Senator Schumer is calling a key part of the Bloomberg administration's plan for the West Side of Manhattan the "goofiest thing I've ever seen," and the mayor is firing back, saying the senator should mind his own business — back in Washington.
At a breakfast in Midtown yesterday sponsored by Crain's, Mr. Schumer criticized the Bloomberg administration's decision to include a mid-block boulevard in the future development of the Hudson rail yards — a move that he said had diverted funds from the extension of the no. 7 subway line. The Bloomberg administration has long envisioned a broad, park-like boulevard running between 33rd and 42nd streets in the space between Tenth and Eleventh avenues. It was to be filled with sidewalk cafés, large water fountains, and promenades.
He also said the failing Moynihan Station project and the potential to rebuild Penn Station should take priority over the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and the city's plans to develop Hudson Yards, and he said the Port Authority should take the leadership role on the Moynihan Station project — a position opposed by Mayor Bloomberg.
"Access to the Port's money will cut off any need for us to scramble for additional resources to pay for it," Mr. Schumer said.
At a press conference two hours after Mr. Schumer's public appearance, Mr. Bloomberg said the senator should leave decisionmaking on the various West Side projects to the city.
"New York City government — elected by the people — is what is going to determine what goes on in this city, not any study panel, not any elected officials outside of local city government, and all of this is not helpful in terms of satisfying developers," Mr. Bloomberg said.
Speaking to reporters, the mayor added: "The senator has to get us the money for Moynihan. ... I think it is fair to say when you start having others weigh in on what should happen, developers get cold feet. If every level of government has a different view here, it is very hard for the developer to know what they are facing and it is their money."
Mr. Bloomberg said the city opposes the Port Authority taking control of the Moynihan project because that entity is busy with the redevelopment of ground zero.
"We would certainly never agree to the Port Authority being in charge of it, because they can't get done what they have to do downtown," he said. "And the Port Authority's first job has to be downtown, and I don't see how they can take on that and do everything else. They have an enormous amount on their plate."
The Daily News reported yesterday that the city and state could lose millions in future tax revenues from Goldman Sachs because the Port Authority's progress at the former World Trade Center site has not met certain benchmarks.
With just 18 months left in his term, the pressure is mounting on Mr. Bloomberg to make progress on his grandiose plans to remake the West Side. Mr. Bloomberg's signature development issue from his first term — to bring a new Jets stadium to the Hudson rail yards, an idea championed by his former deputy mayor for economic development, Daniel Doctoroff — was defeated. On Thursday, the MTA announced its deal with Tishman Speyer to develop the rail yards is near collapse, although officials are scheduled to meet this week to attempt to salvage the agreement. In addition, an approved plan to expand the Javits convention center was shelved indefinitely, and the Moynihan Station redevelopment plan is stalled.
In the past, Mr. Schumer has spoken of New York City's "culture of inertia" when it comes to economic development. His involvement in Manhattan's West Side extends back eight years, when he oversaw the "Group of 35," which set out to find more office space in Manhattan and targeted the far West Side for commercial and residential growth. Additionally, Mr. Schumer's wife, Iris Weinshall, served as commissioner of the Department of Transportation in the Bloomberg administration, a position she held for seven years before resigning in January.
In response to Mr. Bloomberg's comments yesterday, a spokesman for Mr. Schumer, Joshua Vlasto, said that while "part of a senator's role is to deliver money for New York — and Senator Schumer helped secure over $100 million for Moynihan Station and billions of dollars to rebuild Ground Zero — it is equally important for a responsible senator to watchdog how that money is spent. As the mayor well knows from his frequent, informative, and welcome forays to Washington, D.C., to discuss federal policy matters, there is a natural interaction between federal and local policy."