Almost every time I’ve called Assemblyman Richard Brodsky about a story in the past few months, he interrupts me in my first question.
“You wanna know the story you should be doing?” he states, then goes into a diatribe on how the billions in initiatives on the far West Side are an unstable set of dominoes, all liable to topple.
My response—while the projects seem on shaky ground, there’s not enough hard figures or examples to show that things indeed are going to hell—may soon become invalid.
Now Mr. Brodsky, the chairman of the Assembly committee that oversees state authorities and corporations, is taking legislative action to provide more transparency with these projects.
He is introducing legislation that mandates the chairman of the Empire State Development Corporation to produce a report, with hard numbers, on the status of every major publicly administered project in the city, including: the Javits Center, Moynihan Station, the No. 7 line subway extension, the West Side rail yards, Atlantic Yards, Sunnyside Yards, Willets Point, and the World Trade Center, among others.
“All of these projects are in one degree of trouble or another,” Mr. Brodsky said in a call this afternoon, adding that because most are regulated by a quasi-autonomous state or city authority, transparency has been difficult. “You hear a set of announcements that everything is fine—and then it’s not.”
The legislation, if passed, would require the ESDC chairman to produce a report within 45 days on all the projects, consulting with the various agencies and private actors involved. Of course there’s still no downstate chairman at ESDC, but that’s another story.
A copy of the legislation, provided by Mr. Brodsky, below:
§1 Legislative findings
The legislature finds that there are in the city of New York many large capital projects to be financed in whole or in part with public funds or to be supported by tax and other public incentives and which are crucial to the economic and cultural interests of such city and the state of New York as a whole, and which are at some stage of proposal, planning or implementation. The legislature further finds that it important that a full disclosure be made of the details of such projects, their projected costs to the city and state and to public benefit corporations, the projected benefits, the reasons why some of them have been delayed and why some of the proposals have been modified. Accordingly, it is critical that the New York state urban development corporation, also known as the Empire State Development Corporation, provide a prompt report to the legislature on such projects so the legislature can provide the necessary policy determinations and establish appropriate priorities so that necessary projects can proceed.
§2 Definitions: As used in this act, the following terms shall have the meanings set forth herein:
1. The term “corporation” shall mean the New York state urban development corporation established by chapter 174 of the laws of 1968.
2. The term “chairman” shall mean the chairman of the board of directors of the corporation.
3. The term “projects” shall mean all development, redevelopment, construction, repair, and refurbishment projects within the city of New York in which the corporation or any subsidiary or affiliate of the corporation is involved with the planning, financing, or contracting in whole or in part and any project related to such projects, whether or not the corporation or its subsidiary or affiliate is involved. The projects, for the purposes of this act shall be grouped into three sets as follows:
a. The west side redevelopment projects, which shall mean projects located on the West side of midtown Manhattan including, without limitation, projects named or sometimes referred to as follows: Javits Convention Center redevelopment; Moynihan Station and Pennsylvania Station redevelopment; the 7 line subway extension, the Hudson Yards development, the Boulevard, and the ARC project.
b. The lower Manhattan redevelopment projects, including all projects located at or near the site of the former World Trade Center buildings and related to reconstruction or replacement of buildings destroyed or damaged in the heinous terrorist acts of September 11, 2001, and all associated mass transportation facilities in that area.
c. All other projects within the city of New York, including but not limited to the Atlantic yards development, Willetts Point development and Sunnyside Yards development.
d. Any other project in the region that in the judgment of the chairman of the board of the corporation should be a part of the report required by section 3 of this act.
§3 The chairman shall prepare and deliver to the Governor, the temporary president and the minority leader of the senate and the speaker and the minority leader of the assembly not later than 45 days after the effective date of this act a comprehensive report on each of the projects individually and as they interact with and have any effect on the other. In preparing such report, the chairman shall consult with private developers, and government officials and agencies invo
lved with each project, including without limitation, the port authority of New York and New Jersey, the lower Manhattan development corporation, the metropolitan transportation authority, the office of the mayor of the city of New York, the city council of the city of New York, and the governor of the state of New York, and other person or institution deemed appropriate. All such officials and agencies are hereby authorized and directed to consult with and assist the chairman in the preparation of such report.
Such report shall discuss all aspects of the progress of each project relating to planning, financing, permitting, contracting, constructing, and occupying such project, with comments on the current situation relating to organizational, legal, financial, economic and construction status and prospects, and the impact of such project, if any, on the capital needs of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, with reference to differing opinions from various stakeholders and parties involved to the extent that such opinions exist. The report shall make recommendations with regard to the goals of each project and the recommended methods to achieve such goals. It shall also present an analysis of the potential financing of each project, including incentives, benefits, subsidies, and revenues to be provided by any governmental unit or public benefit corporation and the economic impact that the project is expected to have on the city of New York, the state of New York, and the metropolitan area centered in the city of New York, and a comparison of expected benefits with anticipated costs.
§4. This act shall take effect immediately.