The Proposed Hudson River Park Tax: A Response

A. J. Pietrantone, the executive director of Friends of Hudson River Park, responded on behalf of the NID Steering Committee to yesterday’s Open Letter post in opposition to the Neighborhood Improvement District and the corresponding tax.

The main priority of Friends of Hudson River Park (Friends) and the Hudson River Park Neighborhood Improvement District Steering Committee is to find a means to help the Park and its numerous challenges. The Park is not generating enough revenue to support its operations; this reality requires us to think and act creatively to save this unique part of New York.

We and many other property owners believe that the Neighborhood Improvement District (NID) is an element of the future success of Hudson River Park. Without any dedicated government resources to help finance the operation of the Park, Friends of Hudson River Park has worked with the Hudson River Park Trust (Trust) to identify new ways to bring additional resources needed to keep the park going. In addition to this work, many property owners, individual home owners, community groups, business associations and others have joined the NID Steering Committee because they value Hudson River Park and this effort to support needs within the community.

We do not expect or want our neighbors to bear the full burden of Park maintenance and operations. The Park is facing a crippling funding shortage. Our Park is beautiful and like any park built in the waterfront is expensive to maintain. This is an ongoing conversation, but that cannot substitute the need to take action. The current funding challenges have already resulted in the closure of some Park elements. In the end, we believe the NID is a practical solution that goes a long way towards meeting some urgent needs while not being the absolute panacea.

Our outreach included numerous presentations to the committees of Community Boards 1, 2, and 4, meetings with community groups, block associations, and property owners as well as tabling in and around the Park.  Our initial mailing was sent to all property owners in the district (close to 8,000).  The second mailing was sent to every known address in the district (32,000 individuals). We have held seven large, advertised public meetings in a variety of neighborhoods in order to make the process open to all who want to make comments.

The media regularly covers the NID’s progress and more than 20 articles have already appeared in local and community press. We also ran a significant paid advertising campaign to further the outreach and communication efforts. [Not here, alas. —Ed.]

While the Park is certainly a popular destination for visitors, nearly 50% of Park users, according to a recent survey, are in fact local residents. With community focused elements such as playing fields, dog runs, playgrounds, and water activities, the Park was designed and is operated to serve its neighbors—the HRPNID will help to protect this neighborhood resource.

It is critical to understand that the NID is not just about the Park; it is also about the neighborhood. The NID will address community residents’ concerns regarding safer and better connections with the Park. To effectively do this, we must address conditions outside Park boundaries. At this moment, the Trust is barred by law from spending resources outside of its boundaries, which includes the bikeway, median and sidewalks along Route 9A that need to be improved and better maintained for both safety and aesthetic reasons.

The simple truth is, something must be done now and we must do it together for the future of Hudson River Park and the enhancement of our neighborhoods.

UPDATE 3/26: I had to close comments on this because of spam. Email tribecacitizen@gmail.com if you want to post a comment.

36 Comments

  1. Most of the property owners who received this mailing disregarded it as yet another Friends solicitation letter. Once open, it required getting through almost 4 pages of material to even realize there was a voting form. Then, you had to put a stamp on an envelope and mail it in to vote. This is the only way to vote “NO” and not voting at all is essentially equal to a “YES” vote.

    Note: Coop owners only receive one “vote” per building while Condo owners receive one “vote” per unit. Not sure on that logic…

    If you do want to vote YES, then the Friends has provided ample places to do so- on their website, in person at community meetings, etc. But they REFUSE to provide an easy, electronic way to register your NO vote.

  2. “The simple truth is, something must be done now”

    This is not a “truth.” This is your opinion. Furthermore, an NID is not the only solution, it is merely the least inspired one your group could come up with.

    No one is suggesting that a conversation take the place of action but it would seem reasonable to come up with a plan that sources revenue more logically. Even if you were to persuade me that the NID tax solution (let’s call a spade as spade here. This is a tax.) were the the result of an exhaustive and comprehensive review of revenue options (it is not), the geographical scope of those affected financially strikes me as completely arbitrary. I live on the on Church street and use the park frequently (I also donate to the FHRP, so no freeloader comments), meaning I wouldn’t have to pay a dime. Yet owners on West Broadway have to pay? Yes, under your plan you have to draw the line somewhere. But maybe the arbitrary geographical impact underscores why this is a bad plan.

