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City Hall misfires could imperil New York’s COVID-19 recovery: study


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City Hall misfires could imperil New York’s COVID-19 recovery: study 1

Mayor Bill de Blasio’s high profile missteps on reopening city schools and tracing coronavirus infections could endanger the Big Apple’s recovery from the pandemic, a prominent local think tank warned in a report set to be published Thursday.

The 26-page examination of New York City’s health and recovery by the Regional Planning Association reveals that the five boroughs are well-positioned to bounce back after a COVID-19 vaccine is developed, provided City Hall can avoid massive cuts to key services and finally run on all cylinders.

“Beside the pandemic itself, the biggest threats that could result in a spiral of decline and widening inequality have little to do with New York’s urban character or any inherent susceptibility to this or future pandemics,” the RPA warns in its 26-page draft report. “Rather, they stem from how the damage already inflicted on people, businesses, government and institutions could become a self-reinforcing cycle without the right policy choices and effective leadership.”

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While the well-respected think tank never mentions Hizzoner by name, the report goes on to highlight City Hall’s high profile stumbles as it launched its coronavirus tracing program and reopened public schools for partial in-person instruction.

“Things such as the inability to adequately plan for restarting public school or put in place an efficient COVID-19 contact tracing infrastructure are symptoms of this overall declining standard of public services,” the RPA report scolds.

“A normalization of things like rolling blackouts, overflowing trash cans and uncertain school schedules not only greatly degrades life for everyday New Yorkers, but puts us one more step behind contemporary

world cities,” the RPA continued. “If we cannot adequately maintain public services and repair and expand our infrastructure, New York risks losing its place as a preeminent global city.”

The urban planners who authored the report affirmed a slew of other reports that found the coronavirus pandemic and economic downturn hit New York’s minority communities the hardest.

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And they determined New York’s density and sprawling transit systems — once thought to be a vulnerability during the initial days of the pandemic’s outbreak — will contribute to its economic recovery.

However, they argue that City Hall and Albany can bolster and better position New York’s recovery by repurposing New York’s streets to make room for pedestrians, bikes and outdoor dining — while protecting key subway and bus improvement projects from the budget ax.

“In spite of the immense suffering and fear, there are reasons to be hopeful,” the RPA said. “Whether we are entering an era of decline or come back stronger, fairer and more resilient than ever will depend on the choices we make now.”

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