“For five years, Borough Hall has attempted to inject some common sense into the de Blasio Administration’s plan for affordable housing on Staten Island. Their strategy, which will add thousands of new residents to the North Shore in mid- and hi-rise buildings along the Bay Street Corridor, will provide little in the way of corresponding services.
“We have tried to make them see this issue through the single most important prism to Staten Islanders: infrastructure and the diminishment of our quality of life when our infrastructure is resoundingly insufficient. It’s a reality we experience in various ways on a daily basis – because of a void in the farsightedness of past leaders.
“In recent months we have aggressively used social media to express facts, concerns, and realities on the ground, and we even used a good dose of ‘reductio ad absurdum’ to ensure the Administration and the local Council Member did right by this borough. They have come up short, which means we at Borough Hall have missed the mark, and the people of Staten Island, both current and future residents, are worse off for it.
“For all this density and the infrastructure challenges that most certainly will come with it, what are we really getting? Well, we seem to have a commitment to pay off an existing debt to Staten Island -- the Cromwell Center and a new school at the Hungerford site – and projects created long ago by the Bloomberg Administration, which heretofore have remained unfulfilled during the current administration, i.e. waterfront plans.
“Peel back the onion a bit and take away the $92 million for the Cromwell Center, which we were promised anyway; the tens of millions for the Hungerford site, which would have been allocated anyway; the $39 million from FEMA for the esplanade, which was expected anyway; and well, that onion will indeed make you cry. Cry for the opportunities missed, for the shirking of responsibility by the agencies, for their refusal to do the hard work, for how let down Staten Islanders have been, and for the looming specter that what could have been a transformative moment in our history is now likely to go sideways.
“What you won’t see in this re-zoning announcement is as critically important as what you do see. You won’t see any genuine effort to stop the already awful traffic and transit reality from getting exponentially worse, let alone being mitigated to some degree. At this point, why not call in Staten Island’s old ‘friend,’ former NYC DOT Commissioner Janet Sadik Khan, and have her make the entire stretch of Bay Street a pedestrian plaza? Because with tens of thousands of people added to this corridor as a result of this re-zoning, commuting or traveling by vehicle will certainly be painful, and maybe even pointless.
“What was done today was a repeat of the lack of planning that has plagued Staten Island ever since the opening of the Verrazzano Bridge. Today’s decision makers, just like our counterparts of decades ago, will have the benefit of being long gone when the byproducts of their shortsightedness manifest themselves.
“As bitterly disappointed as I am, the harsher arbiter will be time.”