    The Friends of Hudson River Park crew, from my understanding, is a very connected (“connected” meaning that they know people with money. Not “connected” meaning that they understand their audience.) Other Parks and “Park Protectors” seem to have less trouble procuring private donations and alternative revenue sources, like rent/licenses for vendors and contributions, as allowed under the Trust, from Federal, State and City sources. You could partner with major events to raise revenue, like The Film Festival. Maybe partner with other state and national non-profits who would have an interest in upkeep of the park. The alternative revenue options are only limited by FHRP’s lack of creativity and lack of aggressiveness in the market for private donations.

    No one wants to see the Park fall into disrepair. But the NID is an overly broad and poorly communicated clusterF. It cannot possibly be the best the FHRP can come up with.

    Last, the tone of the FHRP’s response is awfully melodramatic for a note to neighbors about raising money for a park. The need for funds is important, sure. But “critical” and “urgent need” that “must be done now” suggests a direness a little inconsistent with the subject matter. Just suggesting the FHRP might want to gain some perspective. That’s all.

  3. It also seems that the design of the HRP was unnecessarily expensive. The park was designed in a way that requires significant upkeep. Yes, it is beautiful, but so is the more natural Riverside Park. The lawns do not have to be perfectly manicured. The flowerbeds do not have to be measured so accurately. Let nature in a little bit and save a little money.

  4. I was a member of the group that first agitated for the Park to be created [which eventually became the Friends of Hudson River Park, the group that is now proposing an Improvement District for the Park.] When the State and City finally agreed to build the Park they did so on the condition that they would not have to maintain it or pay for operations. The retail rents from the Park’s tenants (parking at Pier 40, Chelsea Piers, etc.) were to pay for this. To ensure the state or City would not get stuck with these costs the Park was created outside the the State and City Parks Departments–outside those budgets. it has no state or city expense budget line at all.
    This deal got us a wonderful Park, but it relied on what proved an unrealistic hope–the rents do not make up what is needed to run and maintain the Park. And yes, something must be done to raise this money or we can lose what we have–that is indeed the truth.

    It is not illogical or unfair to say that our tax dollars ‘should’ pay for this and all parks, but they don’t, and our governments are not going to change this any time soon–certainly not soon enough for this park.
    Friends and others have been beating the bushes for a good while and raising all they can–more each year–yet private donations still fall millions short of what is needed.

    Almost all successful parks nowadays are maintained through public-private partnerships like the Improvement District proposed for HRP. The Union Square BID (NYC’s first BID) has saved and now operates that wonderful place, the Bryant Park Restoration Corp pulled that urban gem out from terrifying depths, and they run it now. My kids and i skate there frequently and entirely for free due to the generous support of the local businesses and residents (residents pay equally to businesses in that district), and so on–Central Park, Prospect Park, Bronx River Park–all saved by and continued in good health through the contributions and the sweat of their local neighbors.
    We all benefit thereby, each neighborhood visiting the others’ when we can, as all New Yorkers at one time or another visit Hudson River Park. Without these local support groups (almost always a BID for the larger parks) we would have lost these gems again.
    And those are all parks that ARE part of some City or State budget. Hudson River does not even have that kind of baseline backstop–it must make or raise every dollar it will need to survive (and we hope, thrive).
    The Friends’ Improvement District proposal will not raise enough to fill all the Park’s needs, but it will provide a significant chunk, and get the budget within sight of balance, close enough that private philanthropy and similar sources can hope to cover the rest.
    And, an Improvement District is governed by, and its funds allocated by a Board elected locally every year, ensuring that local neighborhood priorities are seen to. This is the way other communities have increased local input into and influence over their public spaces and programs, and it could function that way here, too.
    Yes, it would cost a little, but the return on that modest investment would be hard to match, and could not be bettered.

  5. Brendan,

    You are quite eloquent in your support of the NID, as you were last night in your public testimony to CB2. However, when I met you after the public meeting in TriBeCa last week you told me that you were working with FoHRP to get the NID passed. Can you clear up any confusion by revealing if your relationship with FoHRP and/or HRP Trust is compensated, or you have a compensated relationship with any 3rd party that has a compensation agreement with FoHRP or HRPT?

