Call Us → 212-616-5810

7/4/08 Affairs and Appointments

7/4/08 Affairs and Appointments

New York City

New York State

Public Hearings

Notable Sayings of the Week

The budget negotiations next year, they will make this one look like child’s play in terms of having to pick and choose.

Michael Bloomberg, Mayor of the City of New York.

Architecture Critique of the Week

The Sun’s James Gardner Praises Robert A.M. Stern’s Brompton as “Pre-War Elegance, Newly Minted”

Read Mr. Gardner’s commentary here.

Quality of Life Concern of the Week

Not Enough Places to Park a Bike!

The Times’ Colin Moynihan examines how New York City’s dearth of parking deters cyclists from biking to work.

Read Mr. Moynihan’s story here.

Special: Delays and Design Revisions at World Trade Center Site New Port Authority Chief Shines Light on WTC Finances, then Concludes that Agency Cannot Afford to Keep Light in Transit Hub

This week the executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, Christopher O. Ward, presented the first of several assessments of the World Trade Center site.  Due to delays and cost overruns, the Port Authority has jettisoned the existing project deadlines and resolved to outline a more realistic timetable and budget in September.  Mr. Ward also announces creation of a new governance structure within the Port Authority to streamline decisions related to WTC construction.

Mr. Ward also announced that budgetary constraints had forced a major revision to the design for the WTC transit hub: elimination of the retractable roof on the winged dome designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava.  Mr. Calatrava had designed the dome so that a sliver of light would shine down into the atrium every Sept. 11 at the time the terrorist attacks occurred.   Making the roof static instead of retractable is projected to save hundreds of millions of dollars on the hub’s construction budget (estimates of which now approach $3.4 billion, from an initial level of $2.2 billion).  Who knew that natural light could be so expensive?

Public disclosure of problems at the WTC site sparked comments from New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine that many interpreted as a warning to the Port Authority not to find draw monies from the WTC transit hub from funds already earmarked for other Jersey-friendly transit projects, such as the ARC Tunnel and the PATH transit hub.

On Mr. Ward’s assessment of WTC delays and complications, see the New York Sun, Crain’s New York Business, and the New York Times.  On revisions to design of the transit hub, see the New York Times; see also the Timeseditorial on rebuilding at Ground Zero.

For discussion of potential disagreement between New York and New Jersey over WTC reconstruction costs, see the New York Sun.

What exactly is the Spending Increase in NYC’s FY 2009 Budget?

The New York Sun’s Grace Rauh investigates the different ways to calculate spending in the FY 09 budget, focusing on the difference between city taxpayer-funded spending and money that comes from Albany or Washington (the city’s $59.1 billion budget contains $44.05 billion in funds from city taxpayers). 

Read the article here.

After Divided Community Board Gives Green Light, Queens President Lends Support to Redevelopment Plan for Willets Point

(See here for prior A&A coverage of the controversy surrounding the Bloomberg administration’s plans for Willets Point, including description of opposition within the City Council, see here and here.)

For five hours this Tuesday at a meeting of Queens Community Board 7, board members, business owners, city and elected officials, affordable housing activists and union members debated the future of Willets point in a room over-flowing people.

At the end of the meeting, a divided community board voted 21 to 15 in favor of the Bloomberg administration’s plan to build housing, office space, a hotel and convention center on 61 acres in the so-called Iron Triangle near Shea Stadium.  Issues contested at the meeting included the city’s willingness to use eminent domain to seize property, the amount of affordable housing to be built, and the community’s desire to maintain a role in development process beyond the land use review.

As part of the city’s Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP), the plan now proceeds to Queens Borough President, Helen Marshall, who will hold a public hearing on July 10 and vote shortly thereafter.  Ms. Marshall has indicated that she will vote to approve the plan.

The votes of both the community board and Ms. Marshall are advisory and nonbinding.  A vote that is binding, however, is the City Council’s; this final step in the ULURP process looks daunting for proponents of the Willets Point development plan (at least in its current form).  In April, 29 Council Members – including area representatives John Liu, Hiram Monserrate, and Tony Avella – signed a public letter to the Bloomberg administration indicating that current plan had “no chance of surviving the public review process.”

For coverage of the Queens Community Board vote on Willets Point, see Crain’s New York Business and The New York Sun.

Read here Mayor Bloomberg’s statement on the Queens Community Board 7 vote.

