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A New Vision for a Storied NYC Location

2013 September 24

By Elias Rodriguez

Williamsburg Bridge

Williamsburg Bridge

Real estate is kind of valuable in Manhattan. It is noteworthy that, at long last, New York City has decided on a path forward for an area that is near and dear to my heart. In this week’s New York Times,  it was reported that a hotly contested piece of prime real estate will finally be developed.

The area is on Delancey Street, which was my old stomping ground as a kid.  The Lower East Side neighborhood is a microcosm that magnifies the marvelous mayhem of metropolitan life. The Williamsburg Bridge (WillyB) spills an incessant mass of trucks, cars and bicycles into the area to and from Manhattan and Brooklyn. Delancey St. has a movie named after it, Crossing Delancey, a nice “chick flick,” but not my cup of tea. The bustling thoroughfare is famous or infamous, depending on your desire   to shop, eat, haggle for a bargain or soak up the local ambiance.

Delancey has always been a kind of “Anti-Times Square.” A place where locals go to escape the tourists, immigrant families come to get their kids a new pair of sneakers and where only saps pay retail for purchases.  It is the kind of place where you have a bialy for breakfast, an egg roll for lunch and a bistec en salsa for dinner. A neighborhood alumnus was Jack Kirby, who immortalized the strip as Yancy Street in his beloved comic books. If ever in the ‘hood,” I recommend a visit to the Essex Street Market, which crosses Delancey. If you recall the movie, Marty, he was portrayed as a butcher at the market.

This is a major project within the hottest real estate market on Earth. I am glad that the coveted property, long an eyesore and underutilized parking lot, is now moving toward becoming a community asset; but I hope it is developed in a sustainable way. What considerations will be given to air quality? The constant traffic on Delancey from the WillyB generates tons of diesel emissions. Emissions from diesel engines are a primary source of air pollution in the northeastern United States. The planned on-site Andy Warhol Museum sounds novel, but will the children within the planned 1,000 apartments be provided with green spaces to play and recreate? What are your thoughts about urban planning and the balance between competing interests?

About the Author: Elias serves as EPA Region 2’s bilingual public information officer. Prior to joining EPA, the proud Nuyorican worked at Time Inc. conducting research for TIME, LIFE, FORTUNE and PEOPLE magazines. He is a graduate of Hunter College, Baruch College and the Theological Institute of the Assembly of Christian Churches in NYC.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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One Response leave one →
  1. electra27 permalink
    September 25, 2013

    Long Island City has significant air pollution problems as does Chinatown and lower Manhattan. Vehicular exhaust is a major factor to the poor air quality. PlaNYC has many plans to decrease air pollution and hopefully the new mayor will continue these efforts. Alternate side street sweeping forces cars to be used and idle as they wait for an available spot. Cleaning the gutters 18″ out into the street is required by law but never enforced. Stopping the street sweeping and enforcing the individual cleaning of curbs would improve air quality. Most people have little awareness of how poor air quality affects us, and in particular the elderly, pregnant women, people with lung diseases and children. If more people were aware of the significant effects pollution has on our health, more would be advocates for cleaner air requirements for the businesses in their communities and do their part to decrease air & water pollution. Businesses have the immediate pressure of making profit and often environmental concerns are an extra cost. I hope the new mayor will work with the health commissioner to implement and improve the plans of PlaNYC to offset any one business’ bottom line at the expense to health of all New Yorkers so that we will have the cleanest air in the country by 2030—to accomplish PlaNYC’s stated goal.

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