VOLUME 29, NUMBER 12
JUNE 16 – JUNE 29, 2016
Controversial Water St. arcade plan gets Council committee green light
File photo by Milo Hess
Battery Park City Authority chairman Dennis Mehiel considers allowing only elected offi cials to speak at authority board meetings while restricting residents to submitting written comments to be a “reasonable approach” to growing calls for more community input.
Speechless Suggestion box, not soap box for public at BPCA meetings BY COLIN MIXSON Faced with growing demands from residents and local lawmakers to allow public comment at its board meetings, the Battery Park City Authority has offered what many are calling a “half measure” — permitting only elected officials to speak at meetings, but restricting residents to submitting written comments — a move that satisfies no one except the governor’s hand-picked appointees on the board, according to state Sen. Daniel Squadron. “This was never about elected officials’ opportunity to be heard. We have many opportunities to be heard,” said Squadron. “It’s about local residents sharing their local perspective with a board who overwhelmingly resides elsewhere.” A cadre of Downtown legislators put their names to a letter in April calling on the authority to provide locals the opportunity to speak for themselves at the board’s meetings, with Squadron, Congressman Jerrold Nadler, Borough President Gale Brewer, Assemblymember Deborah Glick and City Councilmember Margaret Chin writing that “public comment is an important part of public engagement.” SPEECHLESS Continued on page 31
Photos by Yannic Rack
Downtown Alliance president Jessica Lappin (inset) is poised to declare victory in her group’s quest to allow developers to put retail space into the Water St. pedestrian arcades (left) in exchange for sprucing up the area’s public plazas (right), after the Council’s Land Use Committee unanimously endorsed the proposal on Jun15, setting up approval from the full Council on June 21.
BY YANNIC RACK It’s game over for the Water St. arcades. The City Council is set to sign off later this month on a controversial zoning change that would hand two football fields worth of public space to developers along Water St., after the Land Use Committee unanimously approved the plan on Wednesday. Downtown councilmember Margaret Chin had successfully pushed for several changes to the text amendment to reflect community concerns, but the measure’s chief critics — who decry it as a giveaway to developers that shortchanges the community — still argue the zoning text change is a
bad deal for Lower Manhattan, and for public open spaces across the city. “It’s depressing that this is going through. It just opens the door — it sets a precedent,” said Alice Blank, an architect and member of Community Board 1 who spearheaded local opposition to the plan, in part because she feared it could lead to similar public spaces being handed over to landlords elsewhere. “Any agreement of taking away public space is a bad idea,” she added. At the initial subcommittee hearings last month, several of the legislators expressed grave concerns about the deal, but once Chin came on board this week opposi-
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tion on the committees evaporated, since councilmembers usually defer to the local member when considering a measure that falls entirely within their district. The zoning text amendment, introduced by the Downtown Alliance and the city’s Economic Development Corporation and Dept. of City Planning, seeks to hand 110,000 square feet of covered arcades at 20 Downtown office towers to building owners for retail development in exchange for upgrades to public plazas in the area. Both the walkways and plazas — which are privately owned ARCADES Continued on page 12
STARSTRUCK Amateur astronomers call the view from Wagner Park out of this world BY COLIN MIXSON You can see a lot further than Jersey from Wagner Park. A group of hobbyist astronomers offered locals the chance to spy on distant worlds from the unlikely vantage point of Battery Park City’s Wagner Park last week, where they set up highpowered telescopes and invited passersby to discover the beauty of the heavens. “I’ve had people who look and say, ‘Oh my god, you’ve changed my life forever,’” said Joe Delfausse, 75, a longtime stargazer and member of the Amateur Astronomers Association of New York. “And when you see Saturn with its rings, that’s exactly how you feel. It’s incredible.” Conditions in New York City are far from ideal for stargazing. In fact, the light pollution is about as bad as it gets. For most people, the bright lights of the big city aren’t so much a problem
as an essential aspect of the city that never sleeps. Unfortunately, it doesn’t make the challenge of viewing cosmic spectacles — distant beyond reckoning — any easier. But beholding truly distant sights is not what the Amateur Astronomers Association is all about. These starry-eyed hobbyists are more concerned with sharing with the uninitiated the dazzling sights that populate our own celestial backyard. “There’s two kind of philosophies to stargazing,” said Delfausse. “One is you bring your telescope out into the middle of nowhere where the sky is really dark and you get to see all types of neat clusters that you wouldn’t normally see. But there are a gazillion people in NYC that have never seen the planets through a telescope. Even if we just limit ourselves to the moon, Jupiter, Saturn, Venus, and Mars, we can do a lot of good by bringing our telescopes to the people. That’s
Photo by Milo Hess
Joe Delfausse, a leader of the Amateur Astronomers Association of New York, promotes the joy of stargazing by setting up his telescope in public spaces and inviting passers-by to get a close-up look at the heavens.
