The Paper of Record for East and West Villages, Lower East Side, Soho, Noho, Little Italy and Chinatown
February 20, 2014 • FREE Volume 4 • Number 7
Bill kills the NYCHA ‘infill’ plan; Tenant leader has had her fill BY SAM SPOKONY
n the same day he appointed a new leader of the New York City Housing Authority, Mayor de Blasio said he will not go forward with the Bloomberg-era “infill” plan that would have leased some NYCHA land to private developers. Several of the
sites were on the Lower East Side and in the East Village. But the mayor did state, at the Feb. 8 press conference, that he would consider a new land-lease plan if it were supported by public housing residents — potentially bringing tens of millions of dollars in new revenue to the NYCHA, continued on p. 6
Of ice and men: Can the police clear their own sidewalks? BY SARAH FERGUSON
BLUE ICE, continued on p. 12
BY LINCOLN ANDERSON
s there a heart app? I need a heart app that’s a defibrillator,” John Leguizamo quipped as he mockstaggered off the court, smiling and flush-faced, after 30 minutes of halfcourt 4-on-3 at N.Y.U.’s Coles gym last Sunday morning. The actor, 49, had been trying to keep up with a group of scurrying 12- and 13-year-olds and the pace was fast and furious. At least he had his son, Lucas, 13, on his team. “Basketball is a young man’s game,” he said, catching his breath. “These kids are already my height — they had an age and height advantage.” But it wasn’t just any old pickup game. And there was a serious cause behind it: One of the items up for bid in a December star-studded auction by N.Y.U. Faculty Against the Sexton Plan was the chance to play hoops with the movie star, who is known for voicing Sid the sloth in the animated “Ice Age” films. The auction’s proceeds are all going toward N.Y.U. FASP’s ongoing legal battle against the university’s 2031 superblocks expansion plan. Mark Crispin Miller, an N.Y.U. media studies professor and a leader of the N.Y.U. FASP effort, had the winning bid for the Leguizamo basketball game. He got it as a twofer for his son, Billy, who is a big fan of both basketball — “it’s all he ever talks about,” Miller said — and “Ice N.Y.U. PLAN, continued on p. 20
Golden Fest a gem...........page 14
PHOTO BY TEQUILA MINSKY
ow is the winter of our discontent. The onslaught of snow — once a delight — has become an endless slog of winter storms and polar vortexes. And the ice — what’s up with all the ice? Some streets and side-
walks resemble bobsled courses due to all the thaw and refreeze. Emergency room visits for slip and falls are up 300 percent. I should know. Two weeks ago, I wiped out on a treacherous set of stairs in Tompkins Square Park that were coated in black ice. I flipped up into the air like an Olympic snow-
Is it a 2-on-1 game again? City files notice on N.Y.U.
John Leguizamo took a jump shot against fan Billy Miller at Coles gym on Sunday.
Editorial: Park conservancy must clear air......page 8 Laundromat gets too hot on W. Fourth St.......page 10 www.EastVillagerNews.com
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A stolen truck and cross-town bus collided and both smashed into the southeast corner of 14th St. and Seventh Ave. last Wednesday morning.
Bus driver is killed in collision with stolen truck on W. 14th St. BY TEQUILLA MINSKY
n a deadly traffic accident that killed an M.T.A. bus driver and left several others injured last Wednesday, around 5:30 a.m., a stolen truck crashed into a 14th St. cross-town bus at Seventh Ave., sending both vehicles careening into the intersection’s southeast corner. The vehicles smashed into a scaffold, and two parked cars and a cab were also struck. According to the police report, E.M.S. medics responded to the scene and declared the bus’s operator, William Pena, 49, of Hillside, N.J., dead on arrival. A 17-year veteran driver of the cross-town route, Pena was married and had a teenage daughter. According to the New York Post, he was not wearing a seat belt and was ejected from the bus by the impact of hitting the scaffold. Two pedestrians at the location were removed to local hospitals in stable condition. Three passengers on the bus were also injured, as was 15-year food vendor Ashraf Marei, who, enclosed inside his food cart, suffered minor injuries after a cab clipped his cart and boiling water spilled on him. He was treated at Beth Israel. A person on a three-wheeled scooter who was struck by the truck prior to the collision with the bus was removed to Bellevue Hospital in stable condition. The stolen orange box truck’s sides were marked “18 Rabbits Granola.” The driver — identified by the Daily News as Dominic Whilby, 22, of Georgia — was removed to Bellevue Hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. Whilby is the nephew of male model Tyson Beckford and had been out drinking
with him and Beckford’s girlfriend, Victoria’s Secret model Shanina Shaik, at a Fashion Week party in Chelsea. Whilby was reportedly bounced from 1OAK on W. 17th St. around 3:30 a.m. for “getting too frisky with some women,” then wandered over to the nearby Maritime Hotel on W. 16th St., where he passed out in the lobby and was again kicked out. Drifting down the street and unable to find a limo, he jumped into the truck, which had the keys in the ignition, and took off, crashing into several parked cars along the way. According to the police report, around 5:30 a.m., officers responded to a 911 call for a burglary at 347 W. 16th St. Upon arrival, they were informed by an employee that an unidentified male had entered the employee’s delivery truck and driven away from the location. Officers conducted a canvass of the area for the vehicle and discovered it had been involved in the collision at 14th St. and Seventh Ave. with an eastbound M14D bus. The bus was an articulated, or double-long, model. Whilby was charged with manslaughter, vehicular manslaughter, grand larceny, criminal possession of stolen property, criminal trespass, criminal mischief and felony assault. Increased charges are also reportedly being considered. The judge ordered him held without bail. The accident snarled morning rush hour at and around the intersection. Vehicular traffic was rerouted, while pedestrians were prevented from crossing the intersection in any direction. Especially inconvenienced were the many workers trying to find a way to cross the street and enter the building that the bus and truck struck, as well at students who attend Star Career Academy, which is located in the building.
ing this further — but in the meantime, here’s a helpful tip for our readers: Don’t steal Joe Bird’s lighter! You’ll have to take to the air to escape him...and even then, he may have friends in high places... .
‘MASTER’ CLASS CANCELED: The late tragic actor Philip Seymour Hoffman was among the many Downtown celebrities who contributed their efforts to the community’s ongoing fight against New York University’s 2031 South Village development plan. One of the top items on the block in the N.Y.U. Faculty Against the Sexton Plan’s massive, starstudded auction back in December was a private hour-anda-half acting lesson with the Academy Award-winning star of “Capote” and “The Master” himself. The auction raised more than $40,000 for the N.Y.U. project opponents’ ongoing legal fight, and the thespian session with Hoffman was won with a very high bid — in fact, it was a good chunk of the overall proceeds, we hear. We were told the figure, however, were asked not to print it, out of respect. We were not told the name of the winning bidder. After Hoffman shockingly died on Bethune St. of an apparent heroin overdose at age 46 on Feb. 2, Linda Gross, a spokesperson for N.Y.U. FASP, told us, “We are so very sad. He was a really nice guy. The lesson was not given. The name of the winner is, indeed, private. Right now, we’re all mourning and respecting his passing. We’ll deal with that lesson at some point in the next week or two.” We subsequently heard it was briefly debated whether to get another local acting luminary to fill in for Hoffman. A name was floated — but we were told, again, not to make it public. In the end, it just didn’t seem right to do it without Hoffman. It was decided the acting class will not be offered, and the money will be returned to the bidder. JOE BIRD’S GREAT CHASE: If you read our Police Blotter last week, you saw the strange-but-true story of a theft victim who actually chased the perpetrator underground and through a No. 1 train subway tunnel, before eventually resurfacing and flagging down a cop to arrest the guy. Well, it looks like the 52-year-old man who undertook that successful chase — and then recovered his stolen $94 and cigarette lighter — may have been none other than “Joe Bird,” a pigeon-loving Soho local who ruffled feathers last year after repeatedly camping out with a sidekick on the doorstep of Dominique Ansel’s bakery on Spring St., so that they could sell their spots on the cronut line in the morning. (Ansel reportedly was not amused.) A knowledgeable neighborhood source tells us that a female friend of his, who knows Joe, saw the frustrated cronut entrepreneur on the street right after our previous issue was published. Before she had a chance to read The Villager that day, Joe reportedly told the woman all about how he had recently chased some thief on the subway tracks...and when she saw our Police Blotter, she realized it was the same exact story she’d just heard straight from the horse’s, uhh, Bird’s mouth. For now, we’ll be busy investigat-
AIR RIGHTS Q&A MAYHEM: We’re still a long way from the ULURP that will determine how — and how many — air rights will be transferred inland from Hudson River Park. But it’s apparently never too early for a little more drama, as tensions flared around the topic during Community Board 2’s Land Use Committee meeting on Feb. 12. After a presentation outlining some possible sites for the development rights, such as the St. John’s Center building across from Pier 40, Hudson River Park Trust President Madelyn Wils was taking questions, including, of course, some from Andrew Berman, executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation. But out of nowhere, and as a crowd of close to 100 looked on, Berman’s delivery was prefaced rather abruptly by Land Use Committee Chairperson Tobi Bergman, who publicly called out the preservationist for, as Bergman put it, being more than a bit too repetitive. “I just want to say, Andrew, that you’ve asked these questions lots of times, and Madelyn has answered them to the best of her ability, which you’re apparently not satisfied with,” said Bergman. “If these are questions that you know already that you’re not going to be satisfied with the answer, then you’re just making a show.” The problem was...he hadn’t even asked a question yet. “Let him ask!” the crowd shouted, wanting to hear for themselves. Bergman, unfazed, turned to Wils and seemed to prep her for Berman’s line of inquiry. “If he asks you a question you’ve already answered,” Bergman said to the Trust prez, “I’m going to encourage you to say, ‘Andrew, I’ve already given my best answer to that.’ ” But the crowd was still curious: Were they even going to let him ask the question at this point? “We haven’t heard it yet, Tobi!” they shouted, getting a little impatient at this point. “Just let him ask!” So, finally, he did, allowing Berman to ask something he had, of course, inquired about many times before (although not always in such a public forum) — namely, does the new amendment to the Hudson River Park Act allow air rights to be transferred from noncommercial, public piers? But, although we give her points for trying, Wils was at first entirely unable to answer that particular question. Why? Because Bergman didn’t let her! “So, yeah, I’m gonna jump in here for a second,” he said, before she could get a word out (once again drawing groans from the crowd), after which he continued to roadblock Berman’s further attempts at discussion for several minutes by continually turning to the patiently waiting Wils and saying, “No, I’ll answer this one.” At this point, the Villagers were getting somewhat restless — “Oh, come on Tobi!” — and perhaps began wondering who was the one really giving the presentation and Q&A that night. Finally, after several more attempts at completing a sentence, Wils made her voice heard over the furor, as Bergman relented and allowed her to give an answer. And we do have to admit that the following exchange played out pretty much as the com-
mittee chairperson had expected. “Andrew, I’ve answered this question to the best of our ability, and because the zoning resolution isn’t written yet, you just don’t accept the answer,” said Wils. “But I will give you the answer once again. Technically, you could probably do it. Could our public piers generate F.A.R.? One could probably make a case for that.” “Well, that’s important to know,” replied Berman. “Well, I’m glad that’s important to know,” Wils shot back, “and it’s also important for you to know that we are not going to propose that. And City Planning will not propose that, so it’s not going to happen! The answer is that, if no one proposes it, it’s not going to happen. My board is not going to propose it, I am not going to propose it, you’re not going to propose it, the community board is not going to propose it, so it’s not going to happen.” Well, that’s that...for now. Later, Berman actually seemed pretty content with the eventual results of the exchange. “I appreciated that answer, which is actually more substantial than I found her answers to be before on that subject,” he said. “The fact is that we’ve all seen ULURPs happen that we’d never imagined would happen, and that we never wanted to happen. So it’s just important to know what the legislation does in fact make possible.” For his part, Bergman later realized that, well, maybe it wasn’t such a great idea to hijack the Q&A like that, even if he was doing it for what he thought were good reasons. “I became frustrated with Andrew for his insistent focus on how many square feet are available to transfer from the park, when he knows that none are available until a plan goes through ULURP that will determine how much can be transferred and to where,” Bergman wrote us in an e-mail. “It’s a misleading question that only creates confusion. It takes our focus away from the important question of how we can use air-rights transfers to secure the future of the Hudson River Park in the context of protecting our neighborhoods and the park from inappropriate development. But I regret that I also contributed to the confusion by getting emotional at the meeting.”