  6. Just because the park (decorated Westway?) is a public finance debacle and was over-designed in a time of flush money does not mean that the solution is to railroad property owners who live within 3 blocks of the park to pay for it all in a massively undemocratic fashion. Full disclosure: I live in a 30 unit co-op and find it astonishing that I get 1/30th of a vote in the proposed NID while my neighbors in a 4 unit condo get 4 votes. Ultimately, this park is going to have to become a plain old city park and the city and state will just have to find a way to get it together to keep it from falling apart instead of ignoring or farming out the problem to us local co-op owners or to the hapless Friends and Trust. It might have be scaled down. It might not end up with such fancy plantings. It might have a lot fewer executives and gardeners. It might have to give up on the roses in the traffic median. The solution is a public finance one that involves Albany and the City Council. By the way, I see that Google’s NY headquarters is in the proposed NID. Why not just modify state and federal law so that Google can no longer brag publicly about avoiding $2 billion in taxes through creative accounting and off-shoring of $10 billion in revenue to Bermuda, Ireland, and Amsterdam? That should be more than enough to sustain the park.

  7. So to sum up, the proposed new neighborhood tax is Brendan’s fault. “We were unrealistic back then and got the park, but now….um….yeah….we need to get realistic….so can we have some cash? Yeah, yeah, I know…we sort of knew it would come to this, but again, we never would have gotten the City to agree to it if we told them a realistic story.” The City has a huge debt & almost 2 million PEOPLE living in poverty, so yes, we desperately need to “save” this park so they have somewhere to sleep and scavenge for food. Two roads diverged in a park, and the FofHRP took the road well-traveled by.

  8. In our building we are 100% against the NID as this is a Public park, so why should the Trust determine which part of the public will support it? The Trust has several miles of a spectacular waterfront and they need to figure out how to make money off of their asset and not us randomly chosen neighbors. We also do not understand how the city can support the selective taxing of some of the Trust’s neighbors. If the city wants to start taxing the public for parks, then it must be city wide as we all use all of the parks.

  9. Brendan Sexton’s online bios count the FOHRP as a client of his green branding company, The Sexton Company. His bios also say he’s a former President of the Times Square BID, so BIDs have provided him plenty of income over the years….let’s hear from real residents and property owners who will pay this tax, NOT PAID CONSULTANTS.

    Bio here: http://mas.org/summitnyc/speakers/brendan-sexton/

  10. Suggestion: Line the West Side highway with red light cameras. The revenue will probably pay for the park operation 10x over (judging from the number of times I was almost run over while trying to cross to the park with the light) and will hopefully make the West Side highway safer.

    Seriously though, the park is beautiful but overdone for the budget. I agree with Ellen that the maintenance costs need to come down.

    There is an incredible flow of people from outside of the community that use the park and because of this the community should not bear the brundt of the revenue shortfall. Alan made some good points about being creative in developing alternative revenue options.

  11. Do the personal comments help decide this? i was once head of the Times Square BID –this is bad? It helped me understand how useful Improvement Districts can be. I was one of the founding members many years ago of the original community group that advocated for the creation of the Park–the group that eventually became the Friends of Hudson River Park. I have long been a supporter of Friends and i have also consulted for them. This invalidates the points Friends raise about the Park needing help?
    Ad hominem remarks are frowned on not only because they are irritating but because they divert from the issues. For this reason they are usually resorted to when a position on the issues is not strong enough to stand on its own.
    ANY solution to the Park’s issues will probably require some ‘give’ from the community or other uncomfortable decisions. Friends put forward the NID concept as the most reliable and least burdensome concept after years of study and pursuit of alternatives (including private philanthropy the need for which is not eliminated by the NID–these sources are all part of the eventual solution). if there were an easy answer with no downside at all it would have already been done. But we won’t get a solution by attacking the messenger.

    The Park is much loved and much used and has asked little or nothing from us until now. Now it is clear that it needs our help. That’s what deserves attention.

  12. Personal comments do not decide this, but its important for voting citizens to understand that much of the so-called “support” that this proposal supposedly has is comprised of very vocal developers, paid consultants and board members of the Trust itself. Which is yet another reason why their “testimonials” are so misleading. Unfortunately, your comments fall into that category as a paid consultant to the Trust.