what I’m all about.” Wagner Park is a relatively new spot for the group, which regularly meets up on the High Line and at Lincoln Center
to share the celestial view. This was only the second time they’ve set up shop in STARSTRUCK Continued on page 12
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Swingin’ tunes at Brookfield Unleash your inner child — and musician — with interactive art installation BY YANNIC RACK A new cooperative musical installation just opened at Brookfield Place, where a giant set of musical swings invites passers-by to have some nostalgic fun while collectively composing tunes. The Swings: An Exercise in Musical Cooperation features a set of 10 giant swings, each representing one of four instruments — piano, harp, guitar and vibraphone — and triggering a sound when participants swing back and forth. “We found something universal in people just loving to swing, having great nostalgia and attachment to it,” said Melissa Mongiat, one half of Montrealbased design duo Daily tous les jours, which came up with the project. “And the whole music-making element is a great icebreaker between strangers,” Mongiat explained. “People usually feel amazed at how comfortable they can feel in a public space.” Together with her partner, Mouna Andraos, Mongiat originally designed a larger set of 21 swings that has been a mainstay in Montreal’s arts and entertainment district every spring for the past five years. The smaller version, which will stay on the Waterfront Plaza at Brookfield Place until July 7 and is open every day from noon to 8 p.m., has just kicked off a whirlwind tour through the US — but it will be more than fun and games. The contraption will gather data on how the swings are used and how participants collaborate with each other to make music as a spontaneous community, making it more than just a fancy plaything, according to Mongiat. “We got a Knight Foundation grant, and we decided to have a study made around it to better understand the impact. We feel it’s a project that,
Photos by Yannic Rack
(Above) Not even a business suit can hold in your inner child when faced with Brookfield’s musical plaground of The Swings. (Right) But kids can have a ball too on the swings, each of which plays the notes of a particular musical instrument — piano, harp, guitar and vibraphone.
depending on its context, can relieve a lot of tension,” she explained. The installation has already shown results in other locations in serious need of social cohesion, Mongiat said. “We were in West Palm Beach, where there is a lot of social tension, and Detroit, which has a lot of economic tension,” she said, “and it has quite a lot of power to relieve some of that and attract a mixed crowd. It just gets people to take down their barriers.” The fun of literally playing on the musical swings can quickly gather a diverse group of people together — as evidenced during a preview session last
Photo by Yannic Rack
The musical swings will be at Brookfield Place through July 7. Playing on them is free, but participants are asked to sign a liability waiver.
June 16 - June 29, 2016
week, where both men in suits and mothers with toddlers gave it a go. “I actually went to Colorado when it was there, and I had such a great time — swinging myself, and experiencing the installation,” said Elysa Marden, a senior producing director at Arts Brookfield who helped bring the installation to the Hudson River waterfront. “So I came back to talk it up.” Before The Swings’ grand tour, when Mongiat and Andraos were planning their original installation in Montreal, they studied the space it was going to occupy and found both a symphony orchestra and a science faculty nearby. A few meetings later, the musical component was incorporated, and a biology professor came on board to contribute insights from his area of expertise — cooperation among animals. “He got involved, and he helped us find the whole interactive pattern,” Mongiat said. “We look at human
behavior, he looks at animal behavior, and somehow there is some nice overlap of how you can get people to do more together than alone.” She also thinks that, on a grand scale, The Swings’ latest location is particularly apt — even if Downtowners don’t associate Battery Park City with the social problems of Detroit. “It’s a nice message for this particular area, because if you think the World Trade Center is just behind it, it’s quite historically charged around here,” Mongiat said. “So it’s nice to see what can happen when people come together.” The Swings will be at the Waterfront Plaza at Brookfield Place until July 7. Playing on the installation is free and it’s open daily from 12–8 p.m. No registration is necessary, but visitors are asked to sign a waiver before getting on the swings, which is available online at artsbrookfield.com/event/theswings. DowntownExpress.com
