New York Post
October 7, 2012
INSIDE CITY HALL
SI’s ferris ‘boo’er
Molinari fears traffic mess
By DAVID SEIFMAN
Guy Molinari has his own spin on the 625-foot-high Ferris wheel being planned for Staten Island — he wants it to stop before it starts.
“Nobody but nobody is talking about traffic,” complained the former Staten Island borough president, openly taking on current Borough President Jim Molinaro as well as Mayor Bloomberg.
“I don’t remember a project having so little oversight,” added Molinari. “The mayor is all giddy about it. What about transparency? It’s a disgrace, an absolute disgrace. Bloomberg and Molinaro are rushing to get something, something they did as their legacy.”
Anyone who’s ever met Molinari, a scrappy ex-congressman, knows he’s not one to pull punches.
But even for him, this is mighty tough talk for a $480 million development that comes complete with a shopping center, could finally persuade tourists to stick around the island after getting off the ferry, and seems to have the support of most local elected officials.
Sen. Chuck Schumer even predicted the big wheel would become New York’s equivalent of the Eiffel Tower.
Molinari has some experience with big projects. Not good experience.
He tried to sell the island on a $600 million NASCAR raceway that also included a shopping center, only to have it shot down in 2006 over concerns about the traffic it would generate a couple of weekends a year.
“There’s a certain hypocrisy on the part of elected officials [supporting the Ferris wheel],” Molinari said. “They’re the same ones who were screaming about traffic back then. What upsets me more is they’re playing us for a bunch of damn fools. Don’t tell the public anything.”
Molinaro insisted traffic won’t be a problem because he’s envisioning the St. George neighborhood around the wheel being transformed into its own mini-city by the addition of 920 apartments at the old Homeport. The island’s only subway line is nearby.
“It’s not an area that’s heavily congested,” said Molinaro. “The idea is to make St. George an area where you don’t need a car.” Clearly, the 2 million tourists who ride the ferry each year won’t add to the vehicle congestion when they hop on the wheel. As for residents, Molinaro argued they’d probably only try the record-sized attraction once or twice, and many would use the train to get to it.
“It’s not a legacy project for me in no way, shape or form,” Molinaro said, directly refuting his predecessor and longtime ally.
He suggested Molinari was speaking out because of the bad feelings lingering from NASCAR, which inspired a community forum so raucous it had to be shut down.
“I think he’s really angry NASCAR didn’t get a fair shake,” he said. “I agree.”
Before it can be built, the wheel will have to undergo an environmental review that includes a study of the traffic consequences. With 5 percent of the population, the island already has 18.5 percent of all the cars registered in the city. Can’t wait for that study to be completed.
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