    By contrast, very few of the actual homeowners and business owners who will pay this TAX for a very long time even know it exists. And when they do find out, the majority don’t appear to support it.

    The City Council deserves to know which voting citizens and property owners, without conflicts of interest, actually support this proposal.

    And “least burdensome”?? For them, of course! Let’s have NIDs and BIDs everywhere! Can we have one for Duane Park and every other park while we’re at it?? What about when Related redevelops BMCC and we need our own Tribeca NID? Too late…HRP has the entire West Side!

  13. No one wants to pay more taxes. Nothing new here.

  14. @Brendan – Wow, heading a BID helped you understand how having more money can help address budget shortfalls?
    The Park was NEVER supposed to ask something from us – not now, not evvvver! People that oppose FofHRP’s tax don’t need a strong position because they’re not trying to sell a tax while hiding behind the “look how pretty it is and if we don’t do something now the park will fall off into the river!!! MAYDAY, MAYDAY!!”
    I frown on and find your comments irritating, because they divert from the issue that your position is self-servingly irritating. :(

  15. It is hard to believe that the Park cannot come up with a sustainable financial solution without having to impose a tax on a made up “neighborhood” of businesses and residences. This Park has a monopoly on a stretch of the Hudson River. Many businesses would seem to be captive tenants such as the ferries, the Circle Line, the Intrepid and the cruise terminals to name a few. Additionally there are many other substantial businesses in the Park, including Chelsea Piers and the helipad. The city seems to have a sanitation parking lot and the impound yard in the Park’s perimeter as well. All extremely viable businesses that use or occupy portions the Park and, for private businesses, likely enjoys enhanced value due to its proximity to the Hudson River. Even with all those businesses, the leasing revenue was just $13 million last year which seems low for prime real estate and lower still if one believes FoHRP’s own property value study.

    Impose more use fees on these businesses. Raise their rents. Tax them all. Tax the drivers who use the West side highway so that the medians may be maintained – more a benefit to them than those using the Park. If these businesses will not pay higher rights or more taxes, then find other businesses – move the Intrepid. Create a sailing school, more restaurants, a theater, … create additional viable businesses to increase rents.

    If the statute creating the Park does not permit or provide for the ability to tax these business or to create more businesses, use resources to lobby for a change in the statute. Do not use those same lobbying resources to create a NID.

    If even raising revenues through rents cannot create a sustainable model then I think someone else had it right. This Park is too big and needs to be carved up. I am sure that would be great to all the developers and professional NID people who like to serve on trusts because there will be even more of them.

    A business or residence that just happens to be situated near the Park should not suffer a tax. This created neighborhood seems so very arbitrary – for example, why does Battery Park City get a free pass and why does a part of Tribeca below Chambers Street, which does not even border the Park, seem to have been on the short side of a Churchill’s elbow. Additionally, the expanse of this area seems, in fact, to be almost some kind of anti-gerrymandered area where there is no one single community board or other single elected official upon whom pressure may be placed to create the right outcome for those who reside in the area.

    By the way, if this NID is successful, I cannot wait to hear the discussion on the Lower East Side East River NID. Let’s start drawing up plans to tax those low income communities and government housing projects!

  16. If you live in the NID zone (http://www.hrpnid.com/the-district/district-map/ ) and object to the NID, make sure that you send back the tear-off ballot on the last page of the FoHRP mailing from last month. Those responses will be used to determine community support at this stage and no response == support for the NID. If you don’t have one, email nohrpnid@gmail.com and we will email you a blank copy to use.

    Also, join us at the public session of Community Board 1′s February full Board Meeting to let them know they were too hasty in passing a resolution (that is essentially word for word the one FoHRP is shopping around) in support of the NID. The meeting is next Tuesday, February 26 at 6PM at BMCC’s Fiterman Hall, 30 West Broadway 13th Floor. Arrive between 6 – 6:30 and fill out a speakers card if you want to speak during the public session. Be prepared to speak no more than 2 minutes and bring a written copy of your comments to submit into the minutes if you can.

