Saturday, January 29, 2011

MAS announces 2011 Livability Watch List, including Moynihan Station, Coney Island, NYU expansion; AY is not included but said to inform MAS thinking

The Municipal Art Society (MAS) has announced the 2011 Livability Watch List, "a compilation of the 11 initiatives that will have the most significant effect on livability in New York City this year. As the leading organization dedicated to creating a more livable New York through intelligent urban planning and design, MAS will call attention to these 11 through advocacy work, public programming and issues monitoring."

The list, which leads with Moynihan Station & Hudson Yards, and includes Coney Island and the expansion of NYU, surely includes some major topics. It's tough to argue that any should be omitted, and it'll be a challenge for the MAS to keep track and galvanize interest.

That said, Atlantic Yards is a conspicuous omission, given that the issues it raises--a megadevelopment in a very tight spot, questionable design, indefinite interim surface parking--surely galvanized MAS for a while, leading it to help found "mend it, don't end it" BrooklynSpeaks, then to withdraw about a year ago once the latter finally went to court, a tactic with which MAS disagreed.

MAS statement

I asked why Atlantic Yards wasn't on the list, and got this response from spokeswoman Hazel Balaban:
Atlantic Yards was certainly on our minds when we drafted the list, and it’s on our internal work plan as the model for our work on Moynihan Station & Hudson Yards. Learning from Atlantic Yards, MAS will continue its advocacy efforts to ensure that future mega developments are planned in dialogue with their surrounding communities. Also, we intend to build on the planning principles MAS and Brooklyn Speaks offered for Atlantic Yards, as the foundation for our work on the Far West Side.
Maybe it's the lawsuit, maybe it's the difficulty of taking on so much, or maybe it's both.

Still, as I argued in a recent Complaint Box essay in the Times, amplified in a comment, I have to think that if Brooklyn were an independent city, and had its own MAS, such an organization couldn't give a pass to Atlantic Yards on a Livability Watch list.

The list

1. Moynihan Station & Hudson Yards
2. The Garment District
3. Disaster Planning
4. Public Housing
5. The Bronx
6. Lower Manhattan
7. NYU Expansion
8. Changing Streets
9. PlaNYC 2.0
10. Waterfront
11. Coney Island

See the MAS website for more details. For example, about the Bronx it states:
The Bronx

The 2010 MAS Survey on Livability indicated that Bronx residents were the most dissatisfied of all New Yorkers with their neighborhood services and safety. In response, MAS is exploring how community institutions can enhance livability by promoting economic development and the arts. We will examine the proposal to tear down the Sheridan Expressway and explore how other cities dealt with similar projects.

1 comment:

  1. Had the Municipal Art Society thrown its enormous weight behind its announced principles, Atlantic Yards would have been defeated years ago.

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