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VOLUME 29, NUMBER 11

JUNE 2 – JUNE 15, 2016

WASTELAND New residential developments to dump 19 tons more garbage on Downtown every day by 2019

A curious call promoting the Water St. arcade infi ll plan that showed Councilmember Margaret Chin’s Caller ID has left the Downtown Alliance and contractor Global Strategy Group struggling to explain themselves.

Game of phones BY COLIN MIXSON The fallout from a botched phone campaign to boost support for a controversial Downtown zoning change has claimed its first casualty. Political Connection, the phone-bank subcontractor, has taken responsibility for calling a member of Community Board 1 with a fake Caller ID purporting to come from Councilmember Margaret Chin’s office to solicit support for a divisive plan to allow retail development of public arcades along Water St. — a measure Chin doesn’t even endorse. The phone-banking firm is taking the fall for Global Strategy Group, a high-powered PR firm that was running the promotion campaign on behalf of the Downtown Alliance, the leading booster of the Water St. proposal, which has faced unexpected pushback from the Council and some local residents. “To be clear, Global Strategy Group and the Alliance for Downtown New York had no knowledge of this issue nor did they instruct us to do so,” read a statement from Political Connection, which was sent through Global Strategy Group’s communications offi ce. “Political Connection takes full responsibility for this terrible mistake.” Downtown Express broke the story last week that Paul Hovitz, a long-serving member of CB1, had received a call that showed Chin’s name in the Caller ID and the number of her district office, and the caller asked him if he wanted to register his support for the Water St. text amendPHONES Continued on page 20

BY BILL EGBERT The residential boom transforming Downtown is still going strong, and has already attracted eagerly anticipated retail and dining options to once-barren neighborhoods. But the thousands of new units coming to the area are also bringing something much less desirable in their wake — several tons more household garbage every day. Based on the upcoming developments already a n nou nc e d, the amount of household trash coming to Downtown is set to surge more in just the next three years than it has over the past five. A n d neighbors say the towers of trash bags piling up on the sidewalks are already seriously affecting their quality of life. “There is so much more garbage now,” said Sarah Elbatanouny, who has lived in Fidi for the past 12 years. “I feel sorry for parents with

strollers. Sometimes the only way for them to get past is to walk in the street.”

residential trash picked up each day across the entire borough of Manhattan rose by 28.6 tons, according to city figures, and nearly half of that increase — 13.6 tons — was all within Community District 1. That dramatic spike in Downtown detritus came from the estimated 4,623 new residential units added to the area since 2010. As the residential boom gathered pace, so did complaints to 311 about the household garbage and recycling piling up on the sidewalk for collection. The city complaint h o t l i n e received 10 calls from CB1 residents in 2011, but that number more than doubled by 2014 to 23 garbage-related complaints, according to the city. More recently, complaints have dropped significantly — from 22 calls in 2015 down to

6,537 new units by 2019 12,682 new residents

38,045 lbs more trash daily 38 TONS more garbage on the sidewalks every collection day

Lower Manhattan has one of the fastest growing residential populations in the city, and definitely has the fastest growing burden of household garbage. Between 2010 and 2015, the amount of

1 M E T R O T E C H • N YC 112 0 1 • C O P Y R I G H T © 2 0 16 N YC C O M M U N I T Y M E D I A , L L C

WASTELAND Continued on page 6


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Seaport support Locals demand city make up for museum’s loss of revenue if Water Taxi leaves dock BY COLIN MIXSON The South Street Seaport Museum could get sunk financially by the new Citywide Ferry Service, and locals want the city to bail it out. Downtown community leaders are demanding the city find a way to make up for the revenue that the South Street Seaport Museum will lose if New York Water Taxi makes good on its threat to quit the city in response to the competition it will face from the upcoming Citywide Ferry Service. The water taxi operating from Pier 16 at the Seaport currently pays a substantial rent to the museum, but vowed it would leave when the city awarded the contract for the new citywide service to rival Hornblower Cruises and Events, and a representative for Community Board 1 said the city should develop a strategy to make the beloved Seaport institution whole if that happens. “If New York Water Taxi shuts down operations at Pier 16, we urge the city to create a plan for the museum to recoup,

dollar-for-dollar, the lost revenue,” said Diana Switaj, Director of Planning and Land Use at CB1, at a public hearing on May 19 for an environmental impact statement assessing the new ferry service. The South Street Seaport Museum currently receives $600,000 in annual revenue paid by NY Water Taxi to use Pier 16, which the museum owns. Making the potential loss of NY Water Taxi even worse, the museum was in talks to renew the lease for a more generous $1 million yearly rent over a 10-year period, when the ferry service announced its intentions to bail on the city — and the deal — according to Borough President Gale Brewer’s office. NY Water Taxi claims it can’t compete with Hornblower and the heavy subsidies it will receive from the city to allow the ferry operator to provide trips to numerous destinations throughout the city at $2.75 a ride. The Economic Development Corporation, a semi-private organi-

The

Dow ntow n A llian ce and Fo sun pre sent

Photo by Milo Hess

The cash-strapped South Street Seaport Museum stands to lose up to $1 million in annual revenue if the Mayor’s plan for a subsidized citywide ferry service drives NY Water Taxi from its berth at Pier 16, warns Borough President Gale Brewer.

zation responsible for the new ferry service’s rollout, countered NY Water Taxi’s assertion that it can’t compete with Hornblower, saying the two transit providers offer trips to different destinations, and that there’s no reason both can’t exist in tandem. “We are surprised that New York Water Taxi is threatening to cease operations, as Citywide Ferry will not directly compete with their routes,” said EDC

spokesman Anthony Hogrebe. Regardless, NY Water Taxi has yet to show any intention of backing off on the vow to pack up and leave, so locals are planning for the worst. CB1 decided to amend its testimony regarding the new ferry service — which had hitherto focused on issues concerning pollution and qualMUSEUM Continued on page 31

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Figment of imagination Three-day arts fest brings Burning Man ethos to Governors Island BY YANNIC RACK Picture the fabled, fantastical phenomenon of Burning Man — minus the dust, drugs and desert heat — just a ferry ride from Lower Manhattan. Figment NYC, the free, family-friendly participatory arts festival held on Governors Island each year, is returning for its tenth anniversary this weekend, and its founder says the three-day event is all about bringing the famed festival’s free-spirited approach to the arts from the Black Rock Desert to the Big Apple. “We basically want to bring what Burning Man is about to New York City,” said David Koren, the festival’s executive producer and a devoted fan of the annual desert gathering, who came up with the idea for Figment with a few his fellow “burners” in 2005. “It’s about the idea that everyone is part of it, that art is not about going and looking at stuff — it’s about going and creating stuff,” he said. The festival will transform Governors Island’s sprawling lawns and colonial mansions into an interactive playground for kids and adults alike, since the emphasis of the event is on directly engaging with the art on display. Whether it’s installations, performance art, dance, theater, social experiments, video projections or music, visitors are encouraged to “touch it, smell it, paint it, talk to it, dance with it and play with it,” as the organizers put it.

Photo by Anthony Collins

Figment executive producer David Koren and his wife Sasha Kurtz take a moment to relax at last year’s Figment NYC festival.

“Our primary criteria is that it has to be something you can engage with,” Koren said of how organizers select the projects that participate. “We’re all creating it together and, in the end, it becomes one big art project.” But he added that the festival, which runs from Friday June 3 to Sunday June 5, is really about making art accessible to everyone, much like its spiritual cousin in Nevada.

Photo by Anthony Collins

A quirky, artist-designed miniature golf course — plus the whimsical treehouse in the background — will be featured attractions at the Figment NYC festival this weekend, but will remain open on Governors Island all summer.

4

June 2 - June 15, 2016

“It’s really about breaking down the barriers between art and audience, and artists and audience,” he said. Koren, who studied playwriting at NYU and has a background in marketing for cultural institutions, said he immediately realized Governors Island’s potential as a festival space when he visited for the first time in 2005. “There were very few events there. I was just like, ‘Wow, what is going to happen out here?’ I thought it really needed something,” he said. “Only 5,000 people went out there the first summer, and now it’s 50,000!” With a few friends — half of whom fellow Burning Man devotees — the idea for an annual Governors Island arts fest was born. But the first year, the event was a victim of its own success. A last-minute preview in The New York Times made the inaugural festival so instantly popular that the island was flooded with more visitors than it could handle. “It was the most people that had been on the island since it had been a coast guard base,” said Koren. “They were not ready for that number, and they had to turn 2,000 people away.” As a proof-of-concept exercise, however, it showed the free-spirited arts

festival was a winning idea. “Everybody was crazy about it, and we got lots of great feedback,” he added. Since then, Figment has expanded considerably: the festival is now held in around a dozen cities spread across three countries, and Koren said each one is unique because the various offshoots are given as much autonomy as possible in order to highlight the local flavor. “It’s totally different — Jackson, Mississippi is all about the blues, so music is a big part of it there,” he said. “Philadelphia had a lot of psychological projects for some reason, and Boston ends up very techy, because of the robotics industry there.” In addition to the art and performances this weekend, Figment NYC also includes a range of summer-long installations on the island, including an artist-designed mini-golf course and a whimsical tree house, which will stick around through August 26. To mark its tenth anniversary, Koren has also been working on a book on the festival, which will be released June 3. But ironically, it won’t be for sale at the arts fest itself, since that would go against Figment’s ban on any kind of commerce — another aspect of its Burning Man roots. “At the event, we want to keep an experience that really doesn’t keep any barriers to anyone,” explained Koren. “As soon as you put a price tag on anything, you’re scaring people off.” The title of the book is “Figment,” but the subtitle sums up a visitor’s experience best: “What is this, why is nothing for sale, and why is everyone smiling?” “Those are usually the questions people have when they come to Figment,” Koren explained. “It’s not anything like what people expect to see at an art festival.” Certainly not one in New York, so Downtowners should enjoy it this weekend while it lasts. FIGMENT NYC will run from June 3-5 from 10am–5pm daily on Governors Island, and the festival is free of charge. Ferries run every full hour from the Battery Maritime Building on South St. Rides cost $2 for adults but are free on weekends before noon. DowntownExpress.com


Great News for the Downtown Community!

