Page 1

The Paper of Record for East and West Villages, Lower East Side, Soho, Noho, Little Italy and Chinatown

October 30, 2014 • FREE Volume 4 • Number 25

Famed actress’s cousin is charged in Stuy Town elevator attempted rape BY LINCOLN ANDERSON

SEX ATTACKS, continued on p. 20

New storm-surge berm for L.E.S. could begin taking shape by 2017 BY DUSICA SUE MALESEVIC

A

fter Oct. 29, 2012, the city was faced with a new reality and an urgency to protect its coastline. Two years later, the “Big U” design is part of the plan to safeguard hard-hit areas such as the East Village and Lower East Side — but

PHOTO BY ROBERTO J. MERCADO

A

s first reported by The Villager, a first cousin of actress Rosario Dawson was arrested on Mon., Oct. 20, for an attempted rape in Stuyvesant Town. More information emerged at the man’s arraignment the

next day, as he was additionally charged in two previous East Village sexual-abuse incidents — including one right on City Councilmember Rosie Mendez’s block earlier this summer. Police collared Juan Scott, 26, at his mother’s home in Sound Beach, Long Island.

it is unclear where funding will be found for other sections of Lower Manhattan. In June 2013, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development launched the Rebuild by Design contest, a “multi-stage design competition to develop innovat ive, implementable BARRIER, continued on p. 7

Politicians, along with friends and family of former Councilmember Miriam Friedlander dedicated a street co-naming sign for her at E. Sixth St. and Second Ave. Sun., Oct. 19. Friedlander, who served 18 years in the Council, died five years ago at age 95. From left, state Senator Brad Hoylman; Frieda Bradlow; former state Senator Tom Duane; Councilmember Rosie Mendez; Friedlander’s son, Paul, and grandson, David; Assemblymember Deborah Glick and former Councilmember Margarita Lopez.

A.G. report shows Airbnb is busiest in L.E.S., Village BY ZACH WILLIAMS

T

he Village and surrounding neighborhoods host the largest concentration of Airbnb rentals citywide, according to a new report by state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. Nearly three-quarters of rental units listed through the rapidly growing online “home-sharing” service violate state or local laws, according to the Oct. 16 report from the attorney general.

The problem is particularly acute in the areas roughly corresponding to Community Boards 2, 3 and 4, where Airbnb did 40 percent — or $187 million worth — of its New York City business between January 2010 and June 2014, the report states. In comparison, Airbnb operators in Queens, Staten Island and Bronx generated just $12 million during that same period. The attorney general also announced a joint enforcement initiative with the

city to investigate and shut down illegal hotels. “We must ensure that, as online marketplaces revolutionize the way we live, laws designed to promote safety and quality of life are not forsaken under the pretext of innovation,” Schneiderman said in the statement. The report represents the first time that an analysis of Airbnb user data has been made publicly available. Opponents of the San FranAIRBNB, continued on p. 4

Tompkins waggers strut ’n’ swagger...........page 5 Drive for better buses on Grand St...............page 14 Plan to get 13th St. squat ‘unstopped’...........page 21 DR2 temporary home is a hit!......page 20 | May 14, 2014

www.EastVillagerNews.com

1


it’s gutted. “I’m going to remove the floors and the ceiling.” The whole idea, he said, is for people to be able to stand on the earth, the soil, and look upward and see the stars — through a skylight in what would hopefully be a thatched roof, which Bourgeois would like to install since he says he has “evidence” that the building once did sport a thatched roof. We wondered if there would be a hole in the roof to let out smoke in case the Lenape want to have blazing campfires inside, but he said this isn’t allowed under the building code. O.K., so let’s say all the tribes converge — or even maybe it’s a Lenape-only event — there naturally will be a lot of dancing, drumming and singing — complete with occasional high-pitched, piercing shouts — right? “It’s going to be very respectful of my neighbors,” he explained, though adding, “There is a question of drumming. I personally don’t like drumming. I’m thinking now that drumming will be prohibited — it’s annoying. They may protest that they have to have drumming, but it won’t be allowed. The drumming — if there’s any — will be during daylight hours. There will be a permit issue — drumming and singing for a few hours at a time, and then it’s over.” The property is 30 feet by 30 feet and stretches through to West St., which made us think it would be great to have a canoe launch for the Lenape right at Christopher St. “Hudson River Park will not allow that,” Bourgeois retorted. “They’re a bunch of thieves, I hate them.” Oh well, anyway...even though Manhattan was sold to the Dutch for $24, Bourgeois will be giving back his Weehawken building to the Lenape completely free. “The way I see it, I’m giving them a piece of the rock, Manhattan — modern Manhattan.” Will a peace pipe be shared ritually at the occasion? “We can choreograph something,” he assured.

RS of SERVING 50 Y E A THE BEST B IG G E S T &

ER B UI NRT G OWN

CO C OR RN NE ER R

*V O T E D **

B

* **

V I L LE S T A B A RGE

B BIIS STTR RO O ******

Corne r of Jane & West 4th St. (at 8th Ave.) 212-2 42-95 02

cornerbistrony.com

ES & MORE SINCE 1982 I P ! CO

SAVE TIME: SEND YOUR FILES TO: santo@sourceunltd.com & PICK UP @ STORE!

331 East 9th Street, New York, NY 10003 Phone: 212-473-7833 / Fax: 212-673-5248 www.sourceunltd.com

“It’s worth the trip down the street!”

I N THE

HEART OF

G REENW I CH V I LLA GE

— Recommended by Gourmet Magazine, Zagat, Crain’s NY, Playbill & The Villager —

“Gold Medal Chef of the Year”. — Chefs de Cuisine Association Northern italian Cuisine • Celebrating Over 36 Years

69 MacDougal St. (Bet. Bleeker & Houston St.) 212-673-0390 • 212-674-0320 Open Mon. - Sat. 12-11pm • www.villamosconi.com

2

October 30, 2014

LENAPE LIVIN’ LARGE? As you read here first last week in another Scoopy exclusive, West Village activist Jean-Louis Bourgeois has started what he is calling the “long process” of donating his building at 6 Weehawken St. and the property it sits on to the Lenape tribe, the real “native Manattanites.” We caught up by phone with Bourgeois recently in New Mexico, where he’s staying at a place of his out there, and he filled us in a bit more about the intriguing plan. He recently broached the idea in a letter to a leading Lenape rep, Maria Lawrence, an associate professor of elementary education at Rhode Island College. “It’s a piece of land that they will own in Manhattan,” Bourgeois, the scion of famed sculptor Louise Bourgeois, told us. As for what the Lenape — also known as the Delaware Indians — will do with the place, he said, “I think they will use it for ceremonial purposes, but you have to ask them...and to meet with other tribes — but you’d have to ask them.” Before he hands over the two-and-a-half-story building, Bourgeois will first rip out the cement floor, “so it will be Manhattan soil” underfoot, as he put it. “I’m going to gut the building. It’s a landmark, but I can do that. And I’m going to paint trees on the wall,” he said, referring to the insides of the place once

PHOTO BY DAVID LESLIE

COPIES • COLOR PRINTS • FAX • SCANNING STICKERS • RUBBER STAMPS • BUSINESS CARDS LAMINATING • BINDING • VIDEO & CASSETTE CONVERSIONS UNIQUE GREETING CARDS • OFFICE SUPPLIES

If Lapowinsa, the Lenape chief (seen here in a 1735 portrait by Gustavus Hesselius), were alive today, he could look forward to hanging out on Weehawken St. at the future Lenape West Village H.Q.

Councilmember Rosie Mendez said she grew to love E.V.C.C. founder Michael Rosen.

COMING UP ROSEN: Members of the East Village Community Coalition recently marked the organization’s 10th anniversary with a rooftop party at Housing Works, on E. Ninth St. near Avenue D. The evening’s honoree and Pigeon Award recipient was E.V.C.C. founder Michael Rosen, who — speaking of birds — flew in from Vietnam just for the occasion. “A decade ago, a neighbor sent a Villager article about old P.S. 64 going to be demolished for a towering dorm,” Rosen told the crowd about how this paper sparked his activist career. “Gregg Singer changed my life. He gave me a place.” Battling Singer and his dorm schemes, Rosen said, he learned who his neighbors were. “There SCOOPY’S, continued on p. 23 EastVillagerNews.com


Make wealthy pied-a-terre owners pay, says Hoylman BY ZACH WILLIAMS

S

tate Senator Brad Hoylman is looking to garner support for a pied-à-terre tax on wealthy nonresident homeowners. Referred to the state senate’s Rules Committee on Sept. 29, the bill would target about 1,500 residences in the city with individual values exceeding $5 million. Upcoming elections slow down legislative activity until the new year. But Hoylman told The Villager that now is the time to receive input from constituents, organized labor and the business community about the proposed tax, which could raise $650 million annually to fund affordable housing in the city, among other programs. “That would be an elegant symmetry for the most wealthy nonresidents to help subsidize some of our most vulnerable New Yorkers,” Hoylman said. So far, according to Hoylman, constituents have indicated support, but he has yet to hear responses from Senate Republicans. If passed by the state Legislature and signed by Governor Cuomo, the tax would start at half a percent of home values greater than $5 million. The tax would gradually increase,

stable and potentially lucrative investment. U.S. Census data indicates that about 30 percent of residences in part of the Upper East Side are vacant for 10 months out of the year. A December 2013 study by the city’s Independent Budget Office noted that non-primary residents could own as much as half of newer luxury buildings in the near future. “Absentee owners with expensive second homes don’t pay local income tax but help bid up the price of New York City residential real estate,” Assemblymember Richard Gottfried said. “Second homes valued at $5 million or more are a luxury, and should be subject to a luxury surtax.” Brad Hoylman. Gottfried is the sponsor of a complementary bill referred on Oct. 15 to topping off at $370,000, plus 4 percent the Assembly’s Committee on Real of home value in excess of $25 million. Property Taxation. Assembly Speaker However, Cuomo notably strongly op- Sheldon Silver did not respond to a reposed increasing taxes on the wealthy quest for comment on the legislation earlier this year during Mayor de and its chances for eventual approval. Blasio’s effort to establish universal Among the fiercest opponents of pre-kindergarten. the bill is the Real Estate Board of About 450 property owners in that New York, which “vigorously” oppostop bracket would pay about four- es it, according to its president, Steven fifths of the proposed tax, according Spinola. to the Fiscal Policy Institute, which Real estate sales and development issued a similar proposal last month. are already taking a hit amid the talk Manhattan real estate has become of the proposed tax increase, accorda sizzling hot commodity in recentT:8.75” ing to Spinola. In a column in Real years, seen by many foreigners as a Estate Weekly on Oct. 2, Spinola said

sales and projects alike are on hold as the real estate community considers the legislation’s potential impact. “A tax targeted at nonresidents and talked about as a tax on foreigners will send a chilling message across the country and around the world that investing in residential real estate in New York City is available only if you are prepared to pay a significant premium for this opportunity,” he said. But billions of dollars are needed to repair public housing in the city, as well as expand rent-regulated housing, Hoylman stressed. Home owners of all income strata require Police and Fire Department protection, as well as upkeep of city infrastructure, he said. The $95 million price tag of the penthouse atop 432 Park Ave. — now the tallest residential building in the Western Hemisphere — demonstrates that the richest of the rich can afford an additional tax, Hoylman added. There is room for negotiation, according to the state senator. In any case, policymakers need to plug budgetary “holes” in order to repair and expand affordable housing in the city, he said. “You have to figure out ways to fill them,” Hoylman said. “If people have other ideas for raising revenue, they should come forward.”

