The Bronx to Get Another Golf Course in 2010Today the city issued a request for proposals to create a public golf course at Ferry Point Park, a patch of covered landfill at the Throgs Neck waterfront, in two years. Would-be developers have eight weeks to propose how that course will lie. (That’s golf talk, isn’t it?) Plans for an eighteen-hole links course at Ferry Point Park predate Mayor Bloomberg’s overarching PlaNYC, but if it gets done soon, it would be a good centerpiece for the master plan. Like many PlaNYC projects, including the conversion of Staten Island’s Fresh Kills landfill into a huge and sumptuous park, this aims to green up a dead place. It’s no easy task: Trees won’t grow on old landfill (hence the brilliance of a golf course), and the winning developer must propose an irrigation scheme to tax the city water table as little as possible. And it must harmonize with “the principles of green design,” which presumably means extra points if a windmill on the course generates electricity for the South Bronx. Is there a Bobby Jones out there for this bog? Your city needs you. —Alec Appelbaum
Construction of a tournament-quality golf course at Ferry Point Park in the Borough of the Bronx [PDF]
A Guide to Dan Doctoroff’s Unfinished BusinessDan Doctoroff is leaving City Hall with a lot of big real-estate projects unfinished, but he’s done his best to make sure they have the momentum and guidance to be completed in his absence (which meant coordinating a lot of egos and favors). The mayor remains urgent about his green agenda, and the staff Doctoroff leaves behind seems to click. Plus, he’s not exactly dropping off the grid: “One of the great things about going to [Bloomberg LP] is I’m not going to be that far away,” he told us, murkily. But without strong-willed Doctoroff forcing players to negotiate, will everything go according to plan? After the jump, a handy guide to Doctoroff’s key reform campaigns, with assurances from Doctoroff himself included. Think of it as a cheat sheet for who now controls their (and our) future. —Alec Appelbaum
Dan Doctoroff May Still Save UsDan Doctoroff insisted at today’s quickie press conference that “everything will keep going” on the city’s construction front despite his departure. But is the position he’s leaving one that requires his specific personality? As the mayor noted, Doctoroff broke the patronage-or-paralysis mold that used to define big city projects. “By integrating economic development with city planning, affordable housing, and parks for the first time, Dan created a new model,” said Bloomberg. “His best was as good as it gets.” (The famously droll mayor seemed genuinely cranky at chatter when the meeting started and misty when he summed up his adieu.) And Doctoroff may still retain the power to help patch up the city’s cracked infrastructure.
Bloomberg Won’t Wait for Congestion Pricing
Mayor Bloomberg wants his congestion-pricing plan, and he wants it now. That’s what he told a largely sympathetic, lunch-sated audience at the Regional Plan Association’s annual meeting today, when he said he’ll insist Albany approves funding for PlaNYC’s congestion-pricing and transit measures in the next six weeks. The necessary legislation will “have to be in this legislative session,” he said in one of several deviations from his prepared text — and the legislative session ends in the middle of next month. “The reason the legislature doesn’t do what we want is we haven’t gone to them and said, give us what we need, or else,” the mayor said in another improvised bit. Later in the speech, he turned more conciliatory, reiterating a promise to implement short-term transit improvements like extra traffic cops in 22 driver-heavy neighborhoods. “The leaders in Albany really want to get together and get this going,” he added. “It will be a phenomenal legacy for them.” Let’s see if they agree. —Alec Appelbaum
PlaNYC Fine Print: Gnarly New Parks, Dude, But Who’ll Prune the Trees?Mayor Bloomberg’s PlaNYC 2030 blueprint isn’t all doom and gloom. To keep the city’s projected 9 million inhabitants from cranking their environment-destroying A/C, you’ve got to give them places to play. So part of the plan calls for finishing eight major parks abandoned in decades past — with amenities that might be better suited to ESPN2 than Channel 13. There’ll be a salt marsh to explore in the Bronx’s Soundview Park, Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe told us, and a cricket pitch near the nature preserve in Highland Park, on the northeastern Brooklyn-Queens border. To keep New Yorkers in shape even during the annual monsoonlike rainfalls we’ll be experiencing, there’ll be a new indoor running track at Ocean Breeze Park, near Staten Island’s South Beach. Community boards will get a chance to submit additional ideas starting this fall.