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June 16 - June 29, 2016
Sanitation salvation? Battery Park City may hold the key to conquering Downtown’s garbage glut BY BILL EGBERT Finally! A feel-good story about Downtown garbage. Two weeks ago, Downtown Express revealed the staggering amount of additional household trash destined for Lower Manhattan’s sidewalks in the wake of the area’s unrelenting residential boom, showing that developments now in the pipeline would churn out another 19 tons of garbage every day into a neighborhood already drowning in detritus. But there may be a solution to the garbage glut — and we can already see it in action right here in Downtown, in Battery Park City. For the past ten years, most of the residential buildings in the waterfront development have kept their garbage off
the curb entirely by transporting it daily to one of several nearby compactors which compress the trash bags to a fraction of their normal size and store all the refuse until specialized Sanitation trucks arrive to haul the entire contraption away to be emptied and returned. Just one compactor at the southern end of BPC serves eight buildings with a total of 2,021 units. Overall, the four compactors operating in BPC handle all the household garbage generated by more than 7,000 units — more than the 6,537 new units going up across Downtown in the next three years — plus trash from two local schools. Bruno Pomponio, the director of parks operations for the BPCA, said that a compactor system could be a simple
Photo by Bill Egbert
Bruno Pomponio, center, the director of parks operations for the Battery Park City Authority, supervises the daily ritual of workers from the surrounding residential buildings lining up to load the day’s trash to the compactor on Second Pl., the green device on the left. When the dumpster is full, the city sends a truck to pick it up.
solution to add to the new supertall towers going up elsewhere Downtown that might otherwise be overwhelmed by the trash their residents will produce. “It would be easy, and it would save space,” said Pomponio, noting that the daily collection means building managers would only have to store one day’s worth of garbage downstairs, rather than letting it pile up for two or three days awaiting curbside collection.
At the compactor at the Battery Park City Parks Conservancy Headquarters, which Pomponio manages, workers from nearby buildings start arriving at about 2:30 each afternoon pushing carts loaded with the same long, black garbage bags that would otherwise be stacked on the curb the day before regular collection. But instead of blocking COMPACTORS Continued on page 18
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June 16 - June 29, 2016
FANTASTIC VOYAGE Traditional Polynesian canoe stops off at North Cove on its trip around the world BY COLIN MIXSON Taking a break from their bold endeavor to circumnavigate the globe with only the sun and stars as their guide, the brave crew of a traditional Polynesian voyaging canoe, Hokulea, swung by Battery Park City’s North Cove Marina for a bit of Manhattan landlubbing on June 5. The big highlight of the crew’s time in Gotham was their state of the seas address by Master Navigator Nainoa Thompson at the United Nations on June 8, when the international body celebrated the annual World Oceans Day. The intrepid seamen and women hosted several other community events — including a June 7 appearance at the American Museum of Natural History — at which they passed on both ancient tips for sailing by the stars and messages from coastal communities they have visited worldwide. “Reaching New York City is a pinnacle point of our journey where we will be able to share what we have learned from the communities we have visited around the world,” said Thompson. The Hokulea and her crew set sail from the Hawaiian Islands way back in 2013, heading west toward the setting sun and making numerous pit stops along the way, including layovers at such far-flung locales as New Zealand, Australia, Samoa, Mauritius, South Africa, Brazil, and Cuba before ultimately making their way to New York. Between then and now, the Hawaiian
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Traditional costumes and drumming vessel has put four continents and three greeted the Hokulea when it arrived oceans between her and home. at North Cove Marina on June 5.
