VOLUME 27, NUMBER 17
JANUARY 29-FEBRUARY 11, 2015
TO BE YOUNG AND IN LOVE WITH COMMUNITY BOARDS BY DU SI CA SU E M A L E S E V IC t had all the makings of a typical teen party — pizza and soda, excited chatter, and of course, young people. But it was no party, but rather a meeting to discuss a serious commitment that some adults would shy away from: serving on a community board. Late last Friday afternoon, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer hosted an informational session for young people interested in serving on their community board. At Brewer’s urging, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a law last summer that allows 16- and 17-years-old to be members of a board. As the application for this year draws almost to a close — Jan. 30 at 5 p.m. is the deadline — this will be the first time that teenagers can apply and be legally appointed. In a packed room at her office at 1 Centre St., one of the hopefuls, Heebong Kim, a 17-year-old student at Battery Park City’s Stuyvesant High School, said he wants to apply to Community Board 1. “I never felt that I had political capital,” he told Downtown Express.
Continued on page 14
Photo by Mike Groll/Associated Press
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver in Albany on Monday, the day more and more Assembly Democrats called on him to resign his leadership post.
Downtown loses its power broker B Y J OSH ROGERS ast year when Downtown school advocates renewed their battle to get more classroom space in the Schools Chancellor’s conference room, Sheldon Silver, their most powerful ally, had a simple solution for the school leader: Use my conference room across the street.
Although the idea was rejected by Chancellor Carmen Farina, Assembly Speaker Silver did say he was able to get her to agree to more class space in her Tweed Courthouse headquarters for later this year. It was just one of many instances where Silver used his clout in
Albany to get results on local issues in his Lower Manhattan district. It’s an enormous power that Downtown lost Tuesday when the speaker agreed to give up his leadership post after the feds accused him of using his power to illegally rake in Continued on page 5
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A local leader who has lent a sympathetic ear to South Street Seaport preservationists fighting the proposed development project there, has just been tapped to join the city Landmarks Preservation Commission — the same commission which is about to begin reviewing the proposal. Mayor Bill de Blasio last week nominated Wellington Chen, executive director of the Chinatown Partnership Local Development Corp., to the 11-seat commission. Chen, 62, said he has a lifelong love of the sea, and has taken a particular interest in the South Street Seaport Historic District. “My father was a seaman who died at sea,” Chen told Downtown Express Jan. 21, the day his appointment was announced. “I believe in the [South Street] Seaport…. That’s the quintessential — our local [development corporation] points to the sea. This is the essence of the area.” Chen attended a Save Our Seaport rally against the Howard Hughes Corp.’s project in October, 2013, and said he was pleased to learn there that another attendee, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, has a deep connection to the South Street Seaport Museum since her grandfather was involved in its creation. “I was there not to protest, just to listen,” Chen added. Similarly, Chen attended Community Board 1’s public hearing on the landmarks application for the proposal last month at St. Paul’s Chapel, but did not speak. That standing room only hearing drew hundreds, and it appeared there were more supporters than opponents of the project, so he got to hear both sides. Chen said he had not decided if he should recuse himself from voting on the Seaport proposal, and he wanted to check with Landmarks Chairperson Meenakshi Srinivasan to see if she thought he should. The commission is expected to begin reviewing the application sometime soon. Feb. 17 is the earliest possible date. It’s not clear if Chen has taken any public positions against the Hughes proposal, and any statements he may have made about the need to preserve the Seaport Historic District would essentially amount to the commission’s mandate for all of the city’s historic districts. Last week, he did not offer an opinion as to whether he thought the
BY DUSI CA SUE M ALESEVI C
Downtown Express file photo
Seaport’s district should be extended to include the New Market Building, site of Hughes’ proposed 500-foot tower, which has been the center of much of the opposition. The 1939 building was used a part of the Fulton Fish Market and is included in the non-binding national and state historic districts, but the Landmarks Commission has rejected previous attempts to include it in the city historic district, and appears to have no interest in revisiting the issue. But C.B.1 is poised to pass a new Seaport resolution, which includes a renewed call to landmark the New Market. (The board was to take the matter up Jan. 26, but the meeting was canceled because of an expected blizzard. The tentative date is now Feb. 5) The community board resolution will be sent to the commission, which is likely to soon include Chen and Kim Lee Vauss, an architect with Outsource Consultants who was also appointed last week. Their appointments to the unpaid positions are subject to City Council confirmation and its Rules Committee will consider the nominations on Feb. 4. But there is no reason to think there’ll be any hitches there. City Council fights over landmarks appointments are unusual to say the least, and in Chen’s case, he has a long-standing and friendly working relationship with Councilmember Margaret Chin, a tower opponent whose district includes Chinatown and the Seaport. With the Chinatown Partnership, Chen has pushed to keep the streets clean as one of many efforts to help the neighborhood’s small businesses. Though he will occupy the only “lay member” seat on the commission, meaning he has no professional landmarks expertise on landmarks, he is experienced on the issue.
The speculation is over: Michael Fortenbaugh is officially out of North Cove Marina as the Battery Park City Authority named Brookfield Office Properties and its partner Island Global Yachting the marina’s operator at their Thurs., Jan. 22 morning meeting. Brookfield Properties will pay $4.5 million in license payments over ten years, as well as an up-front capital improvement offer of $450,000 for the marina: lighting, new signage and landscaping, said Shari Hyman, president and C.O.O. of the authority. Fortenbaugh’s North Cove Marina Management was paying the authority $300,000 a year and offered $400,000 during this bidding process. The meeting took place at 200 Liberty St., once the World Financial Center and now Brookfield Place. Supporters of Fortenbaugh, who has run the marina for the past ten years, lined up downstairs to attend the meeting. The room adjacent to the boardroom was packed and many carried signs that said “Stop
Albany Pay-to-Play.” Dennis Mehiel, the chairperson and C.E.O. of the authority explained its position before a vote was taken on the request for proposals, or R.F.P., for the marina operator. Community Board 1 had passed a resolution in December asking that the B.P.C.A. to withdraw the current R.F.P. process and asked for more community input. Elected officials then wrote a Dec. 29 letter to the authority supporting C.B. 1’s unanimously passed resolution. Mehiel said that the authority was “pleased” and “overwhelmed a little bit at the tremendous interest” that the community has shown in the meeting. “In two and half years or a little more that I’ve been here, I’ve never seen such a crowd,” he said. He stressed that the authority has protocols that are not subject to discretion. Mehiel said that the authority “satisfied” itself that it had made the right decision on the successful bidder in the extra time that it had after the unplanned delay at its December meeting — the
board did not have a quorum for the vote because Mehiel did not attend and member Martha Gallo recused herself. “We took that time, went back, spent a little bit more time with the successful bidder, clarified our expectations and their commitments,” he said, “and decided again that we are doing the right thing for Battery Park City residents, for the marina, for the community at large and, of no small significance, for the taxpayers.” Mehiel said that when the R.F.P. was issued, the current operator, Fortenbaugh was invited to bid. He did not refer to Fortenbaugh by name, calling him the “incumbent.” “We got the bids in. We looked at it, we saw the deficiencies,” said Mehiel. “We do value incumbency, we do not ignore incumbency so we decided to invite all the bidders in for additional meetings.” Mehiel did not offer details of the bid’s “deficiencies.” The authority has received letters and phone calls from the community, the
community board and elected officials, he said. “It’s all their right to do that,” said Mehiel. “But when you think about it, what it really amounts to is an individual bidder in a R.F.P. process who believes he is unsuccessful and decides to mount political pressure on the authority to subvert our process and preserve his economic interests in the operation of the marina.” The crowd in the back started booing. “When we don’t respond with a change in our process or protocol, we are accused of running a process subject to political manipulation by the governor of the state of New York,” said Mehiel. “We start with political pressure to change the outcome. If it’s not successful we accuse the authority of having political pressure to have made the decision that we are going to vote on this morning.” He also answered questions about the fact that his yacht has sometimes docked at Brookfield’s partner, Island Global Continued on page 11
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January 29-February 11, 2015
POLICE ARREST RESTAURANT THIEF On Sun., Jan. 25, police say they arrested the thief that has been hitting restaurants in Tribeca and the Financial District — working in the dead of night to steal from registers. The police’s anti-crime team saw the man break into a Pret a Manger near City Hall. The 63-year-old got in through the front door at around 3 a.m. while the restaurant at 319 Broadway was closed. Police say he then tried to open a locked cash box to get at the money, but did not succeed. He was then arrested. The man has been suspected in a rash of break-ins that happened since last December. On Thurs., Jan. 15, he is suspected of robbing Arome Cafe, at 7 Dey St., at 2:45 a.m. The man shattered the glass front door of the restaurant with an unknown object, went in and grabbed $1,600 from two registers. He then fled east on Dey St. towards Broadway, police say. At 12:30 a.m. on Sun., Dec. 28, police say he broke into the Asian restaurant Obao, at 38 Water St., by
kicking in the glass side entrance and got away with $400 from two registers. On Tues., Jan. 6, he used a fire hydrant cap to break a glass door at Anejo, a restaurant at 301 Church St., at 12:40 a.m. Police say he looked around the restaurant and left empty-handed — seeing nothing that he could grab.
SHOPLIFTER THREATENS TO STAB A shoplifting incident at an Urban Outfitters in the Financial District was taken up a notch when the man who stole a pair of $60 pants brandished a box cutter to get out of the store, police say. Two employees at the clothing store at 182 Broadway saw the man grab the pants. As he tried to leave, he said, “You better move before I cut you” and showed the box cutter. The employees, one 25 and one 20, told police that the suspect had a “dead right eye” and a tattoo on his neck with a picture of lips.
GRAB AND GO IN SOHO Two men and one woman pulled off a $1,500 jacket heist from Mackage store last Sunday.
An employee told police that the three took the leather jacket and shoved it into a shopping bag at 5:30 p.m. on Jan. 25. They then fled from the 123 Mercer St. store, jumped into a 2002 tan Toyota sedan and sped off. In another incident in Soho at the Celine store at 67 Wooster St., video surveillance shows a man taking a python classic navy purse worth $6,200 at 3 p.m. on Tues., Jan. 20 and then leaving the store. Police say that the store has motion-detecting cameras but, for some reason, it did not pick up the removal of the purse.
DISNEY DREAMS DASHED Three Brazilian tourists were getting drinks at Starbucks at 195 Broadway in the Financial District on Mon., Jan. 19 when the bag that contained $1,800, credit cards and three vouchers for Walt Disney World were stolen, police say. One of the group, a 29-year-old man went to the counter and left his Calvin Klein brown bag on the table with his two friends. A stranger came up to them and started talking. The two women didn’t understand why the stranger was talking to them and thought that she was trying to start a fight. While the conservation continued, the stranger took off her coat and put it on the table. When she left, the friends didn’t think to look for the bag — but it was gone.
SUBWAY ROBBER CAUGHT A “lush worker” — one who preys on the sleeping or drunk on the train — was caught after the arresting officer saw the man take an iPhone 6, valued at $869, from a sleeping passenger’s pocket on Fri., Jan. 16, according to police. The victim, a 24-year-old man who lives in the Bronx, was on the A train when the robbery took place at 3:30 p.m. The suspect got off the train at the Chambers St. station and was apprehended with the phone at the corner of
Warren and Church Sts. Police say the suspect, a 32-year-old Queens man, was found with a razor blade on him — a common tool for lush workers, who slice pockets to get what is stored inside.
COPS FASTER THAN SNEAKER THIEVES Thieves using fraudulent gift or credit cards have hit the high-end clothing store Balenciaga in Soho for the third time this month — each time for costly sneakers. Police say that on Wed., Jan. 14, at 12:20 p.m., two teenagers came into the store at 149 Mercer St. and used forged gift cards to buy two pairs of sneakers, worth $1,330. The two men — one 17, one 18 — were caught later that day and arrested. The sneakers were recovered and the teens, both from Brooklyn, were found with several fake gift cards from other stores, such as Zara. Three days later, on Sat., Jan. 17, a man, 20, used either fake credit cards or gift cards to buy two pairs of sneakers, valued at $665 a pair. Police arrested the Brooklyn man later that day and the sneakers were recovered. The previous week, on Jan. 10, three people were busted for using fake credit cards at the same store to buy sneakers, which the police also got back.
THIEF SHOPS AMAZON A New Jersey woman was enjoying her Chipotle at 2 Broadway in the Financial District, leaving her wallet next her on a chair while she ate on Mon, Jan. 19 at 2:50 p.m. She left and forgot her wallet. When she came back five minutes later, it was gone. Inside her Prada wallet, worth $500, was $120 in cash, as well as a debit and credit card. The woman, 24, told police there was an unauthorized charge of $57 made to Amazon.
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Speaker arrested and charged with taking $4 million BY LINCOLN ANDERSON A political tsunami hit Lower Manhattan and all of New York State last Thursday as Sheldon Sheldon, the powerful speaker of the Assembly, surrendered to the F.B.I. on multiple corruption charges. According to U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, Silver’s alleged crimes include two forms of graft involving his outside income over the past 10 years: namely, accepting kickbacks from a real estate law firm, as well as engaging in a quid pro quo involving asbestos patients and state funding, altogether totaling nearly $4 million. “These charges in our view go to the very core of what ails Albany,” Bharara said last week. “Lack of transparency, lack of accountability and lack of principle, joined with an overabundance of greed, cronyism and self-dealing.” Silver, 70, was charged with five counts of corruption, extortion and fraud, each carrying a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. He turned himself in at 26 Federal Plaza at 8 a.m. Thursday. Then — with his hands cuffed behind his back — he was driven in a white Impala to nearby Federal Court and arraigned of his charges. Pleading not guilty on all counts, he was freed on $200,000 bond. Exiting court, as TV news reporters thrust microphones at him, he said a few words — including, “I hope I’ll be vindicated” — then walked off. Last Friday, Silver, in conference
Downtown Express photo by J.B. Nicholas
Sheldon Silver, in handcuffs, is driven from F.B.I. headquarters to Federal Court last Thursday morning.
with his fellow assemblymembers, laid out a scheme under which he hoped to retain his speakership while agreeing to delegate temporarily some of his powers — including negotiating the state budget — to a committee of five senior assemblymembers while he confronted the charges. But his plan was panned, and by
early this week, it was clear that the majority of Assembly Democrats wanted Silver to step down as speaker. Joseph Morelle, the Assembly majority leader, initially conveyed to Silver the message that he had until next Tuesday to decide on whether to step down or face being ousted. However, as of this Tuesday evening,
Assembly Democrats had agreed that Morelle, who is from Rochester area, would temporarily assume the role of acting speaker for eight days starting next Monday, as the Assembly searches for a new leader. On Feb. 10, an election will be held to fill the speaker position Continued on page 6
Downtown without Silver’s power Continued from page 1
nearly $4 million. If convicted, Silver, 70, faces at least 20 years in jail. “Frankly I think Downtown should be draped in black,” said Paul Hovitz, one of the school advocates who worries about the effect of Silver’s loss of power. He said if convicted, Silver of course should go, but he feels the speaker is “being tried in the press” and shouldn’t have been pressured to give up the leadership position. There were many calls for him to resign from the state and on editorial boards immediately after the charges were first reported Jan. 22, but Downtown, there seemed to be a sense of shock and unwillingness to go that far. (State Sen. Brad Hoylman’s tweet calling for a resignation last week was a notable exception.) Even Democratic District Leader Paul Newell, DowntownExpress.com
who challenged Silver in 2008, emphasized the problems of legislators getting outside pay, but he was careful not to call for Silver to leave unless the accusations were true. By Sunday he and his fellow leaders of Downtown Independent Democrats, called for Silver to give up his leadership post. Silver has maintained he will be vindicated and on Tuesday he said he had no plans to give up his Assembly seat. His district covers FiDi, the Seaport, Chinatown most of Battery Park City, and much of the Lower East Side, where he lives. State Sen. Daniel Squadron, like many Downtown leaders has been mostly quiet since news broke, but he this released this statement Wednesday: “There’s no question the charges are serious and disturbing. As with all allegations against public officials, it’s sad for the state and people’s faith in their government. In this case, it’s particularly acute in Lower Manhattan where he has been a stalwart for rebuilding, schools, and beyond. As
the state heads into its budget negotiations, I hope the Assembly leadership can focus without distraction and earn the confidence of New Yorkers across the state.” Tammy Meltzer, a Community Board 1 member, said last week that she hopes the charges are not true, but regardless it “does not diminish all of the good work he’s done for Lower Manhattan…. “I am torn between being hopeful that he will have the power he has had because the charges prove to be incorrect, and worry what it will mean for Lower Manhattan,” she said. “Speaker Silver has been an amazing advocate.” She and Hovitz have served on the speaker’s School Overcrowding Task Force, which has successfully pushed the city Dept. of Education to build more schools in Lower Manhattan, the city’s fastest growing area. Hovitz said he hoped the task force would continue, but that was one of many things he was wondering about now. January 29-February 11, 2015
Silver out as speaker Continued from page 5
permanently. Silver said, “I will not hinder the process.” He intends to keep his Assembly seat, but, if ultimately convicted of a felony he would no longer legally be allowed to serve. In the days leading up to Tuesday evening’s news, calls for Silver to step down had been mounting. “He should understand that he’s lost the confidence of a majority of our conference,” Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh said. Governor Andrew Cuomo offered that “it would be a good thing” if someone else took over as speaker, and that “governing by committee” doesn’t work. “It’s not time to step aside; it’s actually time to step down,” City Comptroller Scott Stringer declared. “We need one leader in the Assembly, someone who can guide these budget negotiations.” Other influential voices calling for Silver to throw in the towel included Assemblymember Keith Wright and Public Advocate Letitia James. It’s been a swift and dramatic fall for Silver, who has been the powerful Assembly speaker for the past 20 years. A native Lower East Sider, he has represented Lower Manhattan’s 65th Assembly District since 1976. Silver is accused of two separate schemes, occurring over the past decade. In the first, he allegedly directed real estate developers with business before the state to a small real estate law firm run by his former general counsel, for which the firm allegedly paid him $700,000. In the second, he is accused of secretly funneling two state grants totaling $500,000 to a Columbia University cancer researcher who, in turn, referred asbestos cancer patients to Weitz and Luxenberg — the law firm where Silver is a personal-injury lawyer. Prosecutors say the firm then paid Silver a total of $3.2 million in “referral fees.” Bharara said Silver did “nothing” to collect his legal fees except trade on his influence in the Assembly.
Over the years, Silver was famously well known for resisting efforts to make him reveal information about his outside income. He has said that he earns more than $650,000 per year from the law firm, though exactly what he did for it was always shrouded in secrecy. His government salary is $121,000. The investigation originally grew out of the Moreland Commission, Governor Cuomo’s anticorruption panel, which focused on probing Albany legislators’ outside income and campaign finance. However, legislators took legal action to block the investigations into their outside income. News of Silver’s imminent arrest was first announced early Thursday morning in a New York Times article. State Senator Brad Hoylman was the first to call publicly — on Twitter — for Silver to step down. “Speaker Silver should resign for the good of the people of New York,” Hoylman tweeted. Wednesday night, Cuomo had given his State of the State speech, with Silver seated prominently right beside him on the stage. He has previously called for “serious new restrictions” on state politicians’ outside income, which he said is often “shady.” Democratic District Leader Paul Newell, who ran a spirited race against Silver in the 2008 Democratic primary, issued an e-mail statement around 6 a.m. last Thursday on Silver’s “imminent arrest.” “If the report in The New York Times is true, this is a sad day for Lower Manhattan and a sad day for New York,” Newell said. “I can’t speak to the specific charges against the speaker, but I can say that outside income for legislators is a certain recipe for corruption. Speaker Silver and Majority Leader Skelos should have banned it long ago.” Asked if he thought Silver should resign, Newell said, “If the allegations are true, certainly. If not, he has the right to defend himself.” Silver is a champion among many progressive Democrats for his support of bread-and-butter causes, like unions, teachers and programs to help the poor.
TRANSIT SAM Thursday, January 29 – Wednesday, February 4 ALTERNATE SIDE PARKING RULES ARE IN EFFECT ALL WEEK. Check 311 for updates Below-freezing temperatures and even more snowfalls are in the forecast through the week, so the snow will most likely stick around. Avoid driving if at all possible, but if you must, use extreme caution. Follow me on Twitter @GridlockSam to stay up-to-date on the latest news on road closures, alternate side parking suspensions, and transit service changes. It’s that time again! Lower Manhattanites, in case you missed it, the M.T.A. will be raising tolls and fares. Here’s a guide to what you’ll be paying, starting March 22: Subway fare: $2.75 base MetroCard, $3 single ride, $31 weekly, $116.50 30-day unlimited. Verrazano Bridge: $16 cash, $11.08 E-ZPass. Robert F. Kennedy Bridge, BronxWhitestone Bridge, Throgs Neck Downtown Express photo by J.B. Nicholas
Speaker Silver after leaving Federal Court last Thursday.
Indeed, in the wake of the shocking news, Mayor Bill de Blasio voiced support for the Assembly speaker, calling him “a man of integrity,” and saying that he was owed “due process.” Similarly, last Thursday, two of Silver’s longtime Assembly colleagues from Manhattan’s West Side, Deborah Glick and Richard Gottfried, stressed that Silver has not been convicted of anything, and praised him for his work in the Assembly. Gottfried said that, in fact, in his view, Silver is nothing less than a political hero. And he indicated that he felt Silver should remain as speaker while the charges are being resolved. “Speaker Silver is presumed innocent until proven guilty, like every American,” Gottfried said in a statement. “A criminal complaint is an accusation; it is not evidence. “I have confidence that Speaker Silver, with the strong support of the Assembly majority, will continue to do the job of working for a progressive agenda while the current charges are being resolved…. “There is no one in public life in New York who has fought more effectively, for decades, for almost everything I care about in public policy than Sheldon Silver.” Meanwhile, Glick, in a phone interview, said: “There are constitutional protections that apply to everyone, from the highest person to the lowest person. Those include the presumption of innocence.”