Mount Sinai Announces $500 Million Investment to Create “Mount Sinai Downtown” Network New Mount Sinai Downtown Beth Israel Hospital on 14 th St. with inpatient beds & brand New Emergency Department Expanded & Upgraded Outpatient Services Convenient to Home & Work NEW YORK (May 25, 2016) – The Mount Sinai Health System today announced a plan for the sweeping transformation of Mount Sinai Beth Israel Hospital, by investing over $500 million to create the new “Mount Sinai Downtown,” an expanded and unified network of state-of-the-art facilities stretching from the East River to the Hudson River below 34th Street. The Mount Sinai Downtown network will include a new Mount Sinai Downtown Beth Israel Hospital on 14th Street with inpatient beds plus a brand new state-of-the-art Emergency Department. The new ED will have observation beds and will be equipped to treat patients with heart attacks and strokes. An expanded and upgraded network of outpatient services, including expanded behavioral and mental health services, and physician practices will also be part of the Downtown network. Mount Sinai Beth Israel’s Emergency Department will remain open until the new ED is up and running.

The current Mount Sinai Beth Israel Hospital will remain open during this transformation and all services will be available throughout the Mount Sinai Health System. Patients will be able to continue to see the doctors they know and trust.

For additional updates and information, please visit our website: www.mountsinai.org/downtown

DowntownExpress.com

June 2 - June 15, 2016

5


WASTELAND Continued from page 1

just two complaints so far this year — due in part to more aggressive enforcement of the rules on putting out trash, but also educating locals as to what actually constitutes a violation. At a meeting of CB1’s Quality of Life Committee last November, Dept. of Sanitation community officer Iggy Terranova pointed out that it’s perfectly legal for residential buildings to put their trash out on the sidewalk any time after 4 p.m. — just in time for rush hour — on the day before it is collected.

NEW RESIDENTIAL DEVELOPMENTS

YEAR OF COMPLETION

TRASH PER COLLECTION DAY, LBS.*

11 Beach Street

27

2016

314

5 Beekman Place

68

2016

792

319 Broadway

8

2016

93

157

2016

1,827

56 Fulton Street

120

2016

1,397

403 Greenwich Street

5

2016

58

70 Pine Street

644

2016

7,496

80 South Street

125

2016

1,455

70 Vestry Street

47

2016

547

101 Wall Street

52

2016

605

50 West

191

2016

2,223

140 West Street

161

2016

1,874

1 Beekman Place

29

2017+

338

19 Beekman Place

50

2017+

582

20 Broad Street

521

2017+

6,064

45 Broad Street

150

2017+

1,746

346 Broadway

151

2017+

1,758

355 Broadway

98

2017+

1,141

350 Broadway

68

2017+

792

361 Broadway

14

2017+

163

371 Broadway

53

2017+

617

372 Broadway

6

2017+

70

391 Broadway

4

2017+

47

396 Broadway

52

2017+

605

233 Broadway

34

2017+

396

87 Chambers

17

2017+

198

49-51 Chambers

81

2017+

943

60 Fulton Street

120

2017+

1,397

118 Fulton Street

476

2017+

5,541

77 Greenwich Street

85

2017+

989

125 Greenwich Street

128

2017+

1,490

102 John Street

92

2017+

1,071

151 Maiden Lane

80

2017+

931

111 Murray Street

139

2017+

1,618

75-83 Nassau Street

197

2017+

2,293

45 Park Place

46

2017+

535

23-31 Park Row

108

2017+

1,257

34 Park Row

29

2017+

338

2 Rector Street

452

2017+

5,261

68-74 Trinity Place

111

2017+

1,292

1 Wall Street

524

2017+

6,099

110 Wall Street

205

2017+

2,386

30 Warren Street

23

2017+

268

180 Water Street

601

2017+

6,996

130 William Street

188

2017+

2,188

TOTAL

6537

June 2 - June 15, 2016

Photos by Tequila Minsky

Downtowners complain that sharing the area’s narrow sidewalks with growing piles of refuse is hurting their quality of life.

99 Church Street

Source: CB1, Luis Vasquez, DSNY

6

NO. OF UNITS

So a block-long, five-foot-tall wall of leaky garbage bags along the sidewalk crowding locals trying to get home from work on a Wednesday night isn’t cause for a fine — just an increasingly frequent fact of life for Downtowners. In fact, a representative of one of the biggest boosters of Downtown growth even acknowledged at that same meeting that the garbage issue can’t be solved with fines and enforcement, because the real problem is that there simply isn’t enough space. “We’ve fought this issue on all fronts for years,” said Dan Ackerman, vice president of operations for

the Downtown Alliance. “There’s not enough space. Sanitation can fine, fine, fine a building, but the wall of trash will still be there.” The Frank Gehry-designed apartment tower at 8 Spruce St. — which was the main topic at that November meeting — provides a vivid example of what happens when a supertall residential building is built in such a densely packed neighborhood as the Financial District. The 900 new residential units it brought to the area in 2010 generate an estimated five tons of household trash to be stacked out on the sidewalk each collection day — and neighbors complain that sharing the sidewalk with a massive wall of garbage bags that takes up much of the sidewalk for the length of the block has created a disturbing new hazard for Downtowners: rampant rats. “You have to worry about whether rats are going to cross your path or even run over your feet,” Pat Moore, chairwoman of CB1’s Quality of Life Committee told Downtown Express last November, adding that the narrow space between the garbage bags and the building wall allows for little room to dodge the vermin. “Often times, you will see people jumping and [yelling] ‘aah!’ You know it’s rats when that happens.” The building’s management did not respond to a request for comment

A LOOMING TRASH-ALANCHE

76,091

But the worst is yet to come for Downtowners worried that their tony neighborhood is becoming a literal wasteland, because the past five years of residential growth is nothing compared to what local real estate experts see coming down the pipeline. “That is going to pale in comparison to what’s going to happen in the next two or three years,” said realtor Luis Vasquez, founder of the Fidi Fanpage on Facebook. According to estimates by Vasquez and CB1 staff, 44 new Downtown residential developments including as many as 6,537 units are expected to be completed by the end of 2018. The average household size in Lower Manhattan is 1.94, according to CB1, and the average Downtowner generates about three pounds of household garbage a day, including recycling, based on census figures and city trash-collection statistics. So the residential developments expected between now and 2018 will produce more than 19 tons of additional household trash daily. WASTELAND Continued on page 7

*double daily trash output DowntownExpress.com


WASTELAND Continued from page 6

And since residential garbage is collected only three days a week, that means Downtowners will have to find a way to share their sidewalks with another 38 tons of refuse every collection day. “Just thinking about that makes me want to pack my bags,� said Elbatanouny. The Dept. of Sanitation has already nearly doubled the number of trucks hauling household garbage out of CB1 since 2006, from 14 to 25, according to the city. But ramping up collection service again to deal with a comparable rise in refuse presents particular challenges Downtown, where the streets and sidewalks are significantly narrower than in the grid layout further north. In most of Manhattan, the avenues are at least 60 feet wide, and cross streets run about 30 feet across, with both typically flanked by generous 15-foot sidewalks. But Downtown’s William St., for example, is only 14 feet across, and the sidewalks are just 11 feet wide. The 188-unit condo building slated for 130 William St. may find space on its 11-foot sidewalk for the ton of trash its residents will need to put out on the curb for pick-up, but other Downtown developments will face far bigger challenges.

The conversion of 70 Pine St. into luxury residences will bring 644 new units to one of the tightest corners of Fidi — along with nearly two tons of daily household trash — meaning that each collection day, more than 3.7 tons of garbage will have to be piled up on some of the narrowest sidewalks in the city. The sidewalk along Pine St. is just over nine feet wide, while at the back of the building along Cedar St. it’s a scant 7.5 feet from wall to curb. The Pearl St. side of the building does afford about 11 feet of space, but that frontage is only 106 feet long, just about half the length of a north-south short block on the grid. The management for 70 Pine would not discuss its plans for dealing with its trash. “It’s scary,� said Moore. “But this is what you get when we allow developers to just build whatever they want.�

RATS OR SINKING SHIP As dire as this impending garbage glut may seem, there could be one thing that might spare Downtown from becoming a hot mess — a cool down of the high-end real estate market. Even as sales and prices of Downtown condos led the market in recent months, reports have multiplied that the markets may have already reached its peak and could be heading for a slowdown.

In January, Crain’s cited a 2015 year-end report from real estate agency Cushman & Wakefield that showed signs of a softening trend in the residential market. “Last year was a great year, but as we progressed we began to see some cracks emerging,� Cushman’s head of property sales Bob Knakal told Crain’s. The Federal Reserve’s “Beige Book� of regional economic conditions noted in December that “some weakening is reported at the high end of New York City’s co-op and condo market, reflecting both softer demand and a supply glut.� One of the dirty little secrets of Manhatan’s high-end housing boom is that a good number of the priciest condos are being snapped up by the likes of Russian oligarchs and Chinese billionaires to serve essentially as well-appointed self-storage lockers for ill-gotten gains. But increased scrutiny by federal authorities of wealthy foreign buyers is weakening one of the main sources of demand for the pricey condos driving the Fidi residential boom, and some sellers are already resorting to deep discounts to move their ever-increasing inventory, making new developments less profitable. If that trend continues, many of the priciest units currently in the pipeline may remain unoccupied for years to

Photo by Tequila Minsky

Mountains of garbage bags like this one outside 8 Spruce St. will become an ever more common fi xture of Downtown sidewalks if the current residential boom continues apace.

come, and some of the more ambitious projects on the far horizon could be delayed, scaled back, or even abandoned entirely. So if the penthouse archipelago now rising above Lower Manhattan ends up as just a constellation of desert islands, then the sidewalks of Downtown may well be spared the fate becoming a high-rent version of a mid-ocean garbage patch. Otherwise, Downtowners had better get ready to dodge more rats as they navigate ever-deepening canyons of trash.

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BY JANEL BL ADOW Ah June!! Getting ready for a hot time in our little niche of the city! SOUNDS OF THE SEAPORT… Help our local Knickerbocker Chamber Orchestra wind up a fantastic season with a lovely evening next Friday. “Music at Melville: Hurrah for the Harbor” will fill the brick-walled gallery on Water St. with music and song. Music Director Gary S. Fagin leads an ensemble of musicians and tenor Glenn Seven Allen in an evening of Dvorak, Ives and Joplin… and even a few surprises. The group promises you’ll be “entertained, inspired, even transported to a world of sails, sycamores and sauvignon blanc (a bubbly too)!” The concert is to celebrate 100 years of the National Park Service, honor Seaport Museum founder and visionary Peter Stanford, and toast Lower Manhattan’s unique waterfront and its parks. Co-sponsors of the evening are Laura Starr of Starr Whitehouse Landscape Architects and Planners, Madelyn Wils of the Hudson River Park Trust, and the Old Seaport Alliance. Tickets are priced for all levels of support: $20 First Mate (we couldn’t sail without you!), $50 Skipper (your generosity will steer us true), and $100 Commodore (the KCO fleet of musicians salute you)! Concert is Friday, June 10, 6–8 p.m., at Melville Gallery, 213 Water St., order tickets at www.knickerbocker-orchestra.org. SEA SCHOOL ART SHOW… The South Street Seaport Museum and New York Harbor School sponsors an exciting new spectacle. “Cultural After School Adventures: Discover Your City’s History” is a student exhibition of maritime art, photography and film influenced by New York Harbor, opening at Melville Gallery on Friday June 3. In 2015 the South Street Seaport Museum received a grant from the Cultural After School Adventures to provide an interdisciplinary arts-in-education program to the New York Harbor School in Council District 1. The program provides high-quality cultural experiences to eligible students enrolled in after-school activities at the school. Ten years ago the New York Harbor School opened its doors on the fourth floor of the Bushwick Campus High School to 125 freshmen who lived

8

June 2 - June 15, 2016

almost exclusively in the surrounding neighborhood in Brooklyn. South Street Seaport Museum and Waterkeeper Alliance joined as its founding partners. In 2010, Harbor School moved to its new home on Governors Island in City Council District 1 and expanded its student body to kids from all five boroughs. The Discover Your City’s History after-school program gives students a chance to study the history of the Port of New York through a variety of media. At Harbor School, the program has two semesters of after-school workshops taught by an art teacher, a photographer and a videographer. Come see what they’ve accomplished at the South Street Seaport Museum’s Melville Gallery, 213 Water St. The preview party is Thursday, June 2, at 6–8 p.m., and the exhibit is open to the public June 3–5, 11 a.m.–5 p.m. EATS ON THE STREET… Dine Around Downtown is back next week for its 15th year! More than 45 Lower Manhattan restaurants will be selling mouth-watering treats from 11 a.m.–3 p.m. on Wednesday, June 8, at 28 Liberty Plaza, at the corner of Nassau St. Last summer more than 15,000 people sampled and sipped offerings from restaurants as diverse as ATRIO

Old Seaport Alliance

Old Seaport Alliance board member Amanda Zink, far right, and other volunteers plant flowers at Peck Slip. The Alliance is looking for more volunteers to help tend the plants throughout the summer and into the fall.

Wine Bar & Restaurant, The Capital Grille, Cowgirl Sea-Horse, Fresh Salt, Mark Joseph Steakhouse, SUteiShi, and at least a couple or three dozen more. Signature dishes sell for between $3 and $7 all afternoon. The gastronomical event is co-sponsored by the Downtown Alliance and Fosun. This year’s host is Food Network’s Chef Alex Guarnaschelli. Music is by The National Jazz Museum in Harlem All-Stars. And look for great promotions and prizes from other sponsors: the Seaport District and Platinum Properties. PRETTY BARRELS… Old Seaport Alliance is still looking for volunteers to perk up the recently delivered flowers, plants and whiskey barrels filling Peck Slip Plaza. They have a fourgallon backpack pressure sprayer on

order to help with the watering chore (also sounds like fun on a hot afternoon)! Supporters including Pete from the Paris Café supplies the water until they can hook up to fire hydrants. A big thanks to Howard Hughes Corporation for donating the flowers and barrels. The flowers will need watering and attention through the fall, and even an hour a month will help. To volunteer, contact oldseaportnewyork@gmail.com or 917-881-9783 and check out www. oldseaportny.com RUMOR HAS IT… Word on the street is that the city has selected the Seaport as one of six “affluent” neighborhoods to target with a parking ticket violation blitz. Just yesterday, one resident got zapped while unloading her car on Water St.

Knickerbocker Chamber Orchestra

Downtown’s own Knickerbocker Chamber Orchestra winds up its season with “Music at Melville: Hurrah for the Harbor,” at the Melville Gallery on June 10.

DowntownExpress.com


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They say ‘nay’ to new pre-K Locals demanding city swap new school’s early education space for full gymnasium BY YANNIC RACK It’s physical education versus early education. Parents and school advocates in Lower Manhattan want the city to ditch the pre-K component of a new elementary school slated for the Financial District, in a Hail Mary pass to score a full-size gym and auditorium instead. The city’s School Construction Authority, which announced the long-awaited 476-seat facility at 77 Greenwich St. in January, has so far resisted calls to deviate from their plan to build the school with a combined gym-and-auditorium the city calls a “gymnatorium.” Now local parents and advocates say the school’s four planned pre-K classrooms should be cut to make space for separate, full-size facilities — since they say Downtown has more than enough pre-K seats anyway. “It’s sort of a no-brainer,” said Shino Tanikawa, president of Community

Education Council District 2, which covers Lower Manhattan. “It’s actually a little mind-boggling to me that nobody thought of this.” Even though Lower Manhattan’s schools are notoriously overcrowded, the move makes sense when considering the “maniacal” pace of the mayor’s pre-K rollout in the neighborhood, said Tricia Joyce, chairwoman of Community Board 1’s Youth and Education Committee. “Overwhelmingly, the parents and students Downtown would prefer to have a gym and auditorium over as many pre-K seats as we have,” said Joyce. “We have more than we need, so I’m disturbed that they’re cutting corners on the gym and auditorium space, and adding even more pre-K instead.” The idea was first floated at last month’s meeting of the Lower Manhattan Overcrowding Task Force, a panel made up of local politicians, community board members and school

Photo by Yannic Rack

Members of the Lower Manhattan Overcrowding Task Force — including state Sen, Daniel Squadron, right, and Assemblymember Deborah Glick, center — were not impressed when School Construction Authority spokesman Michael Mirisola, left, showed them plans for the new elementary school slated for 77 Greenwich St., which includes four pre-K classrooms, but not a full gymnasium and auditorium.

advocates that meets regularly with representatives from both the SCA and Dept. of Education. When the agencies presented the plans for the new school last month, local parents were disappointed to find the dreaded gymnatorium was included, despite their preemptive calls to

not repeat the same mistake made at The Peck Slip School — the newest Downtown, which was built with a similar combined facility. “We’re delighted to have this new school, but we want to make it the best PRE-K Continued on page 31

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Painful Varicose Veins? New York City

The Mayor’s Offi ce of Resiliency and Recovery is demanding a bigger chunk of the funding the state is doling out from FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program in order to help pay for a massive Downtown storm-protection project.

Varicose veins are MORE than a cosmetic problem.