LORD OF THE VILLAGE RING: At the same City Hall press conference on Feb. 7 at which Bill de Blasio named Carl Weisbrod as chairperson of the City Planning Commission, he was later asked by a reporter why he wasn’t wearing his wedding ring. De Blasio said, “It’s just from day to day,” that sometimes he’s rushing and forgets to put it on. “By the way, no one’s asked what it is, and I find that quite amazing,” the mayor said. It’s a Native American Zuni ring, he explained. “It was the day before our wedding, and Chirlaine and I had not been able to find a ring we found interesting enough to wear… . And we went to a store in Greenwich Village and it was about to close, and it was the last store we could get to, and we’re looking around — great planning, here — and this multistone — different kinds of stones — Zuni Indian ring screamed out at us at the very last moment. It was meant to be. And I love my ring. And I love my wife.” SCOOPY’S, continued on p.12
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“It’s Worth The Trip Down The Street!” February 20, 2014
Kavanagh offers wage bill, says he’s on same page with mayor BY SAM SPOKONY
ays after Governor Cuomo said he strongly opposed the idea, an assemblymember declared he will continue pushing legislation to allow cities across the state to set their own minimum wage. Brian Kavanagh, whose district includes the East Village, believes his bill is a more “rational” approach to the issue, and claims support for the proposal is broad enough to lead to its eventual success. The “Fair Local Wage Act” would let New York City and other local governments raise their minimum wage up to 25 percent above the state’s minimum. That means that when the state wage reaches $8.75 per hour at the end of this
year (due to an increase the governor already approved), cities could set a minimum of up to $10.93 per hour. Cuomo publicly came out against the whole concept in an immediate response to Mayor de Blasio, who, in his Feb. 10 State of the City address, said he would ask the state Legislature for permission to set a higher minimum wage. The governor was quoted as saying that allowing local governments to set their own minimum wage could create “a chaotic situation” and cause economic friction between cities. But Kavanagh wasn’t deterred by that response, citing great regional differences in labor markets and the cost of living as strong reasons for his bill. “I’m prepared to continue fighting for
it,” said Kavanagh in a Feb. 15 phone interview. “It makes sense to have a differential based on where you live in the state — just like we allow individual states to set their own wages above the federal minimum — because, frankly, New York State has as much economic variation among its communities as the whole country does among its states.” City Council Speaker Melissa MarkViverito and Comptroller Scott Stringer have also continued to back de Blasio in his push, although their request does not include Kavanagh’s 25 percent cap on the local minimum wage — an element that could potentially make the idea more palatable to the governor and other state legislators. At a City Hall rally on Feb. 14, Stringer
bolstered the overall argument by pointing out that the cost of living in New York City is 80 percent higher than in Buffalo, 70 percent high than Rochester and 60 percent higher than in Albany. At this point, it’s unclear whether that key difference in Kavanagh’s bill — which leaves some fundamental power in the state’s hands — will be officially adopted by his city counterparts as the fight goes on. But the assemblymember stressed that, from his perspective, it’s still very much a collaborative effort between progressives at both levels of government. “There’s no daylight between me and the mayor and city advocates on this,” he said. “I’ve been talking about this for a while with the city folks, and it’s going to be a very broad coalition as it moves forward.”
N.Y.U. student dead in likely suicide Bleecker pot activist gets out of jail
New York University student was found dead in her Midtown hotel room on Tues., Feb. 11, after apparently committing suicide, police said. Rowen Altenburger, 18, who was staying at the Bryant Park Hotel on W. 40th St., left a note at the scene describing her depression — for which she was taking medication — and was discovered by hotel workers with a plastic bag over her lifeless head, according to police sources cited
in media reports. The New Jersey native was pursuing a degree in creative management and art direction, and reportedly moved to Manhattan eight months ago. N.Y.U. declined to comment. Two weeks ago, another 18-year-old N.Y.U. student, Titan Lee-Hai, plunged 15 stories to his death from the top of a Third Ave. university dorm while reportedly high on hallucinogenic mushrooms.
Fighting to make Lower Manhattan the greatest place to live, work, and raise a family.
BY LINCOLN ANDERSON
fter three years in jail in Wisconsin and Nebraska on pot-trafficking charges, Dana Beal was freed on parole in Nebraska on Wed., Feb. 12. According to his attorney, Noah Potter, Beal is currently in Omaha. Potter is trying to find a place for Beal to live in New York City that is acceptable to authorities. His former residence at 9 Bleecker St., the longtime Yippie headquarters, was recently vacated due to an ongoing dispute over mortgage payments. “They don’t want him to stay with a Mex-
ican cartel,” Potter explained. “They want him to stay in a nice, stable environment.” Beal was arrested after he was caught in the Midwest while transporting marijuana in a duffel bag in a van from the West Coast bound for Michigan and New York City. Beal argued in court that it was all medical marijuana. Activist John Penley said he was relieved to hear Beal, 67, was released, but that it will be hard for him to find a place to live. “No one’s going to want him to live with them,” Penley said. “The parole agents can go in any time. Nobody likes government agents coming into their place.”
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February 20, 2014
POLICE BLOTTER Village armed robbery A trio of muggers robbed three people at gunpoint on a Jane St. sidewalk early on Tues., Feb. 11, police said. The victims — two men and a woman, all in their early 30s — told officers they were walking back to their car, a BMW, near the corner of Jane and Hudson Sts., around 4 a.m., when they were approached by the alleged thugs. All three of the perpetrators then reportedly pointed firearms at the victims, while forcing them to hand over items including a $3,000 necklace, a leather jacket, a blazer, boots, $825 in cash, a credit card and the car keys. The muggers then ran south on Hudson St. before disappearing into the night, after which a police canvass in search of them was unsuccessful. The victims described all three perps as black men in their 20s, cops said.
Under their noses A brazen crook reportedly pulled off a residential burglary just steps away from the Police Department’s Sixth Precinct on Feb. 11. One of the residents of the apartment at 516 Hudson St. — half a block from the W. 10th St. precinct — told cops that when
he returned home from work that day around 6 p.m., he noticed that various things had been awkwardly rearranged. Moments later, after walking around the place, he realized that numerous items — belonging both to him and his two roommates — were missing. The stolen property included all three of their laptops, an iPad, a $500 watch, a messenger bag and $40 in cash, according to the police report. The man who reported the crime said he had been out since 8 a.m. that day, so the burglar could have struck anytime between then and 6 p.m. A police investigation is ongoing.
What didn’t she eat?
Schooled by thief
A New York University student working in Bobst Library on Feb. 11 took a brief break from his studies, but it was long enough for his laptop to be stolen. The student, 24, told cops he was on his Macbook Pro in the 70 Washington Square South library’s study room when, around 3:30 p.m., he stepped out to answer a phone call. When he walked back into the room around five minutes later, the computer and his charger were gone. The victim never saw a possible suspect, and no witnesses spotted the crime, police said.
Police arrested Alicia Gooding, 26, on Wed., Feb. 12, after she allegedly declined to pay for her extremely expensive night at a Meatpacking District restaurant. Employees at STK, a hip steakhouse and lounge at 26 Little W. 12th St., told cops that Gooding racked up a $7,167.15 tab, but that she didn’t mention until after the joint had closed at 2 a.m. that she was unable to shell out the cash. Half an hour later, a manager called police. But when
officers arrived on the scene, Gooding reportedly tried to threaten them with a “large wine glass,” according to the report. Police claimed she also began kicking at the officers and flailing her arms before eventually being subdued. She was charged with theft of services and resisting arrest.
Hoylman town hall on street safety n Tues., Feb. 25, state Senator Brad Hoylman will host “Counting Down to ‘Vision Zero,’ ” a Pedestrian and Traffic Safety Town Hall on “Vision Zero,” Mayor de Blasio’s plan to eliminate traffic fatalities within a decade. Representatives of the Mayor’s Office, the New York Police Department and Department of Transportation will attend to address how pedestrians, cyclists and motorists can co-exist more safely on the streets. There will also be representatives from advocacy organizations Transportation Alternatives and CHEKPEDS, who will address the efforts necessary to make the mayor’s vision a reality. Hoylman’s town hall comes on the heels of reports that pedestrian deaths in New
York City are on pace to surpass homicides this year and that 54 percent of all collision fatalities in the city include pedestrians. The town hall will be held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, 524 W. 59th St. (between 10th and 11th Aves.), sixth floor. The event’s co-sponsors include Congressmembers Carolyn Maloney and Jerrold Nadler; Borough President Gale Brewer; state Senators Liz Krueger, Jose Serrano and Daniel Squadron; Assemblymembers Deborah Glick, Richard Gottfried, Brian Kavanagh, Dan Quart and Linda Rosenthal; City Councilmembers Dan Garodnick, Corey Johnson, Mark Levine, Rosie Mendez and Helen Rosenthal, and Manhattan Community Boards 2 through 7.