Downtown Express file photo by Terese Loeb Kreuzer
Sheldon Silver in happier days: The Downtown Little League’s Opening Day, 2013.
January 29-February 11, 2015
Continued on page 8
Bridge, Hugh L. Carey Battery Tunnel, Queens Midtown Tunnel: $8 cash, $5.54 E-ZPass. Henry Hudson Bridge: $5.50 cash, $2.54 E-ZPass. Marine Parkway-Gil Hodges Memorial Bridge, Cross Bay Veterans Memorial Bridge: $4 cash, $2.08 E-ZPass. All Manhattan-bound lanes of the Brooklyn Bridge will close 11 p.m. Thursday to 6 a.m. Friday, midnight Friday to 7 a.m. Saturday, midnight Saturday to 9 a.m. Sunday, and 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. Monday through Wednesday nights. Expect extra traffic on the Manhattan and Williamsburg bridges, as well as in the Battery Tunnel. Canal, Delancey, and West Sts. will slow down as a result. In the Lincoln Tunnel, the New York-bound south tube will close 11 p.m. Thursday to 5 a.m. Friday. That will drive inbound traffic south to the Holland Tunnel, in which one New York-bound lane and one New Jersey-bound lane will be closed during the same period. Expect late
night delays and extra traffic on Canal and Varick Sts. On West St./Route 9A, one southbound lane from Vesey St. to West Thames St. will be closed 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. both Thursday and Friday. Email your traffic, transit and parking questions to TransitSam@ downtownexpress.com.
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Who might replace Silver Downtown? Continued from page 6
This week, after Silver agreed to leave his leadership position, Glick said â€œItâ€™s sad. ... He had a huge number of key victories,â€? rattling off a number of these. â€œWe donâ€™t have a West Side stadium because he knew it was the wrong thing to do. Obviously, we have marriage equality because he put it on the agenda and we voted on it several times before the governor stepped in to help with the Senate.â€? She also noted that Silver had protected rent regulation. â€œHe has a great record â€” and itâ€™s very sad,â€? she concluded. Kavanagh, who has been outspoken in calling for Silver to step down, unlike Glick and Gottfried, is a relative newcomer to the Assembly, having only served since 2007. Newspaper editorials last week promptly called for Silver to resign, with The New York Times declaring it â€œincredibleâ€? for him to think of continuing to serve in his Assembly job while defending himself against
bribery and kickback charges involving millions. Last Friday, City Councilmember Margaret Chin released a statement calling the charges â€œdeeply serious and deeply concerning. The speaker has been a strong advocate for the Lower Manhattan community, and he has especially been a champion for local schools and affordable housing. I am personally very troubled by these allegations against the speaker, but I will refrain from passing judgment on his current legal situation until the judicial process is complete.â€? Among the names mentioned as the most likely permanent replacement for Silver have been Morelle, Wright, Joseph Lentol from Greenpoint, Carl Heastie from the Bronx and Cathy Nolan from Queens. Glick, too, has at times in the past been mentioned as a possible candidate for speaker. Asked about that last Thursday, though, she said, â€œIâ€™m not going to engage in any musings or hypotheticals at this point.â€?
In the eventuality that Silver is, in fact, convicted of a felony, meaning his seat would become open or he does not run for reelection next year, there is no shortage of candidates who would be ready to run for the position. Some names that have been mentioned include his former primary opponent Newell; Julie Menin, the cur-
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rent Department of Consumer Affairs commissioner and former Community Board 1 chairperson; and Alan van Capelle, former executive director of the Empire State Pride Agenda and current president of the Educational Alliance. No doubt, other candidates might emerge.
Wellington Chen He said he wasContinued proudfrom to page have2 help lead the effort to landmark Flushing Town Hall as chairperson of Community Board 7â€™s Landmarks Committee. He was on the Queens board from 1977-90 and was the first Chinese-American ever appointed to the board. As a veteran of 18 years of public hearings, â€œI have a very good sense of whoâ€™s lying and whoâ€™s not, whoâ€™s making up things and whoâ€™s not,â€? he said.
Chen looks forward to working with the commission and the public to get the best result on every proposal. â€œThe thing is, itâ€™s not really a simple up or down vote,â€? he said. â€œIt requires a dialogue.â€? The appointment came as a surprise. â€œI had no idea this was going to happen,â€? Chen said. â€œEvery opportunity I was ever given in this great country I was presented with it. I never asked for it.â€?
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W.T.C. arts center ideas taking shape B Y DUSICA SU E M A L E SE V IC T he World Trade Center Performing Arts Center — an important part of the original plan for the site but which has been plagued with delays — still does not have an architect, but is moving forward with a clear vision of what kind of performing arts space it would like to be. “One upside of the shift in architects is that we really have had time to put together what this building is going to be — what we want it to be,” said Lucy Sexton, associate artistic director. Architect Frank Gehry’s design for the Performing Arts Center was dropped last September. Sexton explained that the center would not only present art, but would also commission it. “You don’t build a theater in the middle of the greatest city in the world to import work,” she said. “We took the idea of it being a World Trade Center, not just for the exchange of goods but also a World Trade Center for the exchange of cultures and ideas and a place to gather and come together.” There will be three theaters with different seat capacity — 550, 350 and 150 — that will be configured in such a way that they can be combined, said Sexton. The center will mount theater, musical theater, dance, music and new opera performances. Sexton, who said she had “deep roots” in the dance and theater world and also runs the New York Dance and Performance Awards, said that there have been many conversations with artists to discuss needs. It was brought up repeatedly that there wasn’t a venue to perform new or smaller operas, thus its addition to the list. Sexton said that the PAC, as the arts center is often called, is talking to Pace University, Gibney Dance, Sam Miller of the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council and to the Apollo about co-producing or
working together. “To not give in to this idea that theaters need to be competitive with each other,” she said. The center intends to be “alive all day” — open from 8 a.m. to 1 in the morning. The idea that people come in during the daytime, have coffee, meet for lunch, see performances and linger after — or perhaps are visiting the 9/11 Memorial and Museum and decide to stop by the PAC. “The public space is very important to us. We want it to be a place where the people who work in this neighborhood, the people who live in this neighborhood, will come in, will gather,” Sexton said. “A place that gets a lot of traffic going through it all times of day.” The center would be the “most digitally advanced space in the city, in the country, one of the most digital advanced spaces in the world so that it can respond to the art that’s being made increasingly with digital media,” explained Sexton. “If you built it with enough digital infrastructure so that you could actually connect with another theater, you could have performance happening in New York City and in Seoul and in Rio,” she said. In addition to the global ties, that digital infrastructure will also allow streaming a rehearsal or master class so that students in other boroughs or just down the street can watch or be a part of it. “These are lofty goals, they’re adventurous goals but I think that they are ones that its — if you’re going to build a new theater, it’s what required,” said Sexton, who called the center a “connecting node.” David Lan, who runs the Young Vic in London, was named the consulting artistic director of the PAC and has been in that position since September of 2013, according to The Guardian. Both Sexton and Maggie Boepple, the center’s president, touted Lan’s
Continued from page 3
Downtown Express photo by Dusica Sue Malesevic.
Maggie Boepple, president of the World Trade Center’s Performing Arts Center.
record — a 96 percent capacity for the audience at the Young Vic, a theater founded to stage innovative plays at affordable prices. Boepple called it “astonishing” that Lan has maintained an almost packed house for the past five years. The makeup of the audience is also diverse. Boepple said that it is important that the PAC will be a “cultural, community center for this area” and to have an audience that represents the community. “It’s a challenge, no doubt, but it is definitely one of our goals that it should a place where lots of different people come to see theater, not just rich people,” said Sexton. Boepple said that the center could be open by late 2018 or 2019, depending on the Port Authority, which is still completing infrastructure. The site of the PAC is at Vesey and Greenwich Sts., currently the temporary PATH station. “However, you will see some PAC productions before that because we want to wet everyone’s whistles,” said Boepple, although she doesn’t yet have a venue or timetable for
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January 29-February 11, 2015
that. She said that their operations are moving higher in One Liberty Plaza, thanks to a gift from Brookfield Properties — a five-year lease that costs the PAC nothing. C.B. 1 member Kathleen Gupta asked Boepple what were PAC’s “synergies” with the 9/11 Memorial and Museum and the various family groups. “I know there’ve been issues in the past about what type of art would be presented so close to Ground Zero,” said Gupta, referring to a dispute a decade ago, which ended up moving the cultural center off the memorial block. “We are very close to the people in the memorial. We obviously will be very respectful of the family groups. But I think the PAC always was about the future,” said Boepple. “That was the way it was started up, way before we got there. The memorial is about what happened and we’re about the future. We are living, we are breathing, and it’s sort of a slightly different feeling than the memorial and the museum.”