At the United Nations on June 8, the crew of the Hokulea took part in several events as part of World Oceans Day, and, having recently voyaged through the Pacific, Indian, and Atlantic, gave an account of the watery parts of the world and the communities that cling to their edges. In a traditional Hawaiian ceremony dockside and onboard, they presented UN officials with “ocean protection declarations” regarding the need to ensure the earth’s sustainability that the sailors collected from their various hosts throughout the journey. Three days ahead of the UN event, on Sunday, June 5, New Yorkers were invited to witness the historic arrival of the Hokulea as it sailed up the Hudson and docked at North Cove Marina at 385 South End Avenue in Battery Park City at around 9 am. The vessel’s coming was accompanied with cultural perHOKULEA Continued on page 19
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The traditional Polynesian voyaging canoe, Hokulea, swung by Battery Park City on its way around the globe. DowntownExpress.com
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RAGE-kumar! Rajkumar rages at â€˜clubhouse gangâ€™ after Newell gets nod from their club BY COLIN MIXSON Jenifer Rajkumar, a Democratic district leader and six-year member of Downtown Independent Democrats, heaped scorn on the venerable political club after it voted to endorse her club rival in the race to fill the state Assembly seat left vacant by convicted felon Sheldon Silver. Rajkumar said the club â€œdoes not represent the greater communityâ€? and likened it to the notorious triumvirate in Albany that once ruled New York State with an iron fist. â€œA small group cast a vote that doesnâ€™t reflect the true sentiments or diversity of our community,â€? Rajkumar said of the DID vote to endorse her co-district leader, Paul Newell, for Assembly. â€œI suppose it was to be expected, since thereâ€™s really no difference between â€˜three men in a roomâ€™ and a gang in a clubhouse.â€? The 45-year-old political club was faced with making the unenviable decision of choosing to endorse Newell or Rajkumar, both running for Assembly in
the 65th District and both veteran members of DID, at its meeting last week. Not only have Newell and Rajkumar paid dues to the political club for many years, but DID has a long history of supporting both Newell and Rajkumar in their elections, including Newellâ€™s bid for district leader in 2009 and Rajkumarâ€™s run against then-District Leader Linda Belfer in 2011, plus Rajkumarâ€™s unsuccessful challenge to Councilmember Margaret Chin in the 2013 primary election. More than that, many DID members refer to both Newell and Rajkumar as a friend, underscoring the difficulty of the decision to endorse one candidate over the other. â€œEverybodyâ€™s been friends with Paul and Jennifer for over a decade, so it was a very difficult call for everybody,â€? said DID member Tom Goodkind. Some members were so upset with the prospect of choosing between Rajkumar and Newell that there was
Jenifer Rajkumar (left) blasted the Downtown Independent Democrats when it endorsed rival Paul Newell (right) in the race to fill the Assembly seat tarnished by convicted former Speaker Sheldon Silver.
an effort to include â€œCaptainâ€™s Choiceâ€? on the DID ballot, an option allowing members to endorse all candidates in a given race â€” which is more positive than voting â€œNo Endorsement.â€? DID President Jeanne Wilcke went so far as to put Captainâ€™s Choice on the ballots that were handed out at the beginning of Wednesdayâ€™s meeting. However, the members who were present voted overwhelmingly to strike it off, with the general sentiment being that Captainâ€™s Choice would dilute the groupâ€™s influence in the coming election, which is
not limited to Newell and Rajkumar, but has a whopping six other candidates, including incumbent Alice Cancel, who prevailed in the April special election to replace Silver after a jury found him guilty on corruption charges. â€œPeople were so concerned and would say, â€˜Canâ€™t we elect both?â€™ that the Captainâ€™s Choice thing was floated,â€? Wilcke said. â€œBut people understood that we really had to endorse a candidate. Weâ€™re here to give guidance to
RAGE-KUMAR Continued on page 18
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Keyed up Kid musicians strike chord at public piano-art event BY YANNIC RACK An arts non-profit that provides artistically embellished pianos for public schools unveiled its new slate of instruments last week with an event in Lower Manhattan that invited kids from all over the city to tickle the ivories and sing with the stars. Sing for Hope is celebrating the fifth year of its community arts program, providing public schools with 50 pianos hand-painted by local and international artists, and this year’s kickoff event at 28 Liberty St. was a resounding success, according to one participant. “It was lovely, they were very generous to include us and invite our students,” said Lisala Beatty, a program manager at the non-profit program Music and the Brain, which gives grants
to support music education in public schools. Beatty, who attended the event on June 6 with a group of students from her group’s participating schools, said the youngsters particularly appreciated the chance to try their hands at real, full-sized pianos. “Our students are usually working on electric keyboards in their school, so it was nice for them to play real pianos,” Beatty explained. “Plus, they really appreciated the beautiful artwork!” The inspired instruments were designed and painted by artists including singer Jessie James Decker and photographer Bruce Weber over the past few weeks at studio space provided by Fosun Group at 28 Liberty St. The June 6 event featured performances
Photos by Milo Hess
(Above) After the June 6 kickoff event, the 50 painted pianos were dispersed across the city to high-traffi c areas where members of the general public are invited to try them out until June 19, when they will be delivered to public schools. (Right) Tony Awardwinning Broadway actress and singer Lea Solonga lent her voice to the Sing for Hope event.
from celebrities including Tony Awardwinning Broadway actress and singer Lea Solonga and former Late Night with David Letterman bandleader Paul
Photo by Milo Hess
The 50 pianos were hand painted by local and internationally known artists, and will brighten up music rooms in public schools across the city.
