14 New York City stories to watch in 2014
New York City will have a busy year.
The new mayor aims to mount a widely progressive agenda, altering many policies enacted by the previous, three-term administration.
But that’s not all.
From more restrictive cigarette laws to an outdoor Super Bowl, here are 14 things to watch for in 2014:
1. MTA service changes The MTA will spend $18 million restoring several bus lines, increasing the frequency of daytime G train service and extending the M train in 2014. Select Bus Service will come to Harlem in April. After a 14-month disruption, R train service between Manhattan and Brooklyn returns in October.
2. Hudson Yards Progress As part of the Hudson Yards Redevelopment Project, the 7 line extension to 34th Street and 11th Avenue will open this summer. By the end of the year, Friends of the High Line hope to open the park’s final extension, which wraps around the future 26-acre Hudson Yards site.
3. More Elections After a scandal-filled mayoral election, New Yorkers must brace for more campaign drama. Gov. Andrew Cuomo and a variety of congressional and state legislators are up for re-election this fall. Among them is Harlem Rep. Charles Rangel, running for his 23rd term in Congress.
4. New NYPD New Police Commissioner Bill Bratton has promised to cut down on stop-and-frisk, relying more on programs like Operation Crew Cut, which targets the small gangs in New York City that largely operate out of public housing projects.
5. New City Council With the blessing of Mayor Bill de Blasio, progressive Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito is poised to replace former City Council Speaker Christine Quinn after a vote next week. Twenty new council members also joined the legislative body on Wednesday.
6. Battle for Pre-K De Blasio’s signature campaign proposal — funding universal prekindergarten and after-school programs by increasing income tax for wealthy New Yorkers — needs approval from state legislatures and the governor. The mayor, who promised substantial year-one progress on the measure, will have to push for the hike during an election year.
7. Lower Manhattan Progress Thirteen years after the Sept. 11 attacks, lower Manhattan will see big changes in 2014. The 9/11 Memorial Museum, located below the plaza, is scheduled to open in the spring. The Freedom Tower, also known as One World Trade Center, is also expected to open this year.
8. Cigarette Laws The cigarette purchasing age will increase to 21 in mid-May after the city passed some of the country’s strictest limits on tobacco purchases last year. Electronic cigarettes, too, will be banned from bars, restaurants, parks and beaches beginning in April.
9. Soda Ban in Court Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s trademark soda ban will be reviewed by the Court of Appeals, New York’s highest court, sometime early this year. The law, which limits the size of some sugary drinks sold, was deemed an overreach of executive power by several lower courts in 2013 before the city appealed.
10. Open Labor Contracts One of de Blasio’s trickiest tasks during his first year in office will be attempting to negotiate new contracts for some 300,000 workers in municipal unions, which are demanding $7 bullion in retroactive pay. De Blasio appointed a commissioner of labor relations this week and previously said he would emphasize cost-savings in contract talks before passing a budget in June.
11. New Citywide Leadership New Yorkers elected a mayor with strong progressive values, but de Blasio isn’t the only liberal aiming to change City Hall. The first woman of color to hold citywide office, Public Advocate Letitia James also promised to tackle inequality and Comptroller Scott Stringer proposed turning the office into an innovative “think tank.”
12. NYC in the Spotlight Starting Jan. 27, musical icon Billy Joel will perform a concert a month in Manhattan during a residency at Madison Square Garden. Other music legends will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame at Barclays Center in Brooklyn in April. Inductees include Peter Gabriel, KISS, Nirvana and Cat Stevens.
13. Super Bowl 2014 While the NFL’s “first outdoor, cold weather Super Bowl” may be in New Jersey’s MetLife Stadium, city officials are bringing the festivities across the Hudson. Ten blocks, from 34th to 44th streets in Manhattan, will encompass a Super Bowl Boulevard with free events for football fans.
14. Fare Hikes Though fare hikes aren’t coming until 2015, the public will get a chance to debate the MTA’s plans later this year before a board meeting in December. The dollar amount of the 4 percent fare increase will be determined before the public hearing process.
Follow Anna Sanders on Twitter @AnnaESanders