Thursday, February 14, 2013

Highlights of Mayor Bloomberg's Final State of the City Address

This is taken in part from the State of the City speech given by Mayor Bloomberg earlier today at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

“Over the past eleven years, we have beaten the odds, and the obstructionists, over and over again, not just here in Brooklyn, but in neighborhoods all across the city. For instance, back in 2002, we were told that you couldn’t bring crime down any further without locking up more people. But today, murders and shootings are at new record lows – and, so are incarceration rates.

“Back then, we were told businesses would flee the city after 9/11. Today, there are a record number of jobs in our city – and Lower Manhattan is more full of life than ever.

“Back then, we were told the school system could never be fixed. Today, graduation rates are up by 41 percent – compared to just nine percent in the rest of the state.

“Back then, we were told that Manhattan would always be the prime driver of job growth. But today, job growth is happening fastest outside of Manhattan, and it exceeds the national average in all five boroughs.

“Again and again, we have defied the conventional wisdom. We’ve gone from having the sixth highest poverty rate among the 20 largest cities to having the eighth lowest – and we’ve reduced the welfare rolls by 22 percent. We went into the recent national recession later than the rest of the country, and we came out sooner and stronger. We’ve added more than 750 acres to our parks and turned New York City into an international leader on green growth and climate change.

“We’ve raised life expectancy to record highs – far outpacing the national average – and we’ve cut teen pregnancy to record lows. We’ve reduced fire fatalities and traffic fatalities and emergency response times to record lows. And we’ve built the largest and most sophisticated counter-terrorism operation of any police department in the country.

“As a result of all this work, even though we’re still recovering from the most devastating natural disaster in our entire history, each of the five boroughs is better off today than ever before and the state of our city has never been stronger!

“But as far as we’ve come, our work is not done. We have unfinished business – and only 320 days to complete it. As the countdown clock in City Hall says: we’re going to Make Every Day Count.

“Our goal is not to spend the year cutting ribbons. It’s much bigger than that: Our goal is to advance projects – and start new ones – that will keep our city on the right course for decades to come. And to do that, we’ll take on the toughest jobs – and the most politically difficult jobs.

“The special interests and campaign donors have never had less power than they’ve had over the past 11 years. And this year, we’re going to show just how true that is.

“That’s why 2013 will be our busiest – and most important – year yet.

“Today, I’d like to share our plans for how we’ll keep New York City on course for a brighter future. And this is the perfect place to do it, here at Atlantic Yards – the largest development project in Brooklyn’s history.

“The Third Water Tunnel is just one of many big projects that are supporting our economy, growing our tax base, and making our communities better places to live. On Staten Island, thanks to support from Borough President Molinaro and Minority Leader Oddo, we’re building the largest new park since the 1930s at Fresh Kills.

“At Ocean Breeze on Staten Island, we’ll finish construction of one of the largest track and field complexes on the East Coast – and our largest PlaNYC recreational center.

“Across the bay in Lower Manhattan, next to the National September 11th Memorial and Museum, the Port Authority is completing 1 World Trade Center, the tallest building in the
Western Hemisphere.

“In midtown, we’re helping the New York Public Library build the largest circulating and research library in the world.

“At Hudson Yards, the MTA will finish construction on the Number 7 train extension, the first new subway track to be funded by the City in 50 years – and the catalyst to the most ambitious development ever undertaken in our City.

“Next door, the High Line – once slated for demolition – will complete its third leg next year.

“All of these projects will strengthen our economy and our communities. All over the city, we’re renewing our landscape in ways that create good jobs for New Yorkers today, and position us to lead the innovation economy of tomorrow.

“In West Harlem, we’ve set the stage for Columbia University to build an entirely new campus, which will increase the size of its engineering faculty by 50 percent. And we’ve helped New York University, Fordham University, and the City University of New York all embark on major expansions of their campuses.

“Never before in our city’s history has there been so much university expansion and never before has there been so much scientific investment. This year, we’ll finish construction on the next phase of the BioBat Center at the Brooklyn Army Terminal. We’ll open a $50 million Genome Research Center in Lower Manhattan. At the East River Science Park, not only will we complete the next major phase of construction, a major pharmaceutical company, Roche, will move 200 research jobs from New Jersey there. And we’ll move forward with our plans for a state-of-the-art cancer treatment facility and a new health science center for CUNY’s Hunter College. All of this university and scientific investment is generating jobs – not only for those who will work in the labs, but for all those who will build and operate them and for all of the small businesses that will surround them.