Downtown to state: ‘Show us the money’ City demands fair share of storm resiliency cash to fund Lower Manhattan protections BY COLIN MIXSON The city is calling on Albany to hand over at least another $100 million in federal storm resiliency funding to help protect Lower Manhattan, though even that much isn’t enough to shore up the area against future storms. Governor Cuomo’s office is currently doling out funds as part of FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program, and reps for the Mayor’s Office of Resiliency and Recovery say the city hasn’t been assured an appropriate slice of the pie. “We believe we deserve more and that we haven’t gotten our fair share,” Michael Shaikh, deputy director of external affairs for the mayor’s recovery team, said at a Community Board 1 meeting on May 17. The city is at this point requesting around $100 million specifically for Manhattan south of the Brooklyn Bridge — a number based on a calculation of the percent of the overall damage in the state that the city sustained and the total sum of HMGP money provided by the feds, Shaikh said. “The funds are based on a calculation of Sandy-related damage,” said Shaikh. “New York City suffered seven percent of all Sandy damage in New York State, but has only gotten a fraction of those HMGP funds, and we’re now asking Albany to send those funds to us.” But even an additional $100 million won’t be enough to fully fund the resiliency projects needed to protect Downtown Manhattan and local leaders say the funding should be allocated not just base on the proportional damage suffered, but rather on what will be needed to safeguard an area of critical local, state, and DowntownExpress.com

nation-wide importance. “Lower Manhattan is of importance to the city, state, and country,” said Catherine McVay Hughes, chairwoman of Community Board 1. “They should be asking for what’s needed to cover adequate protection for the Manhattan tip.” Shaikh assured board members that the $100 million figure is not set in stone, and that the city is asking for “at least” that amount. As part of its application for a recovery grant offered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the city compiled a cost estimate of $234 million for various projects it deemed necessary to protect Lower Manhattan. So even though the city has already earmarked $100 million in local funding for Manhattan Tip, even an additional $100 million from the state will still leave a shortfall of $34 million. And locals are concerned even the $234-million estimate may lowball Lower Manhattan’s actual resiliency needs. “This was just what they put in for the [grant] application, and that was before the scope of the area was extended up through Battery Park City and parts of Tribeca,” said Hughes. “It is not known exactly what the cost is for the Manhattan tip.” Shaikh countered that, in his experience, the city’s cost estimates tend to overshoot the actual pricetag of a given project. Board members were skeptical, however, saying that Shaikh’s experience ran counter to their own. “In my over two decades on the comRESILIENCY Continued on page 31

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Medicare broken down for caregivers A

ccording to the Caregiver Action Network, more than 65 million Americans care for loved ones with chronic illnesses, disabilities, and frailty. Among their many responsibilities, caregivers are often tasked with helping their loved one understand Medicare and make coverage decisions. By following a few tips, caregivers can feel more confident about their ability to help their loved one navigate Medicare. First, start with the basics. There are two ways to access Medicare. Original Medicare includes Part A (hospital insurance) and Part B (medical insurance) and is offered through the federal government. As an alternative, some people choose Medicare Advantage (Part C), which includes all the coverage of Original Medicare plus additional benefits, often for no additional monthly premium. These plans are offered through private insurance companies approved by the govern-

ment. Prescription drug coverage is available with Medicare Part D, which is typically included in Medicare Advantage plans but can also be purchased separately for those with Original Medicare. It is also offered through private insurance companies approved by the government. Some beneficiaries who have Origi-

nal Medicare enroll in a Medicare supplement plan, which covers some or all of the costs not covered by Parts A and B. Next, compare your care recipient’s options. “When caregivers are comparing Medicare plans, it’s important for them to consider both their loved one’s health and budget needs,” said Rhonda

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Randall, D.O., chief medical officer for UnitedHealthcare Retiree Solutions. “Look at the total cost of a plan, including premiums, deductible, copayments and coinsurance, as well as the plan’s network, if it has one, to make sure you’re comfortable with the doctors and hospitals that are included.” If additional benefits such as dental and vision care or a gym membership are important, Randall suggests considering a Medicare Advantage plan; benefits like these are not typically covered by Original Medicare. Lastly, don’t go it alone. If you care for an older adult now or anticipate taking on a caregiver role, there are caregiver tools and resources available to help you and your loved one. To learn more and get the support you need today, visit www.WhatIsSolutions ForCaregivers.com or call (877) 765–4473. Services are available in all 50 states and can be tailored to meet specific needs.

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ADOLESCENT ASSAULT

BAG BURGLARY

Two men assaulted and robbed a teenager last Saturday in the Financial District, cops say. The 16-year-old victim was waiting for his parents to pick him up at the corner of Washington and Rector Sts. at 5:30 a.m. when two men approached him, according to a report. One of the troublemakers asked the boy, “What’s good with your phone?� before his partner pushed the teen to the ground and put his hands around his neck, police say. The fi rst assailant then stole the boy’s iPhone 6S out of his hand and his partner also tried to pull the victim’s gold chain over his head, cops say. After searching the victim’s pockets, both men fled eastbound on Rector St. and disappeared into a subway station at Greenwich and Rector Sts., according to a report. The boy suffered a cut lip, police say.

Rather than risk getting caught shoplifting, a cunning crook went straight to the source this week, stealing more than $4,000 worth of bags from the corporate offices of a designer brand based in Hudson Square, cops say. The resourceful robber let himself into the offices of clothing boutique 3.1 Phillip Lim at 304 Hudson St. around 6:30 p.m. on Friday April 29, although the company didn’t report the theft until last week, according to a report. The perp was caught on CCTV stealing two handbags and two backpacks worth $4,025 in total, according to police.

   

   

PUNCHED FOR PHONE A man was punched in the face and robbed of his phone while standing in front of a pub in the Financial District last weekend, according to police. The victim was standing in front of The Iron Horse on Cliff St. around 3:40 a.m. on Sunday May 29, recording on his phone, when another man walked up to him and hit him before running off with his iPhone 6S, cops say.

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Three motorcycles were stolen in separate incidents across Lower Manhattan in the last month, police say. The bikes all disappeared from their parking spots in the Financial District, Battery Park City and the Seaport overnight, according to reports. The first, a $5,000 black Suzuki sport bike without license plates, was stolen between 11 p.m. on Monday April 24 and 3 a.m. the next morning from its spot in front of the owner’s residence at 232 Front St., cops say. Exactly one month later, during the night of Tuesday May 24, a $15,000 black BMW bike went missing from the corner of Battery Pl. and 2nd Pl., police say. Also last week, on Friday May 27, a 2016 Yamaha motorbike was stolen from the southwest corner of William and Wall Sts. between 1 a.m. and 3 a.m., according to police.

AWOL ACURA A night out in Soho ended with a stolen car for a New Jersey man when his black Acura RSX went missing from its parking spot on Grand St. last Sunday, cops say. The 31-year-old parked his car and went out with friends at 1:15 a.m. but the $3,100 sedan was gone when he came back two hours later, according to police. He also lost a $400 wallet, plus another $400 when the thief used his credit card later that night in Secaucus, according to a report.

CAR BREAK-INS Two out-of-state visitors had their car windows smashed and belongings stolen last week, cops say. A 28-year-old man from New Jersey, who went out for an afterwork dinner with his girlfriend at 7:30 p.m. on Monday May 23, noticed his rear window was broken when the couple returned to their parking spot at 26 Thompson St. in Soho at 2:30 a.m. the next morning, according to a report. The thief left behind the grey Hyundai sedan, but made off with a $1,500 laptop and a $400 backpack, police say. Later that week, on Saturday May 28, a 30-year-old man from Miami, FL, also reported a break-in at his car parked at the southeast corner of Liberty and William Sts. in the Financial District, according to police. The car, which was parked there from 8 p.m. until noon the next day, was missing an $885 MacBook, a $500 Sony camera and three memory cards worth $60 in total, cops say. — Yannic Rack DowntownExpress.com


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See the Bard at The Battery Castle Clinton to host free shows of ‘Romeo and Juliet’ all month BY COLIN MIXSON This summer, a Downtown theater troupe is bringing Shakespeare to Castle Clinton, The Battery’s historic fortress in the round, treating as many as 3,000 locals to The Bard’s romantic tragedy, “Romeo and Juliet.” The production will provide 200 free seats per showing at the fortturned-theater, with the aim of turning the Shakespeare Downtown troupe into more than just a midsummer night’s dream to become a permanent fixture of Lower Manhattan’s cultural scene. “The hope is that we’ll be able to have a Shakespeare company similar to what they have uptown, but for Lower Manhattan,” said producer and actress Billie Andersson, who will play Juliet opposite Brando Boniver’s Romeo. “That is the intention — to start a Shakespeare theater for Lower Manhattan, like Shakespeare in the Park.” The cast is composed entirely of past and current students of Andersson’s hus-

band, Shakespeare Downtown co-founder, actor and director Geoffrey Horne, who has taught at the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute for 35 years. Shakespeare Downtown’s past productions, including “Twelfth Night” and “Measure for Measure,” were all held at the venerable film institute near Union Square, and the move to The Battery’s landmarked fortress represents three years of effort on Andersson’s part petitioning City Hall and the National Park Service for permission to perform in the historic stronghold. “I was walking down the esplanade and saw the castle one night and thought, ‘This would be perfect for doing Shakespeare,’” Andersson said. “I started working on this back when Bloomberg was there — it took that long.” In addition to offering a fittingly impressive setting weighty with history, the change of venue to the castle also provides for a larger audience, boosting capacity from 99 seats to 200.

