Tuesday’s Headlines: City for Sale Edition

It's fine the way it is. Photo: Caracas Arepa Bar
It's fine the way it is. Photo: Caracas Arepa Bar

Full disclosure: We are fans of three struggling local businesses in the Rockaways: Caracas Arepa Bar (with the frozen sangria), Rippers (great burgers) and the Low Tide bar. So like everyone else, we were puzzled why the Parks Department had declined to renew the businesses’ leases when they expired last year (during the pandemic) and chosen to award a new (and more expensive) lease to the people who run the concessions at nearby Riis Park, which, as you might expect, are also more expensive.

So naturally, we listened in as the Mayor’s Office of Contract Services held a virtual hearing yesterday afternoon as supporters waged a last-ditch effort to save the businesses from an inevitable rent hike that will likely doom them.

We don’t know if the mayor’s office will toss out the Parks Department’s bizarre attempt to squeeze more money out of businesses that barely survived the pandemic and various hurricanes over the years. But it’s worth noting that every single member of the public who testified (except, of course, a representative of the winning bidder) spoke in favor of keeping things the way they are rather than inviting in the hipster operators from Riis Park (full disclosure: we love hipsters, too).

Listening to the hearing, it’s clear that if the city goes ahead anyway, we don’t have a government that values small business; we have a government of the money, by the money and for the money. A representative from Comptroller Scott Stringer’s office said the city’s top fiscal watchdog would closely scrutinize the contract, but it may be too little, too late. We’ll keep you posted.

In other news:

  • It took a few days, but the Times has finally weighed in on the new Moynihan Train Hall. We won’t quibble with Michael Kimmelman’s excellent review of the new public space, but we do quibble with whatever editor decided to lead the page with a doctored photo. It’s just journalistically wrong and sends the inaccurate message that the train hall is busier than it actually is. (We are wagging our finger very vigorously right now!)
  • In other Moynihan Train Hall news, Gov. Cuomo says he wants to chip in millions to extend the High Line east to the new rail facility and west to a new park he plans to build where the NYPD tow pound is being evicted (NY Times, WSJ, amNY and Gothamist, which was the only outlet to provide a map). A video released by the developers make the whole thing look gross and capitalistic (though it’s nice to see what the city looks like without cars).
  • Well, the Post has found its mayoral candidate: an unqualified Wall Streeter who believes we are “losing” our city.
  • Obviously inspired by Streetsblog’s super-intern Adam Light, Gothamist wrote about all the tour buses that are running around empty (though our angle was needless pollution, while Gothamist’s was the decline in tourism).
  • The feds have approved money for a new Portal Bridge in the Jersey Meadowlands, a key choke point for Northeast Corridor train traffic (NJ.com), but the Daily News editorial board is still pissed!
  • Revel is dealing with a trove of new lawsuits stemming from alleged injuries last year. (NY Post)
  • And, finally, welcome to the dungeons of E. 29th Street (here’s hoping those iron doors open inward!). But, seriously, this isn’t legal: