NYS Seal For Immediate Release:
December 21, 2001
Silver Continues To Monitor Key Issues In Lower Manhattan To Help Bring About Resurgence Following 9/11 Attack

Speaker Co-chaired Series of Assembly Hearings on Environmental Concerns, Economic Impact, Rebuilding of Transportation and Utilities Infrastructure, Insurance Issues and Effects on Tourism

The resurgence of lower Manhattan in the aftermath of the World Trade Center terror attack could be significantly hampered by the lack of definitive information on vital issues and slow or insufficient responses by government agencies, according to testimony at a series of Assembly hearings co-chaired in recent weeks by Speaker Sheldon Silver.

"There is a long list of practical issues that must be addressed in order to ensure that commercial and residential vitality return to lower Manhattan, from how and where air quality is monitored to the structure of assistance programs for small businesses, " Silver said. "It will take years to rebuild, but there are many steps that we can and must take right now to preserve economic activity in the area and restore the confidence of those who live and work there."

Silver is a lifelong resident of the lower Manhattan, and his legislative district includes the World Trade Center site and the downtown financial district. His office is located a few blocks from ground zero.

The five hearings -- each of which lasted from four to eight hours -- included testimony from city, state and federal government officials, business owners, utility service providers, economic-development professionals, labor, health, medical and environmental organizations and community groups.

Specific issues discussed at the hearings included the following:
  • Conflicting information and lack of coordination regarding air quality in lower Manhattan
    Witnesses indicated that there has been little or no coordination of air quality testing, and noted that, while individual substances in the air may be at acceptable levels, little is known about the effect of the combination of substances that have been detected. "Residents and businesses do not have one place to call to get definitive information on this, and people are concerned because they have not been able to get answers," Silver said.

  • Difficulty for businesses, especially small businesses, in accessing assistance programs
    Silver and other Assembly members learned that a $250 million emergency loan program for small business in lower Manhattan has disbursed just $18 million. Business owners testified that sales were off as much as 40 percent, but noted that assistance programs did not offer the type of support they required or had application processes that were unnecessarily burdensome.

  • Need for more extensive marketing of New York City as a tourist destination
    Travel, tourism and related enterprises generate billions of dollars in revenues and provide thousands of jobs in New York City. Tourism in the city is down an estimated 40 percent since September 11, and the city convention and visitors bureau has proposed a multimillion-dollar increase in state support for city tourism marketing efforts.

  • Thousands of lower Manhattan residents are still without telephone service
    Utility executives reported that most phone lines are working again, but many still do not have service. The total cost to rebuild destroyed telephone and electricity lines and transportation infrastructure is expected to be billions of dollars.

  • Some insurance companies appear to be "redlining" lower Manhattan
    A state insurance official reported that some insurance companies had tried to stop writing policies in Manhattan south of 14th Street. Business owners reported that insurance premiums were being increased by 150 percent or more.

"It is important that we consider all of these issues now, both because of the central role that New York City plays in the state and national economies, and because of the significant challenges we face in developing the state budget for the 2002-2003 fiscal year," Silver noted.

He added that the Assembly will also hold additional hearings in January around the state regarding the upstate economy, higher education, energy policy and other issues related to the 2002-2003 budget.

Note: Following is a list of the five hearings held to date on lower Manhattan resurgence and the convening committees for each hearing.


Note: All hearings were co-chaired by Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver

Air quality and other environmental and public health issues in lower Manhattan
Monday, November 26

  • Environmental Conservation; Richard Brodsky (D-Greenburgh), chair
  • Health; Richard Gottfried (D-Manhattan), chair
  • Labor; Catherine Nolan (D-Queens), chair

Overall impact on New York City's economy, and strategies for economic resurgence
Thursday, December 6

  • Economic Development, Job Creation, Commerce & Industry; Robin Schimminger (D-Kenmore), chair
  • Small Business; Robert Sweeney (D-Lindenhurst), chair
  • Labor; Catherine Nolan (D-Queens), chair

Tourism in New York City in the aftermath of 9/11
Friday, December 7

  • Tourism, Arts & Sports Development; Joseph Morelle (D-Irondequoit), chair

Rebuilding transportation and utilities infrastructure in lower Manhattan
Monday, December 10

  • Corporations, Authorities and Committees; Albert Vann (D-Brooklyn), chair
  • Energy Committee Paul Tonko; (D-Amsterdam), chair
  • Transportation Committee; David Gantt (D-Rochester), chair
  • Commission on Critical Transportation Choices; Ruben Diaz, Jr. (D-Bronx), chair

Insurance industry response to WTC victims and claims
Wednesday, December 12

  • Insurance; Alexander B. Grannis (D-Manhattan), chair

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