Shakespeare Downtown

Brando Boniver and Billie Andersson, seen here in Shakespeare Downtown’s 2015 production of “Twelfth Night,” will play the title roles in “Romeo and Juliet” at Castle Clinton in The Battery from June 7–25 — and tickets are free.

“We came because it’s a small theater at the school but this is like the Castle, an open air fort on the water,” said Andersson. “It’s absolutely perfect.” The show will run Tuesdays through

Saturdays from 6:30 p.m. to 8:15 p.m., from June 7 to June 25. The free tickets are available on the day of the show at 5 p.m., and must be picked up in person at Castle Clinton.





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ADVERTORIAL

STAY SAFE WHEN DRIVING IN WET WEATHER Drivers must modify their driving habits when weather compromises their visibility and makes road conditions unsafe. Rain can fall any time of year, but tends to be most problematic in spring. According to the Federal Highway Administration, wet roadways, and rain in particular, are the main cause of weather-related vehicle crashes. The National Highway TrafďŹ c Safety Administration notes that, between 2004 and 2013, rain caused 573,784 crashes. To drive safely in the rain and avoid accidents, drivers should follow certain precautions.

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s-AINTAINWINDSHIELDWIPers. Inspect and, if necessary change windshield wipers regularly to ensure they are working optimally. Always test wipers before driving in rainy weather. s 4URN ON LIGHTS WITH WIPers. Reduced visibility is a major contributor to wet-weather accidents. Drivers’ views may be hampered by falling precipitation and glare from wet roadways. Cloudy conditions and fog also compromise visibility. When using windshield wipers, turn on your headlights as well. This makes your vehicle more visible to other motorists and improves your own ability to see the road and

pedestrians. sÂŹ 2ECOGNIZEÂŹ CHANGINGÂŹ ROADÂŹ conditions. Roadways accumulate oil and engine uids that can oat in rainwater, creating slippery road surfaces. This is usually a problem during the ďŹ rst few hours of a rainstorm or in areas that receive little precipitation and then are subjected to downpours. These uids make rain-soaked roads even more slippery. Slow down, leave more room between vehicles and try driving in the tracks left by vehicles ahead. sÂŹ 2EDUCEÂŹ SPEEDÂŹ 4HEÂŹ AUTOmotive group AAA says hydroplaning, when the tires rise up on a ďŹ lm of water, can occur with as little as 1â „12 inch of wa-

ter on the road. The group goes on to say that tires have to displace a gallon of water per second to keep the rubber meeting the road. Drivers should reduce their speeds to correspond to the amount of water on the roadway. New tires can still lose some contact with the roadway, even at a speed as low as 35 mph. Therefore, reducing speed and avoiding hard braking and turning sharply can help keep the rubber of the tire meeting the road. s 2ELY ON THE DEFOGGER 5SE the car’s windshield defroster/ defogger to improve visibility. Turn it on early and keep it on until the rain has stopped and visibility has improved.

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shopping for new tires. Check tire pressure on all tires at least once a month. Get an accurate reading when tires are cold and adjust air pressure accordingly. sÂŹ !VOIDÂŹ OTHERÂŹ DISTRACTIONSÂŹ $ISTRACTEDÂŹDRIVINGÂŹCANÂŹBEÂŹHAZardous during good road conditions and even more dangerous when visibility and other factors are compromised. Switch phones and other devices off so you can fully focus on the road and other drivers. Rainy weather can contribute to poor driving conditions. Drivers should make changes to speed and other factors to make wet weather driving as safe as possible.

June 2 - June 15, 2016

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E D ITO R IAL

OCULUS WHIFF Port Authority’s pat on the back was more of a swing and a miss BY YANNIC RACK Seven years after it was supposed to be completed, and three months after its alleged “opening,” the WTC Transit Hub finally lived up to its name last week by opening its connection to the subway system. Backtracking on plans to avoid an ostentatious celebration, Port Authority executive director Patrick Foye and other bigwigs showed up on May 26 to crow about the completion at an event ostensibly staged to praise the construction workers rather than the agency’s top brass. After a ceremony inside the $4 billion Oculus — the spiky, white structure that has been compared to a dinosaur skeleton — Port Authority officials and architect Santiago Calatrava officially opened the underground corridor from the hub’s PATH station to the nearby Fulton Center and the 11 subway lines that converge there. Listening to a soaring rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner” and the speeches appreciating the longlaboring union workers, the embarrassing history of the project might easily have been forgotten — at least until Port Authority chairman John Degnan decided to try and justify the decadelong debacle. “Expensive? Yes. Controversial? Perhaps. But hasn’t that been true in the history of art always?” he said. “I think so.” The same could easily be said of mere infrastructure, of course, but Degnan insisted on elevating the eventual completion of the transportation hub to a test of our very civilization. “As John F. Kennedy said, ‘The life of the arts — far from being an interruption, a distraction, in the life of the nation — is very close to the center of a nation’s purpose, and is a test to the quality of a nation’s civilization,’” Degnan recited, as if the Oculus were the Acropolis rather than a train station. Later in his speech, Degnan did eventually deign to acknowledge that the hub was basically an infrastructure project, with a conveniently edited quote likening it to massive Hoover Dam (then known as the Boulder Dam). DowntownExpress.com

“In closing, I think the words of President Franklin Roosevelt, when he dedicated the Boulder Dam, apply here: ‘All these dimensions are superlative. They represent and embody the accumulated engineering knowledge and experience of centuries; and when we behold them it is fitting that we pay tribute to the genius of their designers … but especially, we express our gratitude to the thousands of workers who gave brain and brawn to this great work of construction.’” What Degnan left out of that Roosevelt quote would have reflected on the Oculus in a less flattering light. “We recognize also the energy, resourcefulness and zeal of the builders, who, under the greatest physical obstacles,” Roosevelt said in his original speech, “have pushed this work forward to completion two years in advance of the contract requirements.” Next up, Degnan’s deputy Scott Rechler thought it would be a good idea to bash the builders of the Brooklyn Bridge, who took four years longer to build what was then the longest suspension bridge in the world than it took the Port Authority to build what is now the most expensive train station in history. “The chairman noted that this project was considered expensive and controversial,” Rechler said. “You know, coincidentally, this past May was the 133rd anniversary of the opening of the Brooklyn Bridge, another controversial and expensive project that took 14 years to build.” But Rechler could also have mentioned some other grand projects that were completed in less time than the decade it took to build the Oculus. The Empire State Building was famously topped off in just one year and 45 days. It took the Port Authority itself only seven years to build both of the original Twin Towers. The Statue of Liberty was completed in nine years — which included hauling the parts across the Atlantic Ocean on a steamship. And after another of President Kennedy’s stirring speeches, it took us only eight years to put a man on the moon.

Photos by Milo Hess

(Above) The Port Authority bigwigs were dwarfed by the vast, $4-billion structure they had gathered to celebrate. (Left) Last week’s ceremony was billed as a thank-you to the union workers who spent the past decade building the epic edifice. (Below) In the end, offi cials from the Port Authority and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority opened the world’s most expensive train station on May 26 by tearing off its plain brown wrapper.

Although he didn’t speak at the event, even Port Authority executive director Patrick Foye shared the stage with his colleagues on Thursday — despite the fact that he said earlier this year that he would pass on any opening ceremonies because he considered the project “a symbol of excess.” What followed was a fitting end to the whole saga. There was no rib-

bon cutting, or anything resembling the grand groundbreaking ten years ago, when Calatrava’s daughter symbolically released two white doves into the air. Instead, the transit officials huddled around the wall separating the Oculus from a tunnel to the subway, and awkwardly tore off the brown paper wrapping covering the glass doors with a poster marked, “Not an exit.” June 2 - June 15, 2016

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Driver in Beekman hit-and-run pleads guilty BY YANNIC RACK The driver who seriously injured a woman and narrowly missed a group of schoolchildren during a hit-and-run incident near the Spruce Street School last summer has pleaded guilty and could now go to prison for up to six years. Tiffany Murdaugh, 35, who ran down a Downtown mother after jumping a curb on Beekman St. on April 13 last year, was convicted of assault in the second degree and reckless endangerment in the first degree in New York State Supreme Court on Wednesday. In a deal reached with the District Attorney’s office, Murdaugh pleaded guilty to lesser charges than she originally faced, and she now faces 2–6 years behind bars. The sentence could have been higher

PHONES Continued from page 1

ment. Being an opponent of the proposal to hand control of 110,000 square feet of public space to building owners for development, he asked instead to register his disapproval, and the caller promptly hung up. Both the Downtown Alliance and Global Strategy Group denied any prior knowledge of the illicit call after Hovitz complained to Chin’s office about the fishy survey, which sparked an investigation by the councilmember’s staff that led them to Downtown Alliance and its contractor, Global Strategy Group. The PR firm first categorically denied that the fraudulent call could possibly have happened at all, but after an internal audit revealed Political Connection as the call’s originator, Global Strategy Group announced that it was severing all ties with the phone-bank subcontractor. “We thank Mr. Hovitz for bringing this issue to our attention and for working with us over the last several days to get to the bottom of this matter,” said Global Strategy Group in a statement. “With his assistance, we have discovered today that our subcontractor made an unintended error causing calls from the phone bank to be shown as coming from Councilmember Chin. … We have zero tolerance for this kind of egregious mistake and thus have terminated our relationship with the firm.” The bogus Caller ID purportedly arose from a malfunction related to the call’s expressed intent of forwarding supporters of the zoning proposal to Chin’s Park Row district office to leave

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Video from the incident showed Murdaugh, who lives in Philadelphia, swerving onto the sidewalk in her 2013 Dodge Challenger around 8 a.m. on April 13 near the intersection of William St. right next to the school, according to the DA’s office. She drove nearly half a block along the crowded sidewalk, hitting Heather Hensl, a 37-year-old mother of two who was on her way to work at NewYork Presbyterian Lower Manhattan Hospital. Hensl, who didn’t return a call for comment by press time, suffered serious injuries, including a broken knee and a head laceration, and told Downtown Express last year that she was unable to walk for months due to the accident.

