At its Tuesday meeting, the Battery Park City Committee of Community Board 1 (CB1) discussed a range of neighborhood priorities for possible inclusion in the Board’s annual “district needs statement.” This list of local goals, which every Community Board asks the City government to focus on each year, serves as a policy guide for the both Mayor and the City Council. While neither is legally obliged to comply with these objectives, they are widely understood at least to influence the deliberations of City agencies, as they formulate budgets for the coming 12 months.
Battery Park City Committee chair Tammy Meltzer voiced the hope that the City’s Department of Transportation would modify and improve each of the eight interactions where local streets meet West Street, with eye an toward improving safety for pedestrians and cyclist. She also raised the concern that outreach programs for the homeless should be directed toward Battery Park City, where the numbers of people found sleeping in public spaces has ticked upward in recent months.
Committee member Tom Goodkind aired two longstanding policy wishes: First, “the City should exercise its option and take over Battery Park City for one dollar.” This was a reference to the fact that Battery Park City, although located within the confines of New York City, is governed by a State agency, the Battery Park City Authority (BCPA), with the provision that the municipal government has the right to absorb the community in exchange for a nominal payment, plus assumption of all the Authority’s assets and liabilities.
Second, Mr. Goodkind said, “some of the excess revenue that the BPCA generates each, and remits to the City for use in creating affordable housing around the five boroughs should be spent here.” This was a reference to the ongoing affordability crisis in Battery Park City, in which the middle class residents who effectively built the community are being increasingly priced out by the success of what they helped to create. Mr. Goodkind has long advocated diverting some of this income stream (which amounts to more than $100 million per year) to help preserve middle-class affordability within the 92 acres of landfill that lie between the Hudson River and West Street.
Community leader Ann Schwalbenberg, who has emerged in recent years as an advocate for Battery Park City’s elder community, asked that funds be allocated to improve the curb cuts at intersections, where, she said, a combination of heavy rains and poor drained sometimes create an impassible mote for the handicapped, the elderly, and parents pushing strollers.
Kathy Gupta, a public member of CB1, advocated for a City-funded senior program in Battery Park City. Such an initiative would build on the success of a pilot program, created over the last year, by the BPCA, which conducts senior exercise classes at Asphalt Green, and also hosts social events (such as card games) for elderly residents.
Committee member Jeff Mihok seconded the need for a bigger senior program, and suggested that it be headquartered in Asphalt Green, where the exercise classes are already hosted. He additionally asked that “North Cove Marina be returned to affordability,” a reference to the controversial process by which management of the boat anchorage was transferred to Brookfield Properties, the owners of the giant retail and office complex directly adjacent to the Marina, in 2015.