VOLUME 25, NUMBER 23
saluting Boston P. 3 & 12
APRIL 17-APRIL 30, 2013
downtown can helP us Plan schools, walcott says BY JOSh ROGERS t was a typical meeting about the need for more schools in Lower Manhattan with one big difference. This time, it seemed like someone in power heard the message completely. Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott told Downtown school advocates that he’d let them into the Dept. of Education’s planning room to help influence the upcoming five-year plan to build more schools. This came after many years of Dept. of Education officials rebuffing pleas to take a closer, neighborhood by neighborhood
Continued on page 5
Downtown Express photo by Kaitlyn Meade
FADE IN: TRIBECA FILM FEST
her colleagues approved the plan. “We were kicked out of City Hall that day,” Rajkumar said. “We were not listened to and the Council nearly unanimously voted in favor of the gargantuan expansion into the Village.” Chin did win concessions from N.Y.U. reducing the size of two of the proposed buildings by more than half, but many in the Village said the project was still out of scale to the neighborhood.
BY KAI TLYN M EADE fter the fanfare of Little League on opening day on Pier 40’s newly rebuilt fields and the public struggle over getting Battery Park City ball fields in playable condition, one field was left on the bench. Luckily, the school’s custodial engineer stepped up to the plate, and with help from Nike, pulled off a surprising comeback. Construction on the field began Tuesday. The gates to the field were unchained and thrown open early Tuesday morning to accommodate the construction equipment that rolled out under the Manhattan Bridge. When asked how long the construction on the turf would take, Bob Buono of Tri State Athletic Field Services replied, “One day
Continued on page 7
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Jake, right, and Azaan, both students in Lower Manhattan, got some television news experience covering the runup to the Tribeca Film Festival Monday. Read more about the Kids Access program as part of our festival preview, P. 17 - 28. Look for additional reviews on DowntownExpress.com this weekend.
Rajkumar & Chin trade barbs BY J OS h R O G E R S ity Council candidate Jenifer Rajkumar made her formal announcement April 7 accusing opponent Margaret Chin of listening more to big developers than the people of Lower Manhattan. “Under this top-down approach, the councilmember goes into the room with a real estate or outside interest, closes the door, makes the deal and shuts the people out,” Rajukmar said of Chin, the incumbent who is also running in
the Sept. 10 Democratic primary. Rajkumar, 30, a Democratic district leader and attorney who moved to Battery Park City in 2010, chose the most common N.Y.C. location for a campaign announcement, City Hall, for an uncommon reason. “It is at this very spot that I decided to run for Council,” Rajkumar (pronounced rahj KOO mar), said at the Sunday announcement. Last July, she and other opponents of New York University’s expansion project were not allowed to stay for the vote in which Chin and most of
Forgotten Ball Field to reoPen
5 15 CANAL ST RE ET • N YC 10 013 • C OPYRIG HT © 2013 N YC COMMU N ITY MED IA , LLC
April 17 - April 30, 2013
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Jenifer Rajkumar edged out Councilmember Margaret Chin last week, getting the endorsement of the Village Independent Democrats in this year’s City Council primary. Club president Tony Hoffman told us the reason was simple — “it was N.Y.U.” — meaning Chin’s support for the university’s development project. Long before he became a state senator, Brad Hoylman likened the V.I.D. nod to the Iowa Caucus. When he got the club’s backing in his 2001 City Council run, it did appear to move him ahead of some of the candidates, including Chin, but it was not enough to best Alan Gerson. This year, both candidates cited their immigrant roots. Rajkumar also told the club she was taking a “leap of faith” in running. Indeed, one of her supporters, Sean Sweeney, told us recently that he had originally advised Rajkumar not to run because it’s so hard to beat an incumbent, but now the Downtown politico thinks she has momentum and will probably win.
If there’s anything to that “enemy’s enemy is your friend” theory, perhaps Deborah
Glick and NYCHA honcho John Rhea will soon be best buds. Bill Bialosky, president of the Downtown Soccer League, said at a recent Community Board 1 meeting that there are only two spots to get a lot more desperately needed field space in Lower Manhattan — Pier 40 and Smith Houses — but he knocked Glick and NYCHA for standing in the way. Assemblymember Glick no doubt was the leading opponent to the plan to add field space to the pier by building nearby housing, but the idea had many other opponents as well, most notably Council Speaker Christine Quinn. Bialosky is miffed because Glick has talked about building more fields north of the Village but has not mentioned anywhere south. Rhea, whom Bialosky did not mention by name, has already had his hands full fending off affordable housing advocates who don’t want any market rate apartments built on the Smith parking lot. Now he has a new opponent who literally wants a big piece of turf there for all Downtowners.
What Tin Building?
Many Seaport lovers have made much of the fact that the city hid the Howard Hughes Corporation’s intent to build a large apartment and hotel around the Tin and New Market buildings until after the City Council approved the firm’s redevelopment plan for Pier 17, but there was a curious part of the letter of intent that was also redacted from the original version. Both versions had identical maps of the area, but the first version of the map did not identify the Tin or New Market structures, and the unredacted version did.
Pace University Michael Schimmel Center for the Arts 3 Spruce Street New York, NY 10038 Now is the time to ensure that the next mayor of New York City puts equality at the top of their agenda. Hear from the candidates on critical issues that impact women, girls, and all New Yorkers. Join us for back-to-back debates featuring Democrats Bill de Blasio, John Liu, Christine Quinn, Bill Thompson and Republicans John Catsimatidis, Joe Lhota, and Independent Adolfo Carrión Jr. Hosted by Pace University, the Women’s and Gender Studies Department at Pace, and the National Organization for Women.
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Downtown Express photo by Terese Loeb Kreuzer
Salty Paw space Things are looking up for Amanda Byron Zink, whose pet boutique and grooming business at 38 Peck Slip was trashed by Superstorm Sandy. Still displaced from her original location, she now has a pop-up shop at the end of Pier 17 in the Seaport. The Howard Hughes Corporation has agreed to keep the pier open through Sept. 9 before demolishing the existing mall to make room for a new one. Zink said that after months of trying to reach Howard Hughes management, three weeks ago she got an email from the firm’s new general manager for the mall Phillip St. Pierre. “He knew I was looking for space,” she said, “so he offered temporary space on the pier.” She said her rent was “very fair” for the space formerly occupied by the Sequoia restaurant.
April 17 - April 30, 2013
Downtown Express photos by Milo Hess
A salute to Boston The blue flag of Boston was hoisted at half mast at City Hall beneath the flag of New York City on Tues., April 16 in commemoration of the victims of attack on the Boston Marathon that killed three, including a child, and injured more than 130 people on Monday. At a press conference Tuesday, Mayor Michael Bloomberg detailed the increased security around the city in response to the bombings. Despite increased tension, he stopped that afternoon on his way into City Hall to take a picture with a group of students from P.S. 187 in Washington Heights who had just finished their tour.
April 17 - April 30, 2013
SeX ASSAult NeAR CitY hAll
A 28-year-old woman was sexually assaulted across the street from City Hall Park in Lower Manhattan early Sunday, police said. Police say the attack took place on Theater Alley, a small side street off Beekman St. near Park Row just before 5 a.m. on April 14. The woman’s attacker spoke to her while she was on the subway and offered to help her find an address. He then followed her from the Fulton St. A train station, grabbed her by the throat, pushed her down and pulled down her pants, according to police. She screamed and nearby construction workers rushed over, chasing away the would-be rapist. The victim was taken to Beth Israel Hospital and is reportedly in stable condition. A police spokesperson could not confirm if she was injured during the attack. Police are seeking a man described as Hispanic in his mid-20s, of average build who was last seen wearing a red American Eagle sweatshirt. The N.Y.P.D. released a surveillance photo of a man wanted for questioning, taken the same day as the
attack, as he entered a subway turnstile. A planned meeting with Councilmember Margaret Chin and elected officials to “seek the public’s assistance in apprehending a suspect wanted in connection” with the incident was cancelled due to the events in Boston on April 15.
An employee of Eden Flowers was arrested by a First Precinct detective after police say he admitted to faking a robbery of his own store. Kyung Im, 52, allegedly confessed that he stole $1,540 from his FiDi workplace at 56 Fulton St. and falsified a robbery incident at 4 a.m. on April 2. He said he taped his own mouth and wrists and removed a DVR box during the supposed robbery, and in the process managed to remove 77 $20 bills from the store’s cash register and wooden money box. The money was recovered by the arresting officer and a swab of the tape was taken for evidence.
A man reported to police that his girlfriend’s motorcycle was stolen on his watch while spending time in Battery Park City. The man, 48, said he parked his 28-year-old girlfriend’s motorbike at the southwest corner of South End Ave. and Albany St. at about 8:30 a.m. on Wed., April 10 while she was running errands. When he went out at about 12:30 p.m. that day, it was still there. But by the time he returned at 3 p.m., it was missing. He told police that he went into the building at the end of the block and saw surveil-
lance video that showed someone stealing the bike. The motorcycle was a black, 2012 Suzuki GSXR with N.Y. plates, worth $15,469.
Two more Downtown boutiques were hit in the past week by shoplifters who grabbed pricey purses and dashed. An employee of Chloe, a brand new Soho boutique at 93 Greene St., reported to police that she saw a man in a light blue baseball cap walk into the store at about noon on Tues., April 9, grab a $2,995 beige handbag from a display and leave. Video footage was not available. Another theft occurred the same day, also carried out by a young man in a light blue ballcap, this time at Mulberry on 134 Spring St. in Soho, police reported. An employee said that while he was at work on April 9, he noticed that two purses were missing from a display in the front of the store. He went to check surveillance video and saw a man enter the store, take the bags and flee in an unknown direction at 5:06 p.m. that day. The thief had bagged a small Delilah satchel worth $1,000 and a light pink purse valued at $1,350. He was described as a 25-year-old black male, about 5’5” and 130 pounds, wearing a light blue baseball cap and a paintsplattered denim jacket.
PhoNe getAWAY to bRooklYN
Two victims who lost their phones over the weekend were unable to recover them, but both were able to trace their devices to a single block near Prospect Park. On Sat., April 13 at 6 a.m., a 24-yearold woman reported to police that her phone had been stolen between 3 and 3:30 a.m. that night while she was at W.i.P., a Soho bar and nightclub at 34 Vandam St. She said that the $500 Apple
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iPhone 5 was in her purse, which she had been holding the entire time she was at the club. She had not felt anyone remove her cell from it. When she discovered the theft, she reportedly was able to track the phone to Ocean Avenue and St. Pauls Court in Brooklyn. Another woman was able to trace her stolen iPhone to within a block of the first iPhone theft. The 24-year-old told police that she was at SOBs, a bar at 204 Varick St., on Sun., April 14. At about 2:50 p.m., while she was in the bar, someone removed her iPhone 4 from the purse which she had slung over her shoulder. The victim realized the theft and at 4:30 a.m. used the “Find My Phone” app to trace it to the corner of Ocean Avenue and Church Avenue, one street away from St. Pauls Court. Unfortunately, by the time police took her statement, the phone had been switched off and she was unable to track it.
Beauty is pain, and in some cases, a sentence. At least, it was for two women apprehended for trying to walk out of a store with over $1,000 each in makeup — for a second time. Maximillia Cordero, 29, and Natalie Rivera, 28 were arrested on Fri., April 12 at Sephora, a Soho beauty supply shop. Police say the store, at 555 Broadway, had already issued one of them a trespass notice. Cordero had $1,002 in merchandise in her possession when she was arrested and Rivera had $1,016 in items, according to police. The pair was already wanted by authorities who accuse them of stealing $298 worth of bracelets and $660 worth of accessories from the store C Wonder, located at 72 Spring St. in the Fifth Precinct.
