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Reader Rant: 'Commie Boards' & Bow Ties Ruining City

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There's a war a brewin' right now, and the battles are being fought not in the trenches, but in poorly-lit meeting rooms during marathon sessions of boring back-and-forth. On one side, you have the community boards and local activists who will stop at nothing to prevent that new restaurant next door or the 12-story building down the street. In the other camp, developers and entrepreneurs and citizens who aren't afraid of the occasional new skyscraper. The former have had their way for a while, but now the other side is striking back via some genuine community board backlash. Fans of Jean Nouvel's 75-story proposed skyscraper near the MoMA have even posted an online petition to gain support. And now, the latest barb, via the Curbed inbox:

First I saw that the Solow development on the East River, a location that was begging for a 21st-century icon, has officially been punched down into a Hartford-within-Midtown. Then I read on Curbed that Community Board 5 has unanimously (!) voted against a transfer of air rights to the MoMA Tower of Awesomeness. I went to a few CB6 meetings about the Solow development back when it still could've been a slice of Dubai in New York (pathetic we're reduced to saying that, ain't it?). I was the only person under the age of 80 and not in a cruise-ship blazer and bow-tie, and the old-timers lambasted me when I gave one of two speeches in favor of the project. (The other was an architecture professor's speech.)

I saw firsthand how Community Boards are overrun by the retired -- simultaneously the only people with the time or desire to get involved in local politics and the people with the least to gain from development -- and how projects are not even killed but, worse, Sioux City-ized by the Commie Boards. Anyway, I stand with you guys in despair at how a few cantankerous old fogies can thwart the city's future development. The problem is that no rational New Yorker would say, "I really don't want to see a kick-ass, instant-icon skyscraper go up on an empty storage lot in the heart of Midtown." But the average, rational New Yorker doesn't sit around and write Community Boards or get out of work in time to go to their meetings. And even if he did get out of work in time, he'd have better things to do.

KABOOM! And so, the war rages on.
· Citizens Gone Wild: LICers Target Water Taxi Beach [Curbed]
· Please Don't Screw Up the Jean Nouvel MoMA Tower [Curbed]

53 W 53rd St

53 West 53rd Street, Manhattan, NY 10019