By Jill Colvin
MIDTOWN — Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer promised new produce-toting veggie vans and help for businesses hurt by construction of the Second Avenue subway in his annual State of the Borough address Tuesday night.
"There is a troubling view taking hold that to set high standards and achieve good outcomes, we must rely on a closed, top-down model of government," Stringer told the packed house at CUNY Graduate Center in Midtown.
Instead, he said city officials must do a better job listening to residents and working together to solve problems like school overcrowding and improving the city's controversial bike lanes.
In addition to painting himself as the antithesis to Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Stringer announced a series of initiatives impacting residents in Harlem, Washington Heights and the Upper East Side.
Stringer announced the roll-out of a new refrigerated veggie van service that will deliver fresh produce to seniors and public housing residents in Upper Manhattan.
He also pledged new measures to try to help residents and small businesses impacted by the construction of the Second Avenue subway line, which he described as "the MTA’s largest open air construction bazaar."
A new advisory committee will provide residents and businesses with more information about work going on on their blocks, a new plan with Con Ed will lower energy costs along the stretch and a "major ad campaign" will promote stores in the construction zone.
In addition, Stringer said that later this month his office will launch a new website called "Speak Up New York" which he described as a potential "civic game changer."
As DNAinfo first reported, the site is intended to be an online forum for residents to connect and discuss local issues without having to schlep to local community board meetings. Residents will be able to link up with local tenants associations, block associations and neighborhood groups, as well as find guides explaining how to navigate city services.
Stringer also announced that the official public review of the West Harlem rezoning project for the Columbia University expansion will begin this fall and that it is expected to be complete by early next year.
Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, who joined officials including former Mayor David Dinkins and Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance to catch the speech, praised Stringer — a potential rival to succeed Bloomberg as mayor — for stressing consensus-building and offering help to those impacted by the subway construction.
"If someone doesn't step up and speak out, we won't get the results we need," he said.
Stringer also called for more affordable housing, immigration reform and urged lawmakers in Albany to pass a marriage equality bill.