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April 17 - April 30, 2013
Parents worry as kindergarten waitlist reaches 148 BY J O S h R O G E R S Lower Manhattan principals offered lucky children about 400 kindergarten seats this September, leaving 148 others on waiting lists to get into P.S. 234, 276 and the Peck Slip School. At least a few of the waitlisted 4- and 5-year-olds are likely to end up at Spruce Street School, which currently has three openings for its 75 slots. “We are anticipating three classes so we have a little bit of wiggle room,” Spruce Principal Nancy Harris told Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott April 7 at a meeting of Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver’s School Overcrowding Task Force. The two Battery Park City elementary
schools have just over 40 on the waitlist. At P.S. 89, 44 are waiting to get into one of three classes, and at P.S. 276, 41 are waiting and hoping one of 100 slots open up in the four K’s starting in September. Last on the P.S. 276 list is the daughter of Ariana Massouh, who this week started a change.org petition (“NYC Lower Manhattan Public Schools”) demanding the Dept. of Education find space closer to home. She said when she called the D.O.E., an official told her that, the city would likely offer spots in June to waitlisted students in Chinatown or the Village — too far away for her comfort. Both solutions were proposed for the 2012-13 school year and were
strongly opposed by parents and community leaders. “We’re in the position of getting a spot or moving,” said Massouh, whose daughters are 4 and 1. “It would probably be a move to the suburbs. We feel this is the best community for children. “ She moved from the Upper West Side to Gateway Plaza in Battery Park City after plans were approved to build P.S. 276, and now she’s hoping her daughter will be able to continue there after pre-kindergarten. At P.S. 234 in Tribeca, Principal Lisa Ripperger said she sent offer notices to 115 students, leaving a waitlist of 50 students. Sixty-three of the accepted students do not have older siblings in the school, meaning
this year, families had better than a 50-50 shot of being accepted in the initial offering. (Siblings are given priority over other zoned students.) Ripperger said even though the P.S. 234 school zone has shrunk twice in recent years to create new school zones, this is still the fifth consecutive year the school has had a waiting list. The new Peck Slip School, which is operating in the Dept. of Education headquarters at Tweed until its permanent home is finished, has 13 on its waiting list, but Principal Maggie Sienna told Walcott she was expecting “a little movement” so she would be able to offer at least a few more children spots.
Walcott invites Downtowners into school planning Continued from page 1
look at the soaring population. “I think there’s an opportunity to break off into smaller subgroups… to work with our folks and really do the deep dive that you are talking about,” Walcott told the advocates at Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver’s school overcrowding task force meeting April 4. Silver and other members of the committee said it was a sea change. “I think it’s new for us because before that, we’ve heard about moving children from here to [north of] Canal St., which is a totally different neighborhood,” Silver said. Task force members have been saying for years that the education department’s grouping of neighborhoods underestimates the desperate need for schools in Lower Manhattan.
Tricia Joyce, a member of the task force, said she remembers that five years ago, city officials said they would take a closer look, and it did lead to opening temporary “incubator” space early for two new Downtown schools, but this was the first time she ever remembered being invited into smaller planning meetings. She was part of a four-member tag team that presented the numbers to Walcott two weeks ago. Even Shino Tanikawa — a parent leader who has tried to manage the school crowding and zoning battles as president of the School District 2’s Community Education Council — said she was staggered to see Eric Greenleaf’s analysis that Lower Manhattan will need an additional 1,200 school seats in a few years. “I’m quite shocked to see the numbers, Eric,” said Tanikawa. “I knew things were bad but this is quite frightening.”
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, right, and Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott listened two weeks ago as Lower Manhattan principals updated them on waiting list numbers.
Community Board 1’s analysis of Census data reveals that the board’s area, CD1, has by far the largest population growth of any other area in the city.
Greenleaf, who has been tracking school population numbers for years, has determined that you need 60 kindergarten seats for every 100 births in the Community Board 1 area (roughly the area south of Canal St). Tanikawa said a 60 percent public school enrollment rate is extremely high for School District 2, which stretches from Lower Manhattan to the Upper East Side. “In other neighborhoods, that’s a very different number. In the Village, it’s about 35 percent.” Walcott stared so attentively when speakers at the meeting talked about population specifics, that he did not seem to notice anyone else in the room. Lower Manhattan’s elementary school principals updated Walcott on the wait list numbers for this September — 148 at three
schools. Then he heard about Community Board 1’s analysis of recent Census date showing that the preschool population shot up by 170 percent in Lower Manhattan from 2000 to 2010. Board 1’s Diana Switaj, who prepared the report, updated it for the meeting with a chart showing that the overall C.B. 1 population growth towered over all other community boards in the city. Walcott did volunteer that he was unlikely to remain chancellor after Mayor Bloomberg leaves office in January, but said now was a “golden opportunity” to shape the capital plan. Catherine McVay Hughes, chairperson of Board 1, had a simple response to Walcott’s invitation: “That’s wonderful news.”
April 17 - April 30, 2013
Seaport Museum closes its Fulton St. galleries BY T E RE SE LO E B K R E U Z E R The South Street Seaport Museum posted a notice on its website on Friday, April 5 that the galleries at 12 Fulton St. would be closing Sunday, April 7 because of Superstorm Sandyrelated damage. The website invites visitors to go to Bowne Printers, its 19th-century print shop, at 209 Water St. Bowne is open daily from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. “Please consider donating to our relief effort,” the website implores. “Every little bit helps!” Sandy wiped out all of the building systems on Schermerhorn Row, where the majority of the South Street Seaport Museum’s galleries are located. It destroyed the elevator, the escalators and the heating and cooling systems. The collections themselves were on upper floors of the 12 Fulton St. building and were spared. Antique type and letterpresses at Bowne & Co. were inundated, however, and were only salvaged by the quick work of volunteers both at the time and afterward, when they spent days meticulously cleaning the type. In testimony before City Council’s Committee on Cultural Affairs on Feb. 28, Jerry Gallagher, general manager of the South Street Seaport Museum said the museum reopened in mid-December with temporary power from a generator borrowed from the Port Authority and kerosene-fueled heaters. With no working elevator or escalators, visi-
Downtown Express photo by Terese Loeb Kreuzer
The South Street Seaport Museum’s galleries at 12 Fulton St. before they closed April 7.
tors had to climb two flights of stairs to see the exhibits on the third and fourth floors. “We developed plans to make temporary repairs to the building systems, and with the money that had been raised via the Sandy Relief Fund — including an anonymous gift of $500,000 — we thought that we could keep the museum open in advance of a permanent solution, which the New York City Economic Development Corporation told us must come
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from the Federal Emergency Management Agency,” Gallagher said in his testimony. “Then we met with FEMA. First, we were nicely told that we were a non-essential nonprofit, which dropped us to the bottom of lots of their lists. We were told that those temporary repairs we contemplated would preclude future reimbursements for a full reinstallation of the systems, either in the basements or at some higher level. Further, they told us that any
FEMA funding would take years to receive.” Gallagher said that the collections could not withstand the heat and humidity of summer if they were not in a climate-controlled environment. In an email on April 5, Susan Henshaw Jones, director of the Museum of the City of New York and president of the South Street Seaport Museum, said that the museum is not closing permanently. “We are just closing the galleries at 12 Fulton Street, and re-focusing our energies on Water Street,” she said. Jones also said that plans were advancing to return the barque Peking to Hamburg, where the ship was built in 1911. The ship requires millions of dollars worth of repairs and there is no longer any room for it on Pier 16, the only pier currently under the South Street Seaport Museum’s jurisdiction. The museum’s other ships are the lightship Ambrose, the tugboat W.O. Decker, the schooner Pioneer, the sailing ship Wavertree, and the Lettie G. Howard, a fishing schooner. The Museum of the City of New York had an 18-month contract to take over the management of the floundering South Street Seaport Museum. Much progress was being made in restoring it to financial and curatorial health when Sandy struck. The contract was due to expire on April 5. Jones did not comment on whether the relationship would continue.
DOWNTOWN LITTLE LEAGUE’S 21st Annual Opening Day was a celebration of the Downtown Community’s resiliency and collaboration. A special thank-you from DLL to everyone who made this season possible! The Downtown Little League would like to thank local elected officials and the Battery Park City Authority for their role in the accelerated repair schedule of the ball fields destroyed by Hurricane Sandy. Under the stewardship of Sheldon Silver, Speaker of the NY State Assembly, turf specialists from the New York Mets/(Wilpon organization) and the BPCA team worked together to reopen the fields April 3. This marked another important milestone in the recovery of the storm’s aftermath, Bill Martino presents Sheldon Silver with a special allowing the return of organized sports DLL jersey. to our community. The DLL celebrated its Opening Day under clear blue skies, when more than 900 players, coaches and their families paraded from City Hall to the ball fields. “Our community has been tested time and time again, and each time we have rallied together to overcome the challenges in front of us,” declared DLL President, Bill Martino. “We are eternally grateful to Speaker Silver, BPCA Chairman Mehiel and his team, Senator Squadron, Council Member Margaret Chin and the 200+ DLL volunteers who worked tirelessly to make this day possible.” DLL would also like to thank special guest, Dwight “Doc” Gooden, four-time All-Star and three-time World Series Champion, for his inspiring words, as well as posing for photos, signing autographs, even playing catch. The celebration included music from The TriBattery Pops, conducted by Tom Goodkind, a carnival on Warren Street, with baseball-themed games, facepainting and refreshment, coordinated by downtown resident, DLL parent and event-planner Diane Rohan of the Main Event NYC.
April 17 - April 30, 2013
Rajkumar makes her Council campaign official Continued from page 1
Rajkumar, who did not mention Chin’s name at the event, also criticized the councilmember’s vote three weeks ago to approve the redevelopment of the Pier 17 mall in the South Street Seaport. “We wanted to preserve the historic Seaport district, insure its future in the face of large development and preserve a world class food market,” Rajkumar said. Chin and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn got the developer, Howard Hughes Corp., and the city to agree to two locally sourced permanent food markets of more than 10,000 square feet nearby, but Rajkumar said the markets would be too small. It was only after the plan was approved by the Council that the city released the unredacted portion of its agreement outlining the Hughes firm’s intention to build a large hotel and apartment building in the neighborhood. A few weeks prior to the Council vote, Rajkumar did not offer specifics on what her Pier 17 strategy would be if she were representing the district, but on Tuesday, she said that the land use application was a missed opportunity to get more concessions on the rest of the developer’s plans. She said she learned “tough negotiating
skills” as a civil rights attorney representing individuals against large corporations. In response, Chin’s campaign spokesperson, Austin Finan, issued a statement saying the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure known as ULURP is “transparent and inclusive” with numerous reviews and many public hearings. “Ms. Rajkumar clearly does not understand this simple concept or she is purposely trying to mislead voters for political gain,” Finan added. “Both scenarios are troubling and indicate that she either lacks the experience or the integrity to hold public office. Councilmember Chin has always valued and listened to the concerns of her constituents. No one is ever shut out or turned away from her office and that is a policy she will continue to uphold when she is re-elected.” Rajukumar is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and Stanford Law School. She would also let constituents vote on how to spend discretionary money set aside for capital projects in the district. Kelly Magee, also a Chin spokesperson, said Chin is taking a look at “participatory budgeting,” but she already talks regularly with “grassroots groups.” If elected, Rajkumar said she would employ “bottom up leadership” in which community members would be included in negotiations.
Downtown Express photo by Josh Rogers
Jenifer Rajkumar announcing her campaign at City Hall.
“I am the girl always on your corner, the district leader asking, ‘what can I do for you in the neighborhood,’” she said at City Hall. The First Council District, one of the
most diverse economically, includes Wall St., Chinatown, the Seaport, Battery Park City, Tribeca, Soho as well as parts of the Village and the Lower East Side.
Stravinsky Festival The Complete Sacred Works April 26–28 Trinity Church, Broadway at Wall Street Trinity Wall Street offers a three-day festival celebrating the late sacred works of Igor Stravinsky (1882–1971), ranging from his famous Symphony of Psalms to his last masterpiece, Requiem Canticles. The GRAMMY-nominated® Choir of Trinity Wall Street, NOVUS NY, and baritone Sanford Sylvan will perform a total of seventeen rarely performed works, conducted by Julian Wachner. The Festival also will feature a pre-concert lecture by Matthew Guerrieri on Friday and two panel discussions. Days 1 and 3 are free of charge; RSVP encouraged. Proceeds for Day 2 ($50 general admission; $20 students/seniors) will directly support Trinity Wall Street’s music education initiatives within public schools in Lower Manhattan. an Episcopal parish in the city of New York
For a schedule of the festival, to buy tickets, and to RSVP, visit stravinskyfestival.com or call 212.866.0468.
