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New York Mayor Bloomberg gets high marks for Irene, 9/11 recovery

September 12, 2011 |  7:16 am

A day after Americans marked the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, New Yorkers are more optimistic about the recovery of Lower Manhattan than they were two years ago and increasingly convinced that the rebuilding of the former World Trade Center will meet the deadline for completion by 2014, a new poll shows.

Of those surveyed, 60% said the rebuilding was going "very well" or "somewhat well," compared with 40% in August 2009.

The survey by Quinnipiac University, released Monday, also shows that Mayor Michael Bloomberg -- thought by many to have presidential aspirations -- gets credit from 61% of New Yorkers for playing a "positive" role in lower Manhattan's recovery. The mayor also is enjoying his highest approval rating -- 54% -- since last December, results helped apparently by his response to Irene, the storm that battered the nation's largest city with wind, rain and flooding last month.

Bloomberg's decision to take the unprecedented step of closing down the city's subway and bus system the day before the storm hit and to order mandatory evacuations for low-lying areas may have seemed overly cautious at the time, but it appears to have won him points from New Yorkers, Maurice Carroll, director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, said in a news release.

Voters in the city approved of his handling of the preparations by a margin of 86% to 10%. Even in neighborhoods ordered to evacuate, 84% approved of his actions, while 15% disapproved.

“The critics cried ‘overkill!’  But most people agreed with the mayor, ‘Better safe than sorry.’  Overwhelmingly, Bloomberg’s handling of Irene gets high marks,” Carroll said. Irene's impact on New York City was far less than had been feared, but it devastated other parts of the state and killed more than 40 people along the East Coast.

The telephone survey, conducted Sept. 1-6, surveyed 1,282 registered voters across New York's five boroughs. Among its other findings: 70% of New Yorkers plan to visit the 9/11 Memorial at the World Trade Center site. The memorial was unveiled to victims' families at Sunday's anniversary ceremony and opens to the public Monday. And 75% of city dwellers plan on visiting the museum that will open next year on the plaza that forms part of the memorial.

But in one of the few signs of discontent with the management of the rebuilding, 71% say the museum should be free. Organizers of the memorial and museum have suggested collecting a $20-per-visitor entrance fee –- or asking for a donation in that amount -- to help maintain the site when the museum opens next year.

-- Tina Susman in New York


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Photo: New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg speaks Sunday at the National September 11 Memorial at the World Trade Center site. Credit: Noah K. Murray / Pool