As Bloomberg Appoints New Transportation Chief, It’s Full Speed Ahead on Congestion PricingMayor Bloomberg announced this afternoon that environmentalists’ preferred candidate, Janette Sadik-Khan, will be the new commissioner of the Transportation Department. Sadik-Kahn’s appointment had been rumored since last week, and her selection puts muscle behind the transit element of Bloomberg’s PlaNYC green goals, like instituting congestion pricing in Manhattan. Indeed, the city has submitted a “conditional application” for federal funds to help pay for the congestion-pricing experiment in advance of a Monday deadline, Deputy Mayor Dan Doctoroff said at the same press conference, though the state must also join the application and hasn’t yet done so. Bloomberg was working the angles. “The geography of New York lends itself to something like this,” he said. “It will make deliveries quicker for trucking companies, and it’s a godsend for them … This will clean up our air and improve our economy, and the fact that money is available for technology that has been refined in other cities is a lucky thing, so I’m terribly optimistic.” If only the road to Washington didn’t go through Albany, we’d be optimistic too. —Alec Appelbaum
Dan Doctoroff Discovers Communities
Dan Doctoroff has a big title — Deputy Mayor for Economic Development and Rebuilding — and even bigger ambitions. But as he hits the hustings to sell the mayor’s environmentally friendly PlaNYC 2030 package he’s finally started embracing small-ball politics. PlaNYC’s proposal to build potentially huge housing complexes on decks over rail yards and highways, he said at a New School forum this morning, will proceed at a pace set by the affected community boards — not by Olympic committees or neighborhood-swallowing developers. “The lesson of Hudson Yards and Atlantic Yards is to get communities involved upfront,” he told us after the event, though he wouldn’t specify which areas he sees as ripe for this affordable-housing development. “We’ve learned, before we even go public with an idea, to reach out to the local community.” Imagine that! (Oh, also, he confirmed the key non-word is pronounced “plan-why-see.” Now you know.) —Alec Appelbaum
PlaNYC Fine Print: Waiting for AlbanyMayor Bloomberg might be getting the credit — or the blame, depending on where you sit — for his pushing the idea of battling Manhattan traffic by instituting a fee to drive in prime neighborhoods at peak hours, but the truth is it’s not his call. It’s the state’s. To start, no municipality can limit access to public roads without the state’s okay. And even with that okay, to pay for the necessary infrastructure — how the city will track cars and bill their drivers — Bloomberg wants to apply for funding from a $1.2 billion federal fund, and federal rules say the state would have to join that application. Finally, to make clear that the city isn’t merely seeking to burden outer-borough and suburban drivers, Bloomberg is promising major transit improvements to allow people to get into the city center without driving — and he plans to pay for those improvements with funds raised by the congestion fees, a city contribution, and an equal state contribution. Bloomberg has promised $200 million from this year’s city budget; the state so far has promised nothing. To help convince legislators, the city is proposing 22 projects to help neighborhoods with high numbers of car commuters get better mass-transit access to midtown. So the question becomes: Will an imminent project to let buses escape some traffic lights on Staten Island’s Victory Boulevard — one of those 22 plans — be enough to convince Albany to support the plan? We’ll see. —Alec Appelbaum
Dear Mr. Mayor:
We’re pleased that you and your planning department are working to ensure New York remains pleasantly habitable in the year 2030. But we think it’d be pretty great if you worked to ensure New York is pleasantly habitable in 2007, too. And you know what might help that? Not sending heavy machinery to tear up streets in residential neighborhoods in the middle of the night, at hours when normal people — like, say, those who have to get up early in the morning to edit Websites for well-respected city magazines — are trying to sleep. (Crazy, right?) We know what you’ll say. You’ll say you do these things overnight so as not to interfere with traffic. But explain this: Why do you expect traffic to successfully navigate itself around yet another Italian-sausage-and-cheap-socks mid-afternoon street fair but not around this? Or, at least, can’t you notify residents that the work will be coming, so we can perhaps make plans to sleep elsewhere? Because it certainly isn’t fun to find the above scene — be sure to note the two men with jackhammers — 50 feet outside your bedroom window at around 11:30 at night.
That’s all, Mr. Mayor. Hope you slept well.
