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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on May 24th, 2010
by Pincas Jawetz (pj@sustainabilitank.info)

Scott M. Stringer is the Manhattan Borough President – that is the Mayor of the main Borough of the City of New York – that is the Island of Manhattan – which is just one of the five Boroughs that make up the City.

I am sure that the Mayor of The City of New York – Mr. Michael Bloomberg – will not want to see it this way – but in effect the other four Boroughs, and much of the larger Tri-State area of the Larger Metropolitan New York, are there because they serve the Island of Manhattan.

Take for instance transportation in the Metropolitan New York area – this is basically a commuters net that moves people in and out of Manhattan. There are trains and buses, there are bridges and tunnels, there are rush hours and easier times, and the Metropolitan Transit System (the MTA) operates much of the above, and the subways, rather well. But what the MTA does not do well is the transportation inside the Manhattan Borough itself – the connections between the the feeder lines that move the people into the city – and their working places inside the city. These lines should not be subservient to the longer lines that may transit Manhattan on their ways from outer Boroughs or even from the neighboring States. And mind you – I just took transportation as an example. The same thing will become obvious with most other topics when you look at the 5 Borough City, and try to search for what goes on in the one main central Borough of Manhattan – be it housing, food supply, repair services, education etc.

Why should all main and expanding Universities of New York City fight for dismantling old historic neighborhoods in their need for new construction? Why could they not be directed to build in the other Boroughs instead?

When I found out that the Borough President is invited to a lunch with the Greenwich Village-Chelsea Chamber of Commerce (Tony Juliano, Chairperson), I made sure that I will be there as I sensed that I might have a chance to pose some questions. These question were going to deal with SUSTAINABILITY aspects of that main part of New York City.

Indeed, Mr. Stringer spoke on how he came to his job from the New York State Assembly in Albany, and how he feels now that what goes on in Manhattan can rather be an example for the world. Manhattan is under scrutiny, neither the whole State of New York, nor the City of New York. What one learns in Manhattan can then be transferred to other localities. he mentioned roof Agriculture and I loved it, but I know that Manhattan does not have any of it – so it can develop roof Agriculture with the help of existing systems elsewhere – so why not have a direct Manhattan-Berlin link on this topic? Manhattan is important enough to deal in direct link with whole cities overseas. What about Singapore, Vienna, Zurich, or Cape Town?

When I followed up with my question – the question was why does Manhattan not develop direct links with cities overseas to look at their experiences – specially in the transportation area. Manhattan does not have a good internal bus system and that caused an extraordinary big taxi fleet. This clearly because of the way how New York City just crosses Manhattan but did not develop the island’s own transportation system. Today that could mean light-rails, multi-passenger vans and more frequent buses – rather then the one-passenger taxis that clog the arteries of the city. The taxis are like hungry flies flocking after passengers and dropping them off far from the curb. The city discourages private cars with high garage fees, no parking space, and high monetary penalties, but then ends up with that same amount of clogginess because of the taxis.

I must say that I was gratified with a long answer that showed me that the gentleman would like to see change, and believing that he also is thinking of higher office eventually, I would also think that success in doing the right thing for Manhattan can then help in positioning him for City-wide or State-wide office. I hope that he does indeed write SUSTAINABILITY for MANHATTAN in front of his desk, and proceeds helping create programs that though “insular” are nevertheless generic, and prove that within the territorial limits of his power he is able to search for the best – be it in transportation or safeguarding real estate zoning, so that small business is kept in the city rather then allowing for expansion of institutions that just leave behind non-descript blocks of concrete for banks, or Universities.

Discussing some of the above with other participants, I also brought up the Blackhawk wind-mill patented in Idaho that could provide electricity to individual Manhattan buildings – this is something that could be achieved and power plants avoided.

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