The arrival of a new year inspires many a half-hearted attempt at self-improvement. But as you contemplate quitting smoking (again) or cutting out carbs, the city’s five borough presidents have been making some serious resolutions of their own. City Limits spoke with all five borough presidents to assess their top priorities for 2006. Most put efforts to boost housing production at the top of their lists, but they also had some borough-specific aspirations.
Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer:
“As the new president of the crew, I’m in the process of bringing the best and brightest to work for me and form a policy office that is going to reflect the issues I care about. This includes community board empowerment and reform. I want to give the community a voice to say how they want things like zoning and rezoning to be instituted.
“We have a major housing crisis on our hands, and I will make sure we come up with a real housing plan… I feel passionately about making sure people who came to Manhattan generations ago and want to live in the same neighborhoods can stay here. I want to make sure people who want to move to New York from the Midwest and other parts of the country to attain their dreams can afford to do so.
“I don’t want to just develop [neighborhoods] in piecemeal, but rather look at the borough as a whole. We don’t spend enough time on land value and land use. The city will have growth, and the borough president has a front row seat.”
Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz:
“My first order of business will be Atlantic Yards and making sure it will be the model of how urban development can benefit diverse neighborhoods.
“On jobs, we need to make aggressive pitches toward corporations that are located in the Southwest or Northwest to think about having their New York regional office in Brooklyn. New Jersey has many regional offices for corporations that are based on the West Coast. I want Brooklyn to be among the communities to make a pitch.
“Newtown Creek will be cleaned up. I recently joined a lawsuit to hold ExxonMobil responsible for polluting this vital body of water since the 1950s. It’s part of the larger effort to reclaim our waterfront
“I am going to move Coney Island forward, including re-lighting the Parachute Jump and making it the Eiffel Tower of Brooklyn once again.”
Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrión, Jr. (via email):
“The Bronx will continue to benefit from its robust and growing economy. With the Yankee Stadium neighborhood redevelopment project, the development of the Bronx Terminal Market, the recent opening of the Hunts Point Fish Market, and other new development appearing throughout the borough, New York City has witnessed the resurgence of the Bronx—a resurgence that will become the blueprint for economic growth and urban renewal.”
Staten Island Borough President James Molinaro:
“We have Target opening in March; Bed, Bath and Beyond and Home Depot in April or May; and the Christmas Tree Store. We have applications for another two million feet of retail and office space, which will create thousands and thousands of jobs. [Those businesses] are committed to hiring Staten Islanders. You can’t force a person to hire someone, you can’t run his business for him… But I have breakfast with all the new businesses relocating to Staten Island or opening in Staten Island, just to give them a feel of welcome to the borough.
“Whenever you have growth, growth brings problems with infrastructure, with schools, with handling the growth. We have 275,000 registered vehicles, with a population of less than 500,000. In my next four years, my aim is to have better or increased transportation on Staten Island, which is basically nonexistent right now. We want to build some sort of light rail over the Bayonne Bridge to the Hudson/Bergen [New Jersey Transit] line to hook up with the PATH at Exchange Place. Right now, if you live in Tottenville, it takes you two hours to get to Manhattan. This proposal would get you there in 45 minutes.”
Queens Borough President Helen Marshall:
“One of the things I’ve got to do immediately is work on health care. Right now we do not have our fair share of hospitals for our people. St. Joseph’s [Hospital in Flushing] is already closed—we couldn’t do anything to stop it. Now [Saint Vincent Catholic Medical Centers] is planning to close Mary Immaculate and also St. John’s. They’re both still alive and moving and we’re hoping to save them. Queens has 1.4 hospital beds per 1,000 residents. Manhattan has 7.1 hospital beds. We’ve got to have health care where people can get to it.
“We [also] need schools. We’ve opened 25 schools since I came into office four years ago, but we still need more. [I plan to] appeal to public institutions and also our Chamber of Commerce to provide some internships. All of our cultural arts institutions, I want them to really begin to think in terms of our young people. We hope to be a model for the rest of the city.”
—City Limits staff
This story has been corrected.