Daily Intel’s coverage of PlaNYC
in other news
It’s Not Easy Being Green
Mayor Bloomberg’s released PlaNYC 2030, his environmental agenda for the next quarter-century, yesterday (on Earth Day! get it?) at the Museum of Natural History (nature! get it?). It’s almost too sprawling to recap, not to mention hell to pronounce (“plan-why-see twenty-thirty”?), but we know we’d be thrown out of the Bloggers’ Association if we didn’t do our best to take the most multifaceted matter and reduce it to five talking points. Herewith, our attempt to suss out the essence of the 127 proposed projects.
the morning line
Mike Goes Green
• After a long and suspenseful run-up, Mayor Bloomberg finally revealed his 25-year plan for “the first environmentally sustainable 21st-century city.” On tap: enclosed highways, more green space, river cleanup — and $8 congestion charge. [NYT]
• Four Brooklyn policewoman have filed complaints against three of their superiors for allegedly calling them — you’re not going to believe this — “nappy-headed ho’s.” (As in: “Don’t give me no lip before I have to call you [one].”) Great: postmodernist slur use. [NYDN]
• A Mets fan is pleading not guilty to “interfering with a professional sporting event”; he has allegedly tried to blind two Atlanta Braves players with a flashlight. He’s represented by Legal Aid, which can always use a diversion, and faces a year in jail. [WNBC]
• Dina Matos McGreevey claims she had learned of her husband’s sexuality early on, perhaps by 2000. Also: The Post should really stop calling McGreevey “McG” lest Charlie’s Angels director McG sue. [NYP]
• And The Producers ended its Broadway run yesterday after 2,502 performances, leaving behind only fond memories. Well, and two movies. [amNY]
the morning line
Congestion Pricing, Coming Soon to a Midtown Near You!
• The mayor will use Earth Day to unveil a barrage of housing, transit, and environmental proposals. In the spotlight today: a charge for drivers to enter midtown, a cabbies’ dream and car commuters’ nightmare. [NYT]
• Governor Spitzer is requesting FEMA aid, including disaster unemployment relief, for twelve counties hit hard by the weekend’s nor’easter. New York City is in line for some federal funds as well. [WSTM]
• Albany, meantime, is proposing the so-called Paw and Claw Tax (on pet food, natch), with the money going toward shelters. The tax would apply to “dogs, cats, gerbils, hamsters, rabbits and birds.” Your ferret is now a bargain. [NYS]
• Tom Cruise, whom the Post now dubs “the diminutive Scientologist,” hit Chelsea (an easy joke there) to raise funds for his questionable sauna-and-vitamins program for 9/11 emergency workers. Reporters were banned. [NYP]
• And it took two fumbling attempts for the NYPD scuba team to tow the departed Sludgie the Whale from Gowanus to his final resting place in Jersey City. Deadpanned one detective by way of equivocation, “This was my first whale.” [WNBC]
PlaNYC to Be Unveiled on Earth DayPlaNYC — the catchall term Mayor Bloomberg has given both the planning document being drafted to guide New York’s development over the next 23 years and the months-long process of public meetings to gather input for it — is, it turns out, almost ready to be unveiled. The formal announcement will come next Sunday, April 22 — you know, Earth Day — at the American Museum of Natural History on the Upper West Side, a City Hall source confirmed to us today. The city has been explicit that PlaNYC is needed to help it deal successfully with an anticipated population explosion while our infrastructure ages and the environment deteriorates. So, while we’re excited to see the plan, we confess the museum’s symbolism is making us nervous: dinosaurs … carcasses … oy. —Alec Appelbaum
A Win for London: Green Electricity
We’ve learned from this week’s magazine that London’s got a construction boom now — an interesting construction boom — plus an immigration influx, great theater, “a civic boldness,” and plenty of good food. And here’s one more accomplishment for our once-Dickensian rival across the pond: London is perhaps greener than New York, today producing more than twice the renewable energy we do. This news came at the latest PlaNYC 2030 forum, held at NYU yesterday, where electricity experts confirmed that New York’s power supply will fail to meet demand by 2012 unless more buildings start generating and reusing their own electricity. And why don’t we?
Bloomberg’s Planners Hear Public on Traffic Woes, Would Rather Talk About Something Else
Back in December, when civic groups proposed the idea of “congestion pricing” — charging cars to enter midtown during prime hours, as a way to control Manhattan’s ever-more-horrible traffic — Mayor Bloomberg quickly danced away from it. “The politics of a commuter tax in Albany are probably such that we would never get it passed,” he told the Times then. “And what I want to do is focus on those things that we can get passed to help our city.” He’s since launched PlaNYC, a canvass for opinions about how to help the city survive a million new residents and sharply higher sea levels by 2030, and it seems congestion pricing has wedged its way back into consideration.