  17. I have to say that I find the objections to the NID for the park that I see here to be short-sighted and no less hypocritical than the position supposedly taken by Brendan, above (although I must say he seems entirely reasonable to me), in the sense that every single person who uses the park benefits from it directly (through use and pleasure) and indirectly (through property values – surely you remember those?) but wants someone else to pay for it. I’d call it a bad case of NIMBY except its really more like “yes it’s my backyard but I don’t want to pay a dime for it.” All the same people who threw a fit when the city rezoned 234 and threatened their children’s futures — you saw the same ugly mixture of pure self-interest and self-righteous rhetoric. You don’t want to support the park? Then be ready to accept the consequences when it falls apart: no complaining. I for one would be glad to pay a modest tax to support a public good. It’s no different from any other public good.

  18. Hst,
    I think you are missing most of the points being made. I already pay substantial city, state, and real estate taxes. Some of these pay for Central Park. Why don’t they pay for Hudson Park? I note that my real estate taxes in particular rise every year already, and by a lot, not a little. Also, why should I pay MORE taxes for this one park than other people due to a map that a coalition of real estate developers made? From a statistical point of view, their contention that my property values are linked to the park is entirely bogus and cannot hold up to scientific scrutiny. Moreover, I don’t in fact even live alongside the park. Why in fact aren’t ALL citizens of NYC and state paying for the park? And even if I were to agree to joining the NID, why am I a second class voting citizen within it? Why do renters not get to vote in the NID, but their landlord gets to do on their behalf and then raise their rents in consequence? Why do co-op owners not have the same votes as condo owners? Why do I get one thirtieth of a vote while my next door neighbor gets a full vote?

  19. Kacee:
    Ask anyone who owns property in Battery Park City and we don’t get a pass at all. In fact, we pay the highest taxes in the city to own property here.

    All owners pay entirely for the maintenance of all the parks in BPC, which our neighbors in tribeca, fidi, NYC as well as tourists all use.

    Owners pay an exorbitant amount of money each month to Battery Park City Authority, that in turn runs/pays for maintenance of the battery park city parks.

  20. hst,

    You’re simplifying (and even a demonizing) our objections a bit too much by saying it’s just about not paying for the park. Personally, that’s not my issue at all. In fact, had Friends of Hudson River Park EVER solicited me, I would have given generously as I do to Duane Park, Bogardus Garden and a whole bunch of other local non-profits. But, by their own staff’s admission, they haven’t ever done any retail solicitation of area residents.

    My problem is entirely due to using the BID law to forcibly extract money from SOME people who live SOMEWHAT near the park to help bail out the result of the original crazy law that set up the Park as self-supporting but severely limited types of the commercial development that can be used to reach that end and the subsequent mismanagement by the Hudson River Park Trust and Friends of Hudson River Park boards. When the beautiful sculptured garden areas were approved, did anyone do a projection of how much upkeep would cost and make a plan of how those funds would be raised? I’ve heard that NYC is in serious arrears for the Sanitation Garage and Tow Pound inside the Park’s boundaries. Is that true, and if so, what is HIRT doing about it? Has any budget cutting been done over the past few years of spending down reserves?

    Furthermore, under BID rules it’s almost impossible to see how assessed residents will have a representative voice on the governing board. Votes for the governing board are allocated to taxpayers, so that means that individual condo owners each get 1 vote but entire co-op buildings get only 1 vote. Residential tenants should expect the assessment to be passed to them at their next lease renewal, but they will never get a vote because the building’s vote belongs to their landlord. Before the process goes forward, the FoHRP and their partners at the NYC Small Business Services department need to specify the allocation of various real estate classes’ representation on the governing board and also detail the rules that will guarantee that fair proportional representation across both real estate classes and geographic location will result, while still having the elections be democratic. Also unclear is how the elections for the governing board will be held. What I’ve heard from SBS and FoHRP staff is that in other BIDs, whoever shows up at the annual meeting gets to vote, although when pressed on how you prove that you’re authorized to vote and for which category of representative and what they would do if 2 people from the same co-op show up saying they represent it, etc., they’ve got no answers.

    Finally, there’s fairness. Have you looked at the boundaries? So Tribecans who live east of Greenwich (south of Chambers) or east of W. Broadway (north of Chambers) don’t use the park just as much as those who live a little closer? Just to the north, the Hudson Square BID has been carved out of the district, probably to keep Trinity from objecting to the plan since the BID law allows overlapping districts as long as they don’t overlap in purpose. In midtown, the real estate interests are trying to organize a Hudson Yards BID, and sure enough, that area, some of which directly abuts HRP, is carved out too.

