Howard Zemsky, President and CEO
Empire State Development
633 Third Avenue
New York City, New York 10017
February 7, 2017
Re: Empire Outlets Resiliency Capital Project pursuant to New York State Urban Development Corporation Act in connection with proposed general project plan
I need to preface my comments about the merits of the topic of this hearing by first addressing Empire State Development’s protocols regarding public announcements of hearings. I was dismayed to learn that outreach for this hearing was not conducted electronically, nor was it sent to our local newspaper, The Staten Island Advance. I place great value on transparency, and I am puzzled as to why modern technology was not utilized to reach more Staten Islanders.
I also urge you to give the public more than two hours to submit comments. My constituents have long commutes and multiple responsibilities that prevent them from attending a hearing with such a short window. Again, we have the technology to accept comments electronically. I urge you to use it to extend the comment period so that you can hear from as many people as possible.
While I am dismayed at how this hearing was arranged and fear that it will color the comments about the subject matter, I am nonetheless pleased to see this public investment in our infrastructure. This remains an exciting time on the North Shore of Staten Island, as we embark on a period of unprecedented growth that will transform our waterfront, boost our local economy and create a walkable downtown neighborhood. The Empire Outlets, New York Wheel, Lighthouse Point, URBY and other forthcoming projects will help make Staten Island’s North Shore a prominent destination for tourists and an economically vibrant neighborhood for local residents. We’ve used the word “renaissance” in years gone by, but have always lacked the necessary commitments and investments. Today, we have a renaissance that truly feels like one.
The Empire Outlets alone are bringing more than 800 construction jobs and 1,000 permanent jobs to the North Shore while maximizing the economic potential of underutilized space at the convergence of almost every public transit line in our borough. In addition to these jobs and the positive economic ripple effects on all our neighborhoods, the developers are also completing improvements to safeguard our borough’s transportation infrastructure.
Infrastructure improvements include a 66,000 square-foot shelter and flood barriers to protect the Staten Island Railway from weather-related events, such as another Hurricane Sandy, as well as roadway improvements and new sidewalks, traffic lights and pedestrian crosswalks to improve traffic flow and commuter access while enhancing street safety. A $20 million grant from the state will support the Empire Outlets to make these necessary improvements to our district’s infrastructure, which will benefit all Staten Islanders, ensuring our resiliency and boosting our economic growth.
I have long been a supporter of the Empire Outlets, and I look forward to continuing to watch this project become a reality because of the benefits it will bring to our entire borough.
Councilmember Debi Rose
NYCC, 49th District