From The Mayor’s Desk...
From The Mayor’s Desk...
For Our Future
New Yorkers continue to mourn the loved ones and neighbors that we lost in last Wednesday’s shocking collision of the Staten Island ferry at the St. George terminal. As many of you know, I arrived at the scene shortly after the accident took place, and I saw firsthand its horrible aftermath. I also once again witnessed the inspiring way that New Yorkers-both our trained emergency services personnel and also average citizens-pull together to help one another in times of crisis.
Now this incident is being investigated by a team from the National Transportation Safety Board-an agency with a distinguished record of thorough and professional inquiries into such accidents. With their help, we’ll find out just why this collision took place, and take steps to ensure that tragedies like it never happen again. In the meantime, we continue to pray for the victims, and for the families who have been affected by the crash of the Andrew J. Barberi.
The accident was a reminder of how much New Yorkers rely on our transportation system-and also of how safe its operations normally are. It also overshadowed another transportation-related breakthrough the city had reached earlier that day-one that will have far-reaching benefits for our city.
La Guardia and John F. Kennedy airports are located on City-owned land. We lease that land to another governmental agency-the regional Port Authority of New York and New Jersey-which manages the airports. For years, a set of unresolved problems about that arrangement had strained relations between the Port Authority and the City. But we came together in the aftermath of 9/11, and our Administration took office pledged to build on that new and more cooperative spirit. And with the proposed new 50-year lease with the Port Authority that we announced last week, that’s what we’ve done.
For one thing, this new arrangement will-at long last-compensate the City fairly for the airports. The new annual rents will be at least $93.5 million a year-a minimum of $90 million more than we have been receiving. Representatives appointed by City government also will-for the first time-sit on a new governing board that will manage airport operations. That should make the airports better neighbors, especially to the people of Queens. So will the Port Authority’s commitment of $50 million over the next five years to pay for transportation-related projects chosen by the City that will strengthen the economy of Queens. The Port Authority also has agreed to help establish direct rail access from Lower Manhattan to Kennedy and Newark airports; that’s a key element in our Administration’s vision for revitalizing the downtown area.
Nearly a quarter-million New Yorkers hold jobs that depend on tourism and business travel. Tens of millions of visitors a year enter New York through La Guardia and JFK airports, and continued improvements to the airports are crucial to our economy. The new lease agreement provides the sound financial foundation and governance structure needed by the airports in the world’s greatest city.