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Five Infrastructure Upgrades NYC's Next Mayor Should Make

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The Times asked five gurus of urban infrastructure to list pressing issues that the new mayor should tackle immediately upon taking office. Without further ado...

1) "Permanently affordable" apartments. According to Association for Neighborhood and Housing Development policy director Barika X. Williams, housing remains too costly for most New Yorkers, and it's not enough for the government to lure developers?whether by zoning variances, tax credits, or other financing assistance?to add affordable units on a short-term basis that can eventually be rented at market-rate. Williams also recommends the next mayor take stock of all the city-owned land currently available in order to find new space for affordable units.

2) A lower carbon footprint. Rising sea levels will be an inevitable challenge of the next several decades, but it's not sufficient to simply protect New York from future floods, says Philip Orton of the Stevens Institute for Technology. The city's next leader must also curtail a cause of climate change?carbon emissions?especially when it comes to public transit.

3) Put housing near transit hubs. "Transit-oriented development" is the catchphrase of Julia Vitullo-Martin, a senior fellow at the the Regional Plan Association. In order to increase the supply of housing that a stuffed city needs, the next mayor must prioritize building offices and apartments where transportation is easily accessible and efficient. Bloomberg may have revived crucial segments of the waterfront, but they're not necessarily well-served by public transportation. Adds Vitullo-Martin: "The next mayor would be wise to couple these zoning changes with mandatory payments into an amenity fund to mitigate the effects of development?similar to the district improvement bonus proposed for East Midtown Rezoning."

4) Maintain our parks, and build more. Given his last job as Parks Department commissioner, Adrian Benepe's suggestion is unsurprising. He points to Ed Koch's tenure, when the major push to reinvigorating old green blights and constructing new ones all began, and emphasizes that non-public sector support mechanisms, like charitable donations and volunteers, are vital to keep up the trend. Projects that need to be championed through to completion include the Greenpoint-Williamsburg waterfront parks, Fresh Kills on Staten Island, and the QueensWay.

5) Keep our utilities functioning. In order for the unsightly cables and wires and tunnels that keep us awash in electricity, water, Internet, and other essentials (and free of sewage) to do their best work, we may not be able to bury them underground, according to Hope Cohen, The Battery Conservancy's chief administration and finance officer. But we should take the time to make the facilities that house these crucial nuggets of infrastructure beautiful: "New Yorkers need infrastructure in their neighborhoods, but they don't have to settle for blank walls, razor wire and smokestacks."
· How To Make New York City More Livable [Curbed]