    So no, it’s really not about not wanting to pay for our Park. It’s about not having my pocket picked to do so because they don’t think I’ll notice the amount they took.

    Chris,
    I used to live in Battery Park City, so I know about the charges and I fully support excluding BPC from the NID for that reason. But I’d point out 2 differences between the NID assessment and yours: (1) you knew about them before you moved in and used that as part of your decision making and budgeting, and (2) the Park is literally right outside your door since all the landscaping and programming in BPC is funded by your money, not just the esplanade. I sympathize because from what I’ve read the BPC authority is just as unresponsive to the residents that pay for their budget as I expect the HRP NID governing board will be, but that example is just another reason for us to oppose the creation of the NID.

  21. Nicole:

    Great point; we did know about the taxes prior to purchasing.

    And the boundaries look completely arbitrary, which is crazy. The problem is these type of taxes/decisions are made/voted on quietly (on purpose) to benefit a certain party and get pushed through because resident are too busy to read every piece of mail that comes through. Good for you for speaking up.

  22. Looks like the HRP was a complete financial failure in planning and execution. “Oops, did we say we would be self-sustaining? Well, we’re going to be $10 million short….annually.” I am sure that the appropriate people will be held accountable and the taxpayers won’t be asked to pick up the tab again. Right, CB1? Right, CB1? Hey, CB1!! Wake up and stop drooling over each other.

  23. This is getting kind of over-wrought, but for the record: Central Park and virtually all our major parks (that DO get taxpayer support for maintenance and operations) have had to resort to and are now supported by exactly the sort of public-private partnership we are proposing with the NID. So, even if we reversed the state law that set up the current HRP situation, the need for additional support would still be very likely. There are just not many public dollars available for park operations anymore and it has gotten worse, not better, over the last many years. Regrettable and odd, really, but true.

    Although Central Park is the most famous park in our City, and although “supported” by tax dollars and not subjet to any special constraints such as we have with the HRP, we actually effectively lost Central Park for more than two decades. Bryant Park the same or even worse; Union Square nearly the same. And so on. Taxpayers or their elected reps have simply not been willing or able to allocate the dollars needed. No matter how irrational or even irresponsible we may think this is, it is where we are today and this is after two or three decades of this dynamic.

    Today we use Central Park, or Union Square, or skate free at Bryant Square and no one from those local support groups demands that we pay or leave–and not many from outside the immediate area do contribute, as it happens. If we succeed in getting our Park on a sound footing the same will be true, I’m sure–people from ‘outside’ will love the place– but we don’t object to this reality when we go to, say Union Square, and shouldn’t object when ‘outsiders’ find our park attractive.

    [by the way, the Sanitation Department arrears--many millions of dollars--have been won by the Friends' legal activism, and this money is being used for operating expenses right now. it runs out soon, however. Believe me, every conceivable funding opportunity has been pursued by Friends before launching this exhausting NID process.]

    It may be worth saying that the assessment will not be ‘forcibly extracted’ except as any special assessment is. The assessment if it is passed will get there through not a secret process but after public hearings at Community Boards, then at City Planning, subsequent public hearings at the Council, and then a fourth round–all with legally required public notice–at the Mayor’s office. We may or may not like the outcome, but it will be done as openly as our democracy ever achieves, and in fact through the exact same public, advertised process that all proposed local laws must follow. This process is only just now beginning.

    The boundaries –still only proposed boundaries–are an example of this public, transparent process. A proposed map had been published widely for months, on and off the web, as the proposed boundaries have been discussed with the three Community Boards. And, they have changed, not quietly and secretly, but in response to the comments of the public and of these Boards, and the boundaries took their present (proposed) shape in cooperation with each Board. And they are still only proposed boundaries–they will be decided as part of that same public process just described.

    Finally, this process has been open enough not only to get all these comments on this site, but to have allowed many of our neighbors to sign our petition or send letters or supporting statements. Some people may indeed have “just heard of ” it, but it hasn’t been done in secret at all. there have been ads, newspaper stories, many many meetings along the whole length of the Park, and these are still going on. The objections or suggestions heard to date have changed the proposal; the proposed boundaries, mentioned above, are not the only example, an increased priority for Park security is another.