Launch of New Construction Codes

Revises Safety Measures for Construction Sites, Improves Fire Protection and Structural Integrity for New Buildings, and Enhances Penalties for Violations
New NYC Code Reflects International Building Code, Modified for NYC’s Dense Urban Environment

Adapted from Mayor Bloomberg’s press release:

This week Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Council Speaker Christine Quinn and Acting Buildings Commissioner Robert LiMandri announced the launch of the new City of New York Construction Codes, the first modernization of the Building Code since 1968. Written with the supporting expertise of more than 400 professionals from the construction industry, real estate, labor, government and academia, the NYC Construction Codes are in line with national standards and will enhance building and construction safety through expanded requirements for fire protection, structural integrity, and job site accountability on all new construction projects. In addition, the new NYC Construction Codes re-classify violations so as to focus enforcement resources of the Department of Buildings on buildings and job sites that pose the most serious safety hazards to construction workers and the public.

Starting this week, the Buildings Department began a one-year transition period when applications for new buildings may comply with either the 1968 Building Code or the new NYC Construction Codes – which include the Building, Fuel Gas, Mechanical, and Plumbing Codes. On July 1, 2009, the NYC Construction Codes will be mandated for all new construction. Henceforth, all construction receiving permits, regardless of whether the plans comply with the 1968 Building Code or new NYC Construction Codes, is subject to the new administration, enforcement, and construction safety rules, which include:

  • New Violation Classification System. Violations are now re-classified to enable Buildings Inspectors to zero-in on the buildings or construction sites that present the most significant risk to the public. Under the new system, violations fall into three classes that range in severity depending on the risk the condition poses to public safety. Penalties for violations are substantially increased in conjunction with the new classification system.
  • New Safeguards Required During Construction. Construction sites holding permits are subject to new requirements to safeguard the public and property. The new requirements expand the Site Safety program to apply to more building types, call for new safety procedures for certain types of demolition, and enhance protection for properties adjoining excavation sites.
  • Special Inspections to Monitor for Compliance as Construction Proceeds. Third-party inspectors are now required to conduct more inspections at critical points in the construction process to advance compliance with construction regulations. The third-party inspectors, who must meet qualifications established by the Buildings Department, will verify that the conditions on the job site comply with the approved construction documents.

Buildings constructed under the new Codes will be subject to enhanced structural integrity and fire protection measures, which include:

  • Expanded Structural Safety. Enhanced design requirements, including stronger connectivity requirements for steel and concrete construction, will enable buildings to better withstand conditions such as strong winds, vehicular impacts, and gas explosions.
  • Enhanced Emergency Systems. Emergency voice communication systems and emergency power generators will be required in all new residential buildings 125 feet or higher. In an emergency, these systems enable the Fire Department to speak to tenants and use back-up power for egress lighting and for at least one elevator.
  • Sprinklers Required in More Buildings. Automatic sprinkler systems will now be required in more buildings, including residential buildings of three units or more, attached two-family homes, and one- and two-family homes that are more than three stories.

The NYC Construction Codes are modeled after the International Code Council’s International Building Code but have been modified to meet the needs of New York’s dense urban environment. Signed into law by the Mayor in July 2007, the NYC Construction Codes require the Department to revise the Codes every three years to incorporate new standards, technologies and materials.
Learn more about the new NYC Construction Codes at the Department of Buildings website.

In Wake of Crain Collapses, Construction Industry Forms Safety Group

The New York City Construction Industry Safety Council will establish a tower crane maintenance database that contractors will be able to consult before renting equipment. 

Read Crain’s description of the initiative here.

In Keeping with Governor Paterson’s Goal, 16 Additional Agencies Release Spending Reduction Plans

Governor David A. Paterson this week announced that 16 additional agencies had received approval for their financial management plans, answering the Governor’s call to reduce projected spending by 3.35 percent.

In total, 75 Financial Management Plans have been posted for public review. Two executive agencies have not yet finalized their savings plans: the Division of State Police (DSP) and the Department of Correctional Services (DOCS).

Agencies’ Program to Eliminate the Gap (PEG) spending plans are on the Division of the Budget’s website here.

Event Calendar

As eager as you all must be for the schedule of upcoming City Council hearings, this week notify you of an event that could be almost as fun: a free concert in Central Park.  As part of MLB All-Star Summer, Bon Jovi will play a free ticketed concert on the Great Lawn in Central Park on Saturday, July 12th at 8 p.m.

Read Mayor Bloomberg’s announcement of the concert here.