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Yachting marinas. Andrew Farkas is the chairperson of IGY and was one of the largest contributors to Governor Andrew Cuomo’s campaign. “I own a yacht,” he said. “Guilty. Guilty as charged.” He said that the boat lives in the Caribbean and the “suggestion is put forward that businesses conducted between my boat and IGY, that is to say Mr. Farkas’ company has somehow contaminated this process and I [have] a conflict [of interest] and should recuse myself. Preposterous.” Cries of “yes, yes” were heard from the people in the back. People yelled questions and when Mehiel didn’t respond, “answer the question” was shouted. “We don’t have questions, unfortunately,” he said. “I apologize for this — with the protocols that we have here there are no public comments and we can’t change that precedent unfortunately.” When pressed again, he reiterated that there is no public comment during the meeting. “I don’t want to get into a dialogue,” he said to many laughs in the room. Many within the community decried the lack of transparency of this R.F.P. process. “It is disappointing that the Battery Park City Authority ignored the resolution from the community to withdraw the R.F.P.,” said Tammy Meltzer, C.B. 1 member, said by phone. Ina Woronoff, whose husband is a member of the club, said, “It’s disgusting that big business takes away pleasure from this community and from people in this city.” “Mr. Mehiel referred to political pressure, it was community pressure,” said Sinclair. Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer attended the meeting and told Downtown Express that moving forward, “We’ll see what we can do.” Meltzer said, “A greater conversation needs to be had” about the authority’s relationship with the community. “At the end of the day, it is a state agency that runs a local community,” said Meltzer, who said she couldn’t think of another area in the city that the state controls without any major community input. Brewer, along with Congressman Jerrold Nadler, State Senator Daniel Squadron and Councilmember Margaret Chin sent a Jan. 22 letter to Governor Cuomo asking for more local representation, asking him to “take advantage of DowntownExpress.com
current vacancies and appoint additional residents to the board as soon as possible.” They also requested that “moving forward, major authority decision-making, including R.F.P.s incorporate local input.” “Today the B.P.C.A. failed to provide the Battery Park City community with the representation it deserves,” said Jenifer Rajkumar, a Democratic district leader, in an email. “The B.P.C.A.’s process violated fundamental principles of good government and transparency and revealed an organization out of touch with the community and insensitive to the negative perceptions it has created. We now need to consider whether the Battery Park City Authority should be restructured and reformulated so that it will fairly and properly represent the interests of our community.” After the meeting, a B.P.C.A press release listed community programming that Brookfield Properties proposed: a wide variety of programs, a sailing school accessible to all income levels, a summer camp programs, water safety classes and a corporate sailing league. The specifics of these programs have not been revealed. “We will be working on a comprehensive plan for the marina over the coming months. We are also reaching out to members of the community,” said Melissa Coley, vice president for investor relations and communications for Brookfield Property Group, when asked about details. She issued this statement via email: “Our vision includes a sailing school for the community, summer and learn to sail programs. Our vision is an active, attractive and sustainable hub for the community. We will look to our 25 years of experience at Battery Park City in programming free community programs and events.” For his part, Mehiel said: “Indeed, it is our opinion … that these changes that we intend to implement at the marina are going to result in wider, not narrower, community use, access to the marina.” IGY and Governor Cuomo’s office did not respond. Fortenbaugh said after the meeting that he has got to keep going and he is moving his operations to Liberty Harbor in New Jersey. Asked if he has had any discussions with the Howard Hughes Corporation about their proposed marina at the Seaport, he said that IGY is designing it. “I don’t think we’re going to be invited there,” he said.
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Tribeca’s river center puts its trust in Clarkson B Y DUSICA SU E M A L E SE V IC A research and educational center to study the Hudson River estuary at Pier 26 was a seed planted in the ‘90s that is now beginning to blossom — funding and partners are now in place. The Hudson River Park Trust has announced the consortium that will operate and run the “estuarium” — with upstate Clarkson University taking the lead. Madelyn Wils, president and C.E.O. of the Trust, a state-city public authority, presented to Community Board 1’s Tribeca Committee on Wed., Jan. 14 and explained that the idea of having a research center has been around since the park was created, in 1998, and that it has been actively pursued for over ten years. The Hudson River Park Pier 26 Estuarium will be located between N. Moore and Hubert Sts. in Tribeca, but construction looks to be a few years away. “We very excited that the park after many years has been able to put together the funding as well as
the partner to do what’s called the estuarium on Pier 26,” said Peter Braus, the committee chairperson. “It’s going to be a great resource for the people within C.B. 1.” Clarkson University, located at Potsdam, New York, will lead the effort and work with the New York Hall of Science and the Hudson River Sloop Clearwater. Wils said that they were looking for institutions that could make the estuarium happen but not be a drain on the Trust’s resources. Wils, said the Trust reached out to every university in the region that could have been interested before selecting Clarkson. The university also has a math and engineering program, specializes in waterfront management, and said that they are willing to pay for the operations of the estuarium, she said. “They have a sensible way of how they’re going to get there,” said Wils. “And they’re guaranteeing it. That is a very big deal that we know that just as they run their university, they’re
going to be running their facility and it’s going to open.” Nicolette Witcher, the Trust’s vice president of education and environment, said the center’s goal is “to really promote and inspire and educate about the Hudson River environment. Our kind of pinnacle of that is to have a place where we can really focus the public’s attention on the river, on the estuary.” Witcher described an estuary as “the special place in the river where the freshwater meets the saltwater and creates this brackish environment so it’s salty, but not too salty and it creates this really unique ecosystem.” The center will take up about 12 percent of the pier and the Trust is “trying to figure out what the rest of it will be, but definitely a place for the public to enjoy,” said Witcher. People will be able come in and learn about the estuary — park patrons, boaters and students on school field trips to name a few. Scientists will be able to do realtime work, Witcher said, and will be
able to make connections upstate, downstate and in the harbor. The Hudson River estuary is 153 miles long and stretches from the New York Harbor to Troy, N.Y. The Beacon Institute of Rivers and Estuaries is a research facility that is now a part of Clarkson University. The institute is located in Beacon, New York and, in 2008, it launched the River and Estuaries Observatory Network, which is a “sophisticated network of realtime acoustic and optical sensors that reflect nearly instant changes in important physical and chemical parameters within the Hudson River itself,” according to its website. Clarkson recognizes the need of working with local groups, Witcher said, and is interested in other partners such as the River Project, which started studying the estuary on Pier 26 a few decades ago. “We’re all having talks and I think everybody’s hopeful that it might work out that all these organiContinued on page 13
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zations can work in there together,” Cathy Drew, the executive director of the River Project, said in a phone interview. The River Project, a marine field station, was at Pier 26 for about 25 years and is now temporarily located at Pier 40. Drew is excited about the upcoming season that includes Wetlab Look-Ins. Witcher said “It’s just the beginning of the process, but we’re so excited that we have all these, I think, great players at the table now. I think everyone has a smile on their face so far. We have a lot of work to do.” Wils said that the estuarium will likely be two stories and about 10,000 sq. ft. and what it looks like will depend on the programming, classrooms, research space and exhibits. She also said the Trust would come back to the community board about the planning process. There will be a “request for proposals” for a landscape architect
Pier 26, as it looked last summer.
later this year, said Wils. The Trust has received funding from the Port Authority, the state Dept. of Environmental Conservation and New York’s Dept.
of State, for a total of $9.5 million for the research center. However, Wils explained that more funding was needed to finish the rest of the park.
“We are requesting money from our government parents to do that and we would like your support,” she said. “We can’t open the pier until the park is finished.” The committee unanimously passed a resolution that supported the Trust’s efforts to finish the park and to encourage Clarkson to work with the River Project and other local groups that have been involved with educational programs on the river. Wils, a Tribeca resident and former chairperson of C.B. 1, said that the park is the second largest waterfront park in the country and it is about 70 percent finished — with around 70,000 sq. ft. of park space that still needs to be built. “We’re focused on working towards getting this park finished,” she said. “That’s really what we want to do and that’s what our intention is — so that every neighborhood in Hudson River Park has their park. Certain neighborhoods have their park built and other neighborhoods, like Tribeca, have half their park finished.”
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January 29-February 11, 2015
Community boards open up to high schoolers Continued from page 1
“Especially as a youth where no one votes, I felt like the political scene was really dominated by older persons.” Passionate about environmental science, Kim lives in Flushing, Queens, but wants to serve in Lower Manhattan and has already gone to Board 1 meetings. “I didn’t feel that government had a place for me,” he said. “To have a more active role in that process would just be incredible — especially at 17. I never thought I could do this even at 18.” Brewer started the meeting by talking about the long road that led to the passing of the legislation. A former community board member for ten years, Brewer said the idea started when she was a city councilmember and thought about having teenagers younger than 18 vote. “We should have young people vote in city elections,” she said. “The adults hated it as the young people loved it.” When that idea failed to gain support — although she says she hasn’t given up on it — she turned her sights to 16- and 17-years-old being a part of the community boards. “It’s a huge deal,” said Brewer, who said that the teens could be a part of “real stuff that goes on in the neighborhood. I am so excited to have all of you here.”
The law applies to the 55 community boards citywide. There are 12 boards in Manhattan and Brewer appoints all 300 members, with local councilmembers recommending half. Each unpaid member serves a staggered two-year term. Brewer said the majority of community boards have been receptive albeit some are a little nervous about the teens serving. She told Downtown Express later that some chairpersons may have to be sensitized to the issue. “I’ve been to thousands of community board meetings in my lifetime and there is not a youth voice,” she said. “The young people in some of these high schools are extraordinary. They’re voice needs to be out there.” Brewer said that she thinks that they can add “realistic agendas, things that need to be addressed.” There have been several meetings and Brewer said one in Washington Heights turned out 50 young people. Last Friday’s in Brewer’s Lower Manhattan office drew a few dozen. Brewer said at public appearances, audiences are particularly enthusiastic about young people joining community boards. “When I speak about what the office is doing and I talk about land use and so on and so forth,” she said. “And then I talk about 16- and 17-years-old, they all start clapping. Land use, nothing. There’s a huge interest.” Each potential applicant took turns introducing him or herself,
Brewer, speaking to the group, thinks all community boards need more young people.
January 29-February 11, 2015
Continued from page 14
Downtown Express photos by Dusica Sue Malesevic
Teens interested in applying for community board positions debated the best way to spend $100 million of public money during an exercise in Borough President Gale Brewer’s office last Friday.
stating their age and their school or university. The ages ranged from 15 to 21 and people were from all over Manhattan as well as some from Brooklyn. The meeting gave the teens the opportunity to learn community board basics and ask questions that are specific to their age and circumstances: homework, going off to college and working with mostly adults. Leila Eliot, 16, was recently selected to be a part of C.B. 3 and talked about her experience of being a teen member. Brewer said she is the first minor to legally serve on a community board in the United States. “I’m sure most of [you are] here because you want to be on a community board, which is amazing,” she told her peers. “It’s great.” Eliot said that there is “a big lapse in my community. There are teenagers who don’t get to say what they feel, say what they think, have a voice in their local community.” She attends Bard High School Early College and talked about how it is difficult to get homework done on nights that she has meetings and the need for time management. “It’s definitely a time commitment,” agreed Austin Ochoa, who was 19 when he joined C.B. 4 last year. Ochoa, now 20, fielded questions about issues community boards tackle. He talked about C.B. 4’s focus on affordable housing and said that the job is 365 days. “It’s going to be interesting to
bring the next generation into the fold,” said Ochoa, who attends City College and cites current City Councilmember and former C.B. 4 chairperson Corey Johnson as one of his idols. For 17-year-old Shirlyn Perez, a junior at High School for Media and Communications, to serve on a board is an opportunity that is “very appealing — not only because I get to contribute to my community but also learn a lot from it.” Perez, who lives in Washington Heights, said she will definitely be applying to her neighborhood’s board, C.B. 12. “It’s an exposure to many other things that we don’t get to experience at school,” she said. Perez said she would focus on the issues of low undergraduate rates and drug use in her neighborhood. Her classmate, Marleny Delarosa, 16 and from the Bronx, said she would also apply for C.B. 12. “I care for my community so I’m interested in knowing what’s going on and what I can do to help improve it,” she said. Some of the teens were concerned about leaving for college after serving on the board for a year. “We’re aware of that and it’s something that we [will] take into consideration,” said Brewer. “You could also serve a year and then when you go off, we’ll have to find somebody else. It’s a hard one….
