Staten Island may not be the only borough worried about its future, but it might be the only one to have commissioned a study to understand the next 13 years. Earlier this week, the Center for an Urban Future presented Staten Island 2020 plans. The Advance noted that Mayor Bloomberg had PlaNYC 2030 while SI had 2020, "The study...lays out an ambitious series of recommendations aimed at promoting sensible growth, boosting tourism and protecting the Island's quality of life." Here's a look at some of the problems:
- An increasing number of Staten Islanders are giving up on the borough and moving elsewhere.
- Young adults between 18 and 34 appear to be fleeing the borough, a major problem since young single people and families add vitality and vibrancy to communities.
- The cost of single-family homes on Staten Island is increasingly out-of-reach for many middle-class families.
- Commuting times have been getting higher. (Travel-to-work times increased from a mean time of 26.2 minutes in 1980 to 39 minutes in 1990 to 43.9 minutes in 2000.)
- No financial services firms or other corporate office tenants are coming to Staten Island, despite large amounts of vacant space and inexpensive commercial real estate prices compared to Manhattan. (Most of the recent job growth on Staten Island has been in industries that pay low wages.)
Yikes! The Center for an Urban Future suggests that reversing zoning laws to spur development, promoting cultural institution, developing a dynamic downtown to attract young residents, improving transportation options, and, most of all, having a plan to oversee population growth are key. With so much development, some people don't want any more, but former borough president hopeful John V. Luisi told the NY Times that more housing and stores should be built near the ferry terminal in St. George, not to mention a grocery store, a la the Red Hook Fairway, would help a lot.
SI Borough President James Molinaro was more wary of the findings; Crain's reported Molinaro as saying, "A consultant's report is very easy to do. don't need that. I need how to get things done." As it happened, Molinaro said that during a press coference to discuss building a light rail that would connect to NJ's Hudson Bergen Light Rail, creating a connection to the PATH.
What do you think would make Staten Island more attractive to younger residents? And did you know that Staten Island is the fastest growing borough? Ninety percent of new Staten Islanders are immigrants.
Photograph by Atomische.com