April 17 - April 30, 2013
Committee backs liquor license for Tribeca fashion complex BY KA I T LY N M E A D E The London-based advertising agency Spring Studios received support from Community Board 1’s Tribeca Committee to serve alcohol at its upcoming Tribeca location, with stipulations from neighbors and community members. Wednesday’s Tribeca Committee meeting on April 10 marked Spring Studios’ third appearance before C.B. 1 members, who opposed the liquor license application in November due to community concerns. Some of those concerns were still present at Wednesday’s meeting, particularly regarding traffic patterns and rooftop parties for events. Community board votes are influential, but advisory and it will be up to the State Liquor Authority to make the final decision. The overhaul of 50 Varick St. would allow Spring to host everything from fashion shoots to large-scale events for various clients. The ground floor would contain the lobby and a gallery space that will double as a check-in area for events. The rooftop will also be in use as a terrace for events. After long negotiations, Spring has agreed to the stipulation of hosting only about 30 rooftop events per year. The rooftop would close at 10 p.m. on weeknights and 11 p.m. on weekends, with alcohol service stopping an hour before the closing time to encourage people to begin filtering out.
At the meeting, Spring’s events director David Hemphill introduced a security expert and engineers to go over plans to mitigate the impacts on the neighborhood. No music or amplified sound will be allowed on the roof to cut down on noise complaints, such as a suit filed by investment banker Richard Handler, which claimed that noise and light from the rooftop terrace (and two large freight elevator cabs) would disrupt the view from his penthouse apartment atop the neighboring building One York. Verizon will keep much of the rooftop’s perimeter for its equipment, creating a partial sound barrier, and Spring is designating a green space that will further keep people away from all edges except the western side overlooking the Holland Tunnel off-ramp. Spring has also agreed to a capacity of 300 guests on the roof for events, which is about half its actual capacity, but twice as high as a proposal by some of its neighbors. At a working group on April 5, a limit of 150 people was proposed by Kathleen Cudahy of One York, while Spring’s representative Bradford Sussman would not go below 300. “Maybe it’s just me at this point, thinking an earlier hour, possibly a larger number. That way we’re not responsible for counting how many people are on the stairs...” said Jeff Ehrlich at the beginning of the working group, who added that enforcing capacity
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Downtown Express photo by Kaitlyn Meade.
The contested rooftop structure on top of 50 Varick St., where Spring Studios hopes to open.
would be difficult. A total of 291 events or programs (on top of daily activities for clients) was proposed by Spring. A chart compiled by Community Board 1 based on information provided by Spring Studios showed the number of each event with certain closing times and capacities. Spring proposed that they would host 180 events with under 200 people, but only 15 of those yearly events would have a capacity of 600-800 people. They have also retained the services of Elite Investigations, a security firm that he said offers special event security, including traffic. Chuck Garelick of Elite presented plans for traffic safety and efficiency in the area, including the possibility of hiring offduty police officers for traffic control. He also wants to turn the right lane on Varick, which is currently closed during the building’s construction, into a temporary dropoff lane by creating a no-parking zone by applying for a street activity permit. Security would keep traffic flowing and attendants would provide either valet parking or directions to an out-of-the-way loca-
tion for black car parking. At the committee meeting, stipulations on traffic were “mentioned in passing, because the details had already been worked out between residents and Spring Studios,” said C.B. 1’s community liaison Evan Lacher. However, he said that the final stipulations will include language addressing parking and traffic flow issues that were brought up by buildings in proximity to Spring. Spring had agreed prior to the meeting to having no outside entry line for events, no photographers in a pen outside, no restaurant seating or bar on the roof, and have agreed to consult with a sound engineer to mitigate noise pollution on the rooftop. A smoking area on a corner of building’s roof, which was a concern at the working group, was not addressed at the Tribeca Committee, said Lacher. The committee members voted six to two, with one recused, in favor of granting the liquor license with stipulations. The proposal will come to the full board on April 23, before going to the State Liquor Authority.
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Spring Open Houses April 25th & May 15th Accepting applications for 2 year olds through 5th grade
April 17 - April 30, 2013
transit sam A LT E RN AT E SID E PA R K ING IS IN E F F E CT A LL W E E K The Tribeca Film Festival starts Wednesday, April 17 and runs through April 28. Watch out for extra traffic at the Tribeca Performing Arts Center on the east side of West St. between Chambers and Harrison Sts.; at Tribeca Cinemas on Varick St. at Laight St.; and at Conrad New York on North End Ave. between Vesey St. and River Terrace. I suspect security will be tighter than normal, so be prepared to wait. The Downtown Independent Democrats Festival will close Lafayette St. between Canal and Leonard Sts. 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Sun., April 21. The 9/11 Memorial Family Day will close Vesey St. between Church St. and Broadway 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sun., April 21. The Greenwich Avenue Festival will close Greenwich Ave. between Sixth and Seventh Aves. from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sat., April 20. At the Battery Park Underpass, one lane of the north tube and the entire south tube will close overnight 10 p.m. HalfPageAd_4-13.pdf 2/20/2013 9:31:31 AM to 5 a.m. Wednesday and Thursday, 1
a.m. to 8 a.m. Saturday, and 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. Monday and Tuesday. No trains at N, Q or R stations in Manhattan 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. Wednesday through Friday. Q trains will run over the D line in Manhattan. All Manhattan-bound lanes of the Lincoln Tunnel ‘helix’ (the spiral approach road to the tunnel) will close 10:30 p.m. to 5 a.m. Wednesday and Thursday. This will send drivers down to the Holland Tunnel and onto the streets of Lower Manhattan. Crane operations will close Washington St. between Albany and J.P. Ward Sts., Rector St. between West and Greenwich Sts., and the intersection of Washington and Rector Sts. from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. Wednesday and Thursday, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, and 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday. Chambers St. will fully close between West Broadway and Greenwich St. from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. Wednesday and Thursday. Collister St. will close between Hubert and Laight Sts. from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily through mid-June. For northbound access, take Hudson St. Both the Knicks and the Nets made the playoffs. Expect more traffic on West
St., Canal St. and the Manhattan Bridge (especially with closures at the Brooklyn Bridge since all Manhattan-bound lanes of the bridge will close 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. on Wednesday and Thursday nights, 12:01 a.m. to 7 a.m. Saturday, 12:01 a.m. to 9 a.m. Sunday, and 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. Monday and Tuesday nights). For updates on how the playoffs will affect traffic, follow me on Twitter @ gridlocksam.
F rom the mailbag: Dear Transit Sam, I received a ticket for ‘no seat belt on child.’ My son sat in the middle in a booster seat with a lap belt on. I explained to the officer, if I get side impact from either side, it’ll lessen the blow with him seated in the middle. He said the child should have a shoulder belt on. My son is 4’ 7”, 57 lbs, 10 years old. Do I have a chance of this being dismissed? Pat, Queens Dear Pat, I don’t think so. While New York
State’s Occupant Restraint law requires children under 8 years of age to sit in booster seats, your 10-year-old meets the legal criteria for being recommended to be in a booster seat (under 4’9” tall or under 100 lbs). The law specifies that a booster seat has to be used with a lap and shoulder safety belt together. The law also specifies that as a back seat passenger under the age of 16, your 10-year-old child is required to be restrained by a safety belt that is approved by the commissioner, ie. a combination shoulder harness and lap safety belt. The only exception for using a lap safety belt alone is when a vehicle is not equipped with combination lap safety and shoulder harness belt or all the combination lap safety and shoulder harness belts are being used to properly restrain other passengers who are under the age of sixteen. Transit Sam Got a question about parking regulations or upcoming construction? Email me at TransitSam@downtownexpress.com or write to Transit Sam, 611 Broadway, Suite 415, New York, NY 10012.
April 17 - April 30, 2013
Verizon workers push to stay in Lower Manhattan BY KA I T LY N M E A D E Hundreds of members of the Communication Workers of America attended Community Board 1’s full board meeting last month to enlist their support to return to work in Lower Manhattan after a decision by Verizon to relocate many of them to Brooklyn. The C.W.A. workers, who have been displaced from their building on 140 West St. since it was flooded by Hurricane Sandy, were notified in February by Verizon that 1,100 will not be returning to their offices. “Verizon took over $750 million taxpayer dollars to recover from the Downtown disasters, they now need to live up to their patriotic rhetoric about rebuilding and remain in the area,” said Chris Shelton, C.W.A. District 1 vice president. Verizon made the building across from the World Trade Center its Manhattan headquarters in 2005 after a $322 million rehabilitation of the landmark Art Deco skyscraper, according to a report by the New York Times. A ceremonial opening was presided over by former governor George Pataki, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, who praised Verizon for their commitment to Lower Manhattan. Shelton said that Verizon’s move reneges on the promise not only to Downtown but to the union workers that got the Stock Exchange and the rest of Wall St. back online in just five days after Sept. 11. “Some of us never left,” said Kevin Condy,
a C.W.A. employee and organizer who was there in the building the day of 9/11. “We want to be a part of the rebuilding,” he said. “They’ve got a lot of money and we believe that now that there’s no tax incentives down here, they’re running for higher ground.” Higher ground might be the literal objective as the notices sent out to employees seem to indicate a desire to find spaces that are not in flood-risk areas. The 140 West St. building was flooded by hundreds of thousands of gallons of water. A total of 781 bargaining unit employees were notified two months ago that they would be moving to Flatbush. The move will happen throughout the spring and summer and is targeted to be complete by August. Also at the community board meeting were local business members and politicians who expressed support for the C.W.A. workers and worried that fewer employees would have a devastating impact on the surrounding economy. These speakers included deli owner Sammy Rayshan from the Cornet Gourmet, whose shop is patronized by the workers who are about to be moved, and Claire Guerette, assistant executive director of St. Margaret’s House who said the union workers “come to St. Margaret’s House every year to provide services and support for the elderly in our community.” City Councilmember Margaret Chin also spoke on the workers’ behalf and afterword sent letters to Robert Steele, the city’s deputy mayor
Downtown Express photo by Terese Loeb Kreuzer
Members of Communications Workers of America.
for economic development and to Verizon’s C.E.O. Lowell McAdam. Her letters outline the “tremendous loss for our local small businesses.” “To us,” the letter to Steele reads, “packing up and abandoning Lower Manhattan 10 years after taking benefits to stay is disingenuous.” But Verizon says that it is in no way abandoning the area. Verizon spokesman John Bonomo said in an email to Downtown Express: “We also plan to bring employees into our 140 West Street building from locations we lease elsewhere in the City. So our headquarters building will continue to be a thriving
part of the downtown Manhattan landscape.” However, he said that the moves from other locations to 140 West St. had not been finalized, though they “expect the majority of it to be utilized.” Bonomo added that the employees would be handling “various aspects of customer service” and that the move was primarily a way to enhance customer service by providing a centralized location for work and training.
— With reporting by Terese Loeb Kreuzer
Fighting to make Lower Manhattan the greatest place to live, work, and raise a family.
Assemblyman Shelly Silver If you need assistance, please contact my office at (212) 312-1420 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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April 17 - April 30, 2013
Looking to landmark Carnegie’s Lower East Side library BY T E RE SE LO E B K R E U Z E R Standing at a lectern in the Landmarks Preservation Commission hearing room, Judith Prigal recalled her father. She was testifying at a hearing on whether the Seward Park branch library at 192 East Broadway on the Lower East Side should be landmarked. Prigal said that she had a photo of her father, an immigrant from Russia, taken in 1918 standing in front of the library, holding a large book. “A 16-year-old with no knowledge of English, he and his siblings found the library to be a haven where they could study away from their overcrowded apartment,” she said April 2. She went on to say that there were undoubtedly “scores of immigrant children who owe their successful education to their association with this library.” She called it “a neighborhood treasure” and said that even as a child, it impressed her. “It seemed more important, more substantial than its mostly nondescript surroundings,” she recalled. The freestanding, four-story building made of red brick trimmed with limestone, is on the eastern edge of Seward Park. One of the 67 libraries in New York City financed by industrialist Andrew Carnegie, it was designed by the firm of Babb, Cook & Welch and opened on Nov. 11, 1909. It once had an open-air reading room on
the roof that provided tranquility and greenery, so different from the tenements where most of those who used the library lived. Five of the Carnegie libraries had similar reading rooms. Seward Park’s is the only one that remains in a building in active use as a library. The library is already listed on the National Register of Historic Places. If the Landmarks Preservation Commission approves designation, the building would become an official New York City landmark as well. No one who spoke at the hearing opposed this idea. However, many urged that the commission go beyond landmarking this one building and landmark all of the city’s remaining Carnegie libraries. They were endowed in 1901 when industrialist Andrew Carnegie donated $5.2 million to the city to build branch libraries in the five boroughs. Of Carnegie’s 26 libraries in Manhattan, 22 remain, with 20 of them still functioning as libraries. But New York City’s library branches are under siege. Many of the older ones are housed in handsome buildings that are now on coveted pieces of real estate and in some cases, too small for present uses or in need of repairs. Pressed for funds, the New York Public Library, which covers Manhattan, the Bronx and Staten Island, and the Brooklyn Public
Junior Division: K-3RD GRADE
Library system have already sold some branches to developers or are in discussions to do so. In 2011, the Queens Public Library system tore down its Elmhurst branch, a Carnegie building, and is replacing it with a larger structure. The Seward Park branch is in no imminent danger. But as Joyce Mendelsohn remarked in her testimony, “Only a limited number of Carnegie libraries citywide are protected by landmark designation. I urge the commission to designate the Seward Park branch,” she said, “and to calendar all of the remaining unprotected Carnegie libraries to preserve these vital links with the past for future generations.” “When I first heard that the Seward Park library was being considered for landmark status, I was surprised that the library was not already landmarked,” said Rima FinziStrauss in her testimony. “Of course, the library would easily get landmark status, I thought, because, after all, it is a Carnegie library. But it only took a little online research for me to realize that there is, indeed, potentially a lot to worry about. Carnegie libraries have been torn down around the United States.” Finzi-Strauss said that if the Seward Park library isn’t landmarked now, it, too, could succumb to “the tremendous real estate changes happening in our immediate neighborhood. We cannot assume that any-
thing will stay the same unless it is officially protected in perpetuity.” The Seward Park Branch Library still serves a large number of immigrants. No longer predominantly Jewish, today the throngs who use the library are likely to be a mixture of Jews, Hispanics, AfricanAmericans and Asians. Eric Mandelbaum, his wife, Yuko Murase, and their son, Kai, 9, are among those who use the Seward Park branch. All of them testified. Mandelbaum said that the Lower East Side is still an immigrant community and that New York City is “the most linguistically diverse place on Earth, home to over 800 languages.” He said that his wife, who is Japanese, studies Mandarin alongside their son at the library. “The point is, Seward Park library is the epicenter for immigrants and language learners for Hebrew, Yiddish, Mandarin, Spanish and the like,” said Murase. “Let’s not forget one of my and my son’s needs — English, too.” Kai Mandelbaum said that a lot of his classmates are immigrants. “Libraries are really important to them,” he said. “I know that the [Seward Park] library is not going to get knocked down right now, but I think we should landmark it now so that nobody will try to knock it down later.”
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April 17 - April 30, 2013
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Lower Manhattan is with you, Boston “When I was a boy and I would see
scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’” Mister Rogers’ moving words are as useful today as they were when he first uttered them decades ago. They have been tweeted and retweeted many thousands of times Monday and Tuesday as we all come to grips with the horrific terrorist attack that came at the end of the Boston Marathon Monday. The death toll, as we go to press, stands at three. Whether it be three families or three thousand, the pain is equal for each one. Many of us here in Lower Manhattan know terrorism
far too well so our hearts go out to the grieving families, the hundreds of injured and to the entire city of Boston, which had its most special day, Patriots’ Day, attacked. We hope and expect that anyone responsible for the murders will be brought to justice quickly. Though the attack — thankfully — was no 9/11, it nevertheless made some of us stop and recall some painful memories from over a decade ago. True to Fred Rogers, once again there were hundreds of people helping, from the emergency responders to the volunteer runners who summoned the strength to help after a grueling 26 miles.
Twelve years ago, we were inspired by the countless acts of kindness from our neighbors around the corner and from all over the world. The spirit of working together. We saw that spirit reemerge again last year as we and other communities were hit by Hurricane Sandy. We have little doubt that the great city of Boston will also show great resolve. “This tragedy is not going to stop Boston,” Mayor Thomas Menino said. “We will not let terror take us over.” He’s right. We’re not about to start rooting for the Red Sox, but our message to Boston: We are with you.
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I am very excited to hear about all the potential changes for Pier 17 and a little surprised at all of the negative reactions to the idea of mixed-use around the location. Given all the negative feedback, I can’t say I’m surprised that parts of the Howard Hughes Corporation’s letter of intent from December 2011 were redacted (news article, April 3 — 16,“Hidden no more, Seaport developer’s desire for hotels & housing revealed”). All of the potential growth and changes coming to the Financial District is why I chose to invest in the neighborhood and make it my home. The Seaport’s historic charm is one of the great assets of the area and I welcome improvements that will make it even more of a draw. I know that not all development is progress or simply good by default, however, sig-
nificant outside capital can lead to positive changes. I was surprised to read recently that Howard Hughes Corporation “has never fully embraced the Lower Manhattan community” (editorial, April 3 – 16, “Still searching for trust at the Seaport”). They are a large landowner with a significant financial stake and I wonder if it may be the community that hasn’t embraced them? As a Dallas native watching how outsiders can be treated, I plan to reach out to H.H.C. with my thoughts on what might work for them financially and for the community on their land. I think this is a neighborly thing to do, and is more likely to lead to a better result than accusations about hidden agendas. While I can understand some mistrust of H.H.C., and understand the passion of those who want to fight “the greedy developers,” I believe that we should have a civilized conversation that recognizes the need for additional residential and lodging capacity in the area. The process could
have been handled better by the company and the City Council, however, I don’t see a conspiracy or anything rising to the level of Seaport Gate. H.H.C. should be forthcoming with their plans and open to suggestions, however, critics need to be forthcoming with their agendas as well. I would love to hear what various critics envision for the area and how they propose to finance that vision. I love the history of the area and hope the community can preserve that; however, change is inevitable. Andrew Foster
Statue Independence To The Editor: Re “Statue of Liberty to open July 4” (news article, March 20 – April 2): When it was announced that the Statue of Liberty would be reopened this July 4th, Sen. Schumer said it was the per-
fect day to reopen this symbol of America’s freedom and New York’s resiliency. And the Battery Park Conservancy has just announced its wonderful plans for Battery Park. None include the Sphere. This is understandable since it was always the plan — both official and by popular fiat — from early ’02 on to return the Sphere to the 9/11 memorial at the W.T.C. So, let’s make it a double celebration. July 4th would also be the perfect day to bring home to the National September 11 Memorial at the World Trade Center that other symbol of America’s freedom and New York’s resiliency: the iconic W.T.C. Sphere. Nothing is preventing that but the intransigence of the Memorial Foundation, which gives not a hoot about the Sphere, but evidently also cares nothing for Battery Park, the conservancy plans and what Downtown residents need and want. Michael Burke
Letters Policy Downtown Express welcomes letters to The Editor. They must include the writer’s first and last name, a phone number for confirmation purposes only, and any affiliation that relates directly to the letter’s subject matter. Letters should be less than 300 words. Downtown Express reserves the right to edit letters for space, clarity, civility or libel reasons. Letters should be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or can be mailed to 515 Canal St., New York, NY, 10013.
April 17 - April 30, 2013
B Y TERESE LOEB KREUZER
Pier A to get plaza and plantings:
At its April meeting, the Battery Park City Authority board of directors learned that core and shell construction on Pier A are nearly complete and that the time had come to discuss the 35,000-square-foot plaza to be constructed in front of the building. Gwen Dawson, senior vice president of asset management for the authority, said that the Department of City Planning and the Public Design Commission had approved a design for the plaza created by Ove Arup Partners and Rogers Marvel Architects. On March 13, the B.P.C.A. issued a request for proposals for construction, to which four firms responded. Though not the lowest bidder, D’Onofrio General Contractors was selected because it “had a very good understanding of the project and the complexities associated with it,” said Dawson. She said the work on the plaza would begin before the final completion of the core and shell work and that plaza construction would be concurrent with the tenant’s work on the fit-out of the inside of the building. The construction contract is for $3.4 million. Board member Martha Gallo asked what would be different about this plaza from what has previously existed there. “Historically, it’s been just a very utilitarian space,” Dawson replied. It was used primarily as a parking lot, she said. Now it will be a forecourt and what she called “a tandem space for the building.” The Poulakakos family, which will be running an oyster bar, a high-end restaurant and a catering hall on the pier, will be able to use some parts of the plaza for outdoor dining. Dawson mentioned that there will be a raised planting bed that will arc around the wall that separates the plaza from historic
Battery Park. The wall edge could be used for seating, she said. The plaza construction will start in the beginning of May and is slated to be finished by November. The B.P.C.A. board approved the expenditure for the plaza subject to necessary approvals from the New York City comptroller and the mayor’s office. Board chairperson Dennis Mehiel said that he would telephone the comptroller and the mayor’s senior staff to “see if we can fast track this thing.” The Poulakakos family and its partner, the Dermot Company, plan to begin their part of the construction in June so that they can open by the summer of 2014.
More construction news:
As any homeowner can attest, when you own (or are responsible for) property, there’s always something to fix. The Battery Park City Authority is no exception. The western stairs on the Rector Place bridge spanning West St. have been rusting for months. The B.P.C.A. maintains the bridge for the New York State Department of Transportation, which owns it. Because of buckled treads, the stairs have been temporarily closed. Those who wish to use the bridge must go up and down the ramp that leads to Albany St. “Shop drawings for the new stairs are being completed and an engineering review will follow before the stairs are replaced,” said Matthew Monahan, authority spokesperson. “We expect the removal and replacement of the stairs to begin next week and to take about five days to complete.” The bridge also needs to be resurfaced, a process that will begin a few days later. While the stairs are being replaced the bridge will remain open, but the only access will be via the ramp. The project will cost around $94,000. Elsewhere in Battery Park City, the B.P.C.A. is repairing decking and lighting at South Cove. The wooden walkway at the north end of South Cove and the wooden jetty at the south end were damaged by Superstorm Sandy. Signs for the construction work will begin appearing later this
Downtown Expresss photos by Terese Loeb Kreuzer
A red-throated loon surfaced between dives in the Hudson River off the Battery Park City esplanade. It will soon be on its way to its breeding grounds in the high Arctic. Some of these birds spend the winter in the New York City area. Others go as far south as Florida for the winter and travel thousands of miles between their winter and summer homes.
week, said Monahan. He said that the repairs will cost around half a million dollars and “hopefully” take three months or less. South Cove’s distinctive blue lights are also being repaired — because of age, not because of Sandy, said Monahan. That project is supposed to be finished in May.
Tribeca Film Festival Drive In:
Say prayers to the weather gods. There’s a chance of rain from Thursday, April 18 to Saturday, April 20 when Battery Park City gets to celebrate the annual Tribeca Film Festival with free outdoor movies on the Brookfield Place plaza overlooking North Cove Marina. Each night, the festivities begin at 6 p.m., with the film screenings starting at dusk — around 8:15 p.m. The first night’s offering is Alfred Hitchcock’s classic thriller, “The Birds,” starring Tippi Hedren, Rod Taylor, Jessica Tandy and Suzanne Pleshette. It was first released 50 years ago — and for those who somehow missed seeing it, it’s about a California community that is suddenly and inexplicably attacked by thousands of vicious birds. Before the film, there will be movie trivia contests and prizes. On Friday night, the movie is “Beetlejuice,” a comedy from 1988 directed by Tim Burton. It’s about some ghosts who don’t like the new occupants of their former house and the exorcist who is trying to scare them away. The film stars Michael Keaton in the title role and features Alec Baldwin, Geena Davis, Catherine O’Hara and Winona Ryder. The pre-film fun includes a ghoulish costume contest, face-painting and familyfriendly activities. On Saturday night, the Drive-In premieres a documentary called “Lil Bub & Friends.” It’s a sweet story about a cat who was the runt of his litter and is actually deformed but who has a darling face that causes people to take to him. With his owner, Lil Bub travels across the country meeting other celebrity cats and the people who love them.
Battery Park City’s beautiful parks and gardens are beloved by more than the humans who live and work here. Particularly during the spring and fall migration seasons, they attract a wide variety of birds. Recently sighted off the Battery Park City esplanade, a red-throated loon was diving for breakfast. “Wow!” said Gabriel Willow, who leads birding trips for the New York Audubon Society. “They winter south to Florida or so, and breed in the high Arctic. Some overwinter here, so that bird could’ve been here all winter. But what you can say for sure is that it’s heading north soon, and will fly all the way to the tundra.” That’s a trip of several thousand miles. Battery Park City recently had other visitors headed to the arctic for the summer. Brant geese paddled and honked in South Cove before departing for their summer breeding grounds. Meanwhile on the esplanade, a downy woodpecker was busy climbing up, down and around the linden trees in search of insects. And, as usual, there were cardinals and blue jays sporting their gorgeous plumage — and numerous robins, who may have overwintered here but are always more visible in the spring.