“We try to look for the best people to represent the neighborhood,” said Brewer. “I am really committed to mak[ing] sure that every community board has young people on it.” Amir Stewart, 16, goes to Frederick Douglass Academy in Harlem, and loves football. He lives in Harlem and thinks that building more after-school youth programs is important and necessary. Growing up, he went to the Police Athletic League, a non-profit that provides all kinds of programming for kids, and remembers how a member of the organization took them to play football and basketball on the weekends. “Honestly, if it wasn’t for him, it would be a different scenario for a lot of kids,” said Stewart, who is undecided about applying because of his schedule. A school project that focuses on “social action” spurred Hector Hicks, 17, to come to the meeting. Hicks lives in Midtown and attends Pace High School in Chinatown. A project to help the community got him and his classmates thinking about the park by their school they frequent, Sara D. Roosevelt Park. Hicks said the meeting spurred him to find out whether the park is publicly or privately funded and whether they need to go before the community
‘I didn’t feel that government had a place for me, to have a more active role in that process would just be incredible — especially at 17. I never thought I could do this even at 18.’ office lives on the Upper West Side and goes to Hunter College High School, an elite public school. “There’s been all this talk about community boards here and I know that’s a huge thing now that we’ve gotten 16- and 17-years-old allowed on the board,” she said. Gupta said she has been interested in serving
her community for a long time and would apply to C.B. 7. “I just think it’s so important that we need to have youth voices on the board,” she said. “We need to start young. We need to start the conversation young. If we don’t have leaders who are young then we won’t have any idea what we’re doing.” Gupta said that there needs to be greater awareness about teen dating violence and she would bring this issue before the board. At the meeting, the teens were broken up into four groups for a budget exercise activity. With a $100 million surplus, each member had some time to determine how they would spend the money for certain areas, such as affordable housing or parks. Then the tricky part: debating and discussing with the group how they wanted to allocate the funds. It was harder than it looked, when one group went down to the wire to make the allocations. After each group presented what it would spend, Matthew Washington, chairperson of C.B. 11 in East Harlem, spoke about his experience of being on a community board. Washington joined his community board at 22 and at that time, he was the youngest member by 15 years. He was elected chair at 26-years-old and has been at the helm for the past five years. “I think it’s incredible that you’re all here,” said Washington. “It’s exciting because we get to give our voice to what is happening in our community.
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Continued on page 15
board for help in renovating it. He’s unsure about applying as he is graduating this year, but if he did he would want to be part of a Lower Manhattan board. At 15, Sarina Gupta is technically too young, but will be 16 this year. Gupta, an intern at Brewer’s
January 29-February 11, 2015
Moses: 40 years in the desert. Streit’s: 90 on the L.E.S. BY ZACH WI L L I A M S The Streit’s matzo company will vacate its longtime Lower East Side factory and relocate later this year. For nine decades the family-owned company has manufactured matzo from four adjacent former tenement buildings at 148-154 Rivington St., growing over that time from a local to international brand. But just as company founder Aron Streit moved the business there in 1925 from a smaller operation on Pitt St., the time has come to secure a more modern space for the manufacture and distribution of the unleavened, pockmarked bread eaten at Passover. “We’re basically at the same crossroads now,” said Aaron Gross, a great great-grandson of Streit who works at the company. “Manufacturing for national distribution on the Lower East Side of Manhattan is not an easy thing to do. We’re good at it. I think we do it as well as anyone could.” A critical factor in the decision to move is the factory’s aging equipment, Gross said. The two 72-foot-long ovens are more than 70 years old and repairing them is simply not economical anymore, according to Gross. New ovens are typically 150 to 200 feet long, an obvious challenge in a factory that’s only 100 feet from front to back. The machines that form flour and water into sheets of dough before baking, known as sheeters, also present spatial challenges, Gross said. “Our sheeters are about 12 feet,” he explained. “You can’t get a new sheeter that’s under 30 feet long.” A decision on where the company will next set up shop will be announced this year around Passover, Gross said. He declined to give further details or divulge to which real estate developer the current site has been sold. Streit’s matzo production, which now comprises about 40 percent of the U.S. market, will continue without interruption, he added. Consolidating operations into one new location will allow for some obvious efficiencies to be added into the production process. The current facility has no loading dock, leaving the shipments prone to delays on busy neighborhood streets. A move would also eliminate the need to bag matzo mix only for the trip to the company’s warehouse in New Jersey. In one facil-
January 29-February 11, 2015
Downtown Express photo by Zach Williams
Streit’s plans to close its Lower East Side factory sometime later this year.
ity, a single person with a hand truck could accomplish that task, Gross said. The current factory has six floors among the four buildings, necessitating the employment of six rabbis in order to ensure products adhere to religious strictures. Two or three rabbis could handle that task in a single-story building, he added. “I want to make this move and go from making matzo the most inefficient way to making it the most efficient way,” he said. Certain characteristics of a Streit’s matzo derive from the factory’s sometimes-zany setup. The archaic ovens utilize convection rather than direct flames to bake matzo, said Gross, who credited this method with producing the brownish blistering on their product, as well as an even complexion on both sides. The squares of unleavened bread then travel in package-sized portions via a basket system, carrying them from floor to floor. As they do this, they cool off, giving them a freshness absent from matzo from other companies that use refrigerators, Gross said. Staircases and corridors appear through walls and ceilings in the same places where Aron Streit wanted them way back when. Not a lot has changed since the last relocation in how they make matzo. “When we started looking to design a new factory, the equipment man-
E D U C AT I O N
Peck Slip principal makes plans for new building BY DUSI CA SUE M ALESEVI C The new Peck Slip School in the Seaport is expected to open to students this September and its principal Maggie Siena is looking forward to having a library and dedicated space for music, art and science. “It’s always nice to have a room that’s really dedicated for a single purpose,” Siena said in a phone interview this week. Peck Slip, also known as P.S. 343, has been “incubating” at the Dept. of Education’s Tweed Courthouse headquarters during the construction of the new facility. Siena said that she has been working with a vendor who will supply the school with new books for the library, which she described as a corner room with lots of sunlight. The classrooms at Tweed have been “chock block” full of books, she said. “Our classes have gone to the New York Public Library, which has been fantastic actually and we’ll probably want to consider ways that we can continue doing that,” said Siena. “But we
haven’t had a library on site yet so it’ll be exciting to have our own library.” At the beginning of the school year, Peck Slip parents complained about the noise at Tweed, as the school had to divide some classrooms to accommodate its growth. Siena said it will be wonderful to have the new spaces. “But I can say we really loved it here,” she said. “We’ll going to be leaving the nest and it’ll be time to leave the nest. We’ll be excited to have these new facilities. But there be a little bit of wistfulness in leaving kind of where we were born.” The new school will be at the former post office building on Peck Slip between Pearl and Water Sts. It is still a construction site so Siena has not been able to tour it. She has, however, visited the site and spoken with the construction team about plans. “We’re starting to wrap our minds around what it’ll be like to be in a much bigger space,” she said. The new school will go up to third grade its first year and Siena said that
Downtown Express file photo
Maggie Siena, Peck Slip School’s principal, in the school’s temporary Tweed Courthouse home.
they are still waiting to hear the word on pre-K. Peck Slip plans to eventually expand to the the 8th grade. Siena also will be expanding her staff and it’s “exciting to watch our staff grow and to watch the school community grow.” “I’ve been in lots of different school buildings — it really is the people more than the space that really makes
a school,” said Siena. “I’m sure it’ll be a beautiful space, but we’ve been happy here too, it’s a beautiful space [at Tweed] too.” Siena said that they are expecting to move into the new building in late August. “School Construction [Authority] is committed to coming in on schedule and I really believe they will,” she said.
235 East 11th Street New York, NY 10003 (212) 777-3240 www.thirdstreetmusicschool.org Monday through Friday, 8:30 AM – 9:00 PM Saturday, 8:30 AM – 5:30 PM
COME EXPLORE WITH US... ufacturers came through and were amazed that the old stuff still works and that the place was so well-designed, especially the basket system,” said Alan Adler, the company’s chief operating officer and great-grandson of Aron Streit. Gross added that certain elements of the current production process, such as paper packaging and the basket system, might continue in a new factory. The move will also involve a human cost, with some longtime employees unable to continue working for the company once it leaves the Lower East Side. An upcoming documentary film, “Streit’s: Matzo and the American Dream,” will portray the company, its employees and the surrounding neighborhood. One of the last bastions of manufacturing in the neighborhood, Streit’s
we’re your community music school!
got its start at a time when the Lower East Side was filled with Jewish immigrants. Such a readily available customer base made Rivington St. a convenient site for business back then. But international competition, particularly from Israel, now threatens Streit’s market share. Deep-pocketed investors now control Manischewitz and two other former domestic competitors, making Streit’s the last of four original family-owned matzo producers in the U.S. Emotions will take over the day when the Rivington St. factory closes, but the greater tradition of maintaining a family business will remain in place as the company finally undergoes the inevitable, said Gross. “To hang on here just for the sake of hanging on doesn’t make sense,” he said. DowntownExpress.com
Beginner group classes Individual or partner lessons Free trial lessons Weekly music and dance instruction for all ages and levels, after school and on Saturday afternoons. Third Street Preschool full and half-day programs. Daytime Toddler/Early Childhood dance and movement classes.
B R I N G I N G T H E A RT S TO L I F E SINCE 1894
January 2015 January 29-February 11,8, 2015
E D U C AT I O N
E D U C AT I O N
Ravitch tells parents to buck testing obsession
Last Wed., Jan. 21, around 200 parents, teachers and school activists attended a forum in Greenwich Village at P.S. 3 to protest what they slammed as the “test-obsessed” public school system. Ravitch urged audience members to join the “Opt-Out” movement and refuse to allow their children to take the tests. If enough parents join the effort, she said, the powers that be will have to get the message. After Ravitch’s speech, the crowd broke down into groups to work on alternatives to the testing system. Yet, the same night as the P.S. 3 event, Governor Andrew Cuomo, in his State of the State address, said teacher evaluations should be based even more heavily on their students’ test scores.
Photo courtesy Wikipedia
The Tweed Courthouse, where new Pre-K classes are expected to open.
Photos courtesy P.S. 3 PAC
At the forum, Diane Ravitch, inset, urged parents to “opt out” of the deluge of prescribed tests. After her remarks, audience members broke up into working groups.
Start Here. Go Anywhere.
The city’s Dept. of Education is continuing to take applications for kindergarten with the deadline being Feb. 13. Families who apply on the last day have the same chance as getting their first choice as those who have already applied. A 5- year-old child who is zoned for a school and who has a sibling already enrolled is given top priority, followed by children already zoned for a school. Education officials advise parents that there is no advantage to being “strategic” about choice lists, and to list them in true preference order. In Lower Manhattan, there have been kindergarten waiting lists in most recent years, but with the expected expansion of Peck Slip School into its new building, it is possible there will be none this September. Last year P.S. 276 in Battery Park City was the only one with a waiting list for zoned students. P.S. 234 in Tribeca, which has consistently waitlisted applicants because the school is in such high demand, last year was able to offer spots to non-
zoned families when it had room to offer two extra kindergarten classes. For more information or to apply visit schools.nyc.gov/ ChoicesEnrollment/Elementary/kindergarten. Parents may also apply by calling 718.935.2400.
