The following opinion piece was written by Uzi Silber, a resident of the Seward Park Cooperative. On Tuesday, members of the co-op will vote on a $53.7 million offer from developers who want to acquire air rights from Seward Park (more background here). The Lo-Down routinely accepts op/ed submissions relevant to the Lower East Side community. Opinion pieces do not reflect the editorial position of The Lo-Down, but only the viewpoints of each individual author. To submit an editorial/letter to the editor, use the following email: email@example.com.
Many residents contend that the issue is confusing and complicated. Actually, it’s neither: it’s merely clouded – by a lot of hot air.
Once all the irrelevancies, non-sequiturs and lesser items are cleared away, it’s pretty simple: tall apartment towers will rise beside our property. Either we vote YES and receive $40 million after taxes for our air rights — or vote NO, and get zero. That’s it.
It hit me again yesterday, as I gazed up at all the scaffolding and netting between buildings 3 and 4, and the steel bars holding up so many of our crumbling balconies. I mulled the eye-popping price tag for all this elaborate equipment needed just to prevent debris from landing on our iconoclastic and opinionated heads.
And then I asked myself: who would I rather have pay for all this: us, or the developer?
Interestingly, the two camps transcend demographics: It’s not about who we are or what we do – but whether we’re deluded or practical. In a nutshell, NO voters are focused on ‘What If’: what if the developer somehow coughs up another $30 million, or what if we build on the Apple Bank site ourselves one day?
In contrast, YES voters are focused on ‘What Is’: we need the money right now to fix our buildings, pay down debt, shore up our finances, protect the most vulnerable among us — while pocketing four months of maintenance.
The NO side offers absolutely no financially-based reasons for not accepting the $53 million on the table and provides no real solutions for dealing with our serious financial challenges, while helping the most vulnerable in our community.
Bottom line: YES voters are grounded in reality. NO voters are peddling fantasy.
So on Tuesday, don’t be an airhead: vote YES for selling air rights.