Wednesday, March 31, 2004

This One's For You, Dan (and Tia and Carl)

I have a friend who is busy at work trying to stop a stadium from being built on the West Side of Manhattan, and two friends busy at work trying to stop a stadium from being built in Downtown Brooklyn. Hopefully, they’ll agree to guest blog on this site and share some of their much-better-researched reasons than mine for why these stadiums are a bad idea. They include that our tax dollars will go to subsidize massive private industry that will never return on the City’s investment, that once a stadium or two crop up in this already greatly overcrowded city, there’s very little you can do with public space (like, oh I dunno, maybe some affordable housing and a park or two would be nice).

There are many other issues, including the abusive eminent domain statutes, the uselessness of seven skyscrapers in Brooklyn when we don’t need any more office space, the West Side Stadium being built against the explicit wishes of the residents and elected representatives of the area etc. etc. and so forth. Some good arguments are laid out here, in this New York Times Op-Ed from yesterday.

Simply put, land is a very valuable resource in New York City, and just giving it over to developers while trying to minimize democratic process is not only bad for the long terms interests of the City, but smacks disturbingly of later-years Robert Moses, strong-arming his way to the ruination of the Bronx and the destruction of the glorious original Penn Station. Can anyone truly say that architecture is better off in Manhattan because of the modernist monstrosity that now attaches to Madison Square Garden like a leech fresh from a suckle? Does anyone think the Cross Bronx Expressway has increased the quality of life in the Bronx or made driving in New York City any easier?

(oh and PS: we can’t afford textbooks, Bloomie, the arts are struggling to afford space to work, there are more homeless in the Subway every week, we don’t have affordable health care and rent is out of control. Do you really think we have the kind of money to spend on this stuff?)

Anyway, this is what was going though my mind when I opened my weekly Time Out New York, and saw a three-question interview with Daniel Doctoroff. Doctoroff is the Deputy Mayor whom Bloomberg specifically brought in to get a West Side Stadium and bring the Olympics here to New York. TONY asks him “what ese have you got in the works?” His answer:

“Filling in the East River… do we really need two rivers? I think the Hudson should stay; it’s bigger, it’s prettier, it separates us from New Jersey. Tchnically, the East River isn’t even a river—it’s an estuary. The real estate opportunities afforded by filling it in are simply too great to ignore. It would also ease traffic across the bridges and make connecting the LIRR to the East side much cheaper, since there would be no tunneling underwater. As for the bridges themselves we could… turn them into promenades. And we can charge to use them We’ve already done some preliminary research on this, and everything we’ve seen tells us people will pay.”

Now, assuming he’s not joking (which might be a big assumption)… can we now stop taking seriously anything this guy says? When Rick Santorum said what he said about gays, I felt “okay, you’re disqualified. Now the Press should insert `who thinks that consensual adult sex is the same as bestiality’ before any time they quote you”. Similarly, I think it would be great if we now precede everything Doctoroff says with “whose hubris leads him to support a crackpot scheme to pave the East River” before anything he says about cost/benefit analysis w/r/t the Stadium Scheme.

Anyway, contact Mayor Bloomberg. Let him know what you think. (212) 788-9600.

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