Amazing things are happening at 170 William Street. NewYork-Presbyterian is now in lower Manhattan. Where over a million people live, work and play. With access to advanced specialties, a patient-focused staff and the only 24-hour ER south of 14th Street. Learn more at nyp.org/lowermanhattan

I N PROU D COLLABORATION WITH

EastVillagerNews.com

October 30, 2014

3


Named best weekly newspaper in New York State in 2001, 2004 and 2005 by New York Press Association PUBLISHER JENNIFER GOODSTEIN

EDITOR IN CHIEF LINCOLN ANDERSON

ARTS EDITOR

SCOTT STIFFLER

CONTRIBUTORS IRA BLUTREICH TEQUILA MINSKY JEFFERSON SIEGEL JERRY TALLMER

ART / PRODUCTION DIRECTOR TROY MASTERS

SENIOR DESIGNER MICHAEL SHIREY

GRAPHIC DESIGNERS CHRIS ORTIZ ANDREW GOOS

EXECUTIVE VP OF ADVERTISING AMANDA TARLEY

SENIOR VP OF ADVERTISING / MARKETING FRANCESCO REGINI

ACCOUNT EXECUTIVES JACK AGLIATA ALLISON GREAKER JENNIFER HOLLAND JULIO TUMBACO

MARVIN ROCK

PUBLISHER EMERITUS JOHN W. SUTTER

Member of the National Newspaper Association

The Villager (USPS 578930) ISSN 00426202 is published every week by NYC Community Media LLC, One Metrotech North, 10th floor Brooklyn, NY 11201 (212) 229-1890. Periodicals Postage paid at New York, N.Y. Annual subscription by mail in Manhattan and Brooklyn $29 ($35 elsewhere). Single copy price at office and newsstands is $1. The entire contents of newspaper, including advertising, are copyrighted and no part may be reproduced without the express permission of the publisher - © 2011 NYC Community Media LLC. PUBLISHER’S LIABILITY FOR ERROR

The Publisher shall not be liable for slight changes or typographical errors that do not lessen the value of an advertisement. The publisher’s liability for others errors or omissions in connection with an advertisement is strictly limited to publication of the advertisement in any subsequent issue. Published by NYC Community Media, LLC One Metrotech North 10th floor Brooklyn, NY 11201 Phone: (718) 260-2500 • Fax: (212) 229-2790 On-line: www.thevillager.com E-mail: news@thevillager.com © 2012 NYC Community Media, LLC

4

A.G.: Airbnb busiest in L.E.S., Chelsea, Village AIRBNB, continued from p. 1

CIRCULATION SALES MNGR.

Member of the New York Press Association

A map from the attorney general’s report on Airbnb, showing the distribution of the aggressive home-sharing company’s business in New York City.

October 30, 2014

cisco-based start-up have accused the company of enabling illegal hotels, while its supporters say Airbnb helps regular New Yorkers make ends meet in an increasingly expensive city. “The report is a treasure trove of information about the rampant nature of illegal hotel operators,” state Senator Brad Hoylman said in an interview. “I’m shocked at how widespread [the problem] is.” But Nick Papas, an Airbnb spokesperson, said in a statement that the report failed to exclude about 2,000 questionable listings that were subsequently removed from the company’s Web site. Local housing regulations further complicate the issue, Papas added. “Every single home, apartment, coop and living space in New York is subject to a myriad of rules,” he said. “So it’s impossible to make this kind of blanket statement about listings. That kind of uncertainty and lack of clarity is exactly why we’re advocating for clear, fair rules for home-sharing.” The state Multiple Dwelling Law prohibits rentals of less than 30 days within dedicated residential buildings. City taxes are also due in many circumstances, though few Airbnb hosts pay them, according to the report. The city

missed out on about $33 million in tax revenue during the studied period of time. In all, 72 percent of Airbnb listings in New York City are illegal, claims the report, which analyzed 493,322 transactions made through the company’s online site. Just 6 percent of operators accounted for 36 percent of the total revenue. About 4,600 units were rented in 2013 for at least three months out of the year, while 2,000 units were rented for at least 182 days. A majority of such units were in popular neighborhoods, such as the East Village and Lower East Side, Chelsea, Hell’s Kitchen, the West Village and Williamsburg. A dozen buildings in those neighborhoods operated as “de facto hotels,” meaning that 60 percent or more of their units were occupied for at least half the year as short-term private rentals, according to the A.G.’s report. The report, though, could not determine the extent to which such activities affected housing units subject to rent regulation because Airbnb rendered the data anonymous before turning it over to the attorney general. Schneiderman began investigating Airbnb in late 2013. He reached an agreement with Airbnb this May after he issued a subpoena for the company’s user data. On May 20, Airbnb turned

over the information after withholding user names and apartment numbers. As the investigation continued, Airbnb began an ad campaign, prominently displayed in New York City subway stations and subway cars, featuring cheery New Yorkers benefitting from the Web site. Local politicians and neighborhood groups countered by forming the coalition Share Better last month. Share Better’s advertisements portray a company responsible for many an unhappy traveling experience. Politicians were quick to praise Schneiderman, as well as urge him and Mayor de Blasio to crack down even harder on Airbnb. “Attorney General Schneiderman should be thanked for revealing the truth about Airbnb,” Borough President Gale Brewer said on Oct. 16. “Allowing thousands of instances of illegal activity until they get caught, and then arguing that the laws should be changed, reveals Airbnb’s arrogance. And no amount of expensive P.R. doublespeak can hide it.” The day after the report came out, the de Blasio administration entered the fray by filing suit, alleging building and fire code violations against the owners of two buildings, one on W. 31st St. and the other at E. 13th St. and Fifth Ave., where there are Airbnb rentals, the Daily News reported. EastVillagerNews.com


Waggers show their swagger in Tompkins Square Park parade Saturday’s 24th Annual Tompkins Square Park Halloween Dog Parade was another hair-raising experience in costumed canine fun.

SUCCESS ACADEMY CHARTER SCHOOLS – NYC

plans to open a new public charter school in Manhattan.

When: August 2015 Where: Community School District 1 Grades: K and 1st grade for the opening school year and serving K-12th grade at full scale (pre-K, middle school, and high school grades subject to government approval) Success Academy has a proven record of excellence, with our scholars consistently scoring in the top 7% of public schools in New York State for reading, science, and math.*

To learn more about Success Academy’s proposed new schools, please visit: SuccessAcademies.org/NewSchools We encourage your input: NewSchools@SuccessAcademies.org *For source information: SuccessAcademies.org/about

EastVillagerNews.com

Client: Success Academy Charter Schools

October 30, 2014

5


POLICE BLOTTER Little West foreplay Police said two men engaged in a little obscene foreplay in front of 48 Little W. 12th St. on the morning of Sat., Oct. 25. About 3:15 a.m., Damien Smith, 25, had his underwear and trousers pulled down while Neil Blanket, 38, stroked and fondled Smith’s erect penis for all the world to see. They were nailed by police for public lewdness, a misdemeanor.

Water scuffle Police were trying to arrest a black man over an allegedly stolen bottle of water last Friday when he reportedly resisted, injuring an officer, they said. Police said they observed the man in front of 175 Thompson St. with the bottle at about 1:35 a.m. on Oct. 24. When they tried to arrest him, he swung his arms, twisted his body and shoved a police lieutenant, who suffered an injury to his right hand, according to police. Officers managed to subdue Khalil McKenely, 22, and charged him with assault.

Tavern glass clash A customer, 24, told police that he was assaulted by an employee at Arthur’s Tavern, at 57 Grove St. He said a bartender there threw a glass at him following a verbal dispute that occurred at about 1 a.m. on Fri., Oct. 24. The man suffered a laceration to the left side of his head, requiring stitches. Kirka Washington, 37, was charged with assault.

Repairman ruse Police caught up on Mon., Oct. 27 with a man, 57, wanted for three confidence crimes earlier this year. The man’s routine consisted of going to a residence, claiming to be a repairman and then telling his victims that they needed to pay him first before he would make repairs, police say. According to police, on Feb. 25 at about 4 p.m. the suspect showed up at at MessLook Hair and Spa, at 429 Broome St., and presented himself as an electrical repairman. He

gave the business a repair estimate of $2,313, which he said Con Ed would reimburse. The business paid a Nino Montano with a check before he disappeared. About two weeks later, he struck again, this time at Blind Tiger Ale House, at 281 Bleecker St. Arriving there at about 1 p.m. on March 10, he said that the manager had requested that he come fix an ice machine. He then pretended to repair it and received $310 as payment. However, the manager never requested such a service call and the machine was in perfect working condition. Once again, Nino Montano had swindled an unsuspecting local business. About four months later, Montano went for the trifecta at Cho Cho San restaurant, at 15 W. Eighth St. He offered his services there at about 11 p.m. on July 17 to fix a gas leak for $3,750. Though the business paid him in full, he never returned to make the repair. A police spokesperson said an ongoing investigation resulted in the suspect’s arrest on two charges of grand larceny, plus a misdemeanor charge of fraudulent accosting. His con spree also included at least two

similar incidents in Midtown. The spokesperson said the defendant is a recidivist who has been arrested in the past under another name for unrelated charges. Whether his real name is Nino Montano could not yet be determined, police said.

‘Blood, sweat and bottle’ A dispute between two co-stars of the TV show “Blood, Sweat and Heels” aboard the swank Horn Blower Infinity party boat at Pier 40 in Hudson River Park left one of them with head and foot injuries. Police said Geneva Thomas, 31, a pop culture journalist, allegedly hit Melyssa Ford, 37, a model, with a vodka bottle around 9:15 p.m. on Tues., Oct. 21. The victim suffered a laceration and swelling to her head, as well as a cut on her right foot due to broken glass. Thomas faces a felony assault charge over the incident, which occurred near the northwest corner of the pier, at Houston and West Sts.

Zach Williams

Final Phase

Two-family Homes

90% SOLD OUT!

OCEANFRONT TWO-FAMILY HOMES • Beachfront Living • Rental Income • Rooftop Terraces • 20-year tax abatement • Designer Upgrades** • Granite & Stainless Kitchens** • Free Membership to YMCA***

$599,000 to $1.2M*

Arverne By The Sea Model Homes Open Daily 10-5 6306 Beach Front Road | Queens, NY 11692 888.536.5537 | ArverneByTheSea.com

The complete terms are in offering plans available from the Sponsor HO6-0020, HO7-0035, Benjamin Beechwood Breakers, LLC. Benjamin Beechwood Dunes, LLC. Rockaway Beach Blvd., Arverne, NY. *Prices and availability are subject to change without notice. **Select owners units include granite & stainless kitchens/designer upgrades. ***Free 1 year YMCA membership with home purchase.

