Letters to The Editor, July 12, 2018

It’s the operating funds

To The Editor:

Re “Future of Pier 40” (editorial, June 28):

Thank you for your editorial about Pier 40. It is indeed time, as you write, “to start thinking, once again, about this critical pier’s future.”

Since you wrote about the finances of Hudson River Park, I just wanted to clarify the distinction between capital and operating funds in the park.

The $100 million from the sale of development rights to the St. Johns Terminal project will be used exclusively for the capital expense of repairing the piles at Pier 40.

The $50 million from the city and $50 million from the state are also capital grants to be used for building out new sections of the park, and that’s what the vast majority of income from the sale of park air rights to Block 675 in Chelsea will do, too.

The difficult question of how best to develop Pier 40 is a matter of covering operating expenses: Once the park is built, it’s going to need a projected $48 million a year to run it — to take out the trash, provide security, keep the lights on and water the plants — as well as to pay for capital maintenance, like replacing playground equipment and repairing bulkheads and piers.

Pier 40 contributes 25 percent of the park’s operating budget, and the Hudson River Park Trust needs the W. Houston St. pier to continue to do so, since there are only a few places in the park where the Trust is allowed to make its operating income.

The park has to generate its own money. Yes, the Hudson River Park Act says that the park will support itself “to the extent practicable.” But, in fact, during its 20-year history, the park has never received revenue from the city and the state for operating and maintenance expenses. It seems crazy, given the park’s huge contribution to economic development and to quality of life — and we should all be fighting for government to do more. Still, it’s unlikely that the city and state will start coughing up that kind of cash annually, especially with the level of deferred maintenance that most city and state parks have incurred during the past 20 years.

It’s wonderful that our elected officials see the benefit in completing Hudson River Park. Those capital appropriations are critical to building more playgrounds and gardens. But once we have the chance to enjoy these, we still need solutions for maintaining them. We’ve had a long public process, with more community input to come. The time to rebuild Pier 40 is now.

Susanna Aaron
Aaron is secretary, Hudson River Park Friends board of directors

 

C’mon, Gjonaj, don’t lie

To The Editor:

Re “Gjonaj rallies for small business, but is vague on S.B.J.S.A.” (news article, July 5):

The narrative that this is a “collection of issues” does not pass muster. It’s about affordable rent and the right to renew one’s lease, so affordable rent can continue and small businesses can stay in their spaces. It’s not rocket science.

Zoning for formula retail, lessening the red tape, etc., are helpful, but affordable rent is everything and should be the priority — which is what the Small Business Jobs Survival Act does. This is something that Mr. Gjonaj does understand and is consciously working against, so he can do the bidding of his luxury developer friends. Gjonaj himself is a landlord and doesn’t seem to understand that taking money from the real estate lobby is a bad thing.

I had a quick conversation with the councilman after the June 28 rally. It’s not enough, Mr. Gjonaj, that you “came from poverty” and that all journalists “are haters” when they report your ties to your real estate buddies.

If you take Real Estate Board of New York money, meet with REBNY lobbyists and then create impotent legislation that doesn’t truly solve the citywide crisis of dying small businesses — but ultimately keeps REBNY profits high — you are going to get what you deserve: getting voted out of office. If it can happen to Joe Crowley, it can happen to you. And you will have no one to blame but yourself.

Marni Halasa

 

E-mail letters, not longer than 250 words in length, to [email protected] or fax to 212-229-2790 or mail to The Villager, Letters to the Editor, 1 MetroTech North, 10th floor, Brooklyn, NY 11201. Please include phone number for confirmation purposes. The Villager reserves the right to edit letters for space, grammar, clarity and libel. Anonymous letters will not be published.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *