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Citizens Union

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"It Is Disappointing That So Many Decisions Have Already Been Made"


Margaret Hughes, Good Old Lower East Side

"Good Old Lower East Side is a member of the Rebuild with a Spotlight on the Poor Coalition. We joined this coalition of community-based and citywide groups because we believe that it is essential that low-income communities have a voice in the Rebuild process.

In Lower Manhattan Development Corporation (LMDC)'s principles we congratulate LMDC for making decisions based on an open and inclusive process as its first principle. However, given that this is the first public hearing that the LMDC has held it is disappointing to have to point out that so many decisions have already been made. This includes the decision to have $1.05 billion overseen by the Empire State Development Corporation. Apparently, LMDC without public input has already made the decision that they as the publicly charged--publicly overseen corporation will not oversee economic development but will cede that authority to ESDC, a quasi-private corporation. This raises the question of what the role of LMDC is. If LMDC sees itself as a planning agency only, what is it doing with its funding from the federal government and why doesn't it see planning as including the development of affordable housing, workforce development, health care issues and the other issues impacting on lower Manhattan?

In other principles, LMDC states they plan to assist the rapid revitalization of Lower Manhattan and to support the economic vitality. It is important that affordable housing be considered part of this economic development as Housing First can make clear. It is my understanding that the Port Authority does not see housing as part of its charge for the 16 acres. As a basic necessity or economic development, affordable housing needs to be a factor. In addition, LMDC has revitalization for a larger area. It can support the efforts of Good Jobs New York to utilize Private Activity Bonds for the development of this housing. At this point, the urban design RFP guidelines do not include affordable housing. We ask that LMDC charge Beyer Blinder Belle to include affordable housing in its design plans.

Andrew Friedman in his column, Towers and Tenements in the Village Voice, indicates that what is missing are 'assurances that Lower Manhattan will remain a place where New Yorkers with a range of incomes can male a life for themselves. Andrew Friedman captures the vision of what we want: 'the mosaic city, the accidental-interactions city, the human-scale city, the mixed-use and mixed-income city, the free city.'

So we are here today - not looking to the LMDC nor the ESDC nor the Port Authority but to the Governor of New York State. We feel that it is incumbent that Governor Pataki take a more direct and active approach in this by ensuring that all of his constituents are included in this process. We need him to recognize that we are not invisible low-income residents. That we are the people who elect him and that he must take off his coat now and stand with us ready to fight a war not on terrorism but a war for the future of New York City - a war that will eliminate all low and moderate-income communities from Manhattan and the City if we do not stand together."

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