6

October 30, 2014

Arverne By The Sea

EastVillagerNews.com


Storm-surge berm could start taking shape by ’17

The Big U plan calls for creating a storm surge-blocking berm next to East River Park. New bridges would ensure continued access to the park. BARRIER, continued from p. 1

proposals that promote resilience in the Sandy-affected region,” according to its Web site. Superstorm Sandy was the second-most expensive natural disaster in the country’s history, according to the Web site. One of the 10 competing design teams was BIG (Bjarke Ingels Group), a design and architecture firm with offices in Denmark, New York City and China. (The BIG team also worked with partners.) The team proposed the Big U, a series of protective measures, such as berms, that was envisioned stretching from W. 57th St. south down to the Battery and then around and up to E. 42nd St., creating a “U” around Manhattan’s southern half. The BIG team divided Lower Manhattan, which was devastated by Sandy, into what they termed “compartments.” The first compartment, C1, runs from E. 23rd St. to Montgomery St. The second compartment, C2, stretches from Montgomery St. to the Brooklyn Bridge. The third, C3, extends from the Brooklyn Bridge to the Battery. HUD awarded $335 million for the project’s C1, the first compartment, out of $930 million total for the winning proposals. In deciding which section to fund, HUD worked with the BIG team and decided on the stretch from Montgomery to E. 23rd St., said Holly M. Leicht, HUD’s regional administrator for New York and New Jersey. Part of that analysis included how the area would be affected by a tidal surge, the area’s vulnerability and the fact that it was a low-income neighborhood with public housing, she said. EastVillagerNews.com

HUD worked with the teams so that each phase of a proposal would be designed as a stand-alone project, Leicht said. “It wasn’t realistic to fund all the phases for all the projects,” she said. “But we wanted to ensure that we got the ball rolling for as many of the deserving projects as possible.” Leicht said that the Big U’s next two sections would not by funded by HUD. She explained that there is some funding available from the National Disaster Resilience Competition, which is somewhat similar to Rebuild by Design, but that it’s for all areas affected by disasters between 2011 and 2013. For the BIG team, the focus on the first compartment was that it protected “a deep floodplain next to the F.D.R. Drive, which separates it from East River Park. The park, now badly connected to the community, has room for a protective berm,” according to a BIG spokesperson. “There’s about 620 acres being protected there, about 130,000 people — 86,000 of whom are low-income, elderly or disabled,” the spokesperson said. “So, in terms of risk, both in the future and also as was demonstrated during Sandy, it made a lot of sense as a place to start.” The team did a cost estimate for the three compartments. Each could cost between $300 million and $500 million, with a total of about $1.2 billion for all three, which would protect four and half miles of coastline from the Battery to E. 23rd St., according to the BIG spokesperson. If completed, the entire project would cover 10 miles of Manhattan coastline. There is no estimate of what the total project would cost, the BIG spokesperson

said. Aixa Torres, tenant association president for the Alfred E. Smith Houses, which will not be included in the Montgomery to E. 23rd. St. stretch, participated in several community workshops and meetings

about the Big U. “I’m not happy,” Torres said last week. “The hardest-hit are the ones that will be the least protected. What happens to the rest of us?” BARRIER, continued on p. 8

October 30, 2014

7


Storm-surge berm could start taking shape by ’17 BARRIER, continued from p. 7

During Sandy, the Smith Houses did not have power or water and experienced flooding. The Montgomery boundary does include the Vladeck Houses, and Nancy Ortiz, president of Vladeck’s resident association, is happy about that. But she’s upset that other public housing, such as LaGuardia, Knickerbocker, Rutgers and the Smith Houses, are not covered. “It’s very disheartening that other areas that should have been included were not,” said Ortiz, who also participated in community Big U meetings and workshops. “We were under the impression it was going to cover past the Smith Houses.” “It was not clear to us that it was strictly going to be the compartment from Montgomery to 23rd,” said Damaris Reyes, executive director of the Good Old Lower East Side at an Oct. 21 meeting of the Community Board 3 Parks, Recreation, Cultural Affairs, Landmarks and Waterfront Committee. “The community, I think, was under the impression that the compartments were smaller...and that it could be any sort of combinations of stretches of land.”

She and her organization, GOLES, worked hard to connect with residents to attend Rebuild by Design meetings and workshops. Reyes said her entire staff dropped everything to focus on it. “We’re not in a position to do that again in the future,” she said. Daniel Zarrilli, director of the Mayor’s Office of Recovery and Resiliency, gave a presentation about the Big U at the C.B. 3 committee meeting. “We want to make sure we’re directing limited dollars toward the areas of the highest risks,” he said. “The Lower East Side comes up as very high in that analysis.” There are a large number of people who live in the floodplain, explained Zarrilli, and that — coupled with a density of critical infrastructure of public housing — has made it a high priority for flood protection. As of now, the Big U concept for this section includes a series of berms, along with bridges that would keep most of the East River Park open to the community. “In many ways, we are at step one on this project,” he explained. “We have a lot of work to do. There are a lot of decisions to be made.”

The city has assembled a large team to facilitate the project, which will include the Department of Design and Construction, the Parks Department and the Mayor’s Office of Recovery and Resiliency. “HUD awarded the money, $335 million,” Zarrilli said. “What they don’t do is show up with a sack of money and say, ‘Have fun, go build stuff.’ ” There is a bit of bureaucratic process, said Zarrilli. HUD had just released recently what it calls “The Notice.” The city now has to write an action plan that details how it will spend the money, which will go out for public review and comment. There will be public hearings, the city will solicit public comment via its Web site, people can call 311 or write letters. Once the final plan is submitted to HUD, the federal agency has 60 days to approve it. This process may be completed by next March. Currently, there are surveyors walking up and down the East River Park to gather baseline conditions. The city will also put out an R.F.P. (request for proposals) for preliminary design consultants and community engagement services. “We have a very aggressive goal.

We want to see groundbreaking in 2017,” Zarrilli said. He also fielded questions about why other areas, such as Two Bridges, would not be covered by the Montgomery section. “We’re certainly aware of the risks in Two Bridges as well further down to Lower Manhattan,” he said, but added that there aren’t funds yet for construction there. “Honestly, it may end up being very difficult to make $335 million work simply within the boundaries that we’re talking about it,” he admitted. “It’s important to recognize — it sounds like a lot of money until you get into a big multilayered construction project.” In an e-mailed statement, Councilmember Margaret Chin was optimistic about where the project stands now and the potential to achieve the whole vision. “I believe this project will become an important part of our long-term approach to waterfront resiliency,” she said, “and I will certainly continue to advocate for the Big U to become fully funded, so it can eventually help to protect all of our Lower Manhattan neighborhoods from future storms.”

New Homes Personalized Just For You Starting From $279,900

8

October 30, 2014

EastVillagerNews.com


OUR BRAND-NEW EMERGENCY DEPARTMENT IS NOW OPEN. AND WE HOPE YOU NEVER GET TO SEE IT. INTRODUCING THE RONALD O. PERELMAN CENTER FOR EMERGENCY SERVICES. 570 FIRST AVENUE AT 33RD STREET. We’ve completely rebuilt our emergency department since the devastation of Hurricane Sandy. State-of-the-art improvements have been made, and it’s now triple the size of the former ED, with treatment areas that have room for families at bedside. We provide experts in virtually every specialty to handle emergencies for both adults and children, and specialized teams on call for stroke and heart attack. But to truly appreciate our new emergency department at Tisch Hospital, you have to see it in person. And we hope you never get to do that. To learn more, visit nyulmc.org/emergency

EastVillagerNews.com

October 30, 2014

9


No better time to buy than now!

Prices Low! Mortgages Available! Interest Rates Low! Make your move now! All Classic Mainline Homes include land, up to 4 bedrooms, 2½ baths, garage, living room, dining room, complete appliance package, Central Air and Heat, landscaping, and a host of features. including permitting, driveway and well -- all included in the purchase price!

CLASSIC RANCH -- A Classic Mainline Home

THE COUNTRY HOME -- A Classic Mainline Home

NOW

$199,900

NOW

2,684 SQ. FT. • LARGE OPEN FOYER

$6,997 DOWN PAYMENT

$229,900

2,321 SQ. FT. • 1 Level Living • 2 Car Garage

$8,047 DOWN PAYMENT

1,724* per month pays all including principal, interest, taxes and insurance!*

1,577* per month pays all including principal, interest, taxes and insurance!*

$

THE CAMBRIDGE -- A Classic Mainline Home

ASK ABOUT OUR ALL NEW VALUE LINE HOME -- THE PINEBROOK

$

now

$293,500

3,393 SQ. FT.! • Your Palace in the Poconos! $

$14,675 DOWN PAYMENT

2,012 per month pays all including principal, interest, taxes and insurance!*

now

$159,900

1,834 SQ. FT. • 3 BR • 2 1/2 Baths

CALL FOR COMPLETE DESCRIPTION AND AVAILABLE TERMS

Buy a new home now -- Get up to $5,000 toward Closing Costs! LOW PROPERTY TAXES! EXPRESS COMMUTER BUSES (4 per hour) 90 mins to NYC!

Call toll free

1-800276-4000 Visit our all-new website:

www.classicqualityhomes.com

Or text: cqh to 411669 to get text updates about our Home Buying Incentive programs 10

October 30, 2014

* Monthly payments based on FHA 30 yr. fixed interest rate of 4.5% with 5% APR with a finance cap of $271,000. Lower rates may apply to qualified buyers. All numbers are estimated. Conventional mtgs. also available. Figures quoted above on Cambridge model based on conventional 30 year mtg. EastVillagerNews.com


Trying to roll back the E. Sixth St. rat upsurge BY GERARD FLYNN

A

PHOTO BY GERARD FLYNN

round September, David Rouge, who lives on E. Sixth St. between Avenues A and B, had the idea of having a party on his roof — and out back — because, as he said, “We have a nice back garden.” Then he stood on the roof of his building one evening and looked down, ending the party before it had begun. For what he found was hardly suitable to his palette, or anyone’s for that matter. “I happened to look down and there was a pack of five  rats moving back and forth,” he said, “going through the fence as if there was nothing there.” Rouge (pronounced roug-ay), who is a Department of Housing Preservation and Development employee, sprang into action, leafleting the area. A member of his block association, he organized residents with the help of Susan Stetzer, Community Board 3 district manager.  A Sept. 25 meeting held on the block was attended by Caroline Bragdon, a research scientist with the Department of Health’s Division of Veterinary and Pest Control Services. Residents had been known, Rouge said, to use tomato vines, even muskrat  pee to ward off the pests, who

David Rouge is waging a war on rats on his block.

