Albany doesn’t usually train its budgetary spotlight on NYC’s outer boroughs. But this year, Gov. Andrew Cuomo proposed eventually spending more than $3 billion to revitalize a wide swath of Brooklyn and redevelop the long-maligned Sheridan Expressway in the Bronx. Those ideas might bring with them the economic vitality those neighborhoods need.
Cuomo has said his $1.4 billion Vital Brooklyn plan, which was approved by the State Legislature and will cover communities ranging from East New York and Bushwick to Crown Heights and Canarsie, will add parks, job training and environmental education programs to the area. It earmarks $563 million for 3,000 units of affordable housing at six unspecified state-owned sites. And it’ll focus on central Brooklyn’s unacceptable hole in health care services.
Half of the total budgeted funds in Cuomo’s proposal will go to a new 36-site network of urgent care sites, and upgrades to health care facilities, state officials said. That’s especially important, since too many of the city’s health care offerings are based in Manhattan, not near the neighborhoods where people need the care.
Meanwhile, Cuomo promised $1.8 billion overall to remake the dangerous and unsightly Sheridan Expressway, adding walkways for pedestrians and ramps for trucks, while widening medians and improving landscaping. This is a long-awaited change that should take trucks off local roads, ease traffic, and, most important, connect South Bronx communities to the waterfront.
The focus on central Brooklyn and the South Bronx is welcome. But now, Cuomo has to provide details, from how the state defines “affordable” in its housing plans, to when and where ambulatory health care units will emerge, to how the plans for the Sheridan will come to fruition. Detailed timetables and community input are necessary, too.
Better cooperation between state and city officials would enhance these projects. Many of Cuomo’s and Mayor Bill de Blasio’s goals are the same. If they work together, they can help NYC more.