PRE-K The city’s Dept. of Education has not yet announced the pre-K spots this year, but Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina told Downtown Express last year that there will be a few classes in the D.O.E.’s headquarters on Chambers St. Last year, the city expanded its full-day pre-K program to over 50,000, fulfilling one of the central promises of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s 2013 campaign. The city hopes to expand to 70,000 full-day seats for this September, which should be enough to offer a spot somewhere to every eligible family who wants one. The pre-K registry is expected to be released in March at: schools.nyc. gov/ChoicesEnrollment/PreK/default. html or call 718-935-2009. Same
NURSERY SCHOOL • PRE-K • SUMMER Same great programs with new options for preschool and pre-kindergarten classes Join us 9am-3pm, 9am-12noon, 2pm-5pm or 8am-6pm
Music with Lou Gallo Singer, song-writer & Storyteller Lou Gallo will lead a 9 week Music & Rhythm Class Mondays 4:15-5:00 pm January 25th through March 30th Open for children ages 12 months - 5 years Must be accompanied by an adult Space is limited! $150.00 for the 9 week series For more information or to register your child please call 212-945-0088 or email email@example.com
NURSERY SCHOOL • PRE-K • SUMMER great programs with new options for preschool and pre-kindergarten classes Join uswho 9am-3pm, 9am-12noon, “Children learn rhythm at an early age, 2pm-5pm or 8am-6pm develop stronger reading & math skills”
CALL FOR A VISIT 212-945-0088 Borough of Manhattan Community College www.bmcc.cuny.edu/StartHere TheVillager.com 18 January 29-February 11, 2015
215 South End Ave., Battery Park City (Two blocks south of Brookﬁeld Place)
TheVillager.com January 8, 2015 7 DowntownExpress.com
January 8, 2015
January 29-February 11, 2015
Jennifer Goodstein EDITOR
Josh Rogers REPORTER
Dusica Sue Malesevic ARTS EDITOR
Scott Stiffler SENIOR V.P. OF SALES & MARKETING
Francesco Regini ACCOUNT EXECUTIVES
Jack Agliata Allison Greaker Jennifer Holland Julio Tumbaco
Posted To “BON VOYAGE FOR THE PEKING? SEAPORT MUSEUM TACKS IN THAT DIRECTION” (PRINT EDITION, JAN 15):
Michael Shirey GRAPHIC DESIGNERS
Andrew Gooss Chris Ortiz WEB MASTER
A museum is one thing. It is not a seaport. What is the history that we want to be our memory? Study other historical seaports..........are they without sails? Diane Fabrizio
Milo Hess Jefferson Siegel PUBLISHER EMERITUS
John W. Sutter
PUBLISHED BY NYC COMMUNITY MEDIA, LLC ONE METROTECH CENTER NEW YORK, NY 11201 PHONE: (212) 229-1890 FAX: (212) 229-2790 WWW.DOWNTOWNEXPRESS.COM NEWS@DOWNTOWNEXPRESS.COM Downtown Express is published every week by NYC Community Media LLC, One Metrotech Center North, 10th Floor, Brooklyn, N.Y. 11201 (212) 229-1890. The entire contents of the newspaper, including advertising, are copyrighted and no part may be reproduced without the express permission of the publisher - © 2015 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 other errors or omissions in connection with an advertisement is strictly limited to publication of the advertisement in any subsequent issue.
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January 29-February 11, 2015
not turn this area into another part of Manhattan that is a magnet mostly only for tourists.
My late father, the artist Leon Dolice (1892-1960) arrived in this country in 1920, and some of his first etchings of New York were of the fishing ships that used to proliferate in this neighborhood. Back in the 1950’s I accompanied him to the Fulton Fish Market that was then down there, where we bought seafood for Friday dinners on many occasions, as did almost all of the restauranteers from all over the city who wanted the freshest and best of the catch for their customers. Much of the charm of that neighborhood in those days was its apparent “grittyness”. Some years after his death in 1960, my mother moved downtown into that neighborhood and I lived for a few years myself at Southbridge Towers -- one of the best of the Mitchell-Lama developments near the Seaport. Late at night I often walked the mostly deserted streets and myself became enamoured of the artist lofts, the old printing company, small shops and great restaurants (like the Bridge Cafe) because they preserved the old flavor of what that part of Manhattan had for years. Both the ships were the jewels in the crown of the Seaport. Let’s hope that someone comes up with the funds to preserve those things -- including both of the ships -- and
The film mentioned in the article-”Around Cape Horn”--is one of the greatest sailing movies ever made. To watch it and then set foot on the ship on which it was shot is a fantastic educational experience, and by itself a good reason to keep the Peking at the seaport. Mayor de Blasio, the son of a boatbuilder, should step up, sink the tower, and save the ship. Rob Buchanan
“AUTHORITY PICKS BROOKFIELD TO RUN BATTERY PARK CITY MARINA, BUT QUESTIONS REMAIN UNANSWERED” (POSTED, JAN 22):
If I was a lawyer I would have advised BPCA Chair Mehiel to not defend his board’s decision on the marina at such length. That he had to defend points to serious problems with the “process”. He pushed blame for community activism by the people on the “victim”, Fortenbagh. He disclosed that they allowed Brookfield to modify their RFP after the community outpouring. I sat next to another bidder, Suntex Marinas. I asked him if they had been given the opportunity to clarify “expectations and their commitments”. They had not, nor had Fortenbaugh. “Protocols” were not subject to change, yet they were changed. When the community and taxpayers raise a great number of appearances of impropriety and ethical challenges
- whether those improprieties or conflicts-of-interest are actual or implied - it is the “protocol” in our democracy to address the process. Only a truly transparent process with community input could have allayed these concerns. Otherwise this deal and the people involved, including the BPCA, will always be tainted and smell like a rotten fish sitting on the marina dock. Jeanne Wilcke
Downtown Express photos by Milo Hess
Scenes from a blizzard that wasn’t With predictions of up to 3 feet of snow, the subway was shut down at 11 p.m. Mon., Jan. 26, when a car travel ban also went into effect in the city and surrounding suburban counties. Only eight inches of snow ended up falling in much of the city and Gov. Andrew Cuomo lifted the travel ban at 7:30 a.m. the next day and limited subway service resumed at 9 a.m. Meanwhile, in Lower Manhattan, though it was not a blizzard, the effects could be seen all around.
It’s interesting to note how one’s perspective may be warped by preconceived notions and strong biases. Jeanne Wilcke reveals her biases here in her closing paragraphs by parroting the “Save North Cove” Kool-Aid drinkers’ tired call for a “transparent process with community input”. Your allegation that any bidder (let alone Brookfield) was permitted to “modify their RFP [proposal] after the community outpouring” is patently false. Listen again to the video dear Jeanne, and you will hear that which you don’t want to hear... It’s clear that the BPCA took every precaution to ensure the fulfillment of their legally mandated bid evaluation process... The only rotten fish smell I can detect is emanating from the still smoldering efforts by a very noisy few to ignore the very clear imperatives of the Authority on behalf of the taxpayers of New York to fulfill their obligations to optimize use of a public park for more than just few hundred sailors who are now obviously far more worried about their increased commutation time to Jersey City to board their aging yachts, than any youth sailing operation that North Cove Marina Management NEVER RAN. Guy WT Fawkes DowntownExpress.com
January 29-February 11, 2015
Activities THURSDAY, JANUARY 29–WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 11 BY VICT O RI A G RA N T H A M Assuming Snowmageddon 2015 or some other overblown snowmergency hasn’t turned you into a shut-in, here’s a short list of family-centric activities Downtown to consider over the next couple weeks. The Anne Frank Center on Park Pl., which I didn’t even know existed, is holding a family program for children eight and up called “grow your own poem.” Kids can mix text and collage to decorate a plant pot, then explore the center and learn about Anne’s life. Another thing I was clueless about, in spite of the fact that I’ve lived Downtown for more than a decade, is that the NYC Audubon holds winter ecocruises that depart from Pier 16. Tour guides provide narrated insights on NYC landmarks and lucky riders get to glimpse harbor seals and assorted winter birds. If you’d rather stay inside, show options close to home include a puppet show presented by a bilingual theater company called “Legends of the Enchanted Treasure,” and a Laurie Berkner benefit concert for the Third Street Music School Settlement. I also still want to get my boys to “Can Do Duck,” a motivational musical about believing in yourself. Lastly, former
THURSDAY, JANUARY 29 NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY BATTERY PARK CITY BRANCH 175 North End Ave, 212-790-3499, nypl.org/locations/battery-parkcity Baby Laptime for Pre-Walkers: Enjoy simple stories, lively songs and rhymes, and meet other babies in the neighborhood. Limited to 50 babies and their caregivers; firstcome first-served. Ages 0-18 months | Free | 11:30 am Crafternoon: Enjoy a story followed by an art project. 1/29: Princess Sparkle Heart Gets a Makeover All ages| Free | 4:00 pm
January 29-February 11, 2015
club kids who now have children ages six to 12 can get their groove back with Cirkiz, a dance party DJed by an eight-year-old. There are also special happenings at the local libraries including “Slippery Science” at the Battery Park City branch for five and up. South Street Seaport is screening “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II.” (I’m not a big fan of the crime fighting turtles personally, but I know the kids are obsessed, so I grudgingly included it.) The Battery Park City Parks Conservancy has cleared a patch of snow/ice away to enable Winter Afterschool Sports and Games to continue and to help your young ones get their energy out. Other programs that are continuing include MakerBot’s Young Explorer series for ages eight plus. I still want to get to this. Anyone with older children want to do a two-hour kid swap?? The Seaport Community Cube program – free – is still going strong. Finally, in the run up to the national day of love, there will be a Valentine Making Workshop at 6 River Terrace. Kids can make love notes with dried flowers, lace and ribbon, and paper. Mwah. Details on all below. Enjoy!