researchers at Columbia University revealed last week, carry not just a hefty amount of potentially deadly pathogens, but 18 hitherto unknown viruses, as well. Bragdon advised a repeat of a tactic that had worked months before at the nearby community garden at the corner of Avenue B: Bait the rat nests, then, after a week, flood them, and cut off their food supply.  Rouge has been trying unsuccessfully so far to

coordinate a plan with other building owners to leave garbage on the sidewalk in the morning so rats can’t feed on it at night. But because that includes coordinating efforts between building superintendents and the Department of Sanitation, it’s easier said than done. Yet, whatever efforts have been made aren’t making a lot of inroads, neighbors say. In fact, one neighbor, Ulyana Kuykinii told The Villager last   Friday night while walking her dog that, “During the summer it was crazy. You couldn’t walk on the sidewalk, day or night.” It’s gotten better somewhat since, she said. Rouge has a new theory: that construction around the neighborhood by city and private developers is a significant factor, though Stetzer discounts it. One building on the block is owned by Steve Croman, who is currently under investigation by the state Attorney General’s Office for possibly using illegal methods to pressure out rent-regulated tenants. Yet, Croman has been very helpful, Rouge said, in dealing with the rat problem. Ben Shaoul, a developer who, like Croman, has been subject of tenant-harassment complaints, owns two buildings on the block. One is a

former supermarket midblock and another is near the 6B Garden, the latter which Rouge suspects may be the rat problem’s source, since Shaoul started doing renovation work on it last year. Rats are chiefly nocturnal and avoid people, unless there’s an infestation and their nests are disturbed, in which case they flee to the nearest building or other “safe spot.” Rouge suspects Shaoul might not have done the necessary extermination work before starting work. Rouge intends to ask homeowners to let him and the Department of Health perform a routine “no-fault inspection” of the building, 108 E. Sixth St. Rouge also pointed to garbage from the nearby school as possibly fueling the rodent explosion. However, he noted, the school has been putting out garbage for years and there wasn’t this kind of upsurge. Because the Department of Health can levy a hefty $5,000 fine for signs of a rat problem, Rouge fears he might have a problem gaining access to the building, however. Yet, he remains hopeful the rodent invasion can be rolled back. “I would like to go in my backyard and not be afraid that a  rat  will run over my feet,” he said.

Y O U D O N ’ T H AVE A N O F F S W I T C H . W H Y S H O U LD W E ? Your questions don’t always occur during regular business hours. Neither do our answers. Want

to sign up for e*bill at 8 pm? No problem. Want energy efficiency

tips on a Sunday morning? Fine. Need to report an outage or

update your contact information? Anytime. Just go to conEd.com

or download our My conEdison

app and it’s all at your fingertips. Or should we say thumbs?

And don’t forget to follow us on Facebook or Twitter.

EastVillagerNews.com

October 30, 2014

11


Spidey sense tingling? Hmm, has Spider-Man been around here lately, pedestrians might have wondered as they walked in Union Square this week. Nope, just string art.

PHOTO BY MILO HESS

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR Kept her sweetness

Talk about ‘implied’!

To The Editor: Re “Poet Anne Ardolino, a.k.a. Anntelope, dies at 69” (obituary, Oct. 16): Anne was as sweet as her life was tough. From the day I met her in 1997, she treated me as if she’d known me her entire life. Funny, kind, eccentric and generous, she was a bastion of memories of New York as it once was.

To The Editor: Re “Appellate Court rules full N.Y.U. mega-project can proceed” (news article, Oct. 16): Every park in this city is also used as a “pedestrian thoroughfare,” especially in Manhattan. That was N.Y.U.’s weakest argument of all. For me, the main legal issue is that what was “implied,” when the “parcels” were placed under Department of Transportation control, was that the project or projects they were earmarked for were to have been completed. They weren’t. That

Timothy Moran

IRA BLUTREICH

contract was unfulfilled, and never will be fulfilled. Even if it were not contractual that the strips were to be returned, their ongoing current use as parks is proven, historic and documented. Their transfer to Parks Department control should have happened long ago. It’s city land.  Patrick Shields

Had a Heine connection To The Editor: Re “Poet Anne Ardolino, a.k.a. Anntelope, dies at 69” (obituary, Oct. 16): I was pleased to communicate with her in her last year by e-mail. We got together because we both knew Bill Heine back in the ’60s. Christine Nelson

Cuomo pressures deBlasio for greater security on ebola. 12

October 30, 2014

E-mail letters, not longer than 250 words in length, to news@thevillager.com or fax to 212-229-2790 or mail to The Villager, Letters to the Editor, 1 Metrotech North, 10th floor, Brooklyn, NY, NY 11201. Please include phone number for confirmation purposes. The Villager does not publish anonymous letters.

EastVillagerNews.com


Judith Edelman, 91, pioneering female architect BY ALBERT AMATEAU

J

udith Edelman, a longtime Greenwich Village resident and prominent architect who led the effort to take down barriers to women in the profession, died Oct. 4 in her W. 12th St. home. She was 91. With her late husband, the architect Harold Edelman, she organized a partnership that designed public housing, neighborhood health centers and large-scale projects, including more than 1,500 apartment and commercial units in the Two Bridges neighborhood between the Manhattan and Williamsburg Bridges. However, she achieved nationwide prominence for her struggle to bring women into the overwhelmingly male-dominated architectural profession. Her advocacy for women in architecture was so uncompromising that she was known as “The Dragon Lady,” according to an interview published a few years ago on her firm’s Web site. In 1971 Judith Edelman became the first woman elected to the American Institute of Architecture’s executive committee. Her goal was to persuade what she called “an exclusive gentlemen’s club” to elevate women architects, according to a New York Times obituary. Although she was fascinated by an architectural exhibit as a youngster, she didn’t think of it as a profession until she sustained an injury that put an end to her career as a dancer. “Judy was, passionate about dance — modern dance, none of that ballet stuff — jazz and modern architecture,” said Judith Blitzer, a friend since childhood and a W. 12th St. neighbor. “She was a real modernist and she was serious — serious about everything,” Blitzer added. Carol Greitzer, a former city councilmember and a W. 12th St. resident, recalled that Harold and Judy lived in a renovated old row house on Bank St. 40 years ago. “I knew Harold better because he was a member of Community Board 2,” Greitzer said. After Harold

Judith Edelman.

died in 1999, Judith moved to W. 12th St. Born Judith Deena Hochberg to immigrants from Eastern Europe, she attended progressive schools, went on to Connecticut College and then New York University, before going to Columbia’s architectural school. It was in 1942 and 1943 when most American men were in the armed services, so the school of architecture had a lot of women and South American men. After Columbia, prospective employers told her, “We don’t hire girls,” according to her firm’s Web site. However, Huson Jackson, a Harvard professor of architecture with a small office in Greenwich Village, gave her a job. Harold Edelman and Judy were married in 1947. A short time later, Judy applied for a Columbia travel fellowship. “Harold was working in a firm that did a lot of retail stuff and he was happy to quit,” she told the

writer of her firm’s blog. “We traveled in Italy a lot. We went to Holland, Denmark, Sweden, through Switzerland as fast as we could, because we couldn’t afford a cup of coffee there. We did not go to Spain because of Franco. I was raised in a very lefty environment,” she explained. She told the blog writer, “I was on a jury once with Robert Stern and we wound up at a terrible impasse... . We just sat there saying ‘No’ to each other. Finally he said, ‘You’re nothing but a god-damned unreconstructed Modernist.’... I don’t remember how we resolved it.” Judy and Harold teamed up with Stanley Salzman, who had worked with Walter Gropius, a pioneer of Modernist architecture. Salzman left the firm in 1971. The successor firm, ESKW/A (Edelman Sultan Knox Wood/Architects), continues. Among the firm’s important projects in Manhattan is the preservation and conversion to multi-unit residences of nine brownstones in the Upper West Side Urban Renewal area. The firm also rebuilt the NENA (North East Neighborhood Association) health clinic on E. Third St. The 1969 renovation of the Church of St. Mark’s in-the-Bowery after a devastating fire was an Edelman project completed in 1986. Judith Edelman was the model for the protagonist of a 1974 children’s book, “What Can She Be? An Architect.” Two weeks before she died, she attended a design conference and walked 10 blocks home, according to her Times obituary. Two sons, Marc, a CUNY professor, and Joshua, a musician living in Europe, survive, as do a sister, Joan Gitlow, eight grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. A memorial will be held at the AIA New York City Center, on LaGuardia Place, in mid-December. Details will be announced later. The firm’s Web site posted this tribute: “Judy had such an indelible spirit that her passing has come as a shock for us at ESKW/A. Deeply committed, wonderfully irascible and extraordinarily talented, she created and maintained a strong identity for this firm that continued throughout her retirement and will continue into the future, well after her passing.”

Con Ed ‘Sandy-proofs’ steam, electrical systems BY DUSICA SUE MALESEVIC

T

wo years after Superstorm Sandy, Con Edison said it has implemented protective measures for its steam and electrical systems to help keep the electricity on for more people and restore steam service more quickly during disaster-level storms. When Sandy hit in October 2012, Con Ed said the amount of outages was unprecedented in the company’s history. More than 200,000 Manhattan residents and businesses south of Midtown were without electricity and steam service. For the electrical system, Con Ed will be able to split networks, explained Greg Koumoullos, the utility’s project manager for electrical systems, at Community Board 1’s Planning Committee meeting on Oct. 6. This means certain parts of the elecEastVillagerNews.com

trical grid can be shut off while others remain on. “If a flood comes again and the water comes in, we can actually disconnect the network, split it in half, so the areas that we expect to be dry can remain in power, while the areas expected to be flooded underwater can go out of power,” said Koumoullos. Right now the switches are manual, but Koumoullos said that by this coming summer, the switches will be automated. With automation the company can wait until the last possible moment until a storm surge comes, then split the network. In addition, Con Ed is also making some of its equipment submersible. “In the event that it does flood, the equipment that is underwater will not be damaged,” Koumoullos said. After Sandy hit, equipment that was inundated with water had to be replaced or repaired before it could be utilized again, adding more time to re-

storing power. By making equipment submersible, if a storm hits, after the water recedes, the equipment would need to be dried out but would then be operational again, Koumoullos said. The submersible transformers and installations have been developed fairly recently, and Koumoullos said that both the manufacturers and Con Ed have tested them. Protective measures have also been enacted for the steam system, which is crucial for heating. During Sandy, a significant portion of the system lost steam service, said Frank Cuomo, project manager of Con Ed’s steam distribution group. Steam is very sensitive, Cuomo said, and water is the worst thing to mix with it. The steam system has to be turned on in a specific geographic order — sections cannot be skipped — which was one of the reasons Lower Manhattan below Canal St. was one of the last to be turned back on,

he said. C.B. 1 committee members remarked on the amount of time — 10 days — that it took after the electricity returned for the steam to come back on. Cuomo said the company is working to reduce the outage time. “It doesn’t have to make its way from Grand St., like it did during Sandy, pipe by pipe by pipe,” Cuomo said. Isolation valves will also be installed at Trinity Place. Cuomo said, with the isolation valves, 137 buildings that went without steam during Sandy, would have stayed in service. The East River station, the company’s highest-capacity station, is critical to get up and running after a storm surge, Cuomo said. During Sandy, equipment had to be dried and sent out for repairs. Now, there are new, higher walls in place, as well as other protective measures, and the station could come back online as soon as the water receded. October 30, 2014

13


Grand St. residents in drive to boost bus trips BY HANA RASKIN

J

14

October 30, 2014

PHOTO BY HANA RASKIN

oseph Hanania moved back to New York from Los Angeles to escape isolation and dependency on cars, only to find himself in a corner of the city underserved by the mass transit. Hanania lives in the Grand St. coops at the corner of Grand St. and the F.D.R. Drive. It is a close-knit community with many longtime residents and a large elderly population. Hanania loves his neighborhood. He wakes up to the sun rising over the East River and is lucky to have some of Manhattan’s rare tennis courts located right across the street. But the abysmal bus service makes it difficult to get to other parts of the city. “I feel like I’m living in a suburb,” he said. Indeed, the Grand St. co-ops community has few transportation options. None of theses options are ideal, particularly for the area’s older, less-mobile residents. They can either walk the 12 or so minutes to the F, M or J trains on Essex/Delancey St. or take the M21 crosstown bus, which runs, according to Hanania, “at best every 20 minutes, and often every half hour or every hour.” Less economical, taxis are also nearly impossible to get right off the F.D.R.

