Sounding off about a quieter city

Volume 17 • Issue 4 | June 18 – 24, 2004


Hastert and Bush: Will they keep the train link moving?

House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert said a week ago that he thought Congress would approve more money to help Downtown rebuild after 9/11. “I think there will be some more,” he told Downtown Express during an appearance in New York on June 7. “Some of that is for transportation.”

The short statement revealed several things — all of them positive. An Illinois Republican who is not expected to ever run for national office, Hastert would suffer few if any repercussions if he echoed that famous Daily News headline about President Gerald Ford’s presumed thoughts on New York: “Ford to City: Drop Dead.” It was good to hear the speaker express his support for Lower Manhattan, and it was even better to learn that he is obviously hearing the Downtown-lobbying message from someone. Political and business leaders are supporting transferring an estimated $2.5 billion in unused tax benefits for Lower Manhattan for a rail link between J.F.K. Airport and the Long Island Rail Road.

The preferred option, a new tunnel in the East River, would slash commuting times Downtown by 15 minutes, according to initial estimates, would get travelers to the airport in about 36 minutes and would allow for the extension of the E and a proposed Second Ave. subway line into Brooklyn. These benefits, taken together, would justify the $6 billion cost because they would undoubtedly lead to jobs and economic development well beyond the costs.

Even with the $2.5 billion transfer, there will still be at least a $1 billion shortfall for the rail link. Gov. Pataki said a while ago that he thought President Bush would have more 9/11 related money for Downtown. The Pataki needs to make the musing a reality before November, when the president still has incentive to help.

City newsstand error

The most important facts about the disputed newsstand outside 199 Water St. are not in dispute. The city Dept. of Consumer Affairs gave Monali Patel permission to invest money to build a newsstand near the building. After Patel’s family built the stand, the city found out it may have granted permission for a stand on privately-owned land and it has not given the Patels a license to open.

At this point we are sure Gretchen Dykstra, commissioner of Consumer Affairs, owes the Patels an apology; we are just not sure of the exact reason. Either her agency mistakenly gave the Patels the go ahead to spend money on land the city does not have jurisdiction over, or it has unfairly delayed the family from opening their business.

As we report in this issue, the Patels say they have already spent $30,000 constructing the stand. The building’s owner, Resnick Seaport L.L.C. – yes that’s the same Resnick who has plans for a Liberty Bond funded tower on Site 5C in Tribeca – asserts that it owns the sidewalk where the stand was built. Consumer Affairs is currently trying to mediate the dispute between all of the parties. If Resnick in fact owns the land, then he certainly has the right not to have a newsstand on his property. If that is the case, it is up to Dykstra, who was hired by Mayor Bloomberg, to come up with a solution in which the Patels don’t end up paying for bureaucratic mistakes.

So long, Dudley

Every life has value so we, like many Tribecans, were of course saddened to learn about the death of Dudley, the beloved avuncular canine presence who frequented Dudley’s Paw for the last 14 years. Longtime residents may remember him as a puppy when his owner, Yvonne Fox, opened the pet store in 1991. Others recall the big friendly dog who was only happy to greet children and adults walking along Greenwich St. A hearty dog, he brought smiles to many – would we be able to say this about all humans on their passing — and was a reminder that Tribeca is still a place where small neighborhood shops with their individual charms can make it. Our condolences to Yvonne.

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