Tiffany Murdaugh leaving court after initially pleading not guilty last July.

had she been convicted of the original charge of assault in the first degree, which alone carries a maximum of seven years. Murdaugh, through her lawyer, declined to comment on the conviction after her court appearance. She is expected to be sentenced on August 3. “This defendant careened onto a sidewalk near an elementary school at 8 o’clock in the morning on a school day,” DA Cyrus Vance said in a statement after the plea. “It is a miracle that no one else was hurt by her recklessness. This driver not only narrowly missed a mother and her two young children, she seriously wounded a woman who had to endure months of physical therapy to rehabilitate her leg. I hope this conviction serves to deter reckless and illegal driving that endangers our city’s residents.”

messages, and that the technical error caused the forwarding number to be displayed as the Caller ID, according to an official at Global Strategy Group. A technical glitch may explain the false Caller ID, but Hovitz contends that there was active deception by the caller to appear to be representing Chin, rather than calling for the Alliance, as Global Strategy Group contends its calling script specifies. “They identified themselves as calling from Margaret Chin’s office,” said Hovitz. “There’s no question. There was no talk about the Alliance.” That claim also was denied by both the Alliance and Global Strategy Group. Downtown Alliance spokesman Andy Breslau asserted that the phone-bankers employed by Global Strategy Group work off of pre-approved scripts, which begin by announcing the caller’s affiliation with the Alliance. Global Strategy Group said that there’s no way its callers went off script, and claimed to have the phone records to prove it, according to spokesman Glen Caplin. “GSG adheres to the highest standards of transparency and ethics,” said Caplin. “Phone calls are monitored for quality purposes throughout the campaign and we have been assured by our subcontractor that not one caller deviated from the script that clearly states Downtown Alliance as the client in the opening line.” Global Strategy refused to provide Downtown Express with the recording of Hovitz’s call, citing reasons of confidentiality. Hovitz was offered the chance to

review the recording, but declined, saying that he’s confident in his memory of the event, and that, given Global Strategy’s strenuous denial, he’s sure that any recording he receives will have been doctored to reflect the firm’s claim. “I don’t need the recording,” said Hovitz. “I know what happened and, based on what they’re saying, any recording I receive from them is suspect.” Chin denounced Political Connection specifically for its role in the scandal, and is currently consulting with Council lawyers to find a way to prevent this kind of deceptive telephone lobbying from reoccurring. “I am incredibly troubled by reports that Political Connection, a firm hired to conduct outreach to my constituents, used misleading information in order to solicit support for the Water St. text amendment,” said Chin. “At no point was my office aware of misrepresentation by any group about this important issue. Upon learning about this solicitation, my office consulted with legal counsel about possible enforcement action to ensure that these kinds of misleading tactics do not happen again.” The councilmember went on to say that any testimony suspected of being solicited through questionable means will not be considered. “I would like to assure the dozens of people that wrote letters, testified, and attended meetings on both sides of this issue that it is their voices — not those purporting to represent a City Council office — that will be heeded as the process of determining the future of Water Street continues.”

Chin’s office is considering taking further action, such as formalizing their complaint with a letter to the Federal Communications Commission, according to Chin spokesman Paul Leonard. “We are weighing our options, which would include submitting a compliant to the FCC about these tactics,” Leonard said. This isn’t the first time Global Strategy Group has ruffled feathers Downtown for conducting phone surveys on contentious development issues that locals complain are skewed to produce one-sided results. In 2014, when Howard Hughes Corporation was pushing back against local opposition to its now-defunct plans for a 500-foot residential tower at the South Street Seaport, the developer hired Global Strategy Group to do a phone survey that suggested 84-percent support for the tower. But locals who received those calls said it resembled a “push poll” in which the questions are worded specifically to prompt a particular response — similar to Hovitz’s more recent experience being asked to support a zoning change the caller said would “enliven” Water St. Likewise, Howard Hughes said that locals’ characterizations of the callers’ questions did not match the script it provided — just as the Alliance said what Hovitz reported hearing was not what its callers were supposed to say. If you’ve gotten a call from someone asking you to support the Water St. arcade infill plan, please let us know what the caller said and whether the Caller ID said it was from Chin’s office: news@downtownexpress.com.

File photo by Dusica Sue Malesevic

HIT-AND-RUN Continued on page 22

DowntownExpress.com


DowntownExpress.com

June 2 - June 15, 2016

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June 2 - June 15, 2016

Dates: Thurs., June 2–Wed., June 8

ALTERNATE SIDE PARKING RULES ARE IN EFFECT ALL WEEK

Now that Memorial Day has come and gone, don’t expect its effects to disappear. From now until Labor Day expect all approaches to the Holland Tunnel to be overloaded from 3 p.m. to after 6 p.m. every Thursday and Friday. Varick, Canal, Spring, and Broome Sts. will all suffer the consequences. Ninja Turtle-lock on Friday affecting Church St., West Broadway, and especially Duane St. The next Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles epic will be filming on Duane St. from 6 a.m. to 11 a.m. Tunnel closures abound this week! In the Lincoln Tunnel, the New Yorkbound tube will close from 11 p.m. Thursday to 5 a.m. Friday, as will one New York-bound lane in the Holland Tunnel. The Lincoln Tunnel closure will send drivers down to the Holland, which will be slow because of its own closure. Expect delays at the neighboring bridges — the Brooklyn and Manhattan. One tube at the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel will close from 9:30 p.m. Friday through 5:30 a.m. Monday. Additionally, one tube will close between 9:30 p.m. and 5:30 a.m. Monday through Friday. With summer fast approaching, Lower Manhattan is a hotbed for outdoor activities, which means lots of street closures ahead. For the latest in road closures, festivals, and traffic news, follow me on Twitter @ GridlockSam and check the website www.GridlockSam.com.

HIT-AND-RUN Continued from page 20

“I didn’t see her coming at me,” she said of the crash, which knocked her onto her back. “I immediately knew that something was wrong with my left leg.” Hensl also told Downtown Express last May that she intended to press civil charges after Murdaugh’s criminal trial was over. After fleeing the scene of the Beekman St. mayhem, Murdaugh drove over the Brooklyn Bridge and got into another accident in Crown Heights, where she rear-ended another car and then abandoned her own. In addition to the 2–6 years for the reckless endangerment charge,

The Coenties Slip Greenmarket will close Coenties Slip between Water and Pearl Sts. from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday. The Macy’s 5K Run-Walk from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday will close one lane on Battery Pl. between Wall St. and First Pl. The Out of the Darkness Overnight Walk from 4 p.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday will close one lane on Chambers St. between West St. and North End Ave., and one lane on Wall St. between South and Front Sts. The Sing For Hope Pianos event will slow traffic on Pine St. between Nassau and William Sts. all day Saturday, midnight to midnight. The 7th-Annual Big Apple Run for the Warriors will slow traffic on South St. between Old Slip and Montgomery St. from 5 a.m. to 11 a.m. Saturday. The Cheryl Diamond NYC 5K Schlep will close Battery Pl. between Little West St. and First Pl. from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday. In the Battery Park Underpass, one tube will be closed from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. Monday through Friday nights, and from 1 a.m. to 8 a.m. Saturday. Traffic will be maintained in both directions in the open tube. If the north tube is closed, use the detour and exit onto South St., continue on to Whitehall St., turn left onto State St. to Battery Pl., and then turn left onto Battery Pl. to West St. If the south tube is closed go south on West St., left onto Battery Pl., continuing onto State St., and going one block north on Water St., then right onto Broad St.

Murdaugh also faces two years in prison with three years of post-release supervision for the assault charge, but Judge Gregory Carro said the two sentences would be concurrent, meaning they will be served at the same time. A third misdemeanor charge, for leaving the scene of the accident without reporting it, was not included in the plea deal, although Carro expressly made Murdaugh acknowledge that she fled to Brooklyn after the crash. She was arrested about a month after the crash after she was questioned by officers at the First Precinct, despite the fact that police had originally planned to charge her only for a misdemeanor. DowntownExpress.com


Diversity Initiative Rejuvenates 13th Street Rep New cast keeps long-running ‘Line’ relevant

Photo by Sean Egan

An injection of new talent, on stage and behind the scenes, is giving one of Downtown’s anchor theatres a few new pillars.