    None of this debate changes the fact that the Park needs our help. The NID is at least a way to spread the burden widely. Nothing in that plan suggests an end to the need for donations or says that we shouldn’t keep lobbying for a change in public park-funding practices, and so on. But the reality for now and for the foreseeable future calls for something as substantial and reliable as an Improvement District. This is not a conclusion excitedly rushed into by the Friends or the Trust–it is a result of many years of analysis, discussion, fund-raising, lobbying for more public funds, and the like. It’s a real option, in an otherwise worrisome landscape.

  24. None of your over-wrought comments changes the fact the the Park was ONLY approved because it was to be self-sustaining and now that the “unrealistic hope-y” planners and managers failed to live up to the agreement, they are demanding taxpayers bail them out, so they can continue over-planning and over-spending. Stop spinning your failure. Taxes weren’t even raised to pay for two very costly wars, but sure, let’s all pitch in to make sure we don’t have to look at the horror of unkept traffic medians. Oh, the horror!!

  25. Brendan,

    You’re the one dramatizing this, not us. No one has said we don’t or won’t support the Park. We’re just unsure a BID is the right framework and a lot of FoHRP’s communications we’ve seen raise more questions about oversight and fairness than they answer.

    First you accused me of ad hominem attacks because I asked you to identify yourself as a paid consultant to Friends of Hudson River Park. We’re not trying to squelch FoHRP’s right to push the proposal (this dialogue is on the page with AJ’s response to our letter after all, and everytime I comment it puts a new link to his words on the front page of Tribeca Citizen), but it really is only fair that you identify yourself and your motivations for supporting the NID fully.

    Second, let’s agree to stop using Central Park as a comparison. Central Park is supported by the Central Park Conservancy, which raises funds through voluntary contributions only, not a legally enforceable assessment on people who live near the Park.

    As for the other Parks you mention, yes, the BIDs support them but it’s a bit of a comparison stretch in my eyes because the work of both the Union Square and Bryant Park BIDs have direct payback to the businesses that are in their zones. In fact, the rehabilitation of those Parks has driven customers to those businesses, so it’s a win-win for them. In contrast, there are relatively few retail businesses in the HRP zone where the Park does or will directly drive customers to them (the bike shops maybe and perhaps some delis and bodegas in the major entry corridors, but not much else). Both those BIDs are also geographically miniscule compared to the proposed size of the HRP NID so the priorities of the assessed owners are less likely to be widely divergent and their proportion of residential vs commerical owners doesn’t approach the 6:1 ratio of the proposed HRP NID.

    I don’t understand your defensiveness about accusations of supposed secrecy (of which there really aren’t any serious ones) now that a few of us ask to be part of the discussion in shaping the district plan, unless, of course, you had hoped that it WOULD stay secret (or at least not well known) until the City approval process has started. Because for all the steps it has to go through after it’s been approved by SBS, lets be honest and stipulate that it will be almost impossible to stop or change it once that happens. To stop the NID at the City Council hearing stage, 51% by either assessed value or number of owners has to object by filing a notarized objection form with the City Clerk that has a copy of their note or deed attached as proof of property ownership. So that means that only a total of 4,080+ condo owners and co-op buildings in the zone can stop it once it goes into the City approval stage and only if they all make the effort to file notarized copies of their deeds. No one in Hollywood would greenlight that fantastic story even if my character was changed to a man and was played by George Clooney because it’s too ridiculous to believe.

    If this is an open process, will FoHRP post the draft District Plan publicly so everyone can see and comment on all of the details including exact boundaries, detailed first year’s budget and governing board composition and election rules now? How about the mock billing run from SBS so we can see exactly how much the assessment will be for each property owner? You say you welcome my feedback, but I have a hard time doing so constructively when you won’t tell me exactly what you want to do.