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February 20, 2014
Bill kills NYCHA ‘infill’; T.A. leader has had her fill NYCHA, continued from p. 1
cash-strapped agency. However, if de Blasio does decide to rehash an infill scheme, he may have to leave the Lower East Side’s Smith Houses off the list. That development had been one of the eight included in former Mayor Bloomberg’s plan. A week after de Blasio said he had abandoned Bloomberg’s scheme to lease public housing land — including some at Smith Houses — to market-rate developers, but added that he would revisit such a plan if there is support from NYCHA residents, a tenant leader at the complex declared she and her residents would never back a new infill. “Our reasons against it haven’t changed,” said Aixa Torres, the Smith Houses Tenants Association president, in a Feb. 15 phone interview. “The fact is that we would never support a land-lease project here.” Aside from Bloomberg’s idea of allowing 50-plus-story mostly market-rate towers on the sites, which she called a “slap in the face,” Torres explained she’s still worried about the disastrous effects any large-scale construction could have on the structural integrity of her development’s aging buildings.
She stressed that 20 Catherine Slip and 180 South St. are still very vulnerable after being flooded by Hurricane Sandy, as well as suffering infrastructure damage from the city’s minor earthquake in 2011. Digging new foundations next to those sites could potentially aggravate those problems — especially because the cash-strapped Housing Authority has been notoriously slow in making many building repairs across the city. “So, it’s not just about me saying no,” Torres added. “It’s about the safety and well-being of my residents — because we have a right to decent housing.” The Smith Houses leader also said that, while she hasn’t yet actually met with the new Mayor’s Office to discuss the specific issue of any infill plan, she has “made these feelings very clear to members of his staff.” Other East Village and L.E.S. developments included in the Bloomberg administration’s infill plan included Campos Plaza, Baruch Houses, LaGuardia Houses and Meltzer Tower. Bloomberg and former NYCHA boss John Rhea had hoped that the scheme would bring in around $50 million annually to close the authority’s budget gap and speed up overdue building repairs. At the Feb. 8 press conference, de Blasio named Shola Olatoye, a former executive
of a nonprofit organization that invests in affordable housing, to be the new NYCHA chairperson. Both the mayor and Olatoye also said that public housing needs to be retrofitted
to be made energy-efficient. “It’s a total reset,” de Blasio said.
Additional reporting by Lincoln Anderson
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Chin: Landlords should pay to relocate vacated tenants BY SAM SPOKONY
Hope and youth spring eternal The Hope Generation Benefit to aid young victims of the Philippines disaster was held at P.S. 41 on Jan. 30. Organized by 41 Cares, the charitable arm of P.S. 41, it was an evening of art, poetry and music performed by current P.S. 41 students, alumni and special guests. Above, kindergartener Caroline Vigil Moore played “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.” All proceeds — $8,341.64 was raised — were donated to UNICEF to help its continuing work in the Philippines.
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February 20, 2014
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ouncilmember Margaret Chin on Feb. 4 introduced legislation aimed at helping tenants who are forced out of their homes by city vacate orders. Buildings can be vacated unexpectedly by agencies such as the Department of Buildings or the Department of Housing Preservation and Development based on healthcode violations or structural hazards, and tenants in those situations are essentially left homeless for indefinite lengths of time. Chin’s bill would mandate that H.P.D. require landlords to deposit money in escrow — with H.P.D. holding the escrow — in order to supply reliable funding for tenant relocation in the event of a vacate order. “In the midst of the all the disorder of vacating one’s home, residents should at least have the assurance of a place to go until they can make more permanent arrangements,” said Chin, in a statement after the bill was introduced. “Holding building owners responsible for the welfare of their tenants after a vacate makes things a bit easier for families, and takes some of the uncertainty out of an already difficult situation.” Given the fact that much of the city’s affordable housing stock is aging — and, in
some cases, deteriorating — the problem of sudden vacate orders has significant implications for thousands of tenants, especially those in Chinatown and the Lower East Side. D.O.B. issued 1,496 partial-vacate orders and 346 full-vacate orders in 2013, according to an agency spokesperson. Those numbers, however, include orders for all types buildings, not just residential. In Chinatown, vacate orders at 47 Bayard St. left nearly 30 people without homes last month. Last July, around 50 tenants struggled after their 17 Pike St. building was vacated. In her Feb. 4 statement, Chin highlighted the sense of urgency and panic that overwhelms residents dealing with this problem, stating that emergency shelter and aid currently offered by the city, the Red Cross and community organizations is often “too little and too late.” There are some questions, though, surrounding the bill at this early stage, which may affect it moving forward. Most notably, H.P.D. is struggling severely with multimillion-dollar budget shortfalls due to a recent decrease in its federal funding, and it’s hard to know at this point whether the agency can handle this kind of new administrative burden. Additional funding and staffers would likely be required for H.P.D. to effectively enforce the proposed mandate on landlords.
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Taking another bite at the park conservancy EDITORIAL
embers of the new Washington Square Park Conservancy were set to appear before Community Board 2’s Parks Committee earlier this month to give an update on what they’ve been up to since the organization launched this past summer. Based on what was learned at the meeting, the committee was not going to pass a resolution per se, but rather give a sort of status report on the conservancy to C.B. 2’s full board. However icy sidewalk conditions forced the postponement of that meeting. Now we’re told the conservancy will be back on the agenda for the Parks Committee’s meeting on Wed., March 5. Obviously, it’s time to clear the air on a lot of issues surrounding the conservancy. This is a group of well-meaning individuals who want to beautify the park and make sure it is well maintained by raising private funds. Yes, parks always need more money. However, questions still linger about how C.B. 2 seems to have rushed to judgment on the conservancy, giving the group its stamp of approval before the new organization’s mission, budget and operating structure were fully clear. Things came to a head a few months ago when so-called “Hot dog gate” boiled over,
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February 20, 2014
after blogger Cathryn Swan uncovered that the conservancy members had pushed Sarah Neilson, their groupʼs executive director as well as the parkʼs administrator, to follow through on their desire to move the park’s hot dog vendors away from the “arch view corridor.” The dirty-dog slingers were reportedly deemed “unsightly” by some locals, the conservancy said. On top of that, it turned out the Parks Department had not renewed the hot dog carts’ contracts to operate in the park, meaning they would be booted out at the end of 2013. However, the conservancy maintained it had nothing to do with the park’s “hot dog purge.” After a flurry of negative media coverage, in a 180, Parks recently said the hot dog carts will return to the park this spring. The key point is that the conservancy has not signed a contract with Parks to manage the park. That was a provision of C.B. 2’s approval of the new group. Yet, Neilson’s dual role does blur the boundaries. Furthermore, e-mails and other documents obtained by Swan through a FOIL, or Freedom of Information Law request, revealed that the conservancy also had planned to run film and theater festivals for “park patrons.” Does that mean for contributors to the conservancy? Neilson subsequently told The Villager that there are currently no longer any plans for that sort of programming, and that “park patrons” and
“park users” are interchangeable terms. This document was stamped “received” by the state attorney general a month prior to the C.B. 2 vote. In short, these are the sort of questions C.B. 2 should have asked the conservancy and Parks officials before the board rushed to support the new group. Keen Berger and other board members had pushed to delay the vote for a month, or until the fall, so the board could access and process this information more thoroughly. There were too many unanswered questions, they felt. They were right. There’s also a bit of a disconnect here between C.B. 2’s leadership and our local politicians. A half dozen of the latter — including Congressmember Jerrold Nadler — wrote a letter to Parks Commissioner Veronica White, expressing serious concern that the conservancy was calling the shots in the park on issues like the hot dogs, which they called “iconic fare.” And — as Swan also uncovered — why was a leading C.B. 2 member coaching the conservancy members and its supporters on how to testify at the board’s June meeting? Was that, well, kosher? The March 5 meeting is a chance for the board to take another bite at “Hot dog gate” and other key questions regarding this new group and its role in the park. This is a chance to get right what the board failed to do the first time around. A fresh and hard look is unquestionably warranted.
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR Doggone great! To The Editor: Re “Sidewalk danger: Dogs getting jolted by stray voltage” (news article, Feb. 6): I want once again to thank Susan Stetzer and Community Board 3 for their help with this persistent and dangerous problem. You are terrific. Thanks again.
favor of the carriages. Working horses love what they do. They live longer lives by working. They avoid slaughter. Nine hours of work is nothing for a horse. Pulling a carriage of people for a horse is like pulling two gallons of milk for a human.
Last year, 154 humans were killed by cars in New York. How many by horses? Zero. London and Paris still have carriage horses. I could go on and on. But why not just instead read Jon Katz, the wonderful writer, about our bond with animals. He’s writ-
ten several pieces about what is going on with the carriage horses, which can be found on his blog, bedlamfarm.com . Olga Humprhey LETTERS, continued on p. 10
They’re work horses To The Editor: Re “Free the carriage horses” (letter, by Casey White, Feb. 6): Casey White must surely be a member of NYCLASS, the fanatics funded by real estate money who are looking to buy legislation to ban carriage horses, when 61 percent of New Yorkers are in
Cell-phone texting can be hazardous to your health!
Birth of a Voice, Chapter 2: Lunch and the 4 voices NOTEBOOK BY JERRY TALLMER
he lunch at the Chinese restaurant on Eighth Street went on for a couple of hours. I liked Dan Wolf the moment I laid eyes on him. He looked like me, slim, dark, average height. And he thought like me, full of political skepticism, not to say sarcasm. I didn’t know this at the time, but Dan was also pretty deaf, which I was not — not then — and he used his deafness whenever a discussion began to bore him or get out of hand. Neither Ed Fancher nor Dan Wolf had any newspaper or magazine experience whatsoever. My own slender track record was editorship, just before and after World War II, of a pro-interventionist college daily newspaper, The Dartmouth, up in Hanover, New Hampshire, followed by two or three postwar years on a hallowed radical magazine, Freda Kirchwey’s The Nation, where I wasn’t allowed to write anything. That was followed by a few years as a blocked writer living at 265 West 11th Street, during which I spent too much time staring with venom at the pigeons pooping on the cornices of the buildings across the way while I babbled inanely: “Pigeons on the grass, alas… .” What grass? And Bobby
Thompson’s home run heard round the world — and by me on a portable radio five flights up in that apartment, where an earlier tenant had been Surrealism’s André Breton.
Norman Mailer was to be a silent partner, to help them get started.
Ed Fancher, a graduate of the University of Alaska, was the scion of the family that owned the Orange County Telephone Company in Upstate Middletown, New York. He was going to put toward the newspaper some money his grandfather had left him for a trip around the world. Daniel Wolf had no money to speak of. He had written the Turkish section of an encyclopedia. They told me that Dan’s friend Norman Mailer was going to be a silent partner, solely an investor to help them get started. I asked how much money they had, all told, and Ed
said, if I remember rightly, $5,000. In my infinite wisdom I leaned back and said: “Well, maybe if you guys had twice that… .” (In the end, it would take more than $65,000 and a New York City 1962 daily newspaper strike before The Village Voice broke even.) There, in the Chinese restaurant on Eighth Street, I finally said: “Well, gentlemen, thanks again but no thanks. Maybe, if you actually do get this thing off the ground, if you ever need something like a movie review… .” And I went out, that day or the next, I forget which, and visited every single movie house — there were then about a dozen — in Greenwich Village. I sought out the manager of each one — movie-theater managers, except for those at a couple of art houses, were not then on the whole a notably agreeable or polite or intellectual breed — and I asked each of them if they could and would supply, in advance, their week’s movie schedules, titles and show times, to a new newspaper in their area. Grouchily, sneeringly or however, they all said they’d do it if it didn’t cost a penny and they didn’t have to do anything more than let us copy the schedules. I phoned Ed Fancher and told him what had transpired. “I knew right then that we’d hooked you,” he has told me — told everybody — many times since. And the movie listings — two double columns of type at the very center of the paper, with titles, hours and capsule appraisals, became the heart and spine of The Village Voice from Day One to as long as I was there to fight for that layout.
PHOTOS BY TEQUILA MINSKY
About 50 gay activists protested outside the Russian Consulate, on E. 91st St., on Feb. 6, at the start of the Sochi Olympics. They were demonstrating against a Russian law passed last year restricting gay-rights activities performed around children, under which simply displaying a rainbow flag can result in jail time. Vladimir Putin, Russia’s macho, chest-baring president, recently tried to reassure the thousands of people pouring into the country for the Olympics, by saying, “We are not forbidding anything and nobody is being grabbed off the street, and there is no punishment for such kinds of relations. You can feel relaxed and calm [in Russia], but leave children alone please.”
February 20, 2014
Laundromat gets too hot on W. Fourth St. PHOTO BY TEQUILA MINSKY
A fire broke out Tues., Feb. 4, at 2:37 p.m. at Campus Laundry and Cleaners, at 146 W. Fourth St. near Sixth Ave. The four-story building has residential units above the laundromat. An initial report said the fire was in the basement and on the roof, but a later report said it was in the first-floor laundromat. Responding to the “all hands” call, firefighters brought the blaze under control at 4:03 p.m., according to the Fire Department. An investigation of the fire’s cause is ongoing.
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR Continued from p. 8
Voice and era are gone To The Editor: Re “Birth of a Voice, Chapter I: The apartment on Perry” (notebook, by Jerry Tallmer, Feb. 6): Although I didn’t get here till the ’60s, this column paints a nostalgic picture of the same Village that greeted me. I was drawn here at the calling of the Village Voice,
which we mourn today. As a fledgling actress, I was advertised in and reviewed by the renegade publication — a dream come true. And as a member of the Warhol theater tribe, I was included in front-page articles. It was a time of folkies; folk rock; sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll; intelligent social-political-artistic discourse in cafes, and avant-garde “happenings.” I haven’t felt that kind of intellectual and artistic stimulation for a long, long time. Melba LaRose
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Not really about Rosie To The Editor: Re “Co-op dogged by charges it won’t allow service pets” (news article, Jan. 23): Heather Dubin’s article concerning the stance of East River Houses’ co-op board misses a few key points. As seen in a local BBS [bulletin board system], its co-op residents appear generally worried that the board’s much-flouted ban on pets has failed to create a consistent and reasonable policy. Many of the postings on this site — in a thread supposedly devoted to this particular topic — concern items such as the board’s high legal expenditures and its lawyer’s luxury-car racing. Thus, this building complex appears poorly equipped to deal with needful issues such as service pets. I also understand that people are afraid. Having said this, I can personally vouch that Rosie is one of the most people-friendly dogs I have ever met. Whatever this fuss is about, it is not about Rosie per se. She is an extraordinary service pet for the East River Houses resident who was lucky enough to find her. Elissa Sampson
E-mail letters, not longer than 250 words in length, to firstname.lastname@example.org or fax to 212-229-2790 or mail to The Villager, Letters to the Editor, 515 Canal St., Suite 1C, NY, NY 10013.
Alfred Albrizio, jeweler to the stars, dies at 66 OBITUARY BY ALBERT AMATEAU
lfred Albrizio, jewelry designer and owner of C’est Magnifique jewelry shop on MacDougal St., died Feb. 2 in Orange County Hospital. He was 66. He had lung disease that had been diagnosed as cancer in 2008, according to Catherine, his wife of 25 years. Located for many years on MacDougal St., the shop’s clients include two generations of Villagers and celebrities including Madonna and Keith Richards. The third-generation business, which was moved in 2012 to 328 E. Ninth St., will carry on under his son and partner, Alfred III, known as Alfie, a jewelry designer and craftsman in his own right. Founded in 1959 by Alfred’s uncle and aunt, Alfonso (known as Funzy) and Josephine Albrizio, C’est Magnifique became renowned for custom-designed, tribal Southwest and vintage jewelry. Alfred joined his uncle and aunt in the tiny shop at 120 MacDougal St. in the early 1980s after a varied career that included a sojourn in Los Angeles and work as a welder on the sailing ship Peking at the South St. Seaport. The jewelry that Madonna wore in the movie “Desperately Seeking Susan” came from the little shop on MacDougal St. Prince and Johnny Depp bought unique items there. In addition to crafting his own designs, Alfred made trips to Arizona and New Mexico to buy jewelry from Native American craftsmen. With his wife, he bought a home in Tucson, Arizona, in 1999. “We were going to retire there,” Catherine said. Alfred told a New York Times reporter a few years ago that Uncle Funzy had been a friend and mentor, who taught him the trade as an apprentice in the 1980s. His own father died when he was only 13. But tragedy struck on the morning of Aug. 29, 1994, when a crack addict and convicted felon, Edward Schnittker, stabbed Funzy to death in the shop. Nevertheless, Alfred, joined by his 19-year-old son, Alfred III, took over and the shop prospered. “They did beautiful work,” said LindaAnn Loschiavo, a Village resident and longtime patron of the shop on MacDougal St. and at its newer E. Ninth St. location. “I went there to have my jewelry repaired but I really went to talk to Al [Alfred]. He had lots of stories and a 100-watt personality,” Loschiavo said. Conrad Bradford, a commercial real estate broker and friend, found the new E.
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Ninth St. location for C’est Magnifique. “The MacDougal St. shop was tiny,” Bradford recalled. “It didn’t even have a bathroom and that became more important when Alfred became ill. The rent was going up and time was running out,” Bradford said. “The Village was impossible, but we were able to find a new larger location nearby with a basement and two bathrooms,” Bradford said. Alfred Albrizio was born in the Bronx to Alfred and Rita Sevino Albrizio. The family, including Alfred Jr. and four sisters, moved to Manhattan. In the 1960s, Alfred Jr. found a job on Wall St. with the thenbrokerage firm E.F. Hutton & Co. but left for California around 1970 and settled in Los Angeles. “He had the gift of gab and was able to make everyone laugh,” his son said. “But he mostly sowed his wild oats in California.” He returned to New York around 1975 and learned welding. “He walked onto a job site and the boss asked him if he knew how to weld,” his son recounted. “He said, yes. So the boss set him up and told him to do a job, but he could see right away that he had never done it before. But he had taken a liking to my father and showed him how,” his son said. Alfred’s marriage to Denise D’Aiuto ended in divorce in 1978. He married Catherine Biaggi in 1988 after he joined his uncle and aunt at C’est Magnifique. In addition to his wife and their son, Christopher, and his son, Alfred III, four sisters, Patricia Gambelunghi, Vickie Paladino, Angela Lazos and Joanne Simon, also survive. Perazzo Funeral Home was in charge of arrangements. The funeral was Feb. 6 and the Mass was at Our Lady of Pompeii Church on Feb. 7.
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Of ice and men: Can cops clear their own sidewalks? TALKING POINT BLUE ICE, continued from p. 1
February 20, 2014
PHOTOS BY SARAH FERGUSON
boarder, then slammed down on my ass, shrieking in pain and rage as passersby stared at me like a madwoman. The X-ray revealed a possible fracture in my tailbone, but since you can’t put a cast on your butt, I hobbled out of Beth Israel with a scrip for painkillers — and a wary eye for danger lurking beneath the gray snow piled up at crosswalks. Since then, I’ve developed profound sympathy for elderly and disabled folks trying to navigate our slicked-up streets. Which is why I figure it’s time to call out people who don’t shovel their sidewalks in a timely fashion. Starting with the Housing Police at the P.S.A. 4 stationhouse at 130 Avenue C. Check out these photos I shot last Thursday, after another snowstorm had subsided into deep freeze. If Mayor de Blasio can get out and shovel the walk in front of his Brooklyn home, then why can’t the NYCHA cops in Alphabet City do their part? While the sidewalk on Avenue C in front of P.S.A. 4 is generally clear, the sidewalks that run along the cops’ parking garage on E. Ninth and E. Eighth Sts. between Avenues C and D are rarely if ever shoveled. Since I moved to E. Ninth four years ago, I’ve never seen the NYCHA cops shovel on this block. Neighbors who’ve lived on this street far longer say they can’t recall the cops shoveling since the Avenue C stationhouse was built more than 10 years ago. “I don’t ever remember it being shoveled,” says Bill Wonder, an architectural model maker who has lived on E. Ninth for the past 20 years. “It’s ridiculous. Don’t they have any able-bodied men who can shovel?” When I called the P.S.A 4 stationhouse to complain, the first officer I reached seemed unaware the Ninth St. side was even housing police property. He first tried to say that side of the street was unshoveled because it was a “construction site,” then dropped the phone to “go check.” I called back and got another officer, who told me, “Yeah, we have to shovel. They probably just forgot.” Worse, there is always a squad car or some other police vehicle parked in the driveway on the E. Ninth St. side, meaning pedestrians must walk into the street to get by. Last week, that meant climbing over an obstacle course of frozen snow and ice pushed there by the plows. I watched several people climb over the snow and just walk down the middle of the street — because the opposite sidewalk, adjacent to a community garden, had not been shoveled or salted either. While community gardeners are also mandated to clear sidewalks, unlike the po-
Even directly in front of P.S.A. 4, the Housing Police station at 130 Avenue C, the police, at least initially, did not bother to shovel or salt the sidewalk curb cuts last week.
lice, gardeners don’t get paid for their work. Locals here have grown used to this. Another neighbor told me that the cops at P.S.A. 4 don’t shovel because it’s not part of their job description. Instead, they leave it to a maintenance worker, who is already maxed-out with other tasks. Whether this is true, I can’t say. The N.Y.P.D. public affairs office did not respond to my requests for comment. But the day before, I watched with envy as a NYCHA worker driving a nifty new John Deere tractor outfitted with a minisnowplow swiftly cleared the sidewalks in front of a block of NYCHA-run housing on Avenue C. So why can’t the NYCHA tractor come plow the sidewalks in front of the NYCHA precinct house? Yeah, I know, that’s not how bureaucracies work. Anyway, shortly after I called P.S.A. 4, I returned to find the sidewalk freshly shoveled and salted — except for the iced-up area that you have to walk through to get around the squad car and impounded pickup truck that are blocking the sidewalk. Apparently, they think we can leap over this. Seems like the city is trying to get a handle on the ice, however. Call 311 and there’s now a separate prompt to report snow and icy conditions. If you go online, there’s even an interactive 311 map showing which neighborhoods are getting the most complaints. Not sure how accurate it is, since there was no record of the report I made on Sunday about the impromptu ice rinks that had cropped up inside the Tompkins Square Park playground and surrounding pathways.
Nor did I see any complaints for the never-shoveled sidewalk outside the old P.S. 64 school building at 605 E. Ninth St. and Avenue B. (It’s an icy mess, a good bet for falls, if anyone were looking to slip and cash in.) Postscript: Although the N.Y.P.D. public affairs office did not respond to my re-
SCOOPY’S, continued from p. 1 ILL COMMUNICATION: The proposal to co-name the intersection of Ludlow and Rivington Sts. “Beastie Boys Square” is now BACK on the agenda for March at Community Board 3. There was much hoopla after the application was deep-sixed at last month’s fullboard meeting — even though the applicant, LeRoy McCarthy, had previously withdrawn it, meaning it technically couldn’t be denied. In addition, along with the denial by C.B. 3 came the prohibition that McCarthy couldn’t even reapply to the board for the co-naming street sign for several years. It was particularly whack — i.e. confusing — for the hip-hop advocate since he had previously been instructed by the board’s Transportation Committee to go out and collect more petition signatures to show greater neighborhood support for the initiative — which he had already started doing. After the full-board meeting, Chad Marlow, an outspoken C.B. 3 dissident, fired off a letter to new Borough President Gale Brewer, voicing his concern that the board had not followed proper procedure. A staffer from the B.P.’s Office subsequently called C.B. 3 District
quest for comment, since I e-mailed them about the conditions outside P.S.A. 4, the sidewalks and curb cuts have been fully cleared and the cars obstructing the sidewalk on Ninth St. were moved — but only for a day. The next day the cars were back on the sidewalk.
Manager Susan Stetzer to discuss the matter. “We’ve reached out to the parties involved and are hopeful for a resolution,” Stephanie Hoo, Brewer’s press secretary, told us. After getting the call, Stetzer forwarded the relevant committee and full-board resolutions to Brewer’s Office, and also reported to them that she had already spoken to Gigi Li, C.B. 3’s chairperson, about the matter. We’re told that Li and Stetzer had already been discussing restoring the item to the agenda, and that Li “was leaning toward putting it on the March agenda.” Li then reportedly spoke to David Crane, the Transportation Committee chairperson, and made the final decision to do so. This is what weʼre told. At any rate, Marlow said the Beastie Boys need to be given their fair shake. Yes, it’s true, the application might not meet all of the board’s requirements — for starters,two of the Beastie Boys are still alive. (Itʼs generally recommended that the people honored on the co-naming signs be deceased.) However, Marlow said, the Ramones, who made “white rebellious music,” have Joey Ramone Place in the East Village, but the Beastie Boys, who made “black rebellious music” — although they were white, they were working in a black musical genre — deserve recognition, too.
C.B. 2 votes to save garden, plus focus on housing BY LINCOLN ANDERSON
PHOTO BY LINCOLN ANDERSON
greeing with about 150 passionate, green-T-shirt-wearing adults and kids who filled the auditorium at its recent full board meeting, Community Board 2 voted to recommend preserving the Elizabeth St. Garden as permanent public, open green space. The city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development is considering the site — a 20,000-square-foot, through lot from Elizabeth to Mott Sts. between Spring and Prince Sts. — as a spot for an affordable-housing development with 60 or 70 units. The garden was identified as a site to provide more affordable housing in connection with the Seward Park Urban Renewal Area project, located on the Lower East Side at the foot of the Williamsburg Bridge. But neighbors who turned out in force at C.B. 2’s recent January full-board meeting protested that the neighborhood barely has any open space left and that the garden, which is now regularly open to the public, has become a genuine community resource. Neighbors are in the process of setting up a 501c3 nonprofit to run the open space. Among those testifying in favor of preserving the garden was Sharon D’Lugoff, one of the daughters of legendary Village Gate impresario Art D’Lugoff. She received a round of applause from the audience after her name was announced before she took the microphone. She noted she lived on Elizabeth St. for 30 years and has witnessed the neighborhood — which she calls Little Italy, not Nolita — radically transform over the years. “I’ve raised three kids here,” she said. “Two grew up and moved away — they can’t afford to live here.” Nevertheless, she doesn’t support affordable housing on the Elizabeth St. Garden. “There are many sites that can be converted, and I truly believe that we can preserve open space and have affordable housing,” she said. But K Webster, a member of the M’Finda Kalunga Garden in Sara D. Roosevelt Park, spoke in favor of affordable housing. “I guess you could just look around the room to see we could use more diversity — racial and economic,” she said of the overwhelmingly white crowd. “We can’t pretend there are more sites to build affordable housing — they’re not.” Webster invited people to come enjoy her own garden, located just two blocks away from the Elizabeth St. Garden. However, architect Steve Wanta, a 30year Soho resident, lamented the neighborhood’s loss of all its undeveloped spaces and parking lots “where kids would have snowball fights and pickup games. These are all gone,” he said. After the public testimony and before voting on the issue, C.B. 2 members first debated it among themselves. “Nolita is ultra-wealthy now,” stated Daniel Ballen, saying he supported “putting a roof over 70 people’s heads.” Susanna Aaron also came down on the
Young Elizabeth St. Garden activists made their point clear at the C.B. 2 meeting, hoisting their signs up in the front of the auditorium, right next to where the community board officers were seated on stage.
side of constructing affordable housing on the garden. “Whether the people in that building come from Little Italy or West Harlem,” she said, “we all benefit from the diversity.” Robin Goldberg, though, noting she is a 36-year Little Italy community member, said the area is starved for quality open space for families. “DeSalvio Playground is generally ridden with drug addicts and homeless people and other people that play cards and checkers and that have nothing to do with kids,” she said. “I don’t consider the Liz Christy Garden or the Sara Roosevelt — which is essentially a traffic strip — to be a park.” Added Richard Stewart, “We are a community board and we should be listening to the voices around this park.” Another board member noted, “This is the southeast corner of the district; it’s not what it’s like if you live near Hudson River Park.” Maria Passannante-Derr said that the recent Hudson Square rezoning includes a provision for “inclusionary housing,” which would allow developers to build higher if they include affordable housing in their projects. Other members said another potential development site, the St. John’s Center, across from Pier 40, could be somewhere affordable housing is created. The board then voted on the resolution by its Land Use Committee, chaired by Tobi Bergman. That detailed resolution noted that in the mid-1970s, P.S. 21 was demolished on the site, and in 1981, part of the site was sold to LIRA Apartments Co. for the construction of 152 units of Section 8 affordable housing, now known as 21 Spring St. That agreement called for development and maintenance by LIRA of a public “recreation area” on the remaining portion of the former school site, which remained city-
owned; but for unknown reasons this never occurred and the lot became derelict. In 1991, the open space was leased on a month-to-month basis to Allan Reiver for use by his Elizabeth Street Gallery. Reiver cleaned up the then-crack-infested lot, planted it with trees and shrubs and set out his artifacts and monuments in it — some for sale, some for permanent display — also leasing the space out for private events. In June 2013, the C.B. 2 committee’s resolution further noted, neighbors, upon learning that the site was city-owned land, worked with Reiver to open up the garden to the public on a daily basis from noon to 6 p.m. The local group subsequently organized free community events in the garden, including movie nights, poetry readings, children’s art programs, the planting of 2,000 daffodil bulbs and a “Harvest Festival” attended by 1,500 people. The resolution ultimately urges the city to transfer jurisdiction of the lot to the Parks Department; supports the efforts of the Elizabeth St. Garden volunteers to form a nonprofit group to improve the garden and provide programming and community events; and also commits C.B. 2 to “an ongoing and strategic and activist effort, alongside our elected officials and government agencies, to expand and preserve affordable housing in the district.” The board approved the resolution overwhelmingly by a vote of 30 “Yes” to 2 “No.” City Councilmember Margaret Chin originally supported the idea of using the Elizabeth St. Garden site as a spot for more affordable housing as a part of the SPURA plan. The SPURA site will have 50 percent affordable housing, but some advocates had pushed for 100 percent affordable housing, and Chin has said she was disappointed she couldn’t get more affordable
housing on the actual SPURA site. Asked her thoughts on the board’s vote, Chin said, “I fully support Community Board’s 2 commitment to develop more affordable housing in our neighborhood. In today’s difficult economy, it is more important than ever to create housing opportunities for working families. The site on Elizabeth St. is an ideal place to start; it is one of the largest publicly owned, undeveloped sites in Community Board 2, and also offers the potential for a significant open-space component that everyone can enjoy. I thank everyone who has participated in community discussions for the best uses of the site, and I look forward to continuing the dialogue and exploring these possibilities with residents and neighborhood stakeholders. Together, we can work toward a plan that reflects both affordable housing and openspace priorities.” Meanwhile, Land Use Committee chairperson Bergman and David Gruber, C.B. 2 chairperson, stood firmly behind the board’s resolution on the garden. “The response in the community to the idea of using this site for housing was huge and almost unanimous in opposition, but the proposal served as a wakeup call,” Bergman said. “Our resolution also strengthened our commitment to preserving and expanding affordable housing, which is as important to protecting the true character of our neighborhoods as preserving our historic districts and buildings.” Added Gruber, “We need to do more for affordable housing, but we can’t give up our precious open space. Our district is at the extreme bottom of community boards in terms of parks and open space. I’ve appointed a task force of board members to work with H.P.D. and our elected officials as well as housing experts to develop a strategic and activist approach to assure we will be doing everything we need to do to hold onto the thousands of affordable apartments we have, and to encourage and work toward creation of new permanently affordable units. “This month,” Gruber said, “I expect the board will approve a project that will build 25 new affordable apartments in Hudson Square, the first new affordable units to be built in our district in many years.” Bergman said that project is on Clarkson St. The H.P.D. proposal for the Elizabeth St. Garden isn’t even in the ULURP stage yet, Bergman noted, referring to the city’s seven-month-long Uniform Land Use Review Procedure, which would be required for such a project. Under ULURP, C.B. 2 would again have a chance to weigh in on the proposal. But first, H.P.D. would have to issue a request for proposals, or R.F.P., from developers for the site. If H.P.D. picked a developer, that developer would have to do the necessary environmental reviews and the ULURP. “As far as I know, H.P.D. is not working on an R.F.P. at this time,” Bergman said, “and of course given the C.B. 2 position, I hope they will not.” February 20, 2014
PHOTOS BY BOB KRASNER
Golden Festival is hidden gem BY BOB KRASNER
ake a restored palatial ballroom, add more than 50 musical groups, 3,200 paying guests and plenty of food, and you’ve got the coolest music festival that you’ve probably never heard of. The Zlatne Uste Golden Festival, a twonight event, recently took place at Brooklyn’s Grand Prospect Hall.
February 20, 2014
The music was from Macedonia, Serbia, Turkey, Bulgaria and elsewhere in Eastern Europe, played on accordions, violins, horns and ouds. The diverse crowd, most of whom were not there for the first time, was wildly enthusiastic. They ranged from Old World refugees to Williamsburg hipsters. Or, as artist Marlene Weisman put it, “from peasant blouses to piercings.” In addition to the main ballroom, there
was music in three other rooms, with one reserved mainly for vocal music, including a haunting Bulgarian women’s choir. Dancers were everywhere, especially in the Grand Ballroom, where large groups took over the dance floor in concentric circles. Frequently, the musicians performed in the center of the dancers. Slavic Soul Party!, a regular at the 29-year-old festival, combines Balkan
brass with jazz, funk and Latin rhythms. Souren Baronian, another returnee, melds Near Eastern traditions with jazz improvisation. Ljova and the Kontraband mix Gypsy music with classical, tango and klezmer in their original compositions. Many of the Golden Fest-goers make it an annual tradition. East Village film composer Eyal Marcovici declared, “I wouldn’t miss it for anything.”
Here we au Go Go again Greenwich House Music School revisits the sound and soul of a legendary club
MUSIC Opening Night: Mon., Feb. 24 at 8pm Then, Thurs. at 8pm: March 6 through April 24 At Greenwich House Music School 46 Barrow St. (west of Seventh Ave.) Tickets: $20, $18 or $15 (varies for each show) Visit greenwichhouse.org
BY MICHAEL LYDON
COURTESY OF JASON SOLOMON
COURTESY OF GREENWICH HOUSE MUSIC SCHOOL
THE CAFÉ AU GO GO REVISITED MUSIC SERIES
Dom Flemons (pictured) and Eli “Paperboy” Reed make their debut as a live duet, on March 6.
Jerry Garcia, on the Café au Go Go stage.
and minds of millions of young Americans. Second, in the summer of 1965, Bob Dylan played the Newport Folk Festival with an electric band. Folkies booed him, but there was no erasing the writing on the wall. The sound of the 60s was destined to be screaming electric guitar quartets and quintets, with booming electric basses, slam-bam drums, hot miked vocals and everybody’s amp turned up to eleven. Folk City and the other old clubs didn’t go out of business, partly because they began adding rock bands to their lineups — but the new sound needed a new club, and that club was the Café au Go Go. A French-themed coffeehouse in the roomy basement of 152 Bleecker Street, Café au Go Go opened on February 7, 1964, after a long legal battle with the New York City commissioner of cabaret licenses (the city never stopped trying to “clean up” the
attendant press coverage put the Café au Go Go on the Village’s music club and coffeehouse map. The Café steadily championed the new sounds of the 60s. Paul Butterfield’s electric blues band played the first of many Café gigs in July 1965. Bossa nova guitarist Luis Bonfa came that October. Oscar Brown Jr. and the Fugs arrived in 1966. In February 1967, the Jefferson Airplane flew in from San Francisco, in July the Grateful Dead — the first East Coast bookings for both bands. That October, Eric Clapton’s Cream came over from London. Other Café headliners: B.B. King, Muddy Waters, Howling Wolf, Steven Stills, Blood Sweat and Tears, the Mothers of Invention and comics George Carlin, Richard Pryor and
he first wave of 1960s Greenwich Village folk music was all acoustic: unamplified flattop guitars, banjos, dulcimers, harmonicas and the occasional standup bass. The groups were small — many solos and duos, a scattering of trios and a few rare quartets. Drums? Never! Most of the folkies were college-age white kids. With a few exceptions, like young Richie Havens, black folkies were older ladies and gents brought out of retirement by the white kids who loved the raw sound of old-timey country blues. The Village’s top clubs: Folk City, The Bitter End and The Gaslight. Then came the one-two punch that knocked that scene on its head. First, in the winter of 1964, The Beatles came, saw and conquered the American pop music charts — and, with them, the ears, hearts
funky McDougal-Bleecker club scene). The Café owners, Howard and Elly Solomon, he a stockbroker, she a fashion designer, finally got a no-liquor cabaret license and booked their first headliner, Professor Irwin Corey. Six money-losing weeks later, hoping to stave off bankruptcy, the couple booked the popular comedian, Lenny Bruce, for a six-week stand. Two nights into the run, however, the NYPD arrested Bruce and Howard Solomon on obscenity charges, and the two spent a night in jail. Out on bail, Bruce returned to the Café stage the next night. This time, he and Elly Solomon were arrested. Trials and convictions soon followed. For six years, the Solomons fought to overturn the judgments and, four years after Bruce died, they won a landmark freedom of speech ruling from the New York Supreme Court. More immediately, the arrest and
GO GO, continued on p.16
February 20, 2014
Music festival reflects the 60s spirit
GO GO, continued from p. 15
Lily Tomlin. Jimi Hendrix was still Jimmy Hendrix — and known only to rock cognoscenti — when he played two summer weeks at the Café in 1966 with blues guitarist John Hammond. The Rolling Stones came to hear him one night and, wrote a Hendrix biographer, were “stunned” by his “feedback sounds balanced against dissolving
riffs.” Rock manager Chas Chandler came another night and convinced Hendrix to move to London where, within months, he became a star. The Café au Go Go lasted just over five years. Today, a brick apartment building stands at 152 Bleecker. In its day, devotés called the Café “the hippest, the classiest” club on the McDougal-Bleecker row. Music lovers entered down a gently curving staircase to well-spaced tables and ordered
COURTESY OF GREENWICH HOUSE MUSIC SCHOOL
COURTESY OF GREENWICH HOUSE MUSIC SCHOOL
Internationally recognized vocalist Falu fuses rock, jazz funk and traditional Indian music (March 13).
Atlanta prodigy Michael Davies (right) joins consummate banjo artist Tony Trischka, on March 27.
exotic coffees and tasty food from friendly waitresses. The light and sound systems were worthy of an Off-Broadway theater — and the red brick walls gave the room acoustics so good that Stan Getz, the Blues Project and many other bands recorded live albums there. “Let’s face it,” says one former patron, “some of the Village music clubs were clip joints, but the Café was cool — great music and great atmosphere.” “I loved the Café au Go Go,” says multitalented musician and composer David Amram, who still performs at Cornelia Street Café and other Village settings (and will perform at the Revisited series on April 17). “The Café was my University of World Music, because the Solomons didn’t limit who they booked by genre. I played there with the great jazz pianist Bill Evans, with Richie Havens, with Odetta and with a great banjo player, Charlie Chin. Sometimes I was booked, sometimes I got asked to sit in. The place felt like a musical oasis. Everyone was open, nobody felt uptight.” To celebrate the Café and its pioneering history, the Greenwich House Music School has planned a two-month festival — Café au Go Go Revisited — that opens
‘The Café was my University of World Music, because the Solomons didn’t limit who they booked by genre. The place felt like a musical oasis. Everyone was open, nobody felt uptight.’ —David Amram
GO GO, continued on p.17
February 20, 2014
Contemporaries honor the Café au Go Go legacy GO GO, continued from p. 16
Lower East Side native Julia Haltigan’s first full-length CD will be released in the spring. She performs on April 3.
COURTESY OF GREENWICH HOUSE MUSIC SCHOOL
COURTESY OF GREENWICH HOUSE MUSIC SCHOOL
Monday, February 24, most appropriately, with impressionist Steve Cuiffo re-enacting a Lenny Bruce comedy monologue, and continuing with a wide variety of concerts every Thursday night, from March 6 through April 24. “Café au Go Go Revisited pays homage to the ingenuity and imagination of a former musical neighbor,” says Rachel Black, the Music School’s director. When Black became director last June, after years producing a wide variety of shows at Central Park’s Summer Stage, she found the school had only an “off and on” concert program. “Concerts can do so much to connect a music school with its community,” Black pointed out in an interview, “and the more I learned about the Village club scene, especially the Café, I knew I wanted to honor the artistic history of the Greenwich Village 60s. That was a booming time, culturally and counter-culturally, and the performers at this inaugural music festival reflect the 60s spirit that’s still the heart of all we do at Greenwich House.” All the Café au Go Go Revisited shows will take place at the Greenwich House Music School’s Renee Weiler Concert Hall, an intimate room with excellent acoustics and a pair of Steinway grand pianos. Series curator Jennie Wasserman, previously of Carnegie Hall and Joe’s Pub and currently a Jazz at Lincoln Center programmer, has assembled an impressive lineup of artists that ranges from blues and gospel to global music, Middle-Eastern psych-rock, bluegrass and country, chamber pop, bossa nova, jazz, soul and R&B. “Over the past fifty years, international pop music has developed new complexities,” says Ms. Wasserman. “With this festival’s lineup, I’m trying to stay true to the eclectic booking that made every night at Café au Go Go memorably innovative, and to highlight the musical landscape of New York today.”
“Renaissance Man of American Music” David Amram performs April 17, with The Amigo Band.
Café au Go Go Revisited Performance Schedule: February 24: Excerpts will be screened from “Seven Years Underground,” a documentary on the history of the Café au Go Go (directed by Jason Solomon, son of the original Café owners), followed by a panel discussion with music historian Ashley Kahn, Bleecker Street guitar store owner Matt Umanov, Andrea Vuocolo (Dave Van Ronk’s widow) and composer-performer David Amram. The opening night event concludes with a live re-enactment, by Steve Cuiffo, of a Lenny Bruce monologue. March 6: Dom Flemons and Eli “Paperboy” Reed make their formal debut as a live duet, in this evening of acoustic blues, gospel and country favorites. March 13: Falu, a Mumbai-born singer known for her fusion of rock, jazz, funk and traditional Indian music, explores the classical side of her musical heritage. March 20: Pharaoh’s Daughter brings psychedelic and pop sensibilities to their blend of Hasidic, Middle Eastern, African, Eastern European and Mediterranean influences.