“In the Bronx, we’ll work with Borough President Diaz to bring new life – and good jobs – back to the Kingsbridge Armory. In Queens, we’ll work with Major League Soccer to bring soccer back to our city for the first time since the Cosmos left in 1977.

“At Willets Point – ignored by the City since Robert Moses failed to turn it into parkland – we’ll work with Borough President Marshall to begin the process of cleaning it up and bringing jobs and open space to the community – and down the road, hopefully even a convention center.

“In Manhattan, we’ll bring to life two projects that have been on the drawing boards for decades: redeveloping the South Street Seaport and developing the sites around Seward Park on the Lower East Side, and I want to thank the community board and the local elected officials for their great work on that project.

“In Brooklyn, we’ll begin creating a new community called Greenpoint Landing – with more than 5,000 new homes, parks and open space, a marina, a public school and shops. Just a little south of there, we’ll move forward with a plan to turn the old Domino Sugar Plant into new housing and we’ll create the commercial space that Brooklyn’s growing tech community needs.

“At the Brooklyn Navy Yard, we’ll work with the State to help Steiner Studios begin creating a 50-acre new media campus. The campus will eventually provide 2,500 good jobs in film, television and tech – two of the fastest-growing industries in our city.

“We’ve already turned the Navy Yard into the most successful urban industrial park in the country, but it still has dozens of unused acres with crumbling historic buildings. This media campus will preserve many of those buildings – while also creating the jobs we need for our future.

“We’ll take the same approach to the single most important piece of unfinished business that lies ahead of us in 2013: rebuilding the communities hit hardest by Hurricane Sandy – and creating a more resilient and sustainable city.

“Forty-three New Yorkers lost their lives in that storm, and it’s up to us to do all we can to prevent that from happening again.

“After the storm passed, it was clear that the houses and businesses most damaged by Hurricane Sandy were built decades ago, while those that were built in the last few years, or are now being built, held up pretty well.

“That was no accident. Our administration has fundamentally changed the way we conduct waterfront development. But Sandy raised the bar – and now we must rise to the occasion.

“This year, we’ll develop a long-term plan so that when extreme weather hits – we’ll be able to get the lights back on quickly and ensure that the heat keeps working, the gas stations stay open, the hospitals maintain power and the transportation system keeps operating.
“Children in every neighborhood deserve great schools, and no matter who stands in their way, we will fight to deliver for them. We will not give up on any child. One of the reasons we’ve been able to increase graduation and college readiness rates is that we’ve created many more high quality school options.

“We’ve opened 576 new schools over the past 11 years, and we’re on track to have added 100,000 new classroom seats by the end of this year. 149 of those new schools have been charters and yet there are still more than 50,000 children who are still on charter school waiting lists. Those children and their parents have waited long enough.

“This September, we’ll open 26 new charters and we’ll work to approve many more for 2014. Some of them will be located within existing public school buildings even though there are special interests who want to prohibit that from happening.

“As we recycle more plastics, we’ll also tackle New York City’s final recycling frontier:
food waste. We bury 1.2 million tons of food waste in landfills every year at a cost of nearly $80 per ton. That waste can be used as fertilizer or converted to energy at a much lower price. That’s good for the environment and for taxpayers. This spring, we’ll launch a pilot program to collect curbside organic waste from single family homes in Staten Island, for composting. If it succeeds, we’ll develop a plan to take it citywide.

“We’ll also take food recycling in schools citywide. There is no better way to teach the next generation about the importance of recycling than to make it a part of their school day routine. It has been phenomenally successful where we’ve tried it – and I want to thank all the parents who were so supportive. I know some of them are with us today – please stand up so we can give you a hand.

“Now, one product that is virtually impossible to recycle and never bio-degrades is Styrofoam. But it’s not just terrible for the environment. It’s terrible for taxpayers. Styrofoam increases the cost of recycling by as much as $20 per ton, because it has to be removed.

“Something that we know is environmentally destructive, that is costing taxpayers money, and that is easily replaceable, is something we can do without. So with Speaker Quinn and the City Council, we will work to adopt a law banning Styrofoam food packaging from our stores and restaurants. And don’t worry: the doggie bag and the coffee cup will survive just fine.


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