Joseph Hanania standing at the end of the line: the M14A bus stop at the east end of Grand St.

Hypothetically, the most convenient option for the residents of the co-ops is the M14A bus, which starts its route right outside their door. But the bus runs so infrequently and is so unreliable that residents are increasingly frustrated. The most perplexing part for those who depend on the 14A bus is why, on average, three M14D busses operate for every one M14A bus. According to Hanania, “The difference is especially noticeable when there are service delays on freezing days, and it takes half an hour — or more — for a jammed 14A bus to arrive.” A few months ago, Hanania started an online petition to improve bus service on Grand St. The petition asks the Metropolitan Transportation Authority for a more equitable allocation of the M14 crosstown busses, and proposes extending the 14D route two blocks south from its “eastern terminus at Delancey St.” to Grand St. Hanania explains that the bus could then “cut back to Delancey St. via Columbia St. to resume its current route.” This alternative course would cover five additional blocks and serve many more residents. So far, the petition has more than 200 signatures and significant community support. Petitioners emphasize how much they rely on the bus service but how it currently fails to meet the community’s needs. Hanania has seen results from another petition on a different issue

that he started last year. That initiative — to improve the East River Park tennis courts — garnered support from Councilmember Rosie Mendez, who secured the necessary funding to resurface and fix the courts. He also spearheaded an ongoing effort to bring the East River ferry service to the Lower East Side. Hanania got his first taste of community organizing when he was a reporter for the Los Angeles Times, covering a story on an activist called Little Bits in South Central L.A. Little Bits mobilized an indifferent neighborhood to have the conditions of its streets improved until the Department of Transportation listened and made the desired changes. “It impressed the heck out of me,” Hanania said, explaining the inspiration for his activism. Hanania’s bus stop sits at the edge of the F.D.R. On a rainy, cold day, a tease of the coming winter, a local resident waited in the bus shelter. Now in her late 60s, she has lived in the area since she was 17. “It’s like we are at the end of the world here,” she said. “Service has not gotten better. If anything, it’s gotten worse.” Hanania is still collecting signatures. To sign the petition and join the effort, visit: http://www.change. org/p/carmen-bianco-bring-betterbus-service-to-the-grand-st-coopsby-rebalancing-service-between-the14-a-and-14-d-lines . EastVillagerNews.com


Poetry in the souls of those who least expect it ‘Rocky Presents’ a blend of new generation hip hop and poetry BY PUMA PERL

I

EastVillagerNews.com

COURTESY OF FLY DII PHOTOGRAPHY

couldn’t be happier to report that the spirit of discovery is alive and well as demonstrated by the Rocky Presents shows, and that a new generation is learning that poetry lives on in the streets, and in the hearts and souls of those who least expect it. It’s amazing how everything different can be the same again. “Rocky” is Rocky LaMontagne, founder and producer of “All That!” — which debuted at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe in 1993 and is currently the longest running open mic series in New York City. LaMontagne has since relocated to Arizona, and Di Lewis has joined forces with him to co-produce “All That!” as well as “Words” and “Women of Words,” two additional series that blend hip hop with poetry. About forty years ago, Miguel Algarin, one of the founders of the Nuyorican, got sick of everyone hanging around his East Sixth Street apartment, and, with a group of poet friends, rented a storefront directly across from his building. I wandered in there the second night it opened, and never really left until it went on hiatus after the move to Third Street. Along with countless other Lower East Side residents, I learned that the transformative power of poetry and performance was accessible, regardless of class and academic achievement. If you couldn’t write, you made poems in your head, perhaps in Spanish, perhaps in English, or some new combination of both. Loisaida language. Although most of the regulars were from the block and the surrounding area, you never knew who

L to R: “All That!” host Wise Guy, producer Di Lewis, and host Gaston.

might wander in. Naturally, iconic poets like the late Pedro Pietri and Tato Laviera were founding members and often in attendance, but on any given night you might see William Burroughs confounding the audience, Ntozake Shange dancing a mean mambo with Algarin, or Amiri Baraka patiently awaiting his turn to read. I lived around the corner and the Cafe became the same nightly stop that CBGB probably would have been if I lived several blocks west. Sometimes, it’s all about geography and circumstance. I had an infant son and he grew up sitting on the floor clapping as each poet took the stage. I realize now that a collective

force of making something out of nothing was sweeping both sides of Avenue A. On the east side, Eddie Gomez, the younger brother of co-founder Miguel Pinero, was just out of the Army and working the bar. He was very good-looking and all the girls loved him. I must have loved him a little more than most, because several years later we had a child together, Juliet. She recited her first poem at the Third Street location at age four. It was about hot dogs. She went on to host open rooms and slams and became an avid attendee of Rocky’s shows. As Kurt Vonnegut said, “so it goes.” Fast-forward a decade or three to 10 p.m. on a warm August evening,

and I’m headed to the Nuyorican with my photographer friend, Lynn Cappiello, as an anonymous reporter for this publication. Di Lewis greets me warmly, and I grab a seat at the bar, which is manned by Pepe, who has been in attendance for as long as I can remember at this location. “All That!” is straight up open mic, and participants are accompanied by a trio of astounding musicians. Chris Eddleton holds it down on drums, and Keith Witty adds the unique sound of a solid body electric stand-up bass. The third component is the keyboard, and on my two visPOETRY, continued on p.16 October 30, 2014

15


At Nuyorican Poets Cafe, everything different is the same again POETRY, continued from p. 15

October 30, 2014

An “All That!” participant trying out a new song.

This continues to be the mission of the Rocky Presents team — giving a home to emerging artists of all ages, uniting the genres, and providing new cultural experiences to both novices and established performers.

PHOTO BY LYNN CAPPIELLO

16

PHOTO BY LYNN CAPPIELLO

its I saw different musicians, Mike Ekroth and Michael Bellar, who had never before played with the group. Both Chris and Keith have extensive backgrounds in jazz and have recorded internationally. They open with a musical jam — free-form as well as riffs on standards like “Ain’t No Sunshine When She’s Gone,” and spend the rest of the session accompanying every performer. They always seem to find a way to work it out, whether it’s poetry or song, hip hop, rap, or some sort of hybrid. After everyone has settled in, the affable host, Wise Guy, takes the reins and is eventually joined by his cohort Gaston. They are MC’s, poets, musicians, producers, and videographers and are both entertaining and welcoming to the audience. Wise Guy does the inevitable geographical roll call, and there is one hand raised from the Lower East Side. Mine. Since it’s a mid-summer, many of the audience members and participants hail from all over the world, including Australia and South Africa. The level of performance is exceptional, ranging from polished artists to first-timers, all of whom had waited on line to pay their $10 and sign up. The crowd is racially diverse, young, and supportive of one another. As I watch the trio make magic, tuning into and enhancing each poem or song, I start to wonder how, as an older white woman, I would be received if I came back and got on the open mic. It would make for a more interesting article, I tell myself, knowing I’m half lying and that part of my agenda is getting a chance to try out a piece with these kick-ass musicians. “All That!” takes place on the first Wednesday of each month, and in September I return, solo. This time, the attendees are more local to the boroughs and surrounding areas. It’s not quite as crowded, and it’s a bit less racially diverse. Di tells me she wants to give me a shout-out and I caution her not to — anonymity is key to my social experiment. I sign the open mic list and sit by myself in the first row, watching a series of talented young people bravely take the stage. Most of them are novices and all of them bring it. One girl had just written her song hours before and holds several scraps of paper. For the most part, everyone is off the page. Some give the musicians a little direction and others just flow with it. A young man from New

Spoken word on the open mic, at Nuyorican Poets Cafe.

Jersey requests an a cappella performance and is firmly discouraged. One of the few rules is that everyone plays with the band. Another is that you write down what kind of performance you are delivering. Poetry and song are both accepted. I’ve performed hundreds, maybe thousands, of times, with and without bands, and I feel more nervous than I can recall feeling in a very long time. Out of my comfort zone. Alone. It’s that heart pounding, dry-

mouthed anxiety known as stage fright, and as my name is called I tell myself that it doesn’t matter if I forget the words since nobody knows my work anyway. I tell the musicians that I will trust them to follow along, inform the audience that I have a question for them, and recite my first line: “Do you believe in grace and madness?” Chris, the drummer, answers with a beat. We all laugh, and we are off. The band is with me, the audience is with me,

and I receive fist pounds and hugs for the rest of the evening. I feel as good about this three-minute poem as I do after a one hour set, and I leave happy, less for myself than for the shared experience and the hope it brings for the future. I decide to ask someone who attended “All That!” in the early days how it was — and who better to consult than my daughter, the aforementioned Juliet, who lives and breathes hip hop. “What was so special about both “All That!” and “Words,” ” she tells me, “is that poetry, for the first time, was acknowledged as the bare bones of both rap and hip hop, and Rocky provided a place for poets who loved those genres. I used to see people like Lemon Andersen, muMs, and Mariposa waiting on line to get on an open mic. Hip hop stars like Common and Talib Kweli would just drop in, and this was before it blew up into Def Poets on HBO and Broadway. It was a place for the talent that might go unnoticed to emerge.” And this continues to be the mission of the Rocky Presents team — giving a home to emerging artists of all ages, uniting the genres, and providing new cultural experiences to both novices and established performers. When I first stumbled into the Nuyorican, there were no lines, no admission, a different cast of characters. Many of the originals are gone, and so is much of the chaos that accompanies a brand new experience. But every experience is new to someone. Things change and remain the same, thanks to the poetry Gods watching over us all. Visit Rockypresents.com to sign up for the mailing list and keep up with events. “All That!” takes place the first Wednesday of each month, “Words” on the third Saturday. Both events are at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe (236 E. Third St., btw. Aves. B & C). To access the calendar and find other events, visit nuyorican.org. Puma Perl and Friends will perform at Otto’s Shrunken Head (538 E. 14th St., btw. Aves. A & B) at 11 p.m. on Sun., Nov. 9, as part of the Nine Days of Wood Birthday Celebration. They will also perform at 10 p.m. on Sat., Nov. 15, as part of the 7 p.m. AHPresents! event at Sidewalk Cafe (95 Ave. A, at Sixth St.), in honor of photographer Alan Rand, and at the joint birthday celebration of Deborah Gentit Verno and Harold C. Black at The Delancey Lounge (168 Delancey St., at Clinton St.) on Tues., Nov. 18, time TBA. Visit pumaperl.blogspot.com. EastVillagerNews.com


Buhmann on Art

(stephaniebuhmann.com)

RIDLEY HOWARD: CITY WAVES

At first glance, Ridley Howard’s stunning paintings can be described as a witty mash-up of abstraction and figuration. Here, figures are embedded and framed by fields of abstract shapes and solid color. The scope of this particular body of work is extensive, addressing classical figuration, futurism and Bauhaus-inspired abstraction. His paintings are characterized by a slick (and yet creamy) finish that displays a sense of cool restraint. Nevertheless, compared to the pop-art depictions of figurative scenes by Tom Wesselmann, Howard does not deny a personal engagement with his subject matter. His depictions of people, architectural spaces and landscapes might be simplified — but they are also infused with a sense of warmth, compassion and humor. These works might incorporate elements from vastly different genres,

EastVillagerNews.com

Ridley Howard: “Grand Avenue Kiss” (2014). Oil on linen | 50 x 40 in (127 x 101.6 cm).