March 27: Michael Daves and Tony Trischka will play new and traditional bluegrass music (including excerpts from Trischka’s new album, “Great Big World.”). April 3: Julia Haltigan, a New York native, will present modern songs in the West Village singer-songwriter tradition. April 10: “Getz Au Go Go” Revisited: With the influential Stan Getz album “Getz Au Go Go” as inspiration, New York’s top Brazilian musicians will explore highlights of 60s bossa nova. April 17: David Amram and The Amigos Band. “Renaissance Man of American Music” Amram returns to his Village roots, alongside his newest quartet of collaborators. April 24: Deva Mahal. The daughter of folk-blues legend Taj Mahal performs blues and R&B grounded in the 60s Southern Soul tradition.
Theater for the New City • 155 1st Avenue at E. 10th St. Reservations & Info (212) 254-1109 For more info, please visit www.theaterforthenewcity.net
The World Premiere of a New Play Written & Directed by NILO CRUZ The Story of the S.S. St. Louis and the 973 refugees from Nazi Germany aboard it.
Set Design by Adrian Jones Lighting Design by Alexander Bartenieff Sound Design by Erik Lawson Costume Design by Anita Yavich Featuring: Franca Sofia Barchiesi*, Arielle Jacobs* and Andhy Mendez*
Performances February 15 - March 9, 2014 (Previews February 13 & 14)
Wednesday - Saturday at 8pm, Sunday at 3pm All Seats $20/Students & Seniors $15/tdf
TNC’s Programs are funded in part by the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs and the New York State Council on the Arts
February 20, 2014
Flurry of talent Horse Trade’s annual FRIGID fest burns bright THE EYES OF ORBACH As if his long run on “Law & Order” and that memorable guest spot on “The Golden Girls” weren’t enough, Jerry Orbach further secured his good guy reputation with a final, visionary act: the donation of his corneas. Written by four members of the No. 11 Productions collective, this musical comedy imagines the two recipients of Orbach’s gift as lonely New Yorkers who meet and fall in love.
THEATER THE FRIGID NEW YORK FESTIVAL Through March 9 At The Kraine Theater (85 E. Fourth St., btw. Second Ave. & Bowery) PHOTO BY ANAIS KOIVISTO
At UNDER St. Marks (94 St. Marks Place., btw. First Ave. & Ave. A) Tickets: $8-$16 Visit frigidnewyork.info Call 212-868-4444
CANUCK CABARET Midnight: Wed-Sat., Feb. 22-March 8
The late Lady Macbeth awakens in purgatory, to find she’s been trapped by “Something Wicked.”
At UNDER St. Marks
FRIGID HANGOVER March 8, 5:15pm (at both venues)
BY SCOTT STIFFLER
rom Chicago, Toronto and other chilly climes they come — to perform daring acts of indie theater and mock a weary Manhattan’s notion of what passes for excessive snowfall. Over the next three weeks, as the predictions of a certain Staten-Island based groundhog will likely continue to prove annoyingly accurate, the eighth annual FRIGID festival is giving you over 30 rea-
February 20, 2014
sons to brave the cold and take a chance on those who’ve won the lottery. Literally. Horse Trade Theater Group’s nod to the risks and rewards of chance fills this annual winter fest with content chosen by first-come electronic submission. The selection process may be random, but the rewards are a lock: 100% of box office proceeds go directly to the artists. Not everything is a random act, though. The Canuk Cabaret series tips its beaver fur top hat to our neighbors from the Great White North, by giving stage time to native and “honorary” Canadian talent. A little payback seems only fair, considering how Horse Trade liberally cribbed from the Canadian Association of Fringe Festivals’ nurturing mission statement. Late in the FRIGID run, some notable standouts will get one more performance, at HANG-
OVER night (happening simultaneously, at The Kraine and UNDER St. Marks). As for what’s warming up the regular old FRIGID boards, quite a few entries just happen to fall into convenient categories.
SHOWS WITH A NEW YORK STATE OF MIND EAST IN RED New York’s Estraña Theatre Company brings twists, turns and psychological thrills to this modern telling of London’s Jack the Ripper murders. Set in the East Village, a prostitute takes it upon herself to bring a brutal serial killer to justice, after four women (one of them, a close friend) “fall victim to ghastly acts of contempt.”
STEVE: A DOCU-MUSICAL Brooklyn-based twentysomething Colin tells the story of his five-year collaboration with Steve, a retired railway clerk in Australia. Although the two never meet, their exchange of over 6,000 emails yields some 100 songs (many of which you’ll hear, augmented by “bells, flags, clocks frogs, maps, a stylophone and other curious artifacts”).
SHOWS WITH SHAKESPEARE ON THE BRAIN I-DJ Packed with ecstatic beats from the 1980s A&M Records portfolio — and inspired by the narratives of “A Chorus Line” and “Hamlet” — playwright Gregg Barrios merges 70s Chicano politics with AIDS-era club culture to tell the story of queer DJ Amado Guerrero Paz (aka Warren Peace). Old school dance floor attitude meets the new dubstep style, when a younger DJ challenges Peace to a winner-takes-all musical standoff. FRIGID, continued on p.19
FRIGID forecast promises two weeks of theater on the fringe
Buhmann on Art
BY STEPHANIE BUHMANN stephaniebuhmann.com
PANCHO WESTENDARP: THINGS THAT BARELY EXIST Westendarp’s drawings, videos and installations seek to analyze relationships between time, space, memory and movement. He states, “Developing our own way of measuring time means creating our own notion of history and developing new rituals where time can be practical and playful.” Through March 9, at Robert Henry Contemporary (56 Bogart St., Brooklyn, btw. Harrison Place & Grattan St.). Hours: Thurs.-Sun., 1-6pm. Visit roberthenrycontemporary.com or call 718-473-0819.
FRIGID, continued from p. 18
SOMETHING WICKED Draped in a blood red dress and surrounded by tormentors clothed in tones as black as her soul, Lady Macbeth awakens to find herself trapped in “a purgatory created from her own gruesome misdeeds.” New York’s Everyday Inferno Theatre Company tears into the heart of Shakespeare’s text, to deliver a new tale that pulses with highly choreographed movement, moody music and dark humor.
SHOWS WITH ONE PERSON AND MULTIPLE PROBLEMS
©2014 ROBERT HENRY CONTEMPORARY
“The Point Where All Points Converge” (2013, ink on book pages, 21 drawings, 7” x 5” each).
PHOTO BY THERESA UNFRIED
©2014 ROBERT HENRY CONTEMPORARY
“Days Go By” (2012, Video, 5 minutes 19 seconds, Edition 5, Installation view)
See the funny, sexy, sacred sides of Edna St. Vincent Millay, in “I Shall Forget You Presently.”
ALMOST A GENIUS Dressing like a banana, playing the accordion or speaking frankly about her suicide attempt — Chicago’s Maja Wojciechowski will do whatever it takes to find the comedy in her struggle with bipolar disorder and panic attacks. “Sometimes,” she says, “the most human part about being a functioning human being is not being able to function.” CHARLOTTE THE DESTROYER A washed-up children’s book author battles booze, phobias and poisonous thoughts, as the deadline for her latest project comes and goes. CHICKEN-FRIED CICCONE: A TWANGY TRUE TALE OF TRANSFORMATION The longest (and best-titled) FRIGID fest entry puts a guitar in the hands of actor-playwright J. Stephen Brantley, whose
journey from heroin user to Mr. Clean is told with ample samples from Madonna — the ultimate queen of reinvention. A DATE FOR THE EVENING Celestial Zenith takes you through one woman’s breakneck attempt to mend her broken past, during a difficult night of speed dating.
SHOWS PLAYED FOR LAUGHS BOOGIE OF THE APES Travel back in time and experience over ten hours of monkey business, in just under sixty minutes — as Madison, Wisconsin’s own Broom Street Theater players dance, fight and masterfully mug their way through every increasingly cheesy installment of the five original “Planet of the Apes” films. Their lip-synched performance of highlights from the Power Records adaptation lampoons and critiques everything from the 70s that has aged poorly — including TV variety shows, the audio version’s bombastic, kid-friendly aesthetic and every “Ape” film that didn’t have Charlton Heston as its star. I SHALL FORGET YOU PRESENTLY New York’s own Dysfunctional Theatre Company — an always-entertaining member of the Horse Trade stable — uses the poems and letters of Enda St. Vincent Millay to bring out the funny, sexy, sacred and profane dimensions “of a woman who captured love, defined feminism and shaped the 20th century.” February 20, 2014
Is it 2-on-1? City files appeal notice on N.Y.U. case; N.Y.U. PLAN, continued from p. 1
Notices of appeal N.Y.U. has filed a notice of appeal of
February 20, 2014
PHOTO COURTESY GLEN MILSTEIN
Age.” Rounding out the teams were several friends of Billy’s and Thom Schuchaskie, who trains Leguizamo for his movie roles. The actor, who lives in Greenwich Village with his wife Justine — a founding member of the new Washington Square Park Conservancy — said he’s fully behind the faculty members’ fight. “It’s all for a good cause, man — stop that Zipper Building,” the Murry Bergtraum High School alumnus said, as he wiped the sweat from his brow. “N.Y.U. used to be in the Bronx. N.Y.U. moved here for the history and the beauty, the peace. The Village has been the heart of creativity since the ’50s and ’60s. The beatniks, Dustin Hoffman, Gene Hackman all lived here. The Bitter End...oh, my God. The history always attracts the artists and the intellectuals. Ginsberg. Lily Tomlin and Richard Pryor performed at The Bitter End. When I was starting out, that was a dream of mine, to be at The Bitter End.” As for Miller and his fellow faculty members who are battling the administration’s development scheme, Leguizamo said, “I just find them heroic. They stick their necks out like it’s nobody’s business.” Driving the faculty members’ opposition is the fact that many of them live on the superblocks and dread the prospect of living in a “20-year construction zone.” Coles gym, in fact, on Mercer St. between Houston and Bleecker Sts., is one of the four main project sites — each slated for a new building — in the university’s megaplan. N.Y.U. plans to raze Coles and replace it with a new 1-million-squarefoot structure called the Zipper Building. On Jan. 7, in a stunning decision, Supreme Court Justice Donna Mills largely ruled in favor of the community plaintiffs’ argument that the open-space strips on the eastern and western edges of N.Y.U.’s two South Village superbloks are de facto parkland, throwing a massive curveball into the university’s ability to build at least two, if not three, of the buildings. However, while the judge said that three of the open-space strips are parks — and would, thus, first need to be “alienated” by the state Legislature before N.Y.U. could use them for construction-related purposes — she said that a fourth strip, the one in front of Coles gym, is not parkland. N.Y.U. says this clearly means it can proceed with the construction of the Zipper Building. But the plaintiffs — supported by many of the area’s local politicians — counter that the entire 2-millionsquare-foot plan must now go back to the drawing board.
