Much more needs to be done now to revitalize Lower Manhattan's residential and business
communities in the aftermath of September 11 to bring about the resurgence of the area
and to protect those who live and work downtown, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said
Key elements in Silver's wide-ranging proposal to spur and support the revitalization
and resurgence of Lower Manhattan include a sales-tax-free week coinciding with the
Fourth of July holiday, declaring September 11 a state holiday and several initiatives
aimed at improving air quality in Lower Manhattan.
Silver outlined the plan at a news conference today at his offices at 250 Broadway, just
a few blocks from ground zero. He was joined at the event by elected officials, business
leaders and community representatives from many of the neighborhoods still struggling
with the effects of the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center.
"The terrible events of September 11 touched the lives and hearts of people
everywhere - across the United States and around the world - but none were more impacted
than my neighbors and me, and all those who live and work in Lower Manhattan," Silver
said. "We must show people everywhere that we will rebuild, that the vibrant
residential community here - which we worked hard to build - will continue to be a great
place for New Yorkers to make their homes, and that the many businesses that are located
here will survive and thrive."
Silver presented the following proposals as forward-looking strategies for sustaining
Lower Manhattan revitalization:
- Observance of a 9/11 Remembrance Day state holiday "In
remembrance of the casualties of the World Trade Center attack and to honor the
heroes who came to their rescue, I will sponsor legislation to establish September
11 as a New York State holiday," Silver said.
- "Celebrating the Birth of our Nation and the Rebirth of our
City" with a Sales-Tax-Free Fourth of July Week in Lower Manhattan
All retail sales of taxable items and services valued at up to $500 in the Lower
Manhattan Resurgence Zone - which includes Soho and other areas south of Houston
Street - would be exempt from state sales and compensating use taxes.
- Cultural and tourism revitalization promotion Federal Community
Development funds would be used to create a comprehensive promotional campaign to
bring visitors into Lower Manhattan from other areas of Manhattan, other boroughs
of the city, suburbs and beyond to visit cultural institutions, attend theatre
performances, shop in retail establishments and dine in restaurants. Special
programs would be developed for the Sales-Tax-Free Fourth of July Week.
- Addressing vital air quality issues to protect those who live, work and
attend school in Lower Manhattan
- Clean air in schools Grants totaling $8 million would be made to
public elementary, middle and high schools for air monitoring equipment, new
ventilation systems and other measures to maintain high air quality.
- Reduce diesel emissions Legislation expected to be approved in the
Assembly in the coming weeks (A.10130/Silver) will require the use of low-sulfur
fuel in diesel trucks and equipment at ground zero. Hundreds of diesel trucks
and diesel-powered engines are in use every day at ground zero to clean up the
site and remove debris, and diesel-powered equipment will continue to be used
there for redevelopment construction. "The use of low-sulfur fuel would
immediately reduce emissions of particulate matter by an estimated 40
percent," Silver said. "Low-sulfur fuel is readily available, and has
been used by the MTA in its entire diesel bus fleet for more than a year."
- Provide for monitoring of air quality in residential settings around Lower
Manhattan Efforts to address critical public health concerns raised by the
uncertainty of air quality in individual residences in neighborhoods throughout
Lower Manhattan will be enhanced. Silver also urged better coordination of testing
- Legislative hearing on air quality The Assembly will convene a
legislative hearing to consider short- and long-term effects of air quality issues
in Lower Manhattan on residents, workers at ground zero, students and employees of
businesses in the area. City, state and federal government officials, business
owners, residents, labor, health, medical and environmental organizations and
community groups will be invited to testify, as a follow-up to an Assembly hearing
on this matter held last November.
- Coordination of infrastructure repairs and redevelopment and environmental
monitoring Silver called on the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation (LMDC)
to create dedicated units to oversee infrastructure and environmental monitoring.
- Infrastructure repairs and rebuilding projects, especially those on
public thoroughfares, would be coordinated to minimize personal and economic disruption
to residents and businesses.
- Monitoring of air quality and other environmental conditions would be
coordinated in conjunction with the federal Environmental Protection Agency, to ensure
that residents and businesses are informed of important environmental and health factors and remedies.
- Property tax repayment agreements for residential and commercial property
owners Silver called upon the New York City Commissioner of Finance to negotiate
property tax arrears repayment agreements with residential and commercial property owners
south of Houston Street.
- Assistance for residents of Lower Manhattan
- Assistance Plan for Individuals needs improvement Silver called the LMDC's
Assistance Plan for Individuals "a good start," but said that grant and bonus
caps should be raised, resident property owners should be compensated for loss of value
in addition to receiving incentives to stay in Lower Manhattan, and impact zones should
be expanded to include all who have been affected.
- Rent strikes and outstanding resident actions must be resolved The governor,
mayor and LMDC must work with the Battery Park City Authority to reach a negotiated
settlement of the rent strike there without further negative impact on residents. Any
eviction or foreclosure proceedings in the area relating to rent strikes or similar
actions must be halted.
- Greater support from the federal government
- Unemployment Insurance and Disaster Unemployment Insurance must be extended
for 13 weeks.
- Utility rates "The fact that 9/11 was not a natural disaster but an
act of war on all Americans that occurred in New York City has been recognized by
President George W. Bush in his repeated promises to provide $20 billion in initial
federal recovery aid," Silver said. "Part of that money should be available
to offset the cost of rebuilding our utility infrastructure. Residents and businesses
in Lower Manhattan should not bear this cost."
- Relocation of Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) offices to Lower
Manhattan "I respectfully call upon Governor Pataki to follow the example
of Governor Hugh Carey, who responded during another time of crisis in our city by moving
the Urban Development Corporation offices to Times Square to spur growth and
resurgence," Silver said. "It is now time for the ESDC to move to Lower Manhattan
and send a similar message of hope and renewal."
Silver was joined at today's event by:
- Assemblymember Deborah Glick (D-Manhattan)
- City Council Speaker Gifford Miller
- Council Member Alan Gerson, who represents Lower Manhattan
- Downtown Alliance President Carl Weisbrod
- Community School District #1 Superintendent Helen Santiago
- Community School District #2 Superintendent Shelley Harwayne
- Chris Kui, Asian-Americans for Equality
- Julie Menin, Wall Street Rising founder and executive director
- Po Ling Ng, executive director, Project Open Door
- David Chan, Chinatown Planning Council
- John Fratta, Southbridge Towers
- Other local community leaders
Speaker Silver is a life-long resident of Lower Manhattan. His legislative district includes
the World Trade Center site as well as the Lower East Side, Little Italy, Chinatown, the
Financial District, Civic Center and courts area, South Street Seaport area, and Battery Park