Battery Park City Parks Conservancy seeks volunteers:
The Battery Park City Parks Conservancy, which maintains B.P.C.’s parks and gardens needs volunteers during the busy summer season. It’s a great opportunity to learn about organic gardening from the Conservancy’s expert horticulturists. Volunteers work on Wednesday mornings from 7:30 a.m. to noon beginning on May 1 and ending on Oct. 30. Call 212-267-9700 for an application. To comment on Battery Park City Beat or to suggest article ideas, email TereseLoeb10@ gmail.com
April 17 - April 30, 2013
Batter up! Downtown Little League kicks off its season
Downtown Express photos by Terese Loeb Kreuzer
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver donned a Downtown Little League jersey Sunday; Dwight “Doc” Gooden, former Met ace and Yankee pitcher, signed autographs at the event.
BY T E RE SE LO E B K R E U Z E R Around a thousand people streamed onto the Battery Park City ball fields on Sun., April 7 for the opening of the 2013 Downtown Little League season. Everyone was beaming. The ball fields, trashed by Superstorm Sandy, had to be completely rebuilt and it was touch and go as to whether they would be ready in time for the Little League season. In December 2012, the Battery Park City Authority, which owns and manages the fields, told Downtown Little League management that the fields would not be ready for the Little League season. Several politicians helped to expedite the process, most especially New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, who enlisted the help of artificial turf experts from the Mets to advise on the best and fastest way to restore the fields. Hampered by snowstorms and rain, the work necessary to meet the deadline was heroic — and even as late as two weeks ago, the Battery Park City Authority was making no promises that April 7 would be opening day. But it was to be — and even the weather cooperated. The sun came out. The TriBattery Pops played “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” and the National Anthem. Everyone stood and placed their hands or their hats over their hearts, just like in the stadiums where the professionals play. As usual, a conga line of politicians gave their blessings to the event including Borough President Scott Stringer, State Senator Daniel Squadron, Councilmember Margaret Chin, Community Board 1 Chairperson Catherine McVay Hughes and Julie Menin, the former C.B. 1 chairperson
who is now running for borough president. Bill Martino, president of the Downtown Little League, introduced Speaker Silver as “our most valued player.” After being given a Downtown Little League shirt, he displayed a fine wind-up when he threw the first pitch. Watching these proceedings was the man the kids most wanted to see — Dwight “Doc” Gooden, who pitched for the Mets in the 1980s and later for the Yankees. Now 48 years old, he retired in 2001, ending his career with a record of 194 wins to 112 losses and a Cy Young Award. Gooden recalled when he was eight years old, playing for a team in Tampa, Florida. The facilities were nothing like you have here, he told the kids, and the team wasn’t very good. “So I quit,” he said. The next year when he wanted to play, his father told him that if he quit again, he wouldn’t be allowed to play. So Gooden stayed with it and by the age of 12, it was clear that he was going to be more than a sandlot hero. He made his major league debut with the New York Mets on April 7, 1984 at the age of 19. That would have been exactly 29 years to the day before his appearance at the opening of the Downtown Little League. After the speeches, there was a carnival on Warren St. and Gooden signed autographs. His message to the kids was to work with your team, have fun — and don’t quit. No matter what. At noon, the games began. Eight games took place on the Battery Park City ball fields that afternoon. For the record, the Pilots beat the Expos, 5 to 2; the Senators beat the Dodgers, 4 to 3; the Browns beat the Giants, 9 to 8; and the Braves beat the Athletics, 7 to 2.
Gymnastics teacher Suellen Epstein, left, founder of Children’s Tumbling in Tribeca, came to opening day with some of her students.
April 17 - April 30, 2013
Downtown Express photo by Scot Surbeck
Dog tired The plaza near Battery Park City’s North Cove provided some comfort Sunday to the two- and four-legged kind.
Connect with your neighbors Dine on locally-sourced food Touch on the spiritual Make a reservation for the Family Table dinner and for each $25 minimum suggested donation per family, a fresh locally-sourced meal will be provided to a neighboring family in need through a partner organization. Carry or mention this ad and a second meal will be provided! Also features live music, a children’s activity, conversation starters, and diverse spiritual practice suggestions to try at home.
THE FAMILY TABLE
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May 26, June 30. All families with children are welcome.
April 17 - April 30, 2013
We’re Back. Taco Tuesdays are Back Cowgirl Sea-Horse suffered devastating damage when Hurricane Sandy hit Lower Manhattan. The surge of water destroyed walls, equipment, furnishings, and windows. They have since rebuilt and reopened. Stop by for a tasty snack or a delightful drink.
Cowgirl Sea-Horse, South Street Seaport Show your support for businesses that have reopened after Hurricane Sandy by patronizing their establishments. Find them by visiting nyc.gov and searching “Support NYC Small Business.”
Visit NYC.gov and search “Support NYC Small Business”
Photo by: William Alatriste
Support NYC Small Business
April 17 - April 30, 2013
Kids Access correspondents are red carpet ready Reporters from 10 to 14 to cover 20 events BY KA I T LY N M E A D E Every year, the Tribeca Film Festival rolls out brand new family programming to bring even the littlest filmmaker into its fold. The tried-and-true favorites of ESPN Sports Day and the Family Festival are back this year with new activities and guests. The Drive-In will be back too, showing three films — two old favorites and a premier from the festival — in one weekend. Throughout the festival, check out exclusive family screenings and a budding partnership with MoMa PS1. TFF is also bringing back its Kids Access program with expert guides in the area of kid-friendly programming.
THE YOUTH VOTE
Reporters from the festival’s Kids Access program will be on the scene, asking the tough questions and giving you the kidfriendly scoop. These young correspondents, between the ages of 10 and 14, come from local schools Downtown and cover over 20 events, from interviewing stars on the red carpet (like Emily Blunt and Jason Segel last year) to attending screenings, panels with filmmakers and community activities. On Monday, April 15, the kids toured some filming locations in Tribeca and brought along camera crews to shoot a neighborhood report. They started off in front of Tribeca Cinemas on Laight Street and then scattered throughout the surrounding streets to do individual takes of each reporter. “I’ve never tried to be a press before. I’m having fun, so I might want to be a press when I grow up,” said Fanta, a fifth grader at P.S. 1 and the youngest of the student reporters, who says her favorite movie is “Dreamgirls.” She said she has learned about interviewing people and is looking forward to talking to the celebrities. “On the red carpet, they’re gonna be busy with older person stuff, so we have to get their attention. We have to stand out but not be rude.” “On the red carpet, we’ve found they are a secret weapon,” said Peter Downing, creative director and producer of the Tribeca
Photo by Kaitlyn Meade
The “Kids Access” correspondents will be reporting on all aspects of the festival.
Family Festival, in a phone interview. Celebrities are inundated by reporters, he said, so when they see two very bright-eyed and interested young people ready to ask questions, they tend to gravitate to the Kids Access corner. “It’s a fun gig. Every year, I tell them how jealous I am of them, in a good way,” said Downing. But, he added, “This is a job. It’s fun, but it’s a lot of work. When they go to an event, they’re given a list of people who are expected to attend and then they have to research them.” The kids have had two training sessions so far that include everything from tongue twisters to interview questions. Alice, a fifth grader at P.S. 150 and
Harris, a fifth grader at P.S. 234 said they practiced mic techniques, “like hold the mic in the hand that is closest to the person. But not too close.” said Alice. “So that they’re eating the mic!” Harris chimed in. The program is celebrating its tenth anniversary this year after beginning in 2003 in partnership with Scholastic, which was already running a kids press core program. About five years ago, the Kids Access program took shape. The Art Institute of New York City provides their student filmmakers as crew as well as editing equipment and facilities. There will also be a strong writing component as the kids will be expected to con-
tribute to a blog. “This year, we wanted to put a particular emphasis on the writing,” said Downing, who said it was incorporated into the selection process. “They took six people from our school to interview, and you had to read things and talk about yourself,” said Mia, a seventh grader at Lower Manhattan Middle School. This was no problem for the outgoing seventh-grader, who wants to be either a singer or a writer. “I just heard it from my teacher,” said Nortee, a seventh grader at P.S. 289, who said he had never done anything like this before. “You don’t really get to do this a lot Continued on page 22
April 17 - April 30, 2013
T R I B E C A F I L M F E S T I VA L
Clearview Cinemas Chelsea (CCC)
Chanel Art Awards Gallery at NYAA
260 W. 23rd St., btw. 7th & 8th Aves.
111 Franklin St., btw. W. Broadway & Church St.
AMC Loews Village 7 (AV7) 66 Third Ave., at 11th St.
SVA Theatre (SVA)
Tribeca Film Center (TFC)
VENUES & TICKETING INFO SINGLE TICKETS Evening/Weekend screenings are $16 (after 6pm, Mon.-Fri. & Sat./ Sun., prior to 11pm). Matinee/Late Night screenings (prior to 6pm, Mon.-Fri. or after 11pm daily) are $8. Tribeca Talks are $25.
333 W. 23rd St., btw. 8th & 9th Aves.
375 Greenwich St., 2nd floor, btw. N. Moore & Franklin Sts.
BMCC Tribeca PAC (BMCC)
SAME DAY TICKETS
199 Chambers St., btw. Greenwich & West Sts.
Brookfield Place/World Financial Center Plaza; West St., btw. Vesesy & Liberty Sts.
Tickets are available at venue box offices during the festival, about one hour before the venue’s first screening/event of the day.
Tribeca Cinemas (TV)
54 Varick St., at Laight St.
Barnes & Noble Union SQ. 33 E. 17th St., btw. Broadway & Park Ave.
Apple Store, SoHo 103 Prince St., btw. Greene & Mercer Sts.
200 Hudson St., south of Canal St.
Th e B o mbay Sapph i r e H o u s e o f Imag i nat i o n 121 Varick St., entrance on Dominick St.
RUSH TICKETS Screenings and events that have no more advance tickets available will be listed as Rush Tickets. Lines will form approximately 45 minutes
prior to scheduled event times at the venue. Admission will begin approximately 15 minutes prior to the scheduled event times, based on availability (limit, one Rush Ticket per person). Tickets are priced as single tickets (as noted above), except at the BMCC Tribeca PAC Theater, where Rush Tickets for screenings will be $8 and Rush Tickets for Tribeca Talks will be $15. Admission is not guaranteed.
DISCOUNTS Discounts are available at Ticket Outlets for students (with valid ID), seniors (age 62+) and select Downtown Manhattan residents (with proof of residency). Service charges and fulfillment fees may apply.
For tickets, SCHEDULE & VENUE INFO, visit TRIBECAFILM.COM/FILMGUIDE or CALL 646-502-5296
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April 17 - April 30, 2013
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SATURDAY FAMILY FESTIVAL STREET FAIR Presented by American Express®
Greenwich St. (north of Chambers St.)
The Tribeca Family Festival is the biggest party of the year! Come downtown and spend the day in our neighborhood with live Broadway performances, arts and crafts, games and activities, local restaurants and merchants, storytelling, free film screenings and so much more. Families can also create their own movie pitch, step in front of a green screen and learn cooking secrets from an expert New York City chef. It’s all here, all fun and FREE to enjoy!
11:00AM THE SMURFS
There will be a film screening and special program for audiences of all ages at the Tribeca Performing Arts Center (199 Chambers St). Admission is FREE and ticketed and is available on a first-come, first-served basis.
Tribeca Performing Arts Center (199 Chambers St)
With an exciting sneak-preview program of the upcoming summer comedy, The Smurfs 2 and special guest appearance by Christina Ricci. Hosted by TIME OUT KIDS.
TRIBECA/ESPN SPORTS DAY N. Moore St.
We’re taking sports to the street at the FREE Tribeca/ESPN Sports Day! Fans of all ages can participate in sports, games and challenges and meet their favorite New York athletes and mascots. Families will also enjoy an exciting “On Location” Sports stage experience with athlete interviews and demos and can walk a Sports Film Festival red carpet.