PHOTO: JEFFREY STURGES, NEW YORK (COURTESY THE ARTIST AND KOENIG & CLINTON, NEW YORK)

BY STEPHANIE BUHMANN

PHOTO: JEFFREY STURGES, NEW YORK (COURTESY THE ARTIST AND KOENIG & CLINTON, NEW YORK)

PHOTO: JEFFREY STURGES, NEW YORK (COURTESY THE ARTIST AND KOENIG & CLINTON, NEW YORK)

Ridley Howard: “Rockaway” (2014). Oil on linen | 55 x 45 in (139.7 x 114.3 cm).

Ridley Howard: “Rooftops” (2014). Oil on linen | 30 x 36 in (76.2 x 91.4 cm).

such as pop art, high renaissance, neo-classicism and abstraction, but they are also very much rooted in our time. Toying with the conundrum of monumentality versus stillness, Howard experiments with how the elemental forces of painting, color, shape and design align to make up an image rich in emotional resonance. By pushing his work to a larger scale, he now offers us more room to contemplate his unique perception. Through Dec. 13, at Koenig & Clinton (459 W. 19th St., at 10th Ave.). Hours: Tues.–Sat., 11 a.m.–6 p.m. Call 212-3349255 or visit koenigandclinton.com.

October 30, 2014

17


Irish Rep moves out, in the service of staying put Union Square’s DR2 is temporary home to a Chelsea treasure

COURTESY OF THE IRISH REPERTORY THEATRE

A rendering of the 22nd St. facility, currently under construction.

BY SCOTT STIFFLER

18

October 30, 2014

PHOTO BY JAMES HIGGINS

The Irish Repertory Theatre is putting down roots by pulling up stakes. Faced with a scenario familiar to mom and pop shops — being priced out of the neighborhood it played a part in rehabilitating — the nonprofit arts organization launched a multi-million dollar campaign to purchase and significantly upgrade the Chelsea facility it’s been renting since 1994. Having broken ground in September, IRT is in the early stages of hammering its beloved West 22nd Street theater to smithereens — while just 10 blocks away, in Union Square, the first production of its 2014-2015 season is underway at the DR2 Theatre. Eighteen months from now, upon their return to Chelsea’s 1911-built Stanwick Building, IRT will have realized its goal of establishing a permanent home immune to rent increases or lease negotiations. “We take full responsibility for the up-and-coming neighborhood that happened,” quipped Producing Director and co-founder Ciarán O’Reilly while discussing the area’s tremendous upswing in residential and commercial viability over the past two decades. Although said in good humor, there’s also hard-

Irish Rep co-founders Charlotte Moore and Ciarán O’Reilly administer a little tough love to the wall of their W. 22nd St. theater.

earned pride in his tone as O’Reilly recalls IRT’s first year on the Sixth to Seventh Ave. portion of W. 22nd St. “We were the pioneers,” he says, noting that in 1994, “there was a strip club down the street called the Harmony [Burlesque] Theatre. It was quite the dingy block. When we moved in, our theater had been a chemical warehouse with a shop front that sold industrial chemicals. There were photography, rehearsal and recording studios. It was very much a working building.” The affable family who ran that chemical business also owned The Stanwick, and they offered what

O’Reilly describes as a “very nice 12-year lease.” After months spent transforming the space into a 137seat theater, they had a show up and running by September of 1995 (Geraldine Aron’s “Same Old Moon”). This gave IRT its first stable home, after a half-decade spent roaming from the 18th Street Playhouse to Tada! Theater to the Actors Playhouse and The Public Theater. Over the course of its tenure in Chelsea, IRT’s 150+ productions of Irish and Irish-American classic and contemporary work have received dozens of Drama Desk, Obie, Lucille Lortel and Outer Crit-

ics Circle nominations and awards for both creative and technical achievement. Irish American included co-founder Charlotte Moore on its “50 Most Influential Women” list, and the Wall Street Journal gave her its 2011 “Director of the Year” award. Today, the theater can claim annual attendance of over 45,000 and a rightful place as one of the city’s most prolific Off-Broadway theater companies. Apart from making an impressive showing in the program you’re given at its current production (the immensely enjoyable “Port Authority”), IRT’s accumulated accolades proved useful when the building was sold — for condo conversion — to Time Equities Inc. in 2003/2004. The attention it received over the years, and the friends it made along the way, proved essential to the company’s long-term survival. “We got the opportunity to purchase our two floors,” says O’Reilly. “It was a question of either buying, or losing the space when our lease expired. We had a 12-year that would have brought us up to 2007. After that, it would probably have been the end of us, or at least the end of our time in Chelsea.” So they began a $13 million “Campaign For a Permanent Home” that’s been well-received by IRT members and was given early, crucial momentum from Assemblymember Richard Gottfried, then-City Council speaker (and local district rep) Christine Quinn, and current Comptroller (then-Manhattan Borough President) Scott Stringer. State Senator Brad Hoylman, City Councilmember Corey Johnson and the de Blasio administration have also given support — and those who’ve donated $1 million or more include the City of New York and Frances Greenburger (of Time Equities Inc.). All of this has put a very respectable amount of red mercury in the goal thermometer chart, but O’Reilly says the capital campaign “is most certainly not done. We need to raise three million more for the mortgage and the cost of renovation. Six million is being covered by the city and administered through the Department of Design and Construction. They’re the ones doing the actual construction.” Add in the costs of producing nearly two seasons at the IRISH, continued on p. 19 EastVillagerNews.com


Irish Rep’s Union Square move cements Chelsea presence

IRISH, continued from p. 18

DR2 as well as the rental of temporary office space, and a fully funded campaign allows for “a little cushion, but not a substantial one. We’re not trying to expand hugely like so many organizations who get the opportunity to do that, then don’t have the funds to continue. We intend to operate pretty much as we have for the past 20 years, just in a more comfortable, greener facility.” When the dust settles, IRT’s façade, lobby, theater and upstairs spaces will have undergone significant upgrades. In addition to more creature comforts (two new second floor bathrooms), the Francis J. Greenburger Mainstage space will get state-of-the-art sound and lighting. Construction of a balcony will compensate for the loss of its side space (long a bone of contention for its partially blocked views), and bump capacity up to 150. “We’re removing some of the walls to make it look more spacious,” says O’Reilly of the old, decidedly cozy (but not

quite claustrophobic) theater. On the second floor, the front offices will be replaced with a rehearsal hall allowing passersby a literal and figurative window into the creative process. A new HVAC system and LED stage lighting using 50 percent less power than the old machinery will earn the revamped facility a Silver LEED [Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design] rating. In the meantime, a visit to IRT’s temporary home at the DR2 Theatre makes for a bit of déjà vu to those familiar with the old 22nd St. space. “It’s similar,” says O’Reilly, “in that it has all the intimacy of the Irish Rep. We’ve redone the lobby [with production posters] to reflect our past work, and we had images of our [22nd St. lobby] stained glass made and put in the windows.” Close to home if not a precise replica, DR2 has another advantage, says O’Reilly, who notes that “Most of the theaters in New York, like the Atlantic or the Signature, they have their own seasons to put together, so availability comes in bits and pieces. But we wanted to do a full season, so if a show warranted an extension,

PHOTO BY CAROL ROSEGG

PHOTO BY SCOTT STIFFLER

Union Square’s DR2 Theatre is just 10 blocks away from the Irish Repertory Theatre’s once and future home.

L to R: James Russell, Peter Maloney and Billy Carter play men coping with unrealized ambitions, in “Port Authority.”

we could do that.” IRT recently launched its 27th season, with the O’Reilly-directed “Port Authority.” On the DR2 boards through Nov. 16, Conor McPherson’s trio of monologues briskly shifts back and forth between the reflections of a young, middle-aged, and old man — all of whom are still living with the consequences of unrealized romantic and career ambitions. Sharply acted and simply staged, this revival marks a return by playwright McPherson, whose supernatural-infused “The Weir” was exceptionally well-received by audiences and critics during its 2013 IRT run. More details on the 2014-2015 season will follow — but for now, the DR2 is already booked for the New York premiere of “A Christmas Memory” (Nov. 25–Jan. 4). Based on the short story by Truman Capote, it’s the latest effort to make IRT a family-friendly holiday destination (past shows include a live radio play version of “It’s a Wonderful Life” and the Dylan Thomas favorite, “A Child’s Christmas in Wales”). Shortly after “Memory” closes, Hugh

Leonard’s “Da” begins its Jan. 14– March 8 run. Set in 1960s Dublin, it concerns the flood of memories unleashed by a father whose stubborn ghost refuses to leave the house that his son is cleaning out. As for his own Irish abode in upheaval, O’Reilly is looking forward to the day when a better and stronger IRT is ready for its open-ended run on W. 22nd St. “It’s wonderful to be able to stay in Chelsea,” he says, “because so many people flock here for the arts. But like so many things in New York, the reason they come here gets priced out, and what you’re left with is a bunch of fancy homes and condos for incredible prices. It’s fantastic that we’re managing to stay here, and live within the place that we built.” “Port Authority” plays through Nov. 16. Tues./Thurs. at 7 p.m., Fri. at 8 p.m., Wed./Sat. at 3 & 8 p.m. and Sun. at 3 p.m. At the DR2 Theatre (103 E. 15th St. in Union Square). For tickets ($70), call 212-727-2737 or visit irishrep.org.

Katz Moving has a stellar reputation for excellence in the moving industry.

Check out our 5 Star

Customer Reviews

Please mention “Community Media” when placing your move. Katz Moving will donate 5% of your move to The Ali Forney Center

855.692.5289

katzmoving.com

47-47 Austell Pl., Long Island City, NY 11101 • NYSDOT #T-38598 • USDOT #2280679 Terms and conditions apply, can't be applied with any other offer, offer expires on 3/31/2015. Must mention "community media" when calling.

