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Scott Stringer 2011 State of the Borough Address

Scott Stringer 2011 State of the Borough Address

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Published by Celeste Katz

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Published by: Celeste Katz on Feb 08, 2011
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By Manhattan Borough President Scott M. Stringer 
“A New Partnership”February 8, 2011Good evening. First, let me thank the CUNY Graduate Center and President William Kelly for hostingus so graciously tonight.I want to say thank you to Assemblymember Robert Rodriguez for those warm words of welcome, andfor his tireless representation of East Harlem.And to Marcus Samuelsson -- you are truly a Renaissance man. And your work to link great food andtrail-blazing social policy is an inspiration to us all. Thank you for that kind introduction.And how ‘bout that Laguardia High School Chorus – let’s give it up for those kids!I’m so glad to see so many friends here tonight. This past year was a big one for me. For starters, Iturned 50 in April. I was OK with it until the day I stopped at the mailbox and there it was – mymembership card to the A-A-R-P.But lucky for me, hope was just around the corner – in what my mother calls “the Manhattan miracle,”I got married in September to Elyse Buxbaum, who is here with us tonight. Please welcome the newfirst lady of Manhattan!This is the fifth time I have had the privilege of talking to you about the State of our Borough. Eachyear brings a new set of challenges and -- we hope -- new wisdom about tackling New York City’s problems and realizing its dreams.We have seen a lot of progress since I was a kid growing up in Washington Heights in the ‘70s, whenmany openly debated whether New York was even governable.And much of that progress – especially in recent years – has been a product of the competent way our city is run. That’s a credit to our Mayor and countless others in city government. New Yorkers have rightly come to expect professionalism and efficiency in City Hall.As a result, New York is in better shape than virtually every other city in the nation.The Recession continues to hurt too many New Yorkers, but one out of 10 jobs in America last year was created right here – an astonishing figure.But for all that New York City has gained in recent decades, there is also something we have lost. Youknow it as well as I do.There is a troubling view taking hold that to set high standards and achieve good outcomes, we mustrely on a closed, top-down model of government.
I say “troubling”, because once you subscribe to this view, you’ve opened the door to the idea that
inviting new voices to the table is a distraction – and that actually listening to them is worse.Well, that is a view I reject. It is a view out of step with this city’s traditions, its civic culture, and itsdefining values!Just imagine where we’d be without the voices of New Yorkers in our civic debates – there'd be a
highway through SoHo; an office tower where Grand Central is today; and we'd be living withtowering shadows over Central Park.Without the voices of the people of New York in the chambers of government, we risk becomingA city of zip codes instead of a city of unique neighborhoods.A city of canned culture instead of a city of vibrant artA city of chain stores instead of a city of corner storesIn short, a city like any other, instead of a city like NONE other.The challenge for this generation of city leaders is clear: New York is never going back to a time whenour local government wasn’t up to the challenges we faced.But we must have faith in ourselves – to believe that the highest standards of performance ingovernment can be achieved with the public informing our most important decisions. We can – wemust – find that balance!That’s not just the right way to lead, it’s often the only way to bring tough projects across the finishline. It’s easy to make pronouncements and try to impose solutions.That will only get you so far.If you really want to close the hard deals, you have to forge consensus by reaching across the table.And so tonight I want to say – it is time for a NEW PARTNERSHIP between city government and its people!This New Partnership must show us the way:To encourage development while safeguarding our neighborhoods.To create a paid sick leave policy that works for both business and working families.To clear the snow in all five boroughs, not just ManhattanThis new partnership will show us the way to support bike lanes that respect drivers, pedestrians and
 business owners, just like my office did on Columbus AvenueTo improve our public schools while talking to the parents of our school children
And yes, to work with Albany legislators to finally pass a marriage equality act that honors everyone’s
Let me give you an example of what this new partnership can mean in the real world, when leadershipsets high goals and isn’t afraid to engage communities.It’s called the West Harlem Rezoning. This rezoning is Manhattan’s largest ever – some 35 acres, or 90 blocks – right in the heart of one of the nation’s most historic neighborhoods.One of my proudest days as Borough President came last December when I – along with city PlanningCommissioner Amanda Burden and Community Board 9 chair Larry English -- unveiled this new
 blueprint with hundreds of West Harlem residents.The process formally began back in 2007, when Columbia University laid out its vision for a 17-acre
expansion – a plan the university insisted was vital to its future as a world-class center of higher education.Clearly, Columbia had genuine needs. But you know what -- so did the surrounding community.Many worried the neighborhood was vulnerable to new development. So we listened and learned – weheld public forums, we worked with City Planning, we forged new relationships across old divides.The result was not just a 17-acre expansion, but a 35-acre rezoning that will preserve the culture andcharacter of West Harlem – and Columbia’s place within it.Here’s what else -- when completed, the expansion will create some 6,000 new, permanent jobs in acritical part of our city, plus thousands of construction jobs. The plan will add new green space and jobcenters to West Harlem. It will create a $20 million affordable housing fund.So I am thrilled to announce tonight that after more than four years, the official public review of thishistoric rezoning will begin this fall and – with engagement from all sides – should be completed byearly next year.I say it is time to carry the West Harlem Rezoning all the way home -- to finish what we started!We took the same collaborative approach at Fordham University’s Lincoln Center campus, where we joined with the neighborhood to find an expansion design that worked for everyone. Now, New York University is planning for its future growth. We’ve brought together all stakeholders.We’ve hammered out some planning principles, and our community task force has issued over 70recommendations to help the university and Greenwich Village co-exist – a terrific start.I urge all sides to use history as a guide, and recognize that if you work together and demand
excellence, then everyone can win – the community, the economy, the university…. All of us!

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