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April 17 - April 30, 2013
From sunrise to sunset to a ‘Midnight’ rendezvous Third collaboration offers more ‘naturally eloquent conversation’ FILM BEFORE MIDNIGHT
Directed by Richard Linklater Runtime: 108 minutes 4/22, 6pm, at BMCC Tribecca PAC 4/24, 6:45pm, at Clearview Cinemas Chelsea
BY RANIA RICHARSON Set among the Cypress groves of the southern Peloponnese, the third installment of this indie romance continues the story of Jesse, a writer, and Celine, an activist, who are now the domesticated parents of twin girls. Like director Richard Linklater’s predecessors, “Before Sunrise” (1995) and “Before Sunset” (2004), “Before Midnight” was written with its two lead actors, Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy. This collaboration has created a naturally eloquent conversation that flows organically on
matters both philosophical and quotidian, and fills in the details of the couple that met and fell in love on a train trip almost 20 years ago. The film opens at the Kalamata Airport, as Jesse tearfully sends his adolescent son home to his mother in Chicago, after a summer in Greece. Jesse and Celine spend their last vacation day musing over the meaning of life and love and the future of a relationship that has been rocky ever since Jesse left his wife for Celine, in events that followed the middle film of the trilogy. (In “Before Sunset,” Jesse sees Celine again after many years, and they realize their initial meeting in “Before Sunrise” was more than a fluke — they are soul mates.) The pair is staying at the guesthouse of a British writer who admires Jesse’s work. Other guests, young and old, include Athina Rachel Tsangari (director of last year’s avantgarde film “Attenberg,” and a co-producer of this film). Around the lunch table, the house guests discuss the differences between men and women and debate friendship versus passion. Celine does a hilarious imitation of a Marilyn Monroe-like bimbo to prove that men fall for doting females. The couple leave for a walk through narrow winding paths amidst stone houses and roaming goats, enjoying light banter — but when they end up at their destination, a
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Third time’s charming: Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Celine (Julie Delpy) reunite, among the Cypress groves of the southern Peloponnese.
luxury hotel, their conversation devolves into bickering, accusations of infidelity and fear for the future. Jesse worries that he will not spend enough time with his son, and Celine is concerned that she is being turned into a submissive housewife. She thinks that he is happy to leave all household chores to her “and take a two hour contemplative walk in the olive trees with Socrates.” She has for-
gotten that Jesse was so committed that he moved to Paris to be with her. He asks that she stop trying to change him. What was supposed to be a romantic final evening in Greece becomes a nasty fight. Can a midnight rendezvous at an outdoor café turn things around? We've been rooting for this appealing, articulate couple for quite some time, and they do not disappoint.
April 17 - April 30, 2013
April 17 - April 30, 2013
Puppets, bubbles, Smurfs & sports: Family Fest has it all (and more!) Continued from page 17
in your life. Even just trying something out is a good experience.” For more information on Kids Access, visit tribecafilm.com/tka.
BIRDS, FELINES AND “BEETLEJUICE” AT THE DRIVE-IN
FAMILY FESTIVAL KEEPS IT FRESH
Every year, this free annual street fair attracts families from all over the city to its wide array of programs. This year, there are several exciting additions for young filmmakers and movie lovers. The fair takes place Saturday, April 27, 10am to 6pm, on Greenwich Street between Chambers and Hubert Streets, and at venues throughout Tribeca. “This year we are introducing special subject areas, like the Tribeca Back Lot and the Food Feast,” said Downing, as well as bringing back popular elements from previous years. The Tribeca Studios Backlot will bring elements of a real movie set to one Downtown
Image courtesy of the Tribeca Film Festival
The Family Festival is back again this year, with some fresh new activities.
street. Families will learn how to pitch an original movie, use a green screen, animate their stories and take workshops on stunts, make-up and editing. Demonstrations of high-tech filming and special effects will be given by Chicago’s Tribeca Flashpoint
Academy and the Tribeca Film Institute will be holding movie hacking sessions where you can flip the script and take the lead role in a familiar movie. Continued on page 23
ENCE MACAO TRA EXPERI DING D N A CO . E OM
The Tribeca Drive-In movie series at Brookfield Place (formerly World Financial Center Plaza) will be back this year with two beloved classics and one new film on offer at the Festival. The free screenings are open to the stars (and to the public), from April 18-20. Seating is available on a firstcome, first-served basis beginning at 6pm. The programs will also begin at 6pm, with screenings starting at dusk, approximately 8:15pm. The series will take flight on Thursday, April 18 with a screening of Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds,” about a San Francisco socialite whose sojourn to a small town in California in pursuit of a boy takes a dive when it becomes the setting for unexplained bird attacks. The classic thriller is celebrating its fiftieth anniversary this year. Tim Burton’s hilariously creepy “Beetlejuice” is the next film on the docket (on Friday, April 19). The ghostly couple Adam and Barbara have hired Beetlejuice
to perform a reverse exorcism to scare away the humans that have moved into their house. A ghoulish costume contest will take place before the film, so break out last year’s Halloween costumes — or cut eyeholes in Mom’s best sheets. A new film, “Lil Bub & Friendz,” will be inspiring “awwwws” on Saturday, April 20. Featuring “the Internet’s cutest cat” and her friends of viral video fame, Lil Bub is making her debut at TFF this year. The film is directed and produced by Andy Capper and Juliette Eisner and features a stellar soundtrack including Vernon Elliott and Mort Garson.
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April 17 - April 30, 2013
Continued from page 22
Also new this year, the Tribeca Food Feast will be a delectable section of the fair featuring city chefs who will provide entertainment, culinary secrets and, of course, tastings from food vendors from select local restaurants and food trucks from around NYC. Hands-on activities will be cake-icing, meatball-baking and taste-testing. Broadway will also be jazz-stepping its way Downtown this year with performances from the casts of “Annie,” “Wicked,” “Cinderella,” “Kinky Boots,” “Motown: The Musical” and “Hands On A Hardbody.” An exclusive sneak preview of “The Smurfs 2” (along with a free screening of “The Smurfs”) will be taking place at 11am at Borough of Manhattan Community College’s Tribeca Performing Arts Center, at 199 Chambers Street (between Greenwich and West Streets). There may also be a special appearance by cast member Christina Ricci. Hosted by Time Out Kids, admission is free on a firstcome, first-served basis. The line will form thirty minutes prior to showtime. A number of booths offer unique arts and crafts for kids of all ages. Kids can make a “VIP Pass” which will then be stamped at each area of the festival they visit, with prizes awarded for filling up a pass completely. Learn about recycling by creating creatures from recycled materials at the ScrapKins booth, along with chalk art and
face painting. Masters of the art of kiting will be at The Kite Place to teach kids how to make and fly their own kite designs. The Gazillion Bubble Garden, similarly, is a haven for bubbles (with wands of all shapes and sizes). Puppet shows and workshops will be offered by Puppetworks, Inc. and Noel MacNeal, whose book “10 Minute Puppets” teaches parents and kids how to make to make entertaining puppet partners anywhere, in ten minutes or less, using everyday materials. Other participants include CHESS NYC, the Young Storytellers Foundation, Victorian Gardens at Wollman Rink in Central Park and the New York Philharmonic’s Credit Suisse Very Young Composers.
jump roping. Activities will be provided by the Downtown Giants Youth Football and New York Women’s Baseball. Olympians and elite athletes will teach kids the basics of safe fencing at the Fencing Club. The Staten Island Yankees mascot Scooter the Holy Cow will be around and most likely invite you to try your luck on the Baby Bombers skeeball inflatable. The up-andcoming Tribeca Sailing NYC, soon to launch from Pier 25, will have sailing games, knottying and prizes. There also will be demonstrations of everything from cricket, newly reintroduced to TFF, and the award winning Myachi Original Hand Sack.
OUT OF THE CINEMA, IN THE BALL GAME
The TFF program “Downtown Youth Behind The Camera” is putting filmmaking tools in the hands of elementary and middle school students for its tenth consecutive year. These young Downtown filmmakers produce their very own short films, which will be shown at a special screening at noon on Sunday, April 21 at the SVA Theatre (333 West 23rd Street, between Eighth and Ninth Avenues). The Film Fellows with Tribeca Film Institute is also screening a series of short films created by Downtown student filmmakers (ages 16-18). The program, recommended for those ages 12 and up, plays Saturday, April 27 at 11am at the Tribeca Film Center (375 Greenwich Street, at Franklin Street).
Also on April 27, from 10am to 6pm, the Tribeca/ESPN Sports Day will return to Tribeca for its seventh year. The beloved Downtown event has brought in sports heroes from across the city and encouraged kids and parents alike to get up, get out and play ball. This year, it will take place on North Moore Street, between Greenwich and West Streets. ESPN will give fans the chance to take home memorabilia and get their picture taken behind the ESPN New York desk. The NFL’s PLAY 60 campaign, designed to encourage kids to lead an active lifestyle, will be running football agility drills and doing
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Look out for student reporters, like Fanta, at family events.
periodic giveaways. Life-size cutouts of well-known professional athletes will be walking (well, standing) on the Tribeca/ ESPN Sports Film Festival red carpet for fans to pose with. Highlights include contests, interactive games and giveaways by the New York Rangers and New York Mets. It’s also an invaluable opportunity for kids to try out new activities. There is something for everyone, from inflatable lacrosse or Ultimate Frisbee to skateboarding or Double Dutch
April 17 - April 30, 2013
‘Powerless’ of particular relevance, post-Sandy ‘Robin Hood of electrical wiring’ sheds light on the rich/poor divide FILM POWERLESS (KATIYABAAZ)
Documentary Directed by Fahad Mustafa & Deepti Kakkar Runtime: 80 minutes 4/21, 5:30pm, 4/22, 7:30pm & 4/27, 3:30pm, at Clearview Cinemas Chelsea
BY SAM SPOKONY Those extended power outages that followed Hurricane Sandy gave us a small taste of the struggle faced every day by millions of people in developing countries. With that shock still fresh in our minds, “Powerless” will give English speakers everywhere an extraordinarily intense, yet well-balanced look at how an insufficient supply of electricity continues to devastate the impoverished Indian city
of Kanpur — and it should force us in the West to acknowledge our own position of material privilege, while also confronting our preconceived notions about when it is or isn’t right to stop following the law. With around three million people living within its borders, Kanpur is about twice as populous as Manhattan — but well over 10 percent of its residents live without regular electricity. The film thus begins by following Loha Singh, a diminutive, crafty and mostly penniless character who’s known throughout the city as a kind of Robin Hood of electrical wiring. Whether it’s a household that needs to power a water pump for a family’s survival or a local factory that will be doomed if the machinery fails, Singh and others like him use katiyas (illegal, makeshift power lines that tap into the government supply grid) to divert the flow of electricity to those who either can’t afford to pay for it, or simply can’t access it. But, for all its benefits, we later learn that not everyone in town is proud of Singh or his line of work. To capture the other half of the issue, the directors shift their focus to Ritu Maheshwari, the new managing director of KESCO (Kanpur’s equivalent of ConEd), as she attempts to crack down harder than
Photo by Egon Johann Vencour
Power to the people: Loha Singh risks life and limb to supply the have-nots with electricity.
ever on “katiyabaaz” like Singh. In board meetings, press conferences and extensive interviews, Maheshwari tries to explain that her perceived lack of mercy for the hundreds of thousands of “powerless” residents of Kanpur is part of her wish to create better conditions for everyone. If KESCO cuts off the thieves, it can actu-
ally make money via bill-paying consumers — and if it makes money, it can build new power generators to more effectively serve the city’s population. But, to use a power pun, there’s just no stable connection between KESCO and the poor everyman of Kanpur. The two factions, who sit on opposite sides of socioeconomic privilege, can’t overcome the deep-seated resentment and the sheer lack of understanding that pervades this entire issue. The only sparks here are those that lead to explosions of anger — protests, insults and riots. Finally, we get glimpses of the politicians who say they’re going to make an impact on behalf of Kanpur’s struggling residents, as well as many others throughout India who live without electricity. But their words seem just as hollow as those we often hear in New York, when elected officials tell us they’re going to save us from the evils of the establishment. This is a beautifully executed documentary that captures the tension of a thought-provoking issue without creating one-dimensional heroes or villains. The story of power in Kanpur, told in its honest entirety, will provide a truly valuable learning experience to Western audiences.
