Thursday, December 1, 2011

Last Night at City Hall

It was predictable. It was inevitable. Everyone knew the votes were there. Still when it happened, it was sobering and stunning. 

Last night, the Common Council passed four pieces of supporting legislation for the LWRP: the zoning amendments, the amendments to the zoning code and the city charter to create a local Coastal Consistency Review Board, and the charter amendment to create the position of a Harbor Master. These actions are being hailed in today's Register-Star headline as "passing the LWRP":  "Common Council passes LWRP." Only Third Ward Alderman Ellen Thurston voted against adopting the zoning amendments. Third Ward Alderman Chris Wagoner was absent, so his vote too was effectively a no vote.  

According to reports, the action was cause for celebration by members of the Common Council as well as members of the audience--Linda Mussmann and Rick Scalera. Common Council President Don Moore is quoted as saying, somewhat incomprehensibly, "This is a plan with specific projects and it's not something that you run up and down Warren Street proclaiming, but it's a very substaintial [sic] tool for people in the city that want to see the waterfront developed." Similarly, Scalera claimed the plan “brightens the future for our children and unshackles our waterfront for development.” 

By contrast, we're reminded of Nick Haddad's warning during the mayoral debate that it will be "very difficult to get necessary investment in place if it has to coexist with heavy industry," and his prediction that "what we want will not happen so long as the industry is in place."


  1. Our new Register Star reporter has caught up to a complex situation very quickly, and let readers be reminded of a dark subtext to last night's victory laps.

    Today's article was a very fair account of what the public and several aldermen have been complaining about for years: that there was little access to the process, and that whatever we could get passed their prevaricating goalie was always skewed in the end (e.g., changes made to the plan by the landowner which were then overwhelming rejected by the public were attributed to "the public comments").

    Good ideas and workable compromises were not just disregarded, they were shunned.

    I believe that the new reporter gets it now, while doing a very good job capturing the spirit. Opposition to the LWRP is not a question of a competing interest trying to commandeer the story to advance their own ends. All anyone has to do is to look closely at what transpired and there's enough to make any honest person wretch.

    It's the state's guidelines and laws that provide the stable thing to measure against, and not this or that local personality or set of interests.

    Also notice that the law was passed - a "map law" you could say - without a new map! With nothing to tell us where the district boundaries really are we were instructed that the LWRP Figure 27 map will suffice for now.

    That means that the landowner may put in for a permit and/or a variance before the districts are established since they are at last in their legal rights to do so.

    And when the state rejects the environmental impact statement, then what?

    What will happen when the entire action - the zoning, the Charter changes, the LWRP - have no impact statement?

    SEQRA is a law that the public is meant to enforce, so who believes that the city will stop itself from doing its worst now?

    The law means next to nothing in a place like this, with officials and politicians like ours. New York has got to be among the most corrupt states in the union.

    Someone should have said last night that the Common Council should investigate itself!

    Unfortunately the only two members of the public last night who were in opposition to the passing of the LWRP were two Gossips posters, "Prison Alley" and myself. Some had good excuses for not being their, but I have to say that this is a really pathetic place generally. Just pathetic.

  2. It is sad that the City raises itself to the level of its own incompetence and that the citizenry is basically unaware and apathetic. However, inspite of itself the City muddles on and in my 26 years on Warren St I have seen amazing changes, mostly driven by the much maligned 'newcomers' and it is still happening, so I hope that the riverfront will thrive. I feel very sad for the South Bay , split in two, and all its fragile inhabitants with the berm now open for whatever one landowner wants to do - this is the tragedy, because it will be a miracle if the vision many of us have, probably 49% of us, is realized.

  3. I agree, pathetic !
    But what can we do? all of the letters and public comments were thrown in the trash. Everyone seems to be asleep on this one. I feel like so many must have felt when they tore down the General Worth Hotel.

  4. Wagoner did not vote. That is not a 'no' it is a 'did not vote.'

    You cannot spin the news, or it is not news. That's just silly.

  5. Tom Roe--It was, as I said, "effectively" a no vote because only affirmative votes are counted when determining the outcome of a resolution.