State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver figures prominently in a Daily News story out today about the Lower Manhattan Development Corp. (LMDC), the agency created to distribute billions of dollars in 9/11 recovery money.
Twelve years after the September 11th attacks, some public figures are saying the time has come to disband the LMDC. It’s not a new sentiment:
Former Gov. George Pataki, who helped to create the corporation, wanted it shut down by the end of 2006. Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg repeatedly called for its demise, declaring as far back as 2008 that the agency’s operations should be transferred to the city to “eliminate one redundant layer of bureaucracy.” Gov. Cuomo has also called for the agency to be dismantled, proposing that its remaining responsibilities be shifted to the Port Authority.
But the article suggests the de Blasio administration isn’t quite ready to pull the trigger. “We’re looking at the LMDC with fresh eyes,” mayoral spokesman Wiley Norvell told the News. “Even though its functions have become more limited, it still has responsibilities to fulfill before its work is complete.” Silver, who has always exercised a lot of influence over the LMDC, reportedly has strong feelings about the agency’s survival:
The powerful speaker of the Assembly, Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan), has refused to sign off on dismantling the agency. Critics say he wants to keep it in business to support pet projects in his district. In a statement to the Daily News, Silver said the agency still has important work to do. The LMDC “has a vital responsibility to ensure that those (federal) funds are spent as they were intended,” he said. “It has not finished overseeing the allocation of these funds.”
LMDC funds have paid for a number of projects on the Lower East Side, including the redevelopment of the waterfront and a program to renovate and preserve tenement apartments as affordable housing. The article notes that one initiative partially funded with LMDC funds, a new park at Pier 42, has yet to “get off the ground.” Three years ago, $16 million was awarded from the LMDC for an initial phase of the project (slated for completion in 2017). The total cost of the Pier 42 park is expected to exceed $90 million. The mayor’s office says it considers the waterfront recreational area a priority. It is unclear where the money would come from to fully fund Pier 42.