March 2005

It’s hard to believe that 25 years ago the tiny village of Lake Placid swelled with people from around the world for the XIII Winter Games.

Of course the enduring memories from these games are not of the transportation problems, complaints from the athletes about the Olympic village and, of all things, the lack of snow for those two weeks in February 1980. Rather, as virtually everyone knows, a young hockey team helped us feel good about ourselves again; they brought us out of our “funk” and transformed regional chants of the then-still relatively new “I Love New York” sentiments to nationalistic renditions of “God Bless America” and prideful chants of “USA.”

Today, with hopes to shine as brightly as its tiny counterpart did (twice) in the Adirondacks, New York City wants to host the world in 2012 for the Summer Games. At press time, City officials are wining and dining a 13-member delegation from the International Olympic Committee called the “Evaluation Commission,” whose ultimate duty will be to select one host from five cities – Madrid, London, Moscow, Paris and NYC. Not certain how much all of this schmoozing is going to cost, especially when you factor in the promotional efforts that are evident on virtually every cab, subway car, bus, street pole and so forth. But consider this: The entire 1980 games in Lake Placid cost approximately $88 million; the proposed stadium on the West Side could cost as much as $600 million.

Now, New York City is definitely worthy (and deserving) of hosting the Olympics, and the jobs these games would create would be a boon to the city and the state leading up to the big two weeks. But this will be temporary. What’s permanent is quality of life issues, such as our infrastructure that includes roads and, at the very minimum, adequate funding for them. Again, the New York State Legislature, along with the governor, needs to think less about the world right now and think of its citizens by increasing CHIPs funding so that, in the event that NYC lands the Games, when the glow of any new miracles that may occur there fades in 2012, we’re not left looking at roads that look and ride as old as 1980.

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