FILM SCREENING: LITTLE FUGITIVE southstreetseaport.com/events 14 Fulton Street “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II The Secret of the Ooze” The crime-fighting Turtles Michaelangelo, Donatello, Raphael, and Leonardo return in this sequel to the popular superheroes’ first film. PG | Free | 7-9 pm
FRIDAY, JANUARY 30 WINTER AFTERSCHOOL SPORTS AND GAMES Battery Park City Ball Fields, West Street between Murray and Warren, Kids ages 7 and up can come play soc-
cer, flag-football, hockey, and more at the Battery Park City Ball Fields. Find winter activities organized by parks programming leaders or play independently. Equipment will be provided. Ages 7+ | Free 3:30 pm - 5:00 pm BABY STORYTIME McNally Jackson Book Store, 52 Prince Street, mcnallyjackson.com/kids-holiday Head to McNally Jackson every Friday for Baby Storytime. Their storyteller, Michael Fentin, sings interactive songs with kids and reads entertaining stories to the youngest book lovers. Ages: 0-2 | Free | 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm SATURDAY, JANUARY 31 YOUNG EXPLORERS — KIDS SERIES MakerBot, 298 Mulberry Street, firstname.lastname@example.org MakerBot is bringing 3D printing to kids. Educational and fun, this class lets kids play while learning and designing in 3D thanks to easy-touse software. A MakerBot instructor will help children make individual 3D prints on their very own MakerBot Replicator Desktop 3D Printer Ages: 8+ | $10 per child | 9:00 am 12:00 pm ‘CAN DO DUCK: THE MUSICAL’ The Lynn Redgrave Theater at Culture Project, 45 Bleecker Street, Contact: Haven Mitchell-Rose, candoduckthemusical.com “Can Do Duck: The Musical” is a positive motivational musical for children and families about believing in yourself and saying “I can.” The musical is based on the children’s book series “The Can Do Duck.” Ages: 3-11 | $30 for children, $40 for adults | 11:00 am - 12:00 pm GROW YOUR OWN POEM The Anne Frank Center, 44 Park Place, annefrank.com/coming-events/ As part of her exhibit, “Lashon Hara: On the Consequences of Hate Speech,” currently on view in the gallery, textile artist Robin Atlas will lead a horticultural poetry workshop for young people using text and collage techniques to decorate a plant pot. In addition to the workshop, admission includes entry to the gallery, where, through a permanent exhibition on Anne Frank’s life. Ages: 8+ | $5 - $8 | 2:00 pm - 3:30 pm ULTIMATE FRISBEE Battery Park City Ball Fields, West
Street between Murray and Warren, email@example.com, bpcparks.org/event/ultimate-frisbee-2015-01-10/2014-12-13/ Come to the BPC Ball Fields for a game of Ultimate Frisbee. The game is great fun for novices and experts alike. Newcomers are welcome. Co-ed/Pickup. Discs are provided. All ages | Free | 3:00 pm - 5:00 pm ‘LEGENDS OF THE ENCHANTED TREASURE’ Teatro SEA, 107 Suffolk Street, sea-ny.org/SEA_BuyTickets.html Teatro SEA, a bilingual theatre company, presents a magical shadow puppet play about legendary tales of the indigenous people of Mexico, Guatemala, Puerto Rico, and Peru. All ages | Adult $18, child $15 | 3:00 pm
SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 1 P.S 150’s SKATE PARTY FUNDRAISER Seaport ice rink, southstreetseaport.com/events Join P.S. 150 Tribeca for a skate party. All Skate Shop proceeds collected between 10am-12pm that day will be donated back to the school by the South Street Seaport. All ages | donations welcome | 10:00 am - 12:00 pm
NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY BATTERY PARK CITY BRANCH 175 North End Ave, 212-790-3499, nypl.org/locations/battery-park-city Baby Laptime for Pre-Walkers: Enjoy simple stories, lively songs and rhymes, and meet other babies in the neighborhood. Limited to 25 babies and their caregivers; first-come firstserved. Ages 0-18 months | Free |9:30 am Toddler Story Time A librarian shares lively picture books, finger plays, and action songs with toddlers and their caregivers! All 12-36 months | Free| 4:00 pm
TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 3 NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY BATTERY PARK CITY BRANCH 175 North End Ave, 212-790-3499, nypl.org/locations/battery-park-city Baby Laptime for Pre-Walkers: Enjoy simple stories, lively songs and rhymes, and meet other babies in the neighborhood. Limited to 25 babies and their caregivers; first-come first-served. Ages 0-18 months | Free |11:30 am Picture Book Time A librarian will share classic picture books and new stories. All ages | Free| 4:00 pm
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 4 FILM FORUM JR. SUNDAY MATINEE SERIES Film Forum, 209 West Houston St., filmforum.org/series/film-forum-jr.-series-page A weekly Sunday matinee series for kids and families through 3/29. February 1: “Matilda” Age 5+ | $7.50 | 11:00 am WOMEN’S AND GIRLS’ SOCCER Battery City Ball Fields, West Street between Murray and Warren Street Women’s and Girls’ Soccer at the Battery Park City Ball Fields is good for aspiring athletes or simply those wanting to try a new sport. Ages 12+ | Free | 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm EVERY SUNDAY UNTIL 2.22
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 2 COMMUNITY CUBE: MUSIC FOR AARDVARKS South Street Seaport, 14 Fulton Street, http://www.southstreetseaport.com/ events Kids music fun with catchy tunes and interactive experience. All ages | Free | 10:00 am DowntownExpress.com
COMMUNITY CUBE: JAM WITH JAMIE South Street Seaport, 14 Fulton Street, southstreetseaport.com/ events Providing upbeat and interactive musical entertainment for ages 0-7 years old. 0-7 | Free | 10:00 am NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY BATTERY PARK CITY BRANCH 175 North End Ave, 212-790-3499, nypl.org/locations/battery-park-city Toddler Story Time: A librarian will share lively picture books, finger plays, and action songs with toddlers and their caregivers. Ages 12-36 months | Free | 10:30 a.m.
WINTER AFTERSCHOOL SPORTS AND GAMES Battery Park City Ball Fields, West Street between Murray and Warren See 1/30 for info
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 5 NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY BATTERY PARK CITY BRANCH 175 North End Ave, 212-790-3499, nypl.org/locations/battery-park-city Baby Laptime for Pre-Walkers: See 1/29 for info Harry Potter Crafternoon Kick off Harry Potter Book Night with a trivia game and by creating your very own golden snitch to take home. Children of all ages with the help of a grown up are welcome. All ages | Free| 4:00 pm
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 6 COMMUNITY CUBE: BILINGUAL BIRDIES South Street Seaport, 14 Fulton Street, southstreetseaport.com/events Music and language immersion class that encourages cross-cultural awareness through foreign language and live music curriculum. All ages | Free | 10:00 am WINTER AFTERSCHOOL SPORTS AND GAMES Battery Park City Ball Fields, West Street between Murray and Warren See 1/30 for info
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 7 VALENTINE MAKING WORKSHOP 6 River Terrace, Create something special for your valentine. Make your own valentines with dried flowers, lace and ribbon, and an assortment of papers. If you wish, bring a photograph or some other memento to personalize your valentine.All materials are provided. 4+ | Free | 11:00 am - 1:00 pm
EVERY WEDNESDAY AT 10:30 AM
‘LEGENDS OF THE ENCHANTED TREASURE’ Teatro SEA, 107 Suffolk Street See 1/31 for info
Slippery Science Examine the properties of polymers and make a batch of slime. Recommended for children ages 5 and older. Presented by Mad Science. Limit to 25 children 5 or older accompanied by an adult; firstcome first-served. Ages 5+ | Free| 4:00 pm
LAURIE BERKNER BENEFIT CONCERT FOR THIRD STREET MUSIC SCHOOL SETTLEMENT Third Street Music School Settlement, 235 East 11th Street, thirdstreetmusicschool.org Laurie Berkner will perform a solo concert benefiting Third Street
Lower Manhattan’s Anne Frank Center is hosting a poetry event.
Music School Settlement. All ages | $25 | 11:00 am
SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 8 FILM FORUM JR. SUNDAY MATINEE SERIES Film Forum, 209 West Houston St., http:// filmforum.org/series/film-forum-jr.-seriespage A weekly Sunday matinee series for kids and families through 3/29. February 8: The Canterville Ghost Age 5+ | $7.50 | 11:00 am ‘CAN DO DUCK: THE MUSICAL’ The Lynn Redgrave Theater at Culture Project, 45 Bleecker Street See 1/31 for info NYC AUDUBON’S WINTER SEALS AND WATERBIRDS OF NEW YORK HARBOR ECOCRUISES Pier 16 at 89 South Street The winter ecocruises depart from South Street Seaport’s Pier 16 aboard NY Water Taxi’s eco-friendly vessels. A NYC Audubon naturalist provides a narrated tour of the surprising wildlife of the harbor: Look for harbor seals on the rocky shores of Governors Island and the more remote Hoffman and Swinburne Islands. Learn about the surprisingly diverse winter birds of New York City, including ducks, geese, loons, and sandpipers that migrate south from the Arctic. Dress warmly and bring your binoculars. All ages | $35 for adults $25 for children 3-12 | 12:00 pm - 2:00pm
CIRKIZ Cielo, 18 Little West 12th Street, cirkiz.com/ CirKiz is a dance party for kids. Each exclusive NYC nightclub is transformed into a unique kid-centric daytime party space where families together can listen & dance to DJs, There will be a special performance by THE DREAM LAB. DJ Natalie, 8-year-old DJ Alden and his dad DJ Jesse will be back providing the soundtrack. Age 6-12 | $20 general admission | 1:00 pm – 5:00 pm
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 9 NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY BATTERY PARK CITY BRANCH 175 North End Ave, 212-790-3499, nypl.org/locations/battery-park-city Baby Laptime for Pre-Walkers and Toddler Story Time: See 2/2 for info WINTER AFTERSCHOOL SPORTS AND GAMES Battery Park City Ball Fields, West Street between Murray and Warren See 1/30 for info
TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 10 NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY BATTERY PARK CITY BRANCH 175 North End Ave, 212-790-3499, nypl.org/locations/battery-park-city Baby Laptime for Pre-Walkers and Picture Book Time: See 2/3 for info January 29-February 11, 2015
Contemplating the Catskills legacy The Borscht Belt, Revisited
FILM SCREENING, Q&A AND OPEN GALLERY
Catskills photos tell a story of time, nature, people
On Mon., Feb. 2, trace modern stand-up comedy to its Catskill roots, by listening to the tales of those who were there when
ECHOES OF THE BORSCHT BELT: CONTEMPORARY PHOTOGRAPHS BY MARISA SCHEINFELD
it all began. Sid Caesar, Joe Franklin, Jackie Mason and Jerry Stiller are among those featured in the documentary “When Comedy When to School.” There will be a Q&A featuring comedian, singer and actor Robert Klein after the screening — which is preceded by a gallery
On View through April 12 Courtesy of the filmmakers
viewing with “Echoes of the Borscht
Pioneers of stand-up comedy join their modern counterparts, in the Catskills documentary “When Comedy Went to School.” Robert Klein does the Q&A thing following a Feb. 2 screening.
Belt” photographer Marisa Scheinfeld.
At Yeshiva University Museum, at the Center for Jewish History 15 W. 16th St. (btw. 5th & 6th Aves.)
