Friday, September 21, 2007

Can't They Take a Bank?

In today's NY Sun, the paper reports on the hearing held last night by the MTA in regards to the need to condemn certain properties in order to build the Second Avenue subway line. At the hearing scores of property owners expressed concerns about the process and the threatened loss of the full use of their properties. As the Sun said: "The Metropolitan Transit Authority last night held a public hearing on the acquisition of residential and business property along the subway route under the state's eminent domain law and several property owners were expected to express their concern that the law is being used too liberally, and that construction of the subway should circumvent their property."

In addition, a number of elected officials and/or their representatives testified against the displacement of many rent-controlled tenants from their buildings. Clearly, there needs to be a greater oversight over this process since the MTA is not known for either its expertise or its transparency.

One major issue here, was the possible closure of the popular Gristedes supermarket on 86th Street between 1st and 2nd Avenues. Gristedes owner, John Catsimatidis, prepared testimony that pointed out that we are losing too many supermarkets on the east and west sides of Manhattan; "We're not opposed to the Second Avenue subway, but there's a shortage of supermarkets in New York City right now," Mr. Catsimatidis said. "I would think that the MTA should take that into consideration."

Given the proliferation of banks all over town you'd think that the MTA could have found one of these outlets to gut rather than a retailer providing vital neighborhood services. At the end of last night's hearing, however, it appeared that the agency may be moving away from gutting the Gristedes. We can only hope so, not only for the thousands of New Yorkers who shop there every week, but also for the 88 union jobs that need to be preserved.