FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 5, 2011
MAYOR BLOOMBERG ANNOUNCES HISTORIC AGREEMENT TO CLOSE LAST MAJOR GAP IN THE MANHATTAN GREENWAY AND ENABLE MODERNIZATION OF THE UNITED NATIONS’ NEW YORK CITY PRESENCE
Agreement Is Product of Cooperation Among City, Speaker Silver, Senate Majority Leader Skelos, Assemblymember Kavanagh, Senator Krueger, Councilmember Garodnick, United Nations Development Corporation and Local Community and Will Be Announced at City Hall at 4:30 Today
Will Provide Financing Framework to Largely Complete the 32-Mile Manhattan Greenway – an Administration Goal Since Mayor Bloomberg Took Office and a City Goal Since At Least the Dinkins Administration
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh, State Senator Liz Krueger and City Council Member Daniel R. Garodnick today will announce a historic Memorandum of Understanding that provides a framework for the United Nations to make a substantial investment in its New York City campus, creating a source of financing for the completion of the 32-mile Manhattan Greenway – filling the last remaining major gap between 38th and 60th Streets on the East Side of Manhattan – as well as neighborhood open space improvements. The agreement, which addresses the United Nations’ longstanding desire to build a new building connected to its existing campus, is the product of cooperation between the community, local elected officials, and the City, which was made possible by state legislation passed in June. The Mayor will also be joined by Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, Deputy Mayor Robert K. Steel, New York City Economic Development Corporation President Seth W. Pinsky, United Nations Development Corporation Board of Directors Chairman George Klein, Commissioner of the New York City Commission for the United Nations Marjorie B. Tiven, New York City Parks Department Commissioner Adrian Benepe, New York City Department of Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan, Assemblyman Micah Kellner, Assemblyman Dan Quart, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, Councilwoman Jessica Lappin, Manhattan Community Board Six Chairman Mark Thompson and Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York President Gary LaBarbera.
“For decades, residents along New York City’s waterfront have been cut off from this precious resource,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “Since the beginning of my time in office, we’ve worked to change that by reclaiming and revitalizing the waterfront and building new parks and open spaces in all five boroughs. Today’s agreement puts in place a critical missing link – the last major gap in the Manhattan Greenway – that will make the waterfront a resource for the whole City to enjoy. We are honored to be home the United Nations – one of the City’s largest employers – and this win-win deal allows them to grow, thrive and create more jobs.”
“I am proud to sign on to this agreement to enable the City to move forward with the East Side Greenway and Parkland Project,” said Speaker Silver. “This is a part of New York that has long endured a shortage of recreational space, so I appreciate how difficult it is to part with a portion of the Robert Moses playground. But the benefits that will come from extending the East River Esplanade will dramatically improve the quality of life for New Yorkers. When completed, residents on the East Side will be able to enjoy open spaces and waterfront access as well as walking and biking paths.”
“It is a rare and wonderful thing when we get to transform a major portion of our City and reclaim such a long stretch of our waterfront for our community and for all New Yorkers to use and enjoy,” said Assemblyman Kavanagh. “I thank Mayor Bloomberg for his vision for creating public access to our waterfront across the City, Speaker Silver for his leadership in passing the legislation I sponsored in June and in ensuring that today’s agreement includes a firm commitment to fund and build the Greenway, my partners at the negotiating table Senator Krueger and Councilmember Garodnick, all my other colleagues in government who supported this effort, and of course the many, many people from the East Side community who contacted us, spoke at our public forums, organized their neighbors, and fought for the best outcome for our community.”
“I want to thank Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his administration for working so closely with me and my fellow East Side elected officials on crafting the historic agreement that enables us to take advantage of a once and a lifetime opportunity,” said Senator Krueger. “For far too long East Side residents have been starved of much needed open space and access to the East River. Now, after months of thoughtful negotiations between city, state and federal elected officials - and with the vocal support of thousands East Side residents - we are one step closer to assuring the completion of a continuous East River Greenway, while also improving active recreational play space along the East Side. This process has not been simple, nor is it over, but residents should feel confident that this is a secure plan with safeguards to ensure that projects move forward with adequate funding for completion and maintenance, and that local elected officials will have a continuing oversight role in the coming years.”
“What we accomplished in this agreement has eluded the East Side of Manhattan for generations,” said Council Member Dan Garodnick. “This deal is creative, it is historic, and most importantly, it will yield a huge amount of open space for all New Yorkers to enjoy."
The United Nations has had a longstanding desire to consolidate its office space needs in one central location that could connect to its existing campus, and this agreement allows them to move forward with that option, should they decide to do so. Legislation passed in June created a framework in which the western portion of Robert Moses Playground, located between East 41st and East 42nd Streets on 1st Avenue adjacent to the United Nations existing Campus – could be alienated to the United Nations Development Corporation by the City for this purpose. If the United Nations moves forward, the United Nations Development Corporation would make payments totaling $73 million to a special purpose fund, the Eastside Greenway and Park Fund, to purchase the site. Those funds will facilitate the City’s realizing its long-term plan to close the gap in the Manhattan Greenway and turn it into a public amenity. The project will increase the overall open space in the area by 130,000 square feet, which is four times the size of the alienated portion of Robert Moses Playground and will have more amenities for the community to enjoy.
The United Nations project would be the only potential source of capital funding for the Greenway and could result in over $200 million of open space improvements, including a mile of waterfront esplanade. The esplanade will give this neighborhood access to their waterfront for the first time in more than half a century and add much-needed open space to Manhattan’s East Side, which has the lowest ratio of parkland to residents and workers in the City. The esplanade would be built in three stages: infrastructure work on the segment from 38th to 41st Streets, previously occupied by Con Edison, will begin shortly; construction of the segment from 53rd to 60th Streets would likely begin in 2016 and the segment from 41st to 51st Streets likely around 2020. In addition, if the United Nations moves forward, One and Two UN Plaza, in which the City has an economic interest, would be sold or refinanced generating proceeds for the City and the Manhattan Greenway.
“Today we’re taking a giant step forward toward completing the Esplanade between 38th and 60th Streets,” said Congresswoman Maloney. “What began as a dream is now on the fast track to becoming a reality. I applaud Mayor Bloomberg, Speaker Sheldon Silver, State Senate Temporary President Dean Skelos, Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh, State Senator Liz Krueger and Councilman Dan Garodnick for all they did in working to reach an agreement that ensures that funding will be allocated to building the esplanade and that the community will receive replacement park in compensation for losing Robert Moses Park.”
“The United Nations is the centerpiece of New York’s status as a diplomatic and international center, and today’s agreement provides a path for the UN to implement its longstanding consolidation plans if they choose to do so,” said Deputy Mayor Steel. “Today’s agreement is also the latest sign of the Bloomberg Administration’s commitment to reactivating New York’s waterfront for commerce, recreation, and transportation.”
“The Hudson River Greenway is the most heavily trafficked greenway in the nation, making it an urban oasis and also a workhorse for the city’s growing number of bike riders,” said Commissioner Sadik-Khan. “This agreement will help clear an important hurdle to extending the amazing success of this scenic route along the East River and position it to close the greenway circuit around all of Manhattan.”
“I want to congratulate the Mayor, the Governor, Assembly Speaker Silver, Senate President Skelos and all those who worked with them, as well as the other elected representatives who have had key roles, on the successful completion and signing of the Memorandum of Understanding,” said George Klein, Chairman of the board of directors of the United Nations Development Corporation. “This important agreement reflects the commitments of the Mayor, the Governor, State legislators, City Council members and others to the City’s open space needs and the ongoing presence and potential consolidation of UN facilities in New York.”
“We are very pleased that we were able to reach this historic agreement,” said NYCEDC President Pinsky. “Through this agreement, we not only provide for the completion of new amenities for the people of the East Side and the entire City, but we also set the stage for a major investment by an institution that, without hyperbole, allows New York to claim for itself the title of ‘Capital of the World,’ The jobs within a future UN consolidation building, as well as those created during construction, are exactly what the City needs to secure in this era of economic uncertainty.”
“New York City is proud to be the host City of the United Nations and this agreement is a great opportunity for the United Nations to consolidate its headquarters and help the City and surrounding community develop more green space and waterfront access,” said Commissioner Tiven.
“Throughout the last decade, New York has made the revitalization of its waterfront land a priority, and today’s ceremony marks a key step towards the culmination of that vision,” said Borough President Stringer. “The City’s plan to complete the East River greenway has inspired an outpouring of gratitude from the East Side community that I serve and I share in their enthusiasm today. I commend Mayor Bloomberg, Senator Krueger, Assemblymember Kavanagh and Councilmember Garodnick on their efforts to negotiate a framework that will bring greater open space and new waterfront amenities to the East Side. This deal could not have been reached without a true partnership between the City, the State and East Side community members.”
“The UN will now have the option to build State-of-the-Art facilities that will create and retain thousands of jobs and improve the complex,” said Senator Marty Golden. “Additionally, much needed public green space and river access will be fashioned for the East Side of Manhattan.”
“Today we have taken the first step toward insuring that a full esplanade along the East River will be a reality,” said Assembly Member Micah Kellner. “East Siders deserve a world way to access our blossoming waterfront and working together we will turn this into one of New York City’s treasured public spaces.”
“I fully support this plan to construct new park land, providing much-needed open space on the East Side,” said Assemblymember Dan Quart.
“A world-class city deserves a world-class waterfront,” said Council Member Jessica Lappin. “This is a big win for the East Side. And it puts us on track to open our fabulous waterfront to all New Yorkers by completing a gorgeous green necklace for the city to enjoy and celebrate.”
“For many years Manhattan Community Board Six has worked to create a waterfront esplanade worthy of our neighborhoods and our City,” said Community Board Six Chairman Mark Thompson. “This agreement is a critical step in moving the esplanade forward and is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to secure public open space on our long-neglected waterfront. We will face tough choices during the coming months and must continue to work very hard to achieve our goals, but together we can accomplish something great for New York City.”
This initiative is part of the Waterfront Vision and Enhancement Strategy (WAVES), a citywide initiative launched by Mayor Bloomberg, which will create a new sustainable blueprint for the City’s more than 500 miles of shoreline. WAVES has two core components: Vision 2020: The New York City Comprehensive Waterfront Plan, which will establish long-term goals for the next decade and beyond, and the New York City Waterfront Action Agenda, which will set forth priority initiatives to be implemented within three years. Together, the initiatives will provide a blueprint for the City’s waterfront and waterways, and focus on the following categories: open space and recreation, the working waterfront, housing and economic development, natural habitats, climate change adaptation and waterborne transportation.
Stu Loeser/Julie Wood (212) 788-2958
Jen Friedberg (NYCEDC) (212) 312-3523
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