Courtesy Women of Color Productions

“Black Panther Women” plays at 13th Street Rep through Aug. 7. DowntownExpress.com

BY TRAV S.D. How comforting it is to know that in this too-too transient city, where beloved institutions bite the dust daily, there are some that still endure. A case in point is the 13th Street Repertory Theatre, an anchor in New York’s Downtown theatre scene since 1972. Two pillars of the company are New York institutions in their own right. Founder and Artistic Director Edith O’Hara turned 100 years old this year, and continues to serve the company in an emeritus capacity — and the company’s landmark production of Israel Horovitz’s “Line” has been open for an astounding 42 years (surpassing the original run of “The Fantasticks,” which lasted from 1960 through 2002).

But like relationships and sharks (to misappropriate a Woody Allen line), a theatre must keep moving or it will die. And this company is very much alive and kicking. To find out their secret, we spoke with 13th Street’s public relations representative, Jay Michaels. “Phase two for 13th Street began in 2014 when Susan Merson came on board as Managing Artistic Director, and she began the resurgence and rejuvenation the company is now experiencing. She brought in lots of new companies into the space. While she remains very much involved with the board and staff of 13th Street, last month she was succeeded by our current Artistic Director, Joe Battista.” Battista, whom Michaels describes as a “journeyman theatre artist with a lot of experience,” is a graduate of The American Academy of Dramatic Arts, who has been on the staff of 13th Street for many years. One of Battista’s first official acts in his new position was to revisit one of 13th Street’s primary programming staples — the four decade-plus production of Israel Horowitz’s “Line.” To lead the effort, he hired Jacqueline Wade, founder and executive producer of Women of Color Productions (wocproductions.com), to recast and direct a rebooted version of the absurdist classic about a group of strangers jostling for first place in a line for some unspecified event. The now-predominantly African American, multiracial cast is designed to “reflect the diversity” of contemporary New York and has been tweaked to include such facts of 21st century reality as the smartphone and earbuds. The resulting production’s success prompted Battista to throw the theatre’s support behind an entire series of works created by, and about, African Americans. According to Michaels, “Joe liked ‘Line’ so much, and Jacqueline had all these wonderful ideas about how to push the envelope and make a statement. So he asked her, ‘What else you got?’ ” REP continued on p. 24 June 2 - 15, 2016

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Courtesy 13th Street Repertory Theatre

Courtesy Women of Color Productions

L to R: Jenny O’Hara, Edith O’Hara, Carol Schaefer, Joe Battista and Arturo Toulinov.

The current version of 13th Street Rep’s long-running “Line” acknowledges 21st century realities, such as smartphones and earbuds.

REP continued from p. 23

The next show out of the pipeline was “Black Panther Women,” an original ensemble piece written and directed by Wade. This historical drama features an all-female, all-African American cast of a dozen, who tell the story of the rise and fall of the controversial Black Panther Party (1966-1982) from the point of view of its female members. The two-act docu-play focuses especially on key players in the party’s evolution, like Elaine Brown, writer,

singer and Black Panther Party Chair from 1974 to 1977; and Afeni Shakur, mother of hip-hop artist Tupac Shakur. The cast also portray male characters in the history, such as Huey P. Newton, Bobby Seale, and J. Edgar Hoover. Audiences have been flocking to the groundbreaking drama. According to Michaels, houses have been selling out. “Black Panther Women” is slated to play through August 7. Also part of 13th Street’s diversity initiative is “Yaki Yim Bamboo,” a family musical set on an imaginary

Caribbean island, which plays through June 12. And, coming in July, Michaels is directing his own one-man steampunk production of Shakespeare’s “Hamlet,” starring Matt de Rogatis. The company’s revitalization has been so effective that it has attracted independent work by outside producers, such as “The Over Share Cabaret: Sex, Love and Show Tunes,” a regular variety show presented in the 65-seat space by performer Mel DeLancey, who calls it a “fun place to work” that allows her “more ownership of the perfor-

mance space than you would have in a typical cabaret venue.” She first rented the space back in February and according to DeLancey, “The managers liked my energy and wanted a more youthful presence in the space.” From a theatre company that’s approaching the half-century mark that’s a healthy sign. The 13th St. Repertory Theatre is located at 50 W. 13th St. (btw. Fifth & Sixth Aves). For info, visit 13thstreetrep. org or call 212-675-6677.

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DowntownExpress.com


THE QUESTION:

Who is the new voice in morning radio that everyone is talking about?

THE ANSWER:

-2(3,6&232

PHOTO BY DANNY SANCHEZ

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MORNINGS: 6-9AM

DowntownExpress.com

June 2 - June 15, 2016

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Back in Chelsea, Irish Rep Makes a Play for Home ‘Shining’ is a fitting first for a revamped theatre BY SCOTT STIFFLER Anyone who’s ever introduced a nail to the business end of a hammer will eagerly testify that a clear vision of things to come is no match for the shocking lack of respect construction projects have for deadlines. So it’s more a product of steely resolve than luck that the Irish Repertory Theatre’s W. 22nd St. space is back in business on time, and, for the most part, functioning as planned — but it took a bold public declaration to ensure their line in the sand didn’t stray from its original location. “When we put a poster up outside the theatre with the date of May 17 as the first preview, and announced ‘Tickets are now on sale,’ everybody knew the doors had to open,” said Ciarán O’Reilly, Producing Director of the Irish Rep, regarding their return to a vastly improved version of the place they’ve called home since 1994, when the nomadic company put down roots in Chelsea’s 1911-built Stanwick Building. “We thought we would be in more toward the end of last year than now,” said O’Reilly, who admitted in an early May phone interview that this best-case scenario existed purely “in our dream world. So everybody thinks, as far as construction goes, we’ve ended up in an extraordinary place.” For a man whose stock and trade involves the fine calibration of drama to achieve maximum effect, “extraordinary” may actually be an understated description of the very nearly realized $13 million “Campaign For a Permanent Home” project that began in September 2014 — when Irish Rep co-founders Charlotte Moore and O’Reilly stood at the tip of stage left, gripped their hands around a single sledgehammer, and took the first

Photo by Carol Rosegg

Matthew Broderick and Billy Carter in “Shining City,” at Irish Rep through July 3.

of many hefty swipes necessary to bring major structural changes and technological improvements to the two floors that their nonprofit arts organization had just gone from renting to owning. Although O’Reilly would spend the next 20 months making frequent visits to the site, it was the last time he’d wield an instrument of destruction in the name of progress.

“I wore the hard hat, that was mandatory,” he recalled, “but handling the tools would not have been allowed. There were four different contractors on the job, and it was run by the city,” whose $6 million contribution to the project was administered through the IRISH continued on p. 27

Courtesy Irish Rep

Photo by James Higgins

New seats give the space some green cred (not to be confused with the silver LEED rating earned by the new HVAC and electrical systems).

Irish Rep co-founders Charlotte Moore and Ciarán O’Reilly administer a little tough love to the wall of their W. 22nd St. theatre, in 2014.

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DowntownExpress.com


IRISH continued from p. 26

Department of Design and Construction. “There’s an awful lot of moaning about the city,” O’Reilly acknowledged. “But, at the end of the day, we had huge respect for them, working within a system that can be extremely complicated and dense. So you can grind your teeth and say, ‘Why is this or that not happening?,’ but they have a process to go through to make the system work for us. It took thousands of pages of paperwork, just to make things right. It’s taxpayers’ money at work, and has to be accounted for.” Irish Rep’s facade, box office, rehearsal, and administrative spaces underwent changes, ranging from the radical to the cosmetic. All of the major tasks are complete, although O’Reilly was quick to point out that visitors should note, “It’s not 100 percent. There’s a good number of finishes that are still on back order; wood paneling on the walls, special lighting for the pillars. That will happen throughout the summer. In the fall, we’re going to have the opening of the whole institution.” Certain signature flourishes remain; the lobby’s distinctive stained glass windows, for example. Other features are new, such as the air conditioning system, which divides the building into 14 different zones. The second floor rehearsal studio also underwent major changes; all the better to be occasionally cast in the role of community room and gallery space (through June 24, the newly christened Irish Rep Gallery presents Geraldine O’Sullivan’s “16 Letters” exhibition of collages based on correspondence before, during, and after the Easter Rising and the First World War). Spacious new bathrooms (both of them unisex, one wheelchair accessible) were added to the second floor, with a similar pair on the ground level inside the Francis J. Greenburger Mainstage — whose expanded height (now 24 feet, from its previous 12) creates, for those familiar with the original facility, the perception of having suddenly entered a grand loft space more likely to be found in an altogether different part of town. “You’re looking at two floors now instead of one, when you’re sitting in the theatre,” O’Reilly noted. To access the new 40-seat balcony, a wall was knocked down, during the addition of a lighted staircase (outfitted with a metallic mesh railing that furthers the aesthetic of openness). In doing so, it was good riddance to a portion of the theatre whose sight lines were a source of contention for audiences, actors, and directors alike. “We were very conscious of what we DowntownExpress.com

Courtesy Irish Rep

The Francis J. Greenburger Mainstage space, after its ceiling height was raised to accommodate a new balcony.

