As the Second Ave. Subway construction threatens to drag on for another eight years, business along the torn-up avenue are facing hard times. Construction zones limit access to the sidewalks, and foot traffic has all but dried up. In an effort to ease the financial burdens on these business owners, Assembly Member Micah Kellner sponsored a bill to create a property tax abatement for those inside the MTA-defined construction zone. It was a generally harmless piece of legislation that should have been allowed to pass.
But Mayor Bloomberg had other plans. Taking advantage of the turmoil in the State Senate brought on by the four Senate hold outs, Bloomberg asked the State Republicans to quash this bill, and the GOP, beholden to Bloomberg’s support and money, obliged. As Republicans threatened to vote it down, the bill was yanked from the legislative agenda last week, put on the backburner for a day when the Democrats’ 32-member majority is in place.
Dan Rivoli of Our Town, an Upper East Side community paper, reports on the fallout from the bill’s failure. Kellner and the Upper East Side business owners are angry at the Mayor. Meanwhile, the State GOP and Bloomberg claim they still support businesses impacted by the construction but claim the city cannot afford tax abatements for everyone and want to be able to control the zone of impact. What a mess.