NYS Seal For Immediate Release:
March 7, 2002
Silver Outlines New Strategies For Revitalization And Resurgence Of Lower Manhattan

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 today.

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 and cleaning.
    • 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 City.


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