Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s plan to redevelop land in and around Penn Station looks “very friendly to the developers, not so friendly to the communities,” Mayor Bill de Blasio assessed Monday night.
Cuomo’s Empire Station Complex plan, which has recently seen renewed community pushback, aims to overhaul the Penn Station transit hub by 2038 by generating revenue through a real estate deal that would transform the surrounding Midtown area.
In his weekly “Mondays with the Mayor” interview with Inside City Hall anchor Errol Louis, de Blasio sided with Cuomo’s critics, like State Sen. Liz Krueger, who has attempted to strike the proposal from this year’s state budget deal, according to THE CITY. The mayor claimed the project would benefit developers instead of communities, and said he wanted more input from local residents.
“I think we want to really respect the fact that the plans have to be about the larger public good, not about the enrichment of a few developers,” the mayor said. “I’m a pro-development progressive. I want to see the right kind of development, with lots of checks and balances, with lots of public benefits involved, with community voices involved. Unfortunately, the governor’s plan is not that.”
Meanwhile, when asked in the interview if City Hall has spoken with Cuomo about any potential changes to a rule mandating when schools must close due to COVID-19 cases, de Blasio said he does not foresee the state interfering with his rollout of a new policy. The mayor’s argument: the state has given local school districts significant latitude.
“We have been, throughout this process, following state guidance. And the state has given a lot of latitude to the local school districts to determine what makes sense, particularly when it’s being dictated by the health care leadership,” the mayor said. “So we’ll present whatever the next plan is and we’ll get ready to move on it. I have every reason to believe we’re not going to have a problem with the state on this, given everything we’ve seen previously.”
De Blasio announced Monday morning that New York City public schools will no longer be required to close following two reported and unrelated cases of COVID-19. The mayor defended implementing the approach to begin with, while also acknowledging it “doesn’t make sense anymore.”
The change comes after months of complaints from parents, who have voiced frustration over repeated closures, and mounting pressure from City Council members.
As of Monday, de Blasio refused to divulge when a replacement plan would be implemented, saying only that it would be nailed down “in the next few days” and that it would be trigged by “more than two cases.”
In response to the the mayor’s announcement, earlier in the day the United Federation of Teachers said “a proclamation is not a plan,” and added that the city does not have the authority to change the two-case rule without state approval.
“Any change to the two-case rule has to take the safety of children and their families into account, not the Mayor’s need for a Monday morning announcement,” the statement went on to say.