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April 17 - April 30, 2013
Visually enticing vampire tale needs sharper bite Schmaltz dilutes a potentially bloody good time FILM BYZANTIUM
Directed by Neil Jordan Runtime: 118 minutes 4/25, 9:30pm, at BMCC Tribeca PAC 4/26, 4pm, at AMC Loews Village 7 4/27, 8:30pm, at SVA Theatre
Photo by Christopher Raphael, courtesy of IFC Films
Clara, holed up in a seaside hotel, has certain standards when it comes to acquiring food.
BY STEPHANIE BUHMANN The British-Irish fantasy thriller “Byzantium” tells the story of Eleanor (Saoirse Ronan) — who, with her mother Clara (Gemma Arterton), forms a tight-knit vampire duo. They are both two centuries old, yet look not a day older than 16 and 35 (Clara had Eleanor young while working as a prostitute). Both survive on human
blood, but each has their own almost endearing code of ethics for how to acquire food. Whereas Eleanor feeds only on the elderly, who express that they are ready to die anyway, Clara mainly kills the mean male abusers of this world (one scene shows her feasting on a street pimp). However, as we have learned in many a vampire movie before, eternal life is no pony farm. In fact, it is a tormenting existence for the
sensitive — and so we meet kind Eleanor, as she is getting eager to share the truth of her identity and her complete story with someone special. The latter appears in the form of Frank, in a little run-down coastal resort where the women have taken temporary refuge. Frank is a sensitive redhaired boy who, while developing a quick crush on Eleanor, is also battling terminal cancer. The secret he discovers through her is one the audi-
ence learns about in bits and pieces throughout the film — involving kidnapping, forced prostitution, an orphanage and prosecution (as well as a mysterious shrine on a deserted island which holds the secret of eternal life). Directed by Neil Jordan (of “Interview with the Vampire” and “The Crying Game” fame), “Byzantium” makes for a visually enticing adventure. However, the film falls short, unable to overcome the many injections of schmaltz in its storyline. The biggest problem is its indecisive tone. Moments of serious emotions become overshadowed, and at times are even made ridiculous, by aesthetic kitsch (Frank has an accident and a hand wound turns into a gushing fountain of what looks like strawberry syrup). Some of it is straight up camp (Clara, a passionate seductress, could easily have table-danced in “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” or “From Dusk Till Dawn”). Singularly, none of these directions would make for a weak movie — but scrambled together, one finds “Byzantium” to be neither here nor there. Soon enough we face Eleanor, a fair and often melodramatically wide-eyed loner, with exasperation rather than compassion. At the crux of the film, it is hard to still care who will or will not live for eternity.
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April 17 - April 30, 2013
Regardless of preference, they’ve got your type Films that defy categorization, categorized for your convenience! BY SCOTT STIFFLER Like a thumbprint or a snowflake or a beautifully crafted excuse to miss work on a warm spring day, each film in this year’s festival is a unique creation. That said, even the most unconventional effort can, for marketing and viewer choice purposes, be lumped into a handful of descriptive categories. There’s a name for that, and it’s not “laziness” or “convenience.” It’s…genre.
Nearly two decades after he cut his teeth on “Interview with the Vampire,” Neil Jordan’s “Byzantium” tells another story of two centuries-old, nomadic bloodsuckers — this time, in the form of “sisters” Eleanor and Clara, who take up residence in a small seaside town, at the titular hotel. Eleanor and Clara have about as much luck escaping their nature as a group of World War II-era Russian soldiers have of escaping a factory full of reanimated prototype supersoldiers, in “Frankenstein’s Army.” This “darkly comedic, wild steampunk, Nazi found-footagestyle Zombie mad scientist film” marks the genre-splicing, blood-spattering feature film debut of Richard Raaphorst (one of the Netherlands’ top directors of commercials). Found footage isn’t the only horror trope on the tasty brains of the Tribeca Film Festival programmers. Those who hunger for more Frankenstein-meets-military-weapon fare have another Midnight film choice, in U.K., writer/director Caradog James’ “The Machine.” Set during a second Cold War, Britain’s Ministry of Defense sees potential in the work of programmer Vincent McCarthy — whose human cyborg prototype avoids the draft by decimating his lab and generally going bonkers.
Things go downhill from there, when McCarthy continues his obsessive work (underground and off the books).
NEW YORK STORIES
Well aware that we’re living in the world’s biggest, best, open-air backlot, the festival has always had a soft spot for films set amongst the streets, bridges and iconic landmarks of the five boroughs. In “Almost Christmas,” two iconic Pauls play French Canadian ne’er-do-wells determined to make a quick fortune selling Christmas trees in NYC. Sally Hawkins co-stars as the wife of misanthropic ex-con Dennis (Paul Giamatti). She’s being romanced by the charming Rene (Paul Rudd). Phil Morrison (“Junebug”), equally adept at quirky charm and genuine emotion (often in the same scene), directs. She recently announced her intentions to leave our city — so it’s a good thing documentary filmmaker Chiemi Karasawa’s “Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me” captured the then87-year-old Broadway legend in all her Gotham glory. Testimonials from the likes of Tina Fey and Hal Prince, as well as brutally honest insights from the lady herself, promise to “reach beyond Stritch’s brassy exterior, revealing a multi-dimensional portrait of a complex woman.” If the film manages to deliver, its 80 minutes will be worth more than a month’s worth of James Lipton interviews. Based on a true story, “Stand Clear of the Closing Doors” is set in Far Rockaway, in the days leading up to Hurricane Sandy. Its parallel story follows two people making connections and finding community — as the mother of autistic teen Ricky combs the streets, while her son rides the subway. Four short films also make good use of the city. In “Ice,”
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Rene (Paul Rudd) and Dennis (Paul Giamatti) try to make a quick buck selling trees, in “Almost Christmas.”
unlucky-in-love enforcer Ronnie (between jobs for his Brooklyn crime boss) hides out in the backroom of a bar, sculpting ice and exploring the roots of his ambivalence. Five minutes is all it takes to tell the story of “Two Islands” — a pair of enormous waste dumps that put the city’s rejected surplus into perspective. In “Zzzzzz,” sleepwalkers Henry and Lucy take the audience along on a tour of nocturnal sights and sounds. Saved from the trash heap and taken to a repair shop in the Flatiron building, a seemingly obsolescent “Royal American” typewriter is used to write letters (answered by, among others, President Clinton).
April 17 - April 30, 2013
Tribeca docs long on good sports, big stars Athletes, entertainers, dancers and directors get the reality treatment BY TRAV S.D. As it has from its inception, the 2013 edition of New York’s hometown Downtown film festival will showcase an impressive slate of documentaries. This year, 61 films from over a dozen countries will grace Tribeca Film Festival screens, with an unsurprising preponderance of them originating from the U.S. In the past, the festival has been accused of not having a theme or a focus. This year’s documentary division does not suffer from that drawback, although the theme that has emerged can’t be said to be a particularly serious one. Given the festival’s close association with Robert DeNiro, it may not shock you to learn of a curatorial preoccupation with the subject of celebrity. Nearly half the films are about the famous, the near famous, the once-famous, the briefly famous or those aspiring to be famous. The most extreme example is perhaps Andy Capper and Juliette Eisner’s “Lil Bub & Friendz” — about Internet “cat-lebrity” and meme of the moment, Lil Bub. Mercifully, the heroes of the other films are human for the most part. Several are about famous actors. There’s “Richard Pryor: Omit the Logic” by Marina Zenovich, a profile of the late controversial comedian, who passed away in 2005. Not to be outdone, Whoopi Goldberg chimes
in with “I Got Something to Tell You” — a documentary about her hero, the pioneering African-American female comic Moms Mabley. “Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me” is a portrait of the Tony- and Emmy-winning actress, legendary for being a hot pistol. Directed by Chiemi Karasawa, it features interviews with Tina Fey, Nathan Lane, Hal Prince and others. “The Battle of amfAR” (by documentarians Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman, of “The Celluloid Closet”) tells the story of how Elizabeth Taylor came to found the first AIDS research foundation. Famous literary figures are at the center of several docs. Director Barbra Kopple (of the Oscar-winning 1976 coal miners’ strike documentary “Harlan County U.S.A.”) gives us “Running from Crazy” — an up close and personal view of the Hemingway family’s history of suicide and mental illness. “Gore Vidal: The United States of Amnesia,” directed by Nicholas Wrathall, paints a picture of the recently deceased novelist, essayist and screenwriter — with commentary by David Mamet, Christopher Hitchens, Mikhail Gorbachev and others. “Big Joy: The Adventures of James Broughton” (codirected by Stephen Silha, Eric Slade and Dawn Logsdon) tells the story of an influential beatnik poet and filmmaker, who was
Photo Courtesy of Visit Films
Brooklyn’s Jonathan “Jay Donn” George, from “Flex is Kings.”
a friend and colleague of Pauline Kael, Stan Brakhage and Alan Watts. There are also a couple of rockumentaries in the festival. Steven Kochoches’ “Who Shot Rock and Roll: The Film” gives us not only every famous rock and roll star, but the photographers who have captured them on film — including Linda McCartney, Edward
Colver, Edward Diltz, Jill Furmanovsky, Lynn Goldsmith, Bob Fruen, Norman Seeff, Mark Seliger and Guy Webster. “Mistaken for Strangers” tells the story of an up and coming rock group called The National as they embark on “their biggest tour to date.” Continued on page 28
Beyond the brick and mortar, TFI shows some initiative Year-round programs nurture next gen filmmakers BY RANIA RICHARDSON “Our main struggle is that we are always considered to be just a festival,” said Beth Janson, Executive Director of the Tribeca Film Institute (TFI). “The Institute is a 501(c)(3) and the Tribeca Film Festival, owned by Tribeca Enterprises, is not.” The confusion is understandable as Robert De Niro, Jane Rosenthal and Craig Hatkoff founded both entities. Tribeca Enterprises is a global media company that operates the Tribeca Film Festival, Tribeca Cinemas and Tribeca Film. TFI is a nonprofit that is fully active year-round. Designed to support filmmakers through grants and professional development, it also provides educational programs in media literacy for youth. Last year, across initiatives, TFI awarded more than $1.2 million in grant money. To help the next generation of audiences and mediamakers navigate the current state of the art, TFI’s educational arm takes several approaches. During the academic year, Tribeca Teaches pairs artists with teachers, who provide students with the skills to write and produce their own stories. Free and open to city students, the Tribeca Youth series has programming year-round — and during this year’s festival, it will give classroom groups the opportunity to attend
Photo courtesy of the Tribeca Film Festival
TFI’s Filmmaker & Industry meetings are one-on-one dialogues between filmmakers and industry attendees aimed at helping the filmmakers find funding, jobs and better relationships with film industry executives.
guided screenings of “Teenage” and “Inside Out: The People’s Art Project.” Additionally, to keep educators up to date, Moving Image Blueprint (in conjunction with the NYC
Department of Education and the Mayor’s Office of Media & Entertainment) hosts workshops on topics such as stop motion animation and writing film proposals.
This year, six films that were supported by TFI will screen at the Tribeca Film Festival. Having that support, however, does not grant automatic acceptance into the festival. TFI filmmakers must submit their work to festivals in the same manner other filmmakers do, and their films are free to premiere or screen anywhere (including Sundance or SXSW). Tribeca Film Festival programmers judge the films as they do every other submission — but ideally, for TFI, the films would premiere at Tribeca. “A Birder’s Guide to Everything,” Rob Meyer’s directorial debut, is the only narrative film from TFI in this year’s festival. The story follows a group of teenagers in search of a rare duck, and stars Ben Kingsley and James LeGros. The film was funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, which provides money for fiction films (at any stage of development) offering fresh perspective on scientific, mathematic or technological themes. Meyer received his grant in 2011 and benefited from a reading as part of the “Works in Progress” program. He said, “The actors brought such humor and warmth to the performance and, at 10am in a packed Continued on page 28
April 17 - April 30, 2013
This year’s documentaries long on star power Continued from page 27
The twist is that the film was made by Tom Bernger (the band’s roadie and the lead singer’s brother). The visual arts are also well-represented. “Michael H. Profession: Director” is a portrait of Austrian film director Michael Haneke (“Amour” and “Funny Games”) made by French filmmaker Yves Montmayeur. Then there’s “The Director” — which is not about a movie director, but the current creative director of the House of Gucci (Frida Giannini), as she strives to make her mark at the 82-year-old fashion and clothing firm. “The Director” is coproduced by James Franco and directed by Christina Voros. “Herblock: The Black and the White,” directed by Michael Stevens, tells the story of the Washington Post’s longtime political cartoonist Herbert Block. And there are two films about dance. Hilla Medalia’s “Dancing in Jaffa” chronicles the doings of renowned ballroom dance instructor Pierre Dulaine as he teaches both Israeli and Palestinian young people to find positive ways to express themselves. Closer to home, “Flex is Kings,” directed by Deidre Schoo and Michael Beach Nichols, focuses on three Brooklyn flex dancers — a “savvy promoter,” a “local legend” and an “innovator with the talent to take him far from home.” At least ten of the films in the festival are about athletes and sports figures. Bill
Photo by Nick Romanenko, ©2008 Rutgers/Nick Romanenko
“Coach” Vivian Stringer, celebrating her 800th win at Rutgers University.
