With 100+ days of the new gig under his belt, Mayor de Blasio earns some praise, but still has expectations to meet
We asked downtown residents of all stripes how they think Bill de Blasio is measuring up so far, and most responses were even-handed, acknowledging that three months is a very short time in which to accomplish anything in politics, especially following the 12-year-reign of his predecessor.
“A change after 12 years of one administration to a new one, there’s some continuity and some new folks moving in so there’s a period of people sorting out relationships and getting to know each other,” said Andrew Breslau, vice president of the Alliance for Downtown New York. “From tourism to the police department to waterfront development to sustainability issues to the buildings department to the department of sanitation, these are all conversation we’re having.”
Downtown residents especially have a lot at stake in the upcoming years, with profound changes happening in their neighborhoods, from the building out of the World Trade Center site to rebuilding of the Seaport and the rehabilitation of Pier A in Battery Park City.
While it may be too soon to judge the mayor on development, many residents are ready to give him high marks for his aggressive work on improving traffic safety.
“I would commend Mayor de Blasio on his attempts to make the streets safer with lower speed limits in some areas,” said Betty Lynd, who honed in on traffic safety as a key issue.
The biggest common denominator in assessments from Manhattan residents, though, was that there is still much to be done before anyone can hand the mayor a definitive grade, good or bad. There are still important agency appointments to be made, and some areas to which the mayor has yet to focus his attention.
Geoffrey Croft, president of independent watchdog organization NYC Park Advocates, said that he couldn’t possibly evaluate the de Blasio administration on its policies and work in parks, because very little has been done in that arena.
“Unfortunately there has been virtually nothing to report,” Croft said. “There wasn’t a single word in the mayor’s inaugural speech about parks or open spaces. What comments he has made came out of the press conference [announcing the impending appointment of Mitchell Silver as incoming parks commissioner] two-and-half months into his administration.”
Croft said that he has high hopes for the new commissioner and hopes that de Blasio will fulfill his recent promise to make parks more accessible and enjoyable to all in the city.
“We are very concerned, as we were when he was a candidate, what his solutions are to this,” Croft said. “The budget that [de Blasio] just proposed is the exact same issues we’ve had for decades – he’s proposing to allocate a fraction of the funds needed to properly maintain our parks.”
The city budget is far from finalized, however, and the same goes for de Blasio’s reputation and record on issues important to the downtown.
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