensure public safety for all, actions that go beyond the reach of City Hall and One Police Plaza. With the recent spike in shootings and the possession of illegal handguns, we must have a dialogue on this National Night Out that addresses this crisis's root causes.

I want to initiate the conversation to answer these issues. As a 22-year veteran of New York's Finest and an office-holder of over seven years, my experience guides me to recommend strategies addressing three areas: mental health awareness, intergovernmental coordination to curb the flow of illegal arms, and community accountability.

There is a real mental health problem for our communities, and we need to understand how it affects our perception of public safety. We shun and resent family members with illnesses because of the difficulties meeting their specialized needs. This should not be the case, as it establishes a pattern of hurt people hurting people. Without resources or a support system when abandoned by family, our mentally ill become a public risk to safety. Rather than abandoning our brothers and sisters burdened by mental illness, we should provide them with greater access to treatment so that they do not end up on our streets or in our jail cells; we need to sympathize and empathize, not ostracize and stigmatize.

Creating a culture of information sharing and collaboration between city agencies and community organizations is another logical, and overdue, step to improving our safety. Illegal handguns are flooding into our streets from southern states with looser laws. While we have made appeals to Congress for intervention, our appeals have fallen on deaf ears. We cannot accept inaction from Washington on life and death matters; however, given the current state of national politics, we have to focus in the short term on the capabilities of our own city, its agencies, and its people. The aforementioned strategy for safer public housing should be a road map for future coordinated efforts, where we might be able to create partnerships for city, state and federal authorities to halt gun trafficking and educate our youth of the dangers of carrying and distributing weapons.

Lastly, we need to hold our communities accountable for failing to provide opportunities for our young people or to raise them with a sense of urgency to find employment, pursue education, and avoid the allure of gangs. Parents can fix this by teaching children the values of civic engagement and having a sincere discussion with their children about their dreams for the future. They must also play a real role in checking on their sons' and daughters' activities and ensuring they are free from the grips of drugs and weapons.

There is no single solution for stopping crime and preventing violence in our streets. We as a community, including parents, relatives, friends, and neighbors, have to be the definition of our brothers' and sisters' keepers. We are seeing something, but right now, we are not all saying something. This is part of better police-community relations, and it speaks to our societal responsibility to each other. Once this is understood, we can see further reductions in violence and the continued evolution of Brooklyn's renaissance.

***
Eric Adams is Brooklyn Borough President and a former New York State Senator and member of the NYPD.

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