EastVillagerNews.com

October 30, 2014

19


Rosario Dawson’s cousin charged in rape attempt SEX ATTACKS, continued from p. 1

20

October 30, 2014

PHOTO BY JEFFERSON SIEGEL

Since this summer, Scott had been living at 544 E. 13th St., the East Village former squat building where Dawson grew up, and where her mother, Isabel Celeste, and father, Greg Dawson, and relatives still live. The “Sin City: A Dame to Kill For” actress stays at the building whenever she is back in town for a visit. Scott reportedly had been living since the summer in a converted former bike-storage room in the basement that his father, Isabel’s brother, Nicky Scott — who is also a resident of the building — was renting to him. As Juan Scott was arraigned on his charges at Criminal Court in Lower Manhattan on Oct. 21, his parents were seated in the courtroom. Scott’s defense attorney’s request for $50,000 bail was denied by the judge, who remanded Scott to custody. Last week, a grand jury indicted Scott on three charges. His next court date is Nov. 25. The incidents described in court at his arraignment point to an escalating pattern of increasingly violent sexual abuse dating back to this summer. According to the authorities, at 4:23 a.m. on Oct. 17, Scott followed a 20-year-old female Stuyvesant Town resident into the lobby of her non-doorman building and then into an elevator. According to the Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association blog, the building is on E. 14th St. between Avenues B and C. As described in the criminal complaint, Scott pushed the woman to the ground in the elevator and placed his hands on her vagina. He then lifted up her skirt and put his fingers inside her vagina “forcefully.” He held her down on the ground, and continued to put his fingers inside her. The woman “attempted to get away from [him] multiple times, and [he] repeatedly held [her] down and pulled her back into the elevator,” the prosecution said. “The male individual’s actions caused informant to sustain tearing to her labia,” according to the complaint, and “to sustain bruising to [her] face, and multiple burns and lacerations to [her] legs and feet.” The victim yelled and struggled with the suspect, causing him to eventually flee the elevator. A surveillance camera video released by police shows the suspect nonchalantly strolling into a Stuyvesant Town lobby through the entrance door, apparently having followed the victim inside — while carrying a small white plastic shopping bag — then getting into an elevator. Once inside the elevator car, he starts to chat with the victim (whose image has been purposefully obscured in the video), then starts very deliberately licking his fingers as he moves toward her. The provided video clip doesn’t include the struggle that reportedly ensued, but skips ahead to when the suspect is seen rushing out the building’s front door — then acrobatically shimmying down a tree to reach street level and sprinting off down E. 14th St. westward toward Avenue B. The prosecution stated that Scott looks like the man in the video. In connection with the Oct. 17 incident, Scott was charged with first-degree attempted rape, second-degree aggravated sexual abuse and first-degree sexually motivated burglary. As for the victim, the ST-PC tenants association’s site said, “The woman was badly injured and treated at Beth Israel Medical Center.” Scott was also charged in an earlier sexual-abuse

Juan Scott at his arraignment in Criminal Court on Tues., Oct. 21.

incident at an E. 13th St. building. To protect the victims, the addresses have been redacted from the criminal complaint provided by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office. The Daily News reported that this victim was a former girlfriend. The prosecution said that on Sept. 21 at 1 a.m., at an E. 13th St. building, Scott pushed the woman down onto her bed and inserted his fingers into her vagina forcefully. “The defendant then slammed the informant’s head against a wall and continued to insert his fingers inside of [her] vagina forcefully…[and] caused informant to sustain pain.” Less than a month later, on Oct. 13, at around 12:31 p.m., Scott is accused of sending “over 38 text messages” to the victim, “stating that [he] is going to find her, that she needs to drop the charges against [him] and that he was going to kill himself if she did not drop the charges.” The victim, the prosecution said, was caused to “fear for her physical safety and become annoyed and alarmed.” Then, on Thurs., Oct. 16, at 11:20 p.m., again inside the same E. 13th  St. building — and, in fact, just five hours before the Stuy Town attack — Scott is accused of knocking on the same woman’s apartment door. When she did not allow him inside, according to the complaint, Scott called her cell phone from an unknown phone number. Apparently either speaking to the woman on the phone or leaving a voice message, he again told her she “should drop the charges against him for sexual assault.” Again, the woman feared for her physical safety and became alarmed, according to the complaint. In connection with these three incidents, Scott was charged with first-degree sexual abuse, second-degree aggravated harassment and fourth-degree stalking. Scott is accused of yet another sexual-abuse incident earlier this summer. According to the prosecution, on June 2, at 11:45 p.m., he followed a woman into her apartment building on E. 11th St. As the victim attempted to open her apartment door, Scott grabbed her and “ripped [her] dress up,” according to the complaint. “[He] then grabbed the informant’s vagina with [his] hand forcibly without [her] consent.” He was charged with first-degree sexual abuse and first-degree sexually motivated burglary. Speaking to The Villager, Councilmember Men-

dez, who lives on E. 11th St., said there was, in fact, a sexual-assault incident on her own block, between Avenues B and C, this summer. Police lined the street with posters featuring the suspect’s description. A neighbor made a copy of one and put it up in Mendez’s building, where it was still hanging last week. “It looks like it is him,” Mendez said of Scott and the surveillance-camera image on the poster, which shows the suspect from the front and above. “It does look like the same body type as this young man. “Whether this was him or not, it’s just awful that it happened in our neighborhood,” Mendez added. “If it is him, I hope the full weight of the law is on this, I hope that happens. ... Whenever these incidents happen, there is a sense of relief when someone is caught.” Annie Wilson, a longtime resident of 544 E. 13th St., felt that Scott had seemed generally O.K., if sometimes a bit forward with women. However, after learning he had been charged with a series of sex crimes in the neighborhood, she said, “I’m stunned to know that this dangerous person was living in the building. He appeared to be always polite, and I’m very troubled by these recent disclosures of his extremely violent criminal behavior. “This very troubling news adds to the uncertainty regarding the day-to-day living in the building,” she said. “It just adds to it all.” Wilson did say, however, that Scott had “boundary issues. He pushes himself on women,” she said. But she said she was never aware of him getting physical with anyone in the building. Scott lived in the Loisaida tenement for eight or nine months about two years ago, before returning to his mother’s home on Long Island. He recently came back to 544 E. 13th  St. and had been living there since this summer. “The last conversation I had with Juan, he said he was paying his father $700 a month rent,” Wilson said. “They put him in the bike room in the basement. “He had a little scooter and he was working as a delivery boy,” she said. “He was working for a restaurant, and he was happy scooting around.” One day not long before the alleged Stuy Town attempted rape, Scott was reportedly spotted with a woman in her 20s, possibly a girlfriend, walking down E. 13th St. on the sidewalk opposite from the building. “She had on a stylish gym outfit — like a Kim Kardashian style,” a neighbor told The Villager. “She had good makeup application — stylish.” Rosario Dawson, due to her success, is a positive role model. Locally, the actress helps out the Lower Eastside Girls Club. Her mother, Celeste, is well known in the community and is also involved in charitable causes. Mendez recalled that after a female cashier at the Avenue A Key Food was stabbed to death by her boyfriend several years ago, Dawson prominently added her star power to a neighborhood antiviolence effort. Celeste did not return a call for comment. On Fri., Oct. 24, the Daily News’s “Confidential” gossip column reported that two days earlier Dawson had dodged a question about Scott at Glamour magazine’s Inspire a Difference Gala. The organization supports causes including the Rape Foundation and Safe Horizon, which battles sexual assault. “We’re not talking about that, yeah,” Dawson told “Confidential,” reportedly speaking “politely — and cautiously.” EastVillagerNews.com


Novel plan to save ‘dysfunctional’ former squat BY LINCOLN ANDERSON

T

EastVillagerNews.com

FILE PHOTO BY JEFFERSON SIEGEL

he arrest of Rosario Dawson’s cousin on Mon., Oct. 20, for attempted rape has put a renewed focus on the troubled East Village tenement where the famous “Cesar Chavez” actress, grew up and where her cousin had been living since this summer. The building is one of 11 East Village squats that were transferred in 2002 under the Giuliani administration to the Urban Homesteading Assistance Board, or UHAB, for $1 per building. Under the deal, the squatters, with UHAB’s help, were supposed to bring the buildings up to code, then would get to keep their apartments as a self-sustaining, low-income co-operative. More than half of the squats reportedly have already become low-income co-ops. But 544 E. 13th St. has lagged way behind, and, in fact — a full dozen years after the historic agreement with City Hall — almost no work has been done to fix up the building to bring it into line with proper city building codes. The tenement is sharply divided between two factions: the Dawson clan and its allies on one side versus another group that claims some longtime tenants. One of the latter, African graphic artist Alfa Diallo, was among a group of several pioneers who originally “opened up” the formerly abandoned building, whacking cinderblocks out of a closed-up doorway with a sledgehammer to gain access. The non-Dawson group charges the Dawson clan has never wanted the building to become an affordable coop. The non-Dawson faction charges that Isabel Celeste — Rosario’s mother — and her family members basically run the building as if they own it, and have aggressively taken over units, and have also impeded efforts to fix up the place to bring it up to code. Under squatter rules, new members were voted into the building by consensus. Originally, the other squatters voted in the Dawsons to occupy just one apartment, but the family has since spread throughout the building and now has at least six spaces. Former common spaces, like a basement bicycle-storage room, have been taken over and are now being rented out for profit. The two sides are battling over possession of a vacant sixth-floor apartment that remains fire-damaged with a roof in need of repair. More recently, in June 2013, Celeste — without permits — drilled a hole in her first-floor apartment’s floor, then installed a spiral staircase down to a basement space to create a duplex for herself. Alerted by other tenants who

The Dawson family and its allies control at least half the units at 544 E. 13th St.

