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Cuomo Names New Port Authority Head, Outlines Plan to Nix LMDC

By DNAinfo Staff on October 19, 2011 5:44pm  | Updated on October 20, 2011 8:53am

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has recommended that Patrick Foye replace Chris Ward as Executive Director of the Port Authority.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has recommended that Patrick Foye replace Chris Ward as Executive Director of the Port Authority.
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By Jill Colvin and Julie Shapiro

DNAinfo Staff

CITY HALL — Gov. Andrew Cuomo has recommended that Patrick Foye, his current Deputy Secretary of Economic Development, take over from Chris Ward as executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

Cuomo also announced a sweeping plan to restructure the agency, which would fold the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation and the Moynihan Station Development Corporation under the Authority's wing.

"Too many different agencies doing the same or closely related work makes little sense," Cuomo said in a statement Wednesday. "The Port Authority is best situated to oversee the development at Moynihan Station and the orderly wind down of the LMDC."

Both the staffing changes and the restructuring must be approved by the Port Authority’s board.

The Lower Manhattan Development Corp., the agency charged with distributing $2.8 billion in federal post-9/11 recovery funds, has long been said to be nearing the end of its life span, as nearly all of its money is allocated and a scaled-back staff is finishing the job of ensuring that it is spent according to federal guidelines.

Many local officials, including Mayor Michael Bloomberg, have been calling on the state to sunset the LMDC for years, particularly following the 2007 Deutsche Bank fire, which killed two firefighters in an LMDC-owned building.

Former LMDC President David Emil, who has been working pro-bono for the authority since he took a retirement package at the end of 2010, will now become a senior adviser for the Port Authority, Cuomo announced Wednesday.

Emil, the former owner of the Windows on the World restaurant at the World Trade Center, is familiar with the intricacies of the LMDC, including the ongoing legal action between the agency and former Deutsche Bank contractor Bovis Lend Lease.

It was not immediately clear what would happen to the Lower Manhattan Construction Command Center, which currently shares staff and office space with the LMDC but has a separate funding stream.

The Moynihan Station Development Corporation, which aims to transform the old Farley Post Office into a new rail hub, is currently a subsidiary of the Empire State Development Corporation. Representatives at the corporation did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Patrick Foye formerly served as Deputy County Executive in Nassau County and as a board member of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, where he was one of only two members who voted down fare hikes in 2010, the Governor’s office noted in its announcement. 

Current Executive Director Christopher Ward, who said he was forced to step down from the post after getting burned by the politics surrounding toll and fare hikes this summer, will remain in his position until the end of October and then serve as an advisor to the Authority through the end of the year, Cuomo said.

While Ward was widely praised by many, including Mayor Bloomberg, for his work transforming the stalled Ground Zero into a thriving construction site, a new audit, reportedly ordered by Gov. Cuomo, is expected to show that Ward bought that progress by using hundreds of millions of dollars in “unnecessary spending,” according to the New York Post.

Cuomo also announced the nomination of James Rubin, the former executive editor of the opinion section of Bloomberg News, and Rossana Rosado, publisher of the Spanish-language newspaper, El Diario La Prensa, to the Port Authority Board.

Several prominent business leaders praised Foye's selection.

“The Governor has made it clear that creating jobs is his top priority. The Port Authority plays an essential role in New York's economic development and infrastructure, and Governor Cuomo is making sure that it will be able to produce the best results for the people of this state,” Steve Spinola, president of the Real Estate Board of New York, said in a statement.