Siegel’s “The Trials of Muhammad Ali” talks about the controversial boxer’s troubles with the U.S. government for refusing to serve in the Vietnam War. “The Motivation,” by Adam Bhala Lough, introduces us to “eight of the world’s greatest professional skateboarders.” “McConkey” profiles Shane McConkey, described by some as “the most influential skier ever,” and was directed by no less than five sports documentarians: Steve Winter, Murray Wais, Scott Gaffney, David Zieff and Rob Bruce. “The Diplomat,” directed by Jennifer Arnold and Senain Kheshgi, examines the life
of Katerina Witt — described as “one of East Germany’s most famous athletes, winner of six European titles, four world championships and back-to-back Olympic gold.” “No Limits,” directed by Allison Ellwood, tells the story of Audrey Mestre — who overcame scoliosis to become a world-class free diver. “Bending Steel” is a sensitive study by director Dace Carroll about the efforts of Brooklynite Chris Schoeck to become a professional strong man. “Rider and the Storm,” a short executive produced by actress Olivia Wilde, concerns a surfer
who lost his home to Hurricane Sandy. A total of eight percent of the documentaries in the film festival are about basketball. “Wilt Chamberlain: Borscht Belt Bellhop” is a short by Ian Rosenberg about Wilt the Stilt’s time as a teenager working and playing at Kutsher’s Country Club in the Catskills. “Coach,” directed by Bess Kargman, introduces us to C. Vivian Stringer — coach of the Rutgers University Scarlet Knights women’s basketball team at the time of the Don Imus “nappy headed hoes” scandal. “Pat XO” is a portrait of Pat Summitt (the NCAA’s winningest basketball coach), who was forced to retired due to Alzheimer ’s disease. The film was directed by Lisa Lax and Nancy Stern Winters. “Lenny Cooke,” directed by Bennie and Joshua Safdie, is about a promising high school athlete and his failure to get drafted by the NBA. Even some of the films that are not about sports are about...sports: “Cutie and the Boxer” (directed by Zachary Heinzerling) is about the painter Ushio Shinohara, who creates art by dipping boxing gloves in pigment and punching a canvas. And though, as mentioned, half the documentary films are not about people with high public profiles or those seeking to achieve them, celebrity still has a way of creeping in. “Out of Print,” about the dying industry of book publishing, is narrated by Meryl Streep and has interviews with Scott Turow, Ray Bradbury and Jeff Bezos.
TFI works behind the scenes, before it screens Continued from page 27
theater in Manhattan, it got real laughs. Trying to get your film financed for years can be a lonely process, and ultimately it was the encouragement of a room full of strangers that energized me for that sprint to the finish line.” According to Janson, “There’s lots of support for documentaries on social issues. Sundance, Cinereach and ITVS are all funding the same films. It’s incredible, and these films can be very powerful. But there is a whole genre being left out in the cold. In this day and age, a film like ‘Salesman’ [a seminal work by the Maysles brothers on door-to-door Bible salesmen] would not get funding. So we created the TFI Documentary Fund to support character driven work that does not necessarily deal with social causes. These films can be artistic, comedic or personal.” Three documentaries nurtured by the TFI Documentary Fund will screen at the Festival. “Cutie and the Boxer,” by Zachary Heinzerling, is the portrait of two artists who met in New York in 1969 and have weathered many ups and downs during 40 years of marriage. “Teenage,” by Matt Wolf, follows the history of teenagers, from the 1950s (when the term gained widespread recognition), and includes Jena Malone and Ben Whishaw as narrators. “The Genius of Marian,” by Banker White and Anna Fitch, concerns the life of White’s mother, Pam, whose early onset Alzheimer’s threatens to erase the memory of her own mother, Marian, a celebrated painter who died from the disease. The Gucci Tribeca Documentary Fund provided finishing
funds for two documentaries in the Festival that “highlight and humanize issues of social importance from around the world.” Alex Meillier’s “Alias Ruby Blade: A Story of Love and Revolution” follows an Australian activist who became a spy for the Timorese resistance, then fell in love with an imprisoned guerilla leader — and “Big Men,” by Rachel Boynton, investigates the damage caused by American corporations searching for oil in Africa. There are no films in this year’s festival from Tribeca All Access (which provides grants to filmmakers from underrepresented communities) or from the TFI Latin America Media Arts Fund program (created to that support cutting edge stories from south of our border). Films from these programs, however, are screened at other venues. The pool of filmmakers who are selected for TFI grants “become part of a family, and we help them in any way we can,” said Janson. “Help can be obtaining a good deal on a post-production facility, providing notes on rough cuts, finding a screening room or press team, or helping with the premiere, no matter where it is.” Every year, the group of about 30 filmmakers convenes at the festival for two days of intense one-on-one meetings with film industry executives, foundations and investors. They receive a pass for the festival and invitations to networking events with their peers. About 65 percent of the filmmakers are New Yorkbased, but many applicants come from around the world. Participatory storytelling is the future of filmmaking — and TFI’s Digital Initiatives, helmed by Ingrid Kopp, supports stories with an interactive component, as well as narratives that extend across multimedia platforms. Social issue projects that aim to create change in the
Photo by Rob Meyer
The TFI-nurtured “A Birder’s Guide to Everything” (Rob Meyer’s directorial debut) screens on April 21, 22, 24 & 26.
world (which may include video games, mobile apps, social networks or interactive websites) are realized through the support of TFI New Media Fund and TFI Sandbox. Technology specialists and content creators explore ideas in intensive workshops across the country in Tribeca Hacks. During the festival, experts on film, journalism, gaming and technology will demonstrate and debate the latest innovations in this field at TFI Interactive, an all-day forum with panel discussions that include “Are Adventure Games the New Television?” and “Storyscapes: Creating Immersive Story Experiences.”
April 17 - April 30, 2013
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April 17 - April 30, 2013
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Borough President Scott Stringer’s office is looking for new Community Education Council members to fill the roster for the next two years. A notice from the BP’s office stated that they are looking for “qualified, communityoriented individuals with an interest and background in education” to serve on Manhattan’s C.E.C.s. These councils are advisory bodies on education policy. They review schools programs, approve zoning lines and advise the Chancellor. Each C.E.C. consists of nine elected parent volunteers whose children are in the K-8th grade range, two members appointed by the Borough President and one non-voting high school senior who lives and goes to school in the district and represents his or her school. The council is expected to meet at least
every month with the superintendent and public to discuss the issues facing schools in their district. Stringer’s office is accepting applications for one the appointed positions for Manhattan’s District 2, which includes almost all of Lower Manhattan, stretching up to 58th St. on the West Side and to about 96th St. on the East Side except the Lower East Side and part of Chinatown, which are in District 1. The term lasts for two years with a limit of two terms. At the end of the term, if a person wants to re-apply, they are interviewed by Stringer’s office and a decision is made based on qualifications and previous work. For more information, or to apply, contact Sally Frank at the Borough President’s office at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit manhattanbp.org.
Squadron community forum State Senator Daniel Squadron will be hosting his Fifth Annual Community Convention Sun., April 28. An invitation from Squadron’s office encourages the community to “make your voice heard on the community and legislative priorities that will shape the future of our district, our city, and our state.” The convention will feature speakers, including Squadron and local officials, and as well as break out discussion groups pertaining to specific concerns.
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Fundraiser for the Seaport The P.T.A. of the Spruce Street School will be rocking out and raising spirits April 18 to benefit South Street Seaport businesses still hurting from Superstorm Sandy. The Spirit Project is an outdoor concert fundraiser aiming to bring the community together around the age-old celebration of good food, good music and good people. Funds will be raised by the sale of donated beer and wine and food. New York-based rock musician Jeff Tuohy will be presenting his signature blend of pop hooks and melodic interludes that are accessible to all ages. Tuohy, a Connecticut native and internationally acclaimed singer/songwriter, is described as a fusion of John Mayer and Dave Matthews with a dynamic set that blends musical genres with ease.
Also on the bill, the five-piece indie roots band The Hollows blend their a wide array of influences from folk, rockabilly and country blues into a signature sound on an even wider array of instruments. And a South Street Seaport regular, The Crusty Gentlemen, which plays at Cowgirl Sea-Horse, will provide local flavor. Describing themselves as “old enough to know better, but you’d never know it,” they promise to provide a bluegrass experience and “Hillbilly Chaos.” Sponsors include Howard Hughes Corporation, Radeberger, Pasanella & Son, Canal Sound & Light and Nova Graphics. The event will take place Thurs., April 18, from 5-9 p.m., on Front St. between Beekman & Fulton Sts., rain or shine.
April 17 - April 30, 2013
Murry Bergtraum baseball diamond about to reopen Continued from page 1
— a long day — but just one day.” However, they also have to rebuild the pitcher’s mound which may take a bit longer. But they were confident the field would be in playing condition by the end of the week. Tri State, based in Allendale, New Jersey, was one of three companies contacted by Murry Bergtraum’s custodial engineer, Robert O’Connor. He said it would hopefully take about a week to reopen the field. It was a series of “uphill battles” to get repairs made to the school after Hurricane Sandy, said O’Connor. The most widely reported problem was a lack of phone service that was not fixed until February of this year. The athletic fields were also out of commission when flooding got into the substructure of the artificial turf. Beneath the turf are ruts of an old irrigation system, about 6-8 inches wide, 4-6 inches deep and about 100 feet long, running just past third and second base. Behind first base, there are a number of 15 by 15 inch divots, consistent with the size of junction boxes, said O’Connor. “Until they’re fixed, we can’t let anyone use them. I don’t want a kid to get hurt,” he added. Local leagues have had to look elsewhere for space, complicating an already crowded recreation environment in Lower Manhattan. In 2009, fights over the ball field ensued when groups like Millennium High School and Downtown Little League could not get space at the diamond under Manhattan Bridge. In their contract, Murry Bergtraum was to get first priority to use the field, then local schools such as Manhattan Academy of Technology, which uses the field in the fall, said John DeMatteo, M.A.T.’s athletic director. Youth nonprofit leagues such as the three Little Leagues that sometimes rent space are next, followed by adult organizations. Since the hurricane, Bergtraum has had to bus its students to other schools’ fields. Mark Costello of Downtown Little FINANCIAL
League, which has used the fields in past years, said last month that he had not heard an update since January when he was told it could take up to a year to repair. The field, which has one of only a few full-sized baseball diamonds in Manhattan, is used by dozens of community organizations and local schools. “Everyone 13 [years old] and up plays on a full size field, so to lose one of them is a big deal,” said Costello. After a frustrating few months of inactivity, O’Connor started his own search for a solution. With the new principal Lottie Almonte’s full support, he said he solicited proposals from between 12 and 15 vendors. Three responded. The lowest bid was from Tri State for about $10,000 and had the added bonus of being recommended by Nike which had worked with Tri State in other schools. Last November, Nike donated close to $2 million for Hurricane Sandy relief. A “call-to-action initiative” in partnership with professional athletes will aim to get sports programs in areas affected by Sandy up and running again across New York City and New Jersey. Nike is providing the synthetic material for the infill and funding the project at Murry Bergtraum. O’Connor said that he currently has a verbal agreement with Nike to sponsor basic repairs, which includes cutting the turf, filling in the divots and rolling back over it with heavy machinery before sealing it in place. Nike recommended a new type of synthetic material designed by its engineers. In 2002, the school received a $1 million grant from Verizon and a $3 million city match through Take the Field, a nonprofit which reportedly received three taxpayer dollars for every dollar of private donations. However, O’Connor was under the impression that although Take the Field had originally been a part of the project, it had since gone out of business. The organization’s phone number has been disconnected.
Downtown Express photo by Kaitlyn Meade
Work to reopen the Bergtraum ball field under the Manhattan Bridge began on Tuesday.
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