2011-05-19 / From The Mayor...

FROM THE MAYOR’S DESK...

Fighting Battles, Keeping Promises

People used to think that you couldn’t get big projects done in New York City anymore. Too many special interests. Too much red tape. Too much litigation. Well, we’re changing that – and last week we saw three great examples of how we’re doing that and fulfilling promises we’ve made in recent years.

The first involves our efforts to revitalize Willets Point in northeast Queens. Willets Point used to be a garbage dump, and is perhaps the most heavily polluted area in the City. But we’ve long believed it’s also one with great promise. We’ve envisioned a dynamic neighborhood with affordable housing and new jobs and businesses, all within touching distance of the subway, the LIRR, as well as Citi Field. The desire to revitalize Willets Point has existed for many decades, but we’re making it happen. In recent years, we’ve collaborated with our partners in government and the community to rezone the area for housing and commercial development. And last week, we took another step towards turning our vision into reality by issuing a request for proposals, inviting developers to submit plans for a part of the 62-acre site.

The second example of us getting big things done took place as we joined the FCC for an announcement at the World Trade Center site, where after many fits and starts, the rebuilding is now moving ahead full throttle. Together, we announced a new emergency alert system that will send messages straight to people’s cell phones, fulfilling a promise we made in 2005 and reaffirmed after the tragic Deutsche Bank fire in 2007. Improving emergency communications with the public is the key to managing any emergency.

And over the past four years, we’ve developed the largest opt-in notification system in the country – Notify NYC – which sends subscribers free, neighborhood-specific alerts via email, text message, automated phone calls. But given the kinds of threats made against New York City at the World Trade Center, Times Square, and other places popular with visitors and tourists, we knew we’d be even safer when authorities can broadcast warnings to everyone in a geographic area regardless of where they came from or bought their phone. And that’s exactly what the FCC’s new system does.

The third example of us getting big things done recently occurred when we opened a new citywide intake center in the South Bronx for homeless families seeking emergency shelter. The new center provides a clean, comfortable experience for families in their most desperate moments. It also aims to move them through the intake process as efficiently as possible, and with dignity and respect – really a night and day experience compared to the old facility it replaces, the Emergency Assistance Unit. I’ll never forget taking a tour of that old facility nine years ago. To call the place shabby and rundown would be an understatement. People were forced to sleep on the floor, which was a disgrace. We promised that we’d replace the EAU with an intake center that would treat people “with respect and dignity.” And now we’ve delivered.

It’s more proof that in a City once thought to be “ungovernable,” and where making changes often means fighting long hard battles – from the South Bronx to Willets Point to the World Trade Center – we’re getting things done.

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