  26. @Nicole – don’t discount recasting with “the Clooney.” That would easily sway my vote to support the financial incompetence of the HRPT & FofHRP. Clooney’s smile has an undeniable and devastating charisma, especially if you don’t look at his big ears and just focus on his teeth and 5 o’clock (magic hour) shadow. However, any business that had an annual $10 million shortfall would NORMALLY, in the real world, result in a drastic cut in spending/planning, layoffs or bankruptcy, but you want to continue to engage in a discussion with them about the best way to draw a map to “fairly” take MORE money out of the pockets of residents who already live in the MOST expensive city in the US of A to GIVE to an organization that has already demonstrated that they are incapable of comprehending the very basics of financial planning. Well, then, you’re part of the problem with this City and this Country’s shit-storm of debt. Too bad we don’t have a bunch of fresh immigrants living on the LES to underpay & abuse to build our city’s infrastructure and parks. (kidding) There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under the heavens….but RIGHT NOW, we don’t need and CAN’T AFFORD additional pedestrian bridges, crossing guards, crosswalks, clean & well-landscaped medians and adjacent areas, etc. When is enough, enough, Brendan?
    Oh yeah, See you at the Spring Gala!!!!

  27. Dear A. J. Pietrantone,

    Perhaps your website could also accommodate an electronic option to vote against the NID (similar to the affirmative vote now possible) to allow for an easier and transparent tally of residents for and against the initiative?

    Thanks.

  28. Dear A.J. Pietrantone:

    Please do tell us your logic for not including an electronic vote “no” option against the NID tax on your website.

  29. Definition of vote from oxford online dictionaries…

    noun
    a formal indication of a choice between two or more candidates or courses of action, expressed typically through a ballot or a show of hands.

  30. Hmmm….interesting….Why has Brendan gone so, sooooo silent? Doesn’t Novogratz have anything to put forward other than a lot of parky-park b.s.?

  31. I don’t think it is fair to ask tribeca owners or tenants to contribute to the park. Given its public property it is better to lobby the city council to allocate funds to it and at the same time improve defenses against potential future storms. Sandy affected all New Yorkers not just west side residents and there should be congressional funding for recovery and preventive efforts. This can be used in conjunction with improving the park.

  32. I will be LIVE tweeting at the CB1 meeting. I just hope no one has a problem with me playing with my “Twitter” during a public meeting. Fingers-crossed.

  33. Any feedback from the CB1 Tribeca meeting last night?

  34. Despite the public being invited to attend by Peter Braus (Chair of the Tribeca Comm.) and the Catherine Mcvay Hughes (Chair of CB1), all of the many residents who packed the room and came to express their opinion on the NID were railroaded by Peter Braus and the Friends of the High Line. He yielded most of the air time to Madelyn Wils and Friends, at many points showing his true colors with comments to the public such as “Shut up!”, “You are not speaking” and “Shutup or Get Out.” Peter was dead set on not allowing his committee to pass a revised resolution (because he knew it wouldn’t pass and would definitely be re-worded to express their concerns) so he bullied his fellow committee members into waiting for the district plan (which was supposed to be out before any of the public “outreach” took place) and then holding a public hearing- which I’m sure he plans to pack with members of Friends who don’t even live in the District and won’t pay the tax.

    It was really an appalling abuse of power. He should be ashamed. Fortunately, he did allow a local resident to speak who had a very well-researched presentation highlighting the real facts about the NID. Much of the info was pretty shocking and the public needs to understand the other side.

    She also noted Peter’s conflicts of interest- which include being on the Board of Friends and working as a paid consultant to one of the developers of the piers. He claims that work is over, but so what? You’re on the board of an organization that will gain from the NID- that should be enough!

    It was really a sad look into the true workings of CB1…

  35. @Kathryn – can you get a copy of the presentation on the real facts of the NID?
    @Erik – can you post that presentation on Tribeca Citizen?
    Thanks.

  36. Anyone who wants to keep informed with Neighbors Against the NID, the authors of the presentation and a “get up to speed” Q&A, which Erik has posted at http://tribecacitizen.com/2013/03/14/cb1-tribeca-committee-the-unofficial-minutes-23/ should email their contact information to nohrpnid@gmail.com.

    We hope to have a web site in coming weeks, but for now, we’re sending occasional updates and requests for help through that email address.

    We’ve also just learned that Small Business Services will accept either the mailed ballot (which we can provide if you don’t have one) or a petition for us. We hope to be out in the neighborhood next week with leaflets and the petiton.

    Nicole Vianna