were concerned about vibrations from the construction, firefighters arrived, resulting in a partial-vacate order being issued after unsafe conditions were found, including a partially detached rear fire escape, which has since been repaired. Tenants also complain that the building lacks essential services — including heat, gas and hot water. Tenants use hot plates to cook and to heat up water for bathing, and electrical space heaters in the winter to keep warm. After two winters — the last one particularly brutal — without heat and hot water, they are not looking forward to another. Con Ed shut off the gas two years ago reportedly due to two leaks that were found. Celeste did not respond to a request for comment. But Richard Klemann, president of the 544 E. 13 Homesteaders Association, said, “We definitely have a positive view and plan for our future, but we’ll keep it out of public discussion for now.” Attorney Adam Leitman Bailey was retained by Celeste and her faction during the past year. A few months ago, he told The Villager he was fighting a tax-lien foreclosure on the property, which he assured they would defeat. Speaking on Oct. 20, Bailey said the foreclosure effort had temporarily

been put on hold. Stressing that he is a real estate lawyer, Bailey said he isn’t representing Juan Scott, Dawson’s first cousin who is charged with attempting to rape a woman in a Stuy Town elevator early on the morning of Fri., Oct. 17, plus two other prior East Village sexual-abuse incidents. Bailey said he met Scott at a meeting of what the attorney called the “homesteaders” — since the Giuliani deal, they’re technically not squatters anymore, he noted — over this past summer. “I met him once,” he said of Scott, 26. “He was sitting in the corner. I saw no predilections toward someone who would disrespect a female. Nice guy. Respectful. Quiet. But then again, I only saw him once.” As for the building’s future, Bailey said he is, in fact, currently working with the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development and UHAB on a way to get the E. 13th St. building fixed up and put into one of Mayor de Blasio’s new affordable housing programs. Under the 2002 deal with the city, UHAB was supposed to assist the squats on their way to conversion into low-income co-ops. But Bailey said UHAB never paid any taxes on the E. 13th St. building, which is what trig-

gered the foreclosure effort. “The City Council appointed them the owner until our clients were deemed ready to take ownership,” he stated of UHAB. Basically, if the place isn’t as far along as it should be, then it’s all UHAB’s fault, he said. According to Bailey, the new plan would involve a “white knight developer” who would invest money into the building — to the tune of $108,000 per unit — in return for which the developer would get a bonus of floor-area ratio (F.A.R.) — basically, additional square footage — that he could use at another site to develop market-rate units. This would be done through creating a “comprehensive zoning lot,” with the market-rate portion possibly located nearby or elsewhere within the neighborhood. The details are still being hashed out, and the developer’s investment might wind up being less than $108,000 per unit once negotiations end, since otherwise the total would be a pretty high sum, and possibly more investment than the building needs, Bailey said. There would be “a covenant running with the land,” so that the units would be permanently affordable. The deal could be finalized SQUAT, continued on p. 23 October 30, 2014

21


22

October 30, 2014

EastVillagerNews.com


SCOOPY’S, continued from p. 2 were people I had never spoken to for decades but passed every day,” he said. He also learned about, as he put it, “achieving what is important rather than what is perfect and naive. ... In community organizing, as you know, there are rarely victories, and when they come, they fade away fast. .... It was an amazing time of my life.” Recently, the community won a victory against Singer when the Department of Buildings ruled that his loose-ended plans to rent part of the building to The Cooper Union and Joffrey Ballet School — which is technically a vocational institution — didn’t pass muster, and issued a stop-work order on the project. “I didn’t trust this man,” Councilmember Rosie Mendez admitted of Rosen, a penthouse dweller in the tony Christodora House, next to the old P.S. 64. “I came to trust him, but not just trust him,” she said. “I came to love him.” Rosen really helped her through a tough breakup with her fiancée, she added. State Senator Brad Hoylman presented Rosen with a proclamation and noted that the struggle goes on, such as with the 7/11 on Avenue A, located in a building owned by Jared Kushner. “They have a noisy refrigeration unit they’ve used for over a year,” Hoylman said of the chain store. “So we went to court. There’s a cease-and-desist order on the refrigeration unit.” State Senator Daniel Squadron, who used to represent the district before the lines were redrawn, also gave Rosen a proclamation. Eric Goldberg, a real estate lawyer and friend, spoke glowingly of Rosen’s “brave vision” in building Red Square, on E. Houston St., back when the neighborhood was a far cry from today’s high-rent hot spot. Carlos Suarez, one of a group of local youths from the projects who Rosen took in and raised like a son, spoke glowingly of his surrogate papa. “For people from where I come from to go to the penthouse was crazy,” Suarez said. He recalled how he dropped out

of high school and “focused on girls,” but Rosen got him back on track with his education. “I’m very lucky that he has my back,” Suarez said. Developer Bob Perl noted to us that he “assembled” the lots to construct the Housing Works building for people with H.I.V./AIDS and I.V. drug users back in the 1980s when East Villagers had vehemently protested earlier plans to site the facility on E. Sixth St. near Avenue B. “Back then it was like Ebola,” he said of AIDS. “People were more afraid, and being gay was not as accepted.” Regarding Rosen, Perl said, “He’s a giant.” Because of all he’s done for the East Village? we asked. “No — in Vietnam he’s a giant,” Perl said. “People are really small there. He’s taller than everyone.” Rosen has lived in Hanoi for two years, working with an agriculture and food company. Before that, he was in Hong Kong for a year and a half. GREAT ASSIST! Dr. Eric Cruzen, director of emergency medicine at the Lenox Hill HealthPlex, reports that the freestanding Village emergency department has helped save its second heart-attack patient. According to Cruzen, a man, 74, was brought by ambulance to the facility, at W. 12th St. and Seventh Ave., last week. The EKG the medics had performed en route didn’t show a heart attack. “Often, the EKG changes minute by minute,” Cruzen noted. “During his initial evaluation he was found to have an EKG showing a heart attack. We rapidly began his treatment and stabilized him, then were able to immediately transfer him directly to the cath lab at Beth Israel, where he was found to have several blockages in the blood vessels of his heart. From arrival at our facility to when he left to go to the cath lab was approximately 30 minutes.”

DORIS’S BIG DAY: Veteran C.B. 2 member Doris Diether, one of the city’s longest-serving community board members (and the inspiration for the famous Little Doris marionette) will be honored by

the City Council with a proclamation at its Nov. 25 stated meeting. FLEA MARKET FUN: Don’t forget to vote on Tuesday — and don’t forget the Westbeth Flea Market, either! It will all go down in Westbeth Underground, at 55 Bethune St. at Washington St., from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The venue is fitting, since the event hasn’t been held for two years since Sandy flooded the artist housing complex’s basement. You’ll find vases and household items, clothing, bags, belts, tons of books and records, backpacks, shoes, lots of frames, artwork, art supplies and more at what has been called the “best (indoor) sale in New York City.” The action continues on Sat., Nov. 8, and Sun., Nov. 9, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

UNFLAGGING EFFORT: Congrats to Novac Noury, the “Arrow Keyboard Man,” who recently had a flag featured in a show at MoMA’s Cullman Building. Noury is part of SAGE (Services & Advocacy for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual & Transgender Elders), which approached the museum with the concept, in which members of the group each made a 2-foot-by-3-foot flag that was draped from the ceiling. Noury’s of course featured an ejaculating arrow keyboard, an homage to the portable wireless organ he used to play while gyrating on the dance floor at Studio 54, and which spurted sparks, whipped cream, water, you name it. His flag, he said, was “a salute to my ongoing quest to develop my land and to rebuild my damaged arrow keyboard.” Noury still hopes to develop his now-vacant lot in the Meatpacking District just south of the glitzy Standard Hotel, where his afterhours club, RSVP, used to be located back in the disco days. For film (or arrow keyboard) buffs, the instrument was first introduced in the original “Hair” movie in the hallucination scene, when Noury is briefly shown shooting sparks out of it.

Novel plan to save ‘dysfunctional’ former squat SQUAT, continued from p. 21

as soon as a month from now, Bailey said. According to a source, BFC Partners, led by Don Cappocia, is the developer trying to swing this “inclusionary zoning” deal involving 544 E. 13th  St. But Bailey said he could not confirm that. Actually, this program could work out better in terms of affordable housing than what was done with the other former squats, the attorney contended. Namely, the other legalized squats actually could convert to market-rate status in 30 to 40 years, once their mortgages are paid off, Bailey contended. Setting 544 E. 13th St. apart then, under the new deal, all its units would be affordable in perpetuity. About three weeks ago, representatives of UHAB and BFC toured the building. Bailey denied that Celeste and the Dawsons are the problem in reaching that “common ground,” and countered that the building is well-run. EastVillagerNews.com

“We represent some of the richest, most exclusive buildings in the city,” Bailey said of his law firm. “This board [at 544 E. 13th St.] is as good as any building I’ve worked with, and they’re working really hard on it, using their own sweat equity and money [to rehab the building]. I’m impressed with it. … To me, there’s no civil war. I know that Isabel is trying to fix the building. I think that they deserve medals, not to be crapped on.” Bailey, in turn, blasted the longtime former squatters who are not allied with the Dawsons, including Annie Wilson, Diallo — “Annie and her minions,” as he put it — saying they are, in fact, the ones standing in the way of progress. “Annie does not contribute anything positive to the building,” he charged. “She actually should be evicted.” Asked who exactly is footing the bill for his high-priced law firm’s services, Bailey just replied that it was “people” living in the building, and said he couldn’t be more specific. For her part, Wilson was galled at

the idea of the former squat — and what it symbolizes — potentially now being used to help boost the bulk of a new luxury residential project in the community. “It makes me sick,” she said. “It’s the irony of the matter.” In a statement, Marina Metalios, UHAB’s project manager for the building, said, “UHAB remains committed to helping the homesteaders at 544 E. 13th create a successful affordable housing co-op in their building. We are working and will continue to work with the homesteaders and other residents toward that end. This requires a unified resident body and a sound rehabilitation plan. UHAB is now crafting an inclusionary zoning opportunity through which rehab and co-op conversion would occur. We continue to offer to assist the homesteaders and others in the building in finding the common ground that will allow them to move to a stable, unified future.” Rosario Dawson, due to her success, is a role model, and her mother is well known in the community and is in-

volved in charitable causes. Councilmember Rosie Mendez said she knows Celeste and likes her. She knows Rosario, too, and admires her work for the Lower Eastside Girls Club. “Whatever he has done,” she said of Scott, “you can’t impute that to Rosario, her mother, his father or anyone else. You can’t impute any bad actions to the building either. Yes, Rosario grew up in the building. As far as I know, Rosario is not involved in any of the building issues.” However, Rosario Dawson did attend a meeting about the building this past April 22 at Good Old Lower East Side (GOLES) that was attended by a UHAB representative and a member of Mendez’s staff. As for whether the other former squats could become market-rate buildings in 30 to 40 years, Mendez said it depends on how the individual deals for each building were structured. The city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development may be pushing the expiring-affordability option, she said. October 30, 2014

23


Planned Service Changes

Mon to Fri 10PM to 5AM Nov 3 – 7 No E between Roosevelt Av and World Trade Center. No F between Roosevelt Av and 21 St-Queensbridge. M and R services end early each night. Travel Alternatives: • Take the 7 between Manhattan and 74 St/Roosevelt Av or Queensboro Plaza. • Take the N between Manhattan and Queensboro Plaza. • In Manhattan, transfer at 5 Av/42 St-Bryant Pk 7F, Times Sq-42 St/42 St-Port Authority 7A, and 34 St-Herald Sq FN. • In Manhattan along 8th Avenue, take the A local instead of the E. • Free shuttle buses run LOCAL between Queensboro Plaza and 74 St/Roosevelt Av making station stops at Queens Plaza, 36 St, Steinway St, 46 St, Northern Blvd, and 65 St. • In Queens, transfer between shuttle buses and trains at 74 St/Roosevelt Av 7EF or Queensboro Plaza 7N.

Stay Informed Call 511 and say “Current Service Status,” look for informational posters in stations, or visit mta.info — where you can access the latest Planned Service Changes information, use TripPlanner+, and sign up for free email and text alerts.

2014 Metropolitan Transportation Authority 24

October 30, 2014

EastVillagerNews.com

OCT 30 2014 EAST VILLAGER  

OCT 30 2014 EAST VILLAGER

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you