Tickets: $8, $6 for seniors, students, CJH and YUM members. For reservations, vis-
Continued from page 24
Sun. Tues. & Thurs., 11 a.m.–5 p.m. Mon. 5 p.m.–8 p.m. Wed. 11 a.m.–8p.m. Fri. 11 a.m.–2:30 p.m. Admission: $8 ($6 for students/seniors) Free Mon. & Wed. 5–8 p.m. Info: 212-294-8330 and yumuseum.org Visit marisascheinfeld.com © Marisa Scheinfeld, 2011
At the coffee shop of Grossinger’s Catskill Resort and Hotel, in Liberty, NY, all that’s recognizable are 10 dust-covered green stools.
BY NORMAN BORDEN In an era when weekend jaunts to Florida or weeklong Caribbean cruises are commonplace, Marisa Scheinfeld’s engaging images of the ruins of Borscht Belt hotels are a poignant reminder of a way of life that no longer exists. For generations of Jews, vacationing in the Catskill Mountains 90 miles from New York City was like a rite of passage. You would pile into the family car, head northwest on Route 17 and soon you were in “the mountains,” also known as the Borscht Belt — a 250 square mile region that, over the years, would have a profound influence on Jewish culture and identity. The big resorts like Grossinger’s, The Concord, The Nevele and Kutsher’s pioneered the all-inclusive vacation: three meals a day, Kosher or Kosher-style cuisine, and no one blinked if you ordered
January 29-February 11, 2015
two or three main courses plus four desserts. The big hotels’ menus also included golf, tennis, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, childcare, ballroom dancing, nightclubs, and…then it was time for breakfast again. Besides the food, another main attraction of the big hotels during their golden years — the 1940s, ‘50s, ‘60s and early ‘70s — was the entertainment. Playing the Borscht Belt was virtually mandatory for young Jewish comedians. Some, like Mel Brooks, Danny Kaye and Red Buttons, started out as “tummlers,” a Yiddish word for someone whose job was to create excitement or laughter as guests left the dining rooms or swimming pools. Buddy Hackett, Billy Crystal, Woody Allen, Henny Youngman and countless other comedians toured the big hotels. There were also shows with per-
formers like a young Barbra Streisand, Bob Dylan and, well, you get the picture — the Borscht Belt rocked. In the mid ‘60s, at the peak of its popularity, there were over 600 hotels and 400 bungalow colonies in the region. Grossinger’s was serving 150,000 guests a year. Marisa Scheinfeld missed the Borscht Belt’s golden years – she was only six years old when her family moved to a town near the Concord in 1986. Still, she says, “Kutsher’s and The Concord were a big part of my childhood. I spent weekends playing there. But I didn’t realize the hotels were virtually empty in the 1980s compared to what they were like in the ‘50s and ‘60s.” The fact is, by the late 1960s, the Catskills had lost their appeal for the younger generation. Jet planes, air conditioning and changes in society all played a role.
As the hotels and bungalow colonies lost their customer base, they started to close one by one. Grossinger’s called it quits in 1986. The Laurels closed in the late ‘80s and burned down in the ‘90s. The Concord shut down in 1998 and was demolished in 2000. Now, all that’s left there are piles of rubble — and memories. Scheinfeld began photographing the hotels’ remains in 2009 when she was a graduate student at San Diego State. Her mentor had advised her to “shoot what you know.” Since she was very interested in documenting ruins and sites where events had occurred, shooting in her own backyard — The Catskills — made perfect sense. The artist explains, “I began the project by using my vacation time to go Continued on page 25
home and find old pictures of the area. I decided to use a technique called ‘re-photography,’ which involves finding an old picture of a place, then going to that site, lining everything up and photographing what it looks like now.” After taking a series of re-photography images, she realized they could become originals. Doing more research, she found hotels she never knew existed. “I was searching for any traces of the era.” Local people, family, friends, and even the police helped (they helped her contact a hotel owner whose permission she needed). Scheinfeld comments, “I couldn’t have done this project if I hadn’t grown up around here.” Discovering sites like Grossinger’s, she says, “It was sad to see modern ruins where the rooms had become jungles and swimming pools had turned into outdoor ponds with fish swimming around. After I’d photographed a tree growing out of a floor in an indoor pool, I realized there was a story here although I didn’t know what it was at the time.” She concluded that her photographs could tell a story about the effects of time, nature and people on a place. “I saw that the ruins were really alive, but they were no longer being used as places of leisure as originally intended. Dining rooms had become paint ball war zones, kids had turned showrooms into skate parks and wild turkeys lived in other rooms.” The 23 large color images in the exhibition document many of these changes. In the Grossinger’s coffee shop image, DowntownExpress.com
it smarttix.com. Open Gallery at 6 p.m., screening at 7 p.m. For info on the film: whencomedhywenttoschool.com.
THE BORSCHT BELT — PAST, PRESENT & FUTURE On Thurs., March 26 at 6 p.m., Marisa Scheinfeld is joined by historian and Forward columnist Jenna Weissman Joselit for a lively discussion about the history, legacy and future of the Borscht Belt. Tickets: $8, $6 for students, seniors and YUM members through smarttix.com. © Marisa Scheinfeld, 2013
Dining rooms had become paint ball war zones, kids had turned showrooms into skate parks and wild turkeys lived in other rooms, when Marisa Scheinfeld revisited the Catskill Mountains haunts of her youth. Here, what was once the lobby of Grossinger’s Catskill Resort and Hotel.
all that’s recognizable are 10 dust-covered green stools. Their fading color is a sharp contrast to all the devastation, which looks man-made. Even more devastation is apparent in the picture of Grossinger’s lobby. The starkness, graffiti, paint ball splotches and inane scrawled profanities do grab your attention. The image of Grossinger’s indoor pool #2 feels ghostly; the chaise lounge looks pristine, as if someone had just left for a swim, but the green carpet underneath is very thick moss — it’s nature at work for decades. The hotel building, still intact, is visible through the rear windows. Several re-photograph diptychs are
also part of the show. In one, an undated publicity photograph of The Laurel’s indoor pool ringed by frolicking young adults is displayed next to Scheinfeld’s 2011 photograph of the same pool, devoid of life, filled with snow and surrounded by trees. And her collection of ephemera, ranging from hotel postcards and menus to a big Concord button that says “Ask about Big Thursday,” fuels the memories. They’re all signs of life, long gone. For those who spent time in the mountains, Scheinfeld’s work evokes waves of nostalgia and awe. I, for one, found the image of The Concord’s remains — giant piles of rubble — particularly sad. How
could the final demise of the Borscht Belt’s largest resort come so quickly and completely while other hotels died a slow death? No doubt a developer’s plans or hopes were waylaid, but it’s still not a pretty picture. But many here — in their own way — are quite memorable. Norman Borden is a New York-based writer and photographer. The author of more than 100 reviews for NYPhotoReview. com and a member of Soho Photo Gallery and ASMP, his image “Williamsburg” was chosen by juror Jennifer Blessing, Curator of Photography at the Guggenheim, for inclusion in the 2014 competition issue of “The Photo Review.” He is also exhibiting in Soho Photo’s annual Krappy Kamera ® exhibition, Feb. 4–28. Visit normanbordenphoto.com. January 29-February 11, 2015
Just Do Art
Courtesy of Monk in Motion
Photo by Suzanne Opton
Photo by Joseph Bensimon
Brooklyn’s own Adam O’Farrill performs on Feb. 28, at the final “Monk in Motion” concert.
A karaoke bar is the fourth and final stop, as intersecting characters converge upon “The Golden Toad.”
Audience members act out online dating scenarios, by following mp3 directions. “The Human Symphony” plays through Feb. 14.
BY SCOTT STIFFLER
ner-up. Brookynite and respected composer Adam O’Farrill (second runner-up) closes the series, on Feb. 28. All shows at 7:30 p.m. In Theater 2 at BMCC Tribeca Performing Arts Center (199 Chambers St. | btw. Greenwich Ave. & West St.). Tickets are $25 for each concert (students/seniors $15). Purchase by calling 212-220-1460, at the box office or at tribecapac.org. For info on the artists, visit monkinstitute.org.
the same confident sense of self could be said for the shifting, searching characters who populate “The Golden Toad.” Asking “Where is the ‘real’ person to be found in the ebb and flow of identity?” more out of curiosity than the need for a definitive answer, “Toad” unifies site-specific works undertaken over the past few years: at a townhouse garden in downtown Brooklyn, on a bus tour of the New Jersey Meadowlands, and in a pop-up thrift store. This La MaMa production moves its audience through reimagined versions of those locations — then concludes at the titular Golden Toad karaoke bar, where the characters intersect for an evening of revelation and transformation. Through Feb. 7, at La MaMa’s Ellen Stewart Theatre (66 E. 4th St. | btw. Bowery & 2nd Ave.). Jan. 29, 30 & Feb. 4–6 at 7 p.m. Jan. 31 & Feb. 7 at 2 p.m. Feb. 1 at 4 p.m. Tickets: $25 ($20 for students & seniors). Reservations: call 646-430-5374 or visit lamama.org. For artist info, visit talkingband.org.
MONK IN MOTION: THE NEXT FACE OF JAZZ BMCC Tribeca Performing Arts Center and the Thelonious Monk Institute’s annual partnership concert series returns, with performances by the finalists from 2014’s Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition. Three top trumpet players emerged from a Gala Concert event last November, chosen by a judging panel whose members included Quincy Jones and Arturo Sandoval. Each will appear with their combos, performing selections that demonstrate the versatility and skill that made them winners. The winner, Chicago native and current NYC resident Marquis Hill, snared a recording contract with Concord Music Group and secured the opening Jan. 31 slot. On Feb. 14, Billy Buss (who backed up saxophonist Godwin Louis during last year’s series) returns to the “Monk in Motion” stage, this time as a run-
THE NEW YORK NEO-FUTURISTS present “THE HUMAN SYMPHONY” Those hardworking New York New Futurists deserve a break, considering the pressure they’re under. This is the troupe that performs 30 plays in 60 minutes, twice a week, in the East Village (“Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind”). For their new mainstage production (created and directed by Dylan Marron), you might be the one tasked with breathing life into various permutations of the human condition. These funny, tragic, uplifting,
depressing and deeply bizarre scenarios were culled from Marron’s trolling of the web for, well, people who troll the web…for love. The result, “The Human Symphony,” creates a performance ensemble culled from randomly selected audience members. They follow instructions given to them via mp3 tracks, providing the remaining viewers with firsthand accounts of Internet dating in NYC. Through Feb. 14. Mon., Wed. & Sat at 8 pm. Sun. at 3 p.m. At The New Ohio (the Archive Building at 154 Christopher St. | btw. Greenwich & Washington Sts.). Tickets are $18 online, $20 at the door. For reservations and info, visit nynf.org.
TALKING BAND presents “THE GOLDEN TOAD” Having created over 50 original works over the course of its 40-year existence, Talking Band can hardly be accused of failing in their commitment to “radical collaboration and a fusion of diverse theatrical styles and perspectives.” If only
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January 29-February 11, 2015
January 29-February 11, 2015
January 29-February 11, 2015
DOWNTOWN EXPRESS, JAN. 29, 2015