Members of the N.Y.U. Student Labor Action Movement, or SLAM, protested outside Coles gym two weekends ago, saying that if the Zipper Building is constructed on the site, N.Y.U. will have no real campus gym until 2019. “3,000 people — N.Y.U. students, faculty and neighbors — use Coles every day,” their flier said. “Where will we go to swim, work out, play tennis, squash and basketball? What about the hundreds of classes that Coles offers every term?”
Mills’s ruling and plans to challenge her decision on the park strips. Interestingly, the city’s Law Department also, on Feb. 10, filed a notice of appeal, saying it, too, intends to challenge the parkland strips ruling. The city approved the N.Y.U. project in 2012 under former Mayor Bloomberg. Meanwhile, the plaintiffs — which also include Assemblymember Deborah Glick, the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation and dozens of local residents and community groups — filed their own notice of appeal; Jim Walden, one of their attorneys, said they will be challenging Mills’s ruling on the Coles strip, “among other things.” While Mills upheld the plaintiffs’ first argument — that the strips (or at least three of the four) are parks — she shot down five other arguments in the suit. The notice of appeal states the plaintiffs’ intention to argue that Mills should have issued an injunction to stop the project where it would impact the three park strips, plus that there was insufficient environmental review, and that the city’s ULURP (Uniform Land Use Review Procedure) was faulty. There was a 30-day window in which parties had to file their notices of appeal. The actual appeals don’t need to be submitted until nine months from now, so this is a process that could drag out two years or longer.
What is city’s ‘intention’? A spokesperson for the city’s Law Department told The Villager that its notice of appeal is not a mere placeholder, but represents a real “intention” to appeal. The Mayor’s Office did not respond by press time for a request for clarification of Mayor de Blasio’s position on whether the city will, in fact, contest Mills’s ruling. However, plaintiffs attorney Walden said he believes the city may just be keeping its options open by filing the notice, but that this doesn’t necessarily mean the city will, in fact, file a court challenge in support of the N.Y.U. plan. “It’s possible they’re filing the form, but mulling whatever,” he noted. If, on the other hand, N.Y.U. drops its plan to dispute Mills’s ruling, and the entire project is sent back to the drawing board, everything could be ironed out quickly within six months instead of two years, he said. “N.Y.U.’s wasting time,” Walden said. “They’re certainly wasting money, and they’re wasting political capital because there’s a growing number of elected officials that are saying the process should start anew.” Walden said if Mayor de Blasio and the City Council decide to have the Council do a new review and a revote on a revised N.Y.U. plan, the university wouldn’t fight it.
“N.Y.U. would abide by that,” he noted. “They do too much business with the city.”
Garden impact N.Y.U. has also indicated it thinks it may still be able to build on the current Morton Williams supermarket site, at Bleecker St. and LaGuardia Place, despite Mills’s ruling that the abutting LaGuardia Corner Gardens is parkland. However, Walden noted that Mills, in her ruling, stated that N.Y.U. — without first getting the state’s O.K. — cannot do anything that “substantially interferes” with the parkland strips or the public’s use of them. This could include, for example, shadowing the garden by building a protective construction shed over it, Walden maintained. If that were to happen, he warned, the plaintiffs would “immediately go to court and file an injunction” to halt the work.
Zeroing in on Zipper However, Philip Lentz, a university spokesperson, said N.Y.U. is currently focused on the first phase of the project, the Zipper Building. The university N.Y.U. PLAN, continued on p. 21
Plaintiffs will also challenge parts of judge’s ruling N.Y.U. PLAN, continued from p. 20
hopes to start construction on the Zipper in about 18 months, and it would take about three to four years to complete. As for the Morton Williams site, Lentz said, work conceivably could start there in four to six years from now, at which time all the court appeals on the case would be resolved. Meanwhile, construction on the northern superblock — where two infill buildings are planned — wouldn’t start until around 10 years from now. This timetable was all spelled out in the university’s ULURP, or Uniform Land Use Review Procedure, application, he noted. Yet, N.Y.U. does not dispute that, under Mills’s ruling, it is now extremely difficult to conceive how N.Y.U. could actually build on the northern superblock. The open-space strips on the block’s eastern and western edges would be the main access points for the construction work, but by dint of Mills’s ruling, these are now protected parkland, and so can’t be “substantially interfered” with by any construction. N.Y.U. issued a statement on the filing of its notice of appeal — pointedly noting that the city filed notice, too: “Even though the vast majority of the lower court’s findings upheld our arguments, the appeals by N.Y.U. and the City respond to the remaining issues; we expect to prevail on those at the Appellate level,” the statement said. “Over all, this is another important step in the process of addressing N.Y.U.’s pressing academic
space needs, which will be further guided by the forthcoming final report of the faculty-led University Space Priorities Working Group.”
In a jam over gym? That report will answer a number of pressing questions, including exactly what uses would be included in the new Zipper Building. It’s assumed there would be a new gym and ground-floor retail, but beyond that, the university isn’t saying. As for what N.Y.U. would do for a replacement gym for the three to four years during the Zipper’s construction, the university is holding off on answering that until the working group’s report is issued, but says that it does need an “updated” gym.” Coles was built in 1981. An earlier plan to build a temporary gym — that could be used by N.Y.U.’s Division III varsity basketball, volleyball, fencing and wrestling teams — in the Washington Square Village courtyard on the northern superblock was scrapped in the face of neighbors’ opposition. Last Sunday, as Leguizamo was battling the 12and 13-year-olds on the hardwood, Coles was bustling with activity. The men’s varsity basketball team was playing Washington University-St. Louis, and a match between the women’s hoops teams was up next. A few days earlier the gym had been packed for a wrestling match. Peter Rea, a film professor who is part
of N.Y.U. FASP and was watching the Leguizamo game, said it’s Coles, not the Kimmel Center, that is, in fact, the university’s true student center. “We await the recommendations of the University Space Priorities Working Group, but there is no question that the university needs additional space for academic facilities, classrooms, dorms, faculty housing and an updated gym,” said N.Y.U. spokesperson Lentz. “Should the decision be made to move forward with a new facility on the Coles site, the university will address the temporary recreational needs of Coles users — including our team athletes and those who use Coles for recreation and fitness — until a new facility is complete.”
Where does mayor stand? Meanwhile, Andrew Berman, executive director of G.V.S.H.P., said it was puzzling to hear that the city had filed a notice of appeal in support of the N.Y.U. plan. “His public comments at the press conference expressed sympathy with us and the concerns we raised,” he noted of Mayor de Blasio. Indeed, at a press conference in January, the mayor was asked if the whole N.Y.U. plan should now be “reset” in light of Mills’s ruling, and if the city would start its review of the project all over again. De Blasio responded that he felt the university’s earlier version of the plan was
“too expansive,” and that as the then public advocate, he called for it to be scaled back, which was done. As public advocate, he approved that final plan. But Mayor de Blasio said all lawsuits have larger ramifications for the city, so he was withholding legal judgment until hearing more from his Law Department on the decision. “I think a lot of the community concerns were valid,” de Blasio said, “and we’re going to work with the community going forward.”
‘Hey, what about us!’ Meanwhile, N.Y.U. said it is also awaiting the working group’s report before it says whether it will finance upgrades to windows and air-conditioner units at 88 Bleecker St., the 100-unit co-op across the street from Coles, as part of efforts to mitigate construction impacts. The co-op says they deserve the upgrades since they would be in the “significant impact zone” for the construction work — and especially since N.Y.U. is installing new soundmuffling windows and A/C-unit sleeves in its own Washington Square Village and Silver Towers buildings. Beyond that, the co-op residents are disappointed and angry that Mills’s ruling didn’t deem the open-space strip in front of Coles parkland, since that would keep the Zipper project from moving forward. N.Y.U. plans to use part of that open-space strip for the new building.
Tana’s 15 not enough as N.Y.U. Violets edged by streaking Bears SPORTS BY DANIEL-JEAN LUBIN
ew York University’s men’s basketball team lost a tight contest in their final, regular-season, home game against conference powerhouse Washington University-St. Louis at the Coles gym, on Mercer St., on Sunday. In the 79-75 loss, senior guard Ryan Tana scored a team-high 15 points to go along with a pair of steals and four assists. Tana along with fellow senior and his co-captain Jed Borovik were honored by university director of athletics, Christopher Bledsoe, university director of athletics, before the game. Both Tana and Borovik were integral members of the team during the past four years. Spurred on by the opening ceremonies, N.Y.U. (15-7 over all, 5-6 in the University Athletic Association) jumped out to a quick 5-point lead, 13-8 about five minutes in. After taking a timeout, which helped quiet down the raucous Coles gym, the Bears (20-2, undefeated in conference play)
Ryan Tana was game in his final game, but the perennially powerful Bears were just too tough.
settled down. The Midwest team then responded by going on a 7-0 run to take a 15-13 lead. An Evan Kupferberg jump shot cut the visitors’ lead to 30-26 with five minutes left in the half. But the Bears’ Alan Aboona answered back with a clutch 3-pointer. Washington took a 40-35 lead into halftime.
The Bears opened the second half with a pair of layups in the opening minute to take a 9-point lead, their largest lead of the game, at 44-35. Center Costis Gontikas sparked the Violets with a powerful dunk. That began an 8-2 run to pull the Violets within 3 points at the 16:53 mark. The N.Y.U. squad battled back to tie the game when Tana sunk an open 3 to knot it
at 52-52. Minutes later, N.Y.U. regained the lead, 57-55, when Tana converted a layup with 9:55 left. The Violets couldn’t hold that slim lead, however. They fought back to make it a 2-point game with two seconds left. But the Bears sealed the deal with a pair of free throws that put the game out of reach. “I thought we played very hard and with a lot of intensity," said Joe Nesci, the Violets head coach. “We did a good job of getting the ball inside, but Washington’s interior defense was very strong.” With the win, Washington University-St. Louis, which had been riding a 14-game winning streak, secured its third-straight U.A.A. title and clinched a spot in the 2014 NCAA Division III Men’s Basketball Championship. This is the Bears’ fifth U.A.A. title in the last six seasons. Washington University is the first program in conference history to win three straight conference banners. The N.Y.U. hoops team will be back in action when they travel south to play at Emory University on Feb. 21. Next, they’ll go Upstate to take on the University of Rochester on Feb. 23, and will finish the three-game trip against Brandeis in their regular-season finale on March 2. February 20, 2014
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