Thursday, May 23, 2013

An Open Letter to the HRP NID Steering Committee

Dear HRP NID Steering Committee,

We got your blast email on May 14 (and now we see you've posted it on your Facebook page) and were happy to hear that you love Hudson River Park as much as we do!  However, we were shocked that you used your donor email list to accuse unspecified opponents of the HRP NID of spreading falsehoods and misrepresentations.  We strongly object to those characterizations and want to respond to the items that touch on our primary issues. 

To read our whole letter and see the Steering Committee's email, click here

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Alternatives to the NID

We're just ordinary citizens, so we don't see why we would need to propose alternatives just because we think the HRP NID is a bad idea. But since the Steering Committee and other HRP NID supporters have been falsely saying we don't have any, here goes:

1. Robust private fundraising. 2012 was the first year that FoHRP raised more than a de minimus amount for HRP. In contrast, the High Line website says they raise 90% of their operating budget from their membership program. The successful fundraising drive for the repair of Pier 25's playground shows we are generous when properly asked to voluntarily support projects we care about. 

2. Air rights transfers: Friends of the High Line has received an estimated $25M from transferred air rights. HRPT should explore the possibility of transferring park air rights sensibly to inland areas that can accommodate higher buildings in exchange for payment.

3. The establishment of a Conservancy: Central Park and Brooklyn Bridge Park are supported by Conservancies and the idea is being explored for Washington Square Park.

4. Make a deal (finally!) to redevelop Pier 40.

5. Institute an "Adopt the Park" program for businesses that pay for daily sanitation and maintenance of a defined section of the Park. Signage, if done sensitively, could satisfy both the businesses desire for recognition and the desire of park goers not to be assaulted with advertising.

6. Tax the tourists with a surcharge on Circle Line and Intrepid tickets and any way else you can (their cities do it to us when we visit, after all). While you're at it, find a way to collect some cash from the commuters going through the NY Waterways depot, like a surcharge on the coffee and snack sales there.

7. Use the public and your political connections to get additional city and state funding. We've got plenty of voters who love HRP, but hate the NID, ready to lobby their representatives.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Village Independent Democrats Oppose the NID

At their Thursday, May 9 General Membership Meeting, the Village Independent Democrats overwhelmingly approved a resolution strongly opposing the Hudson River Park Neighborhood Improvement District:

"Therefore Be It Resolved that The Village Independent Democrats (VID) urges Catherine McVay Hughes, Chair of Community Board 1, David Gruber, Chair of Community Board 2, Corey Johnson, Chair of Community Board 4, and Speaker Christine Quinn, Council Member Margaret Chin, and Council Member Gale Brewer to oppose the establishment of the proposed Hudson River Park NID as totally unjustified and against public policy, and calls on all NYC and NYS elected officials to properly fund Hudson River Park as required by law."

Read the full text here.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Save Hudson River Park the Right Way

Everyone wants Hudson River Park to say safe and clean, but HRP has overspent its budget and is in financial trouble. Now HRP bigwigs want to bend the Business Improvement District (BID) law to impose a new tax on local residents and businesses to bail out the Park.

What should be done?

Hudson River Park Says
Neighbors Against the NID Says
HRP gets no government funding because the HRP Act says it should be self-supporting
The Act also says, "Additional funding by the state and the city may be allocated as necessary to meet the costs of operating and maintaining the park"
Distort the BID law to create a "Neighborhood Improvement District" ("NID")
It's a blatant abuse of the BID law, will make it harder for local businesses to create a real BID if they need one, and needs to be stopped!
Use the "NID" BID to impose a new tax on homes and businesses within 1/3 mile of the Park, from Murray to West 59th
Parks are a public good and should be funded with general tax revenues, not privately controlled slush funds
60% of the money will support the Park
Maybe. The BID Plan allows the BID to hold the money indefinitely in a reserve fund and promises that debt service will take precedence over all other budget items
The other 40% will go to improving Park access and safety and maintaining the highway medians
The BID Plan also call for a W. 50s pedestrian bridge (paid for by debt!), overhead for staff and office space, and NID-branded and controlled street vendor stands, newsstands and pay phones (aka advertising space!) on our streets
Property values are up because of the HRP; therefore we should "give back"
Increases are already captured in higher property taxes; our properties were hard hit by Sandy
It's the best and only way to help HRP
Better solutions  exist: Conservancy model (e.g. Central Park), robust private fundraising (e.g. High Line), and renewed pressure on City and State for proper funding

Look around to learn more. If you agree that the BID idea should be stopped, make sure you sign out Petition (click on the Sign Our Petition tab above to get there).

This table is from our newest flyer, which you can get here.