Courtesy Irish Rep

A staircase takes visitors to the newly installed balcony (in a later phase of its construction, wire mesh further contributes to the theatre’s newfound sense of open space).

used to call our ‘jury’ section,” he said, recalling with very little fondness how it “forced us to cater to the audience to our right as well as to our main section in the front, where most of the seats were. In the old space, the couch [the focal point of their current production] would have to be much further back. Now, we can bring the actors right into the spotlight and not have to worry about serving a profile audience. There’s a wing section

where the ‘jury’ seats used to be, so we have a backstage that allows us to roll on scenery. We also have a beautiful new revolving stage.” Don’t expect to be dazzled by any of the imagery and action that sort of technology can achieve, should you (and you should) attend “Shining City,” the production chosen to launch Irish Rep’s revamped facility. A brooding tale of the emotionally bruised and physically dis-

placed, “City” manages to pack a wallop without deploying any of the flashy tech upgrades. “They’re permanent installations, to be used when a play requires five, six, seven scenes,” O’Reilly notes, of the tracking and revolving options. “I don’t think Charlotte and I would pick a season based on showing off those things,” he asserts, while politely declining to tip his hat regarding a summertime announcement that will list the choices for their next season. “It has to be the right thing to do,” he says of their new toys, “but it’s good to know that when the time comes, we can pull it off.” O’Reilly did, however, happily confirm that despite significant changes to the Mainstage space, Irish Rep’s good working relationship with sound waves remained intact. “We were living in dread of it,” O’Reilly said, recalling their maiden voyage with a full house. “It had somewhat perfect acoustics before. You really could whisper on the stage and be heard in the back row. And we were afraid, with double the ceiling height, we were going to lose that, which seems to not be the case. Sound travels well. The actors need to look up a little bit more to acknowledge the presence of the balcony, but it’s just a slight adjustment of the head, really.” More significant adjustments were required, however, when keeping every element of production in-house was no longer an option. Irish Rep’s W. 22nd St. base, O’Reilly notes, “had become a pretty well-oiled machine” before the walls came tumbling down. “We have really missed that feeling of going to one place where rehearsals happen, and where our offices are,” he said, noting that his schedule on any given day during the past year-and-a-half might involve an early morning visit to check on progress at the Chelsea theatre, office work in Midtown (on Park Ave., in the same building as the Irish Consulate), rehearsals at A.R.T./New York (Eighth Ave. & W. 36th St.), and then off to Union Square’s DR2 Theatre, where much of the past two seasons took place. It’s something more than coincidence, then, that “Shining City” speaks to the universal longing for a place to call one’s own, and functions as a reunion on more than one level. This is the first NYC revival of “Shining City” since its 2006 Broadway run — and it marks yet another Irish Rep presentation of Conor McPherson’s work, following “Port Authority” and “The Weir” during their time at DR2 (both polished IRISH continued on p. 28 June 2 - 15, 2016

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Photo by Carol Rosegg

Billy Carter as novice counselor Ian and Lisa Dwan as his estranged girlfriend Neasa in “Shining City.” IRISH continued from p. 27

and highly enjoyable productions, and similarly wrenching as “City” in their raw portrayal of those who yearn for roots while coping with loss). O’Reilly, who directs “City,” expressed gratitude and pride for the theatre’s “terrific rapport with Conor, whom we think is one of Ireland’s top living playwrights.” This work, he notes, “is almost all about dislocation. All of the characters are out of their homes, and trying to find a home within themselves. It’s a quite seemingly simple play — one set, four actors; and

at this time, with so much else going on, it seemed to have the right feel for us coming back.” Having old friend Matthew Broderick on board is another coup for O’Reilly, who notes, “I just sent him the script, not really thinking he was going to say ‘yes.’ But it was such a good script for him; quite different. It allows him to bury deep into something. He’s better known for musicals and comedy, which he has a huge flair for — but this was a different attack.” Stopping short of a review (“Shining City” is embargoed for such scrutiny until its official premiere), this publication can

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happily confirm that even in previews, Broderick’s performance as a guilt-ridden man — driven to seek counseling after a jarring encounter (real or imagined?) with his deceased wife — hits home, especially when confronting the sequence of events that led him to lose control, then lose his bearings. It’s a facet of the human condition that’s utterly appropriate, O’Reilly notes, for Irish Rep’s return to form after being “suddenly scattered to the wind. We were so used to steering our own ship, so we really missed the neighborhood. We never got over that.” “Shining City” is currently in pre-

views (then, running June 9–July 3). At the Irish Repertory Theatre (132 W. 22nd St., btw. Sixth & Seventh Aves.). Irish Rep’s 2016 Gala Benefit (“Finian’s Rainbow: In Concert”) happens Mon., June 13, 7pm, at The Town Hall (123 W. 43rd St.). The performance (hosted by Saoirse Ronan, with Tony Award winner Jim Norton in the title role) will be followed by dinner at Bryant Park Grill (25 W. 40th St.). For reservations to the Gala (single tickets start at $100; premium seating/dinner packages start at $500) or tickets to “Shining City” ($70), call 212-727-2737 or visit irishrep.org.

Theater for the New City • 155 1st Avenue at E. 10th St. Reservations & Info (212) 254-1109 For more info, please visit www.theaterforthenewcity.net

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resiliency Continued from page 11

munity board, I have never seen the city get an estimate that is less than what they expected to spend, with all due respect,” said CB1 member Paul Hovitz. Just how much money is required to protect Downtown from the next superstorm, and exactly where that funding will come from may remain up in the air, but the city nonetheless intends to move forward with the Lower Manhattan resiliency project’s initial phases, according to the mayor’s office, in essence treating the project as though it is already fully funded, while pursuing the means of making it so. “Even as we aggressively source additional dollars, we are already moving forward with community engagement and design, so that we can get these new flood protection measures in place as quickly as possible with the funds we have, while also identifying any remaining needs,” said a spokesman for the mayor’s office.

museum Continued from page 3

ity of life — and include demands that the city subsidize the museum at a recent meeting amongst the board’s Seaport Committee members on May 17. All present members agreed that something had to be done to support the museum, although who should fund it and how was the subject of some debate. Long-serving member Paul Hovitz laid the responsibility at Hornblower’s feet, saying it should help support the museum in return for the generous

pre-k Continued from page 10

we can,” said Tammy Meltzer, a parent and community board member. “If we can get the full gym, it would be so much better than this gymnatorium.” The current plans call for a double-height gymnatorium with a stage to be built on the sixth floor of the 500-foot mixed-use tower, which will start construction this year and is scheduled to open in 2019. As of now, the new school’s eight floors are slated for four pre-K classes, as well as three kindergarten classes and three each for grade 1–5, according to SCA spokesman Michael Mirisola. The school will also have space for two special-Ed classes. DowntownExpress.com

Photo by Milo Hess

L iv ing his t or y

Civil War re-enactor Brett Crenshaw attended Memorial Day festivities at Castle Clinton in The Battery portraying Noah Elliott, the hospital steward of New York’s 26th Regiment U.S. Colored Infantry Regiment, who went on to become the first African American physician in Athens County Ohio. subsidies and revenue it will receive through its contract with the city. Other members weren’t so sure, and it was ultimately decided to leave the “who” and the “how” up to the city. In addition to the local community board, the Seaport Museum has found a champion in Borough President Gale Brewer, who fired off a letter to the EDC, which manages the Seaport and the Citywide Ferry Service, saying the Museum would falter in the face of the lost revenue, and asking whether the semi-private organization had any plans in place to

support the museum. The EDC replied with a letter of its own, in which Executive Vice President Seth Myers said that the organization “cares deeply” about the museum and was willing to work with Brewer’s office, the museum, and local stakeholders to develop strategies to keep the museum afloat. The letter did not mention any specific plan. A spokesman for the borough president confirmed that the EDC had been in touch with Brewer’s office to arrange a meeting regarding the museum, although no date has been set as of yet.

Mirisola told the task force this month that space at the school was tight since the agency had to work within the framework agreed upon with the developer — even though the deal wasn’t officially inked yet — but added that he would look into the possibility of a pre-K trade-off. “This is a deal that’s done with the developer. We don’t own this building, we don’t have the flexibility that we’d have if we did,” he said. “But I will take this back to our folks in capital planning, and our early childhood people, and see what their numbers tell us about pre-K.” Both Joyce and Tanikawa point to a nearby pre-K center that opened on Washington St. last September with a capacity of 108 seats — in addition

to at least two more standalone centers Downtown — as evidence that the seats at the new school are not needed. And Joyce added that the existing school gyms in the neighborhood are so overbooked that adding another gymnatorium would spell disaster, since Peck Slip is already struggling with its hybrid facility. “The gym at PS 234, for example, is booked solid from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays, and 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekends. How they think a gymnatorium is even a possibility is … confusing,” she said. “We already have a preview of all the failures at Peck Slip. We have to make sure this does not become the new standard.” June 2 - June 15, 2016

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June 2 - June 15, 2016

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