As Mayor Bloomberg’s tenure approaches its end, many are discussing what his long-lasting legacy will be. Education and economic development have been pillars of his administration, but no doubt Bloomberg will also be remembered for PlaNYC. The 30 year sustainability plan made New York City a leader in green urban planning and city living, and it has spurred many other major metropolises to create similar blueprints. And while PlaNYC initiatives have had a tremendous impact on the city, some are concerned that the next mayor may not embrace the goals, and many are wondering whether or not PlaNYC is itself sustainable.
The Rockefeller Brothers Fund has supported PlaNYC from its inception, and the philanthropic organization firmly believes that the plan will make New York City greener and greater. The Fund shares the concerns about the future of PlaNYC, and it has commissioned a study to examine whether or not local businesses will be able to carry on with the sustainability initiatives after Bloomberg leaves office. Kate Ascher, a consultant with Buro Happold and a former Economic Development Corp. executive, will lead the study, and the results will be presented to environmental groups in the next few weeks.
While carrying on with PlaNYC may seem like a no-brainer, the challenges faced by the plan continue to mount. Energy prices are rising, funds for public transportation are declining, and we still are struggling through financially uncertain times. Priorities like jobs, education, and health care could push sustainability initiatives to the back burner. But given PlaNYC’s widespread support throughout the city and its many positive achievements — better air, more parks, energy-efficient buildings — we think that it would be silly for our next mayor to just toss the plan out the window.
Either way, it will be interesting to learn what the Fund’s study reveals. “PlaNYC has been widely supported by the foundation community,” writes the Fund. “Many city-based foundations have made grants to support public education initiatives around PlaNYC’s goals and public benefits and the foundation community has been instrumental to the process of building public constituencies to help assure that implementation of the plan will remain a high priority for future mayors.”
lead image © NYC Mayor’s Office