June 16 - June 29, 2016
Shaffer, who sang along with the student musicians during a lunchtime performance. “It was a beautiful day,” said Beatty. “Their music teachers were all there, and it was a really fun time.” Following last week’s kickoff at 28 Liberty St., the eye-catching instruments were dispersed across the city to high-traffic areas where members of the general public can try their hands at plinking out a rendition of “Chopsticks,” or regale passers-by with an impromptu recital, depending on their level of talent. Anyone interested in marveling at — and trying out — the painted pianos before the installation wraps up on June 19 can locate them with a free iPhone app called SFH Pianos. After this weekend, all of the pianos will find permanent homes at city public schools through a partnership with the Department of Education, and will benefit an estimated 15,000 school children, according to the organizers. If you’re inspired by the project, but not quite brave enough to attempt a street-corner concert, there’s still a way you can participate. A crowdfunding campaign has so far raised a bit more than half of the $25,000 needed to cover the costs of the project. It will run through June 19, and can be found at sfhpianos.splashthat.com. DowntownExpress.com
Hawker haven Crackdown drives ticket vendors from The Battery, but only to nearby streets BY COLIN MIXSON The Battery’s aggressive ticket vendors are fleeing the park following a recent crackdown by the NYPD — but they haven’t gone far, and now they’re plaguing the nearby “tourist corridor” along Whitehall St., according to local community leaders. “You’re starting to see them along Whitehall Street near Beaver. I think they’re just moving away from the edge of the park,” said Patrick Kennell, president of the Financial District Neighborhood Association. “It’s a huge tourist corridor, so that’s a huge place to pick up tourists.” The ticket vendors preying on unwitting out-of-towners Downtown have become notorious following several assaults — including one slashing amid a disagreement between rival ticket gangs near the Whitehall Ferry Terminal, and an altercation that sent a tourist to the hospital with a concussion — prompting the crackdown that
began last month. The police sting netted 21 suspects, who will face charges of fraudulent accosting after selling tickets to ferriesthey claimed would make stops at the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, but instead merely circled the harbor and then returned, according to a New York Times report. Those charges barely scratch the surface of the various cons and crimes the ticket vendors have been accused of, which range from selling tickets to the (free) Staten Island Ferry for several hundred dollars and physically assaulting tourists who decline their offers. Additional security measures are coming to The Battery sometime next year in the form of a seven-day Park Enforcement Patrol, thanks to $5.3 million of increased funding for Fiscal Year 2017 that will provide for a PEP substation at the park, according to a
Photo by Bill Egbert
A police crackdown has driven some predatory ticket vendors out of The Battery, but they haven’t gone far enough, complain locals.
HAWKERS Continued on page 16
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June 16 - June 29, 2016
ARCADES Continued from page 1
public spaces, or POPS — were originally ceded to the city by landlords in exchange for permission to construct taller, bulkier buildings than zoning laws allow. The idea behind the text amendment, according to the Alliance, is to incentivise landlords to bring in more of the retail amenities so lacking along the Water St. corridor and make the area more attractive to its growing residential population. “This amendment should enliven the street, improve public plazas, and incentivize investment for the benefit of all those who live, work, or visit the area,” said Alliance president Jesica Lappin following the committee vote. As originally written, the text amendment would have allowed landlords to develop the arcades any way they saw fit, barring a few restrictions, with only a sign off by the City Planning Commission. Under the modifications secured by Chin, any retail infill at the six largest arcades will be subject to extensive pubic oversight through the city’s Uniform Land Use Review Procedure, or ULURP. Other changes include limiting banks and drug stores to 30 and 50 feet of retail frontage, respectively, and restoring some compliance and reporting provisions that the original proposal would have eliminated, leading Chin to throw her support behind the plan. “This wasn’t an easy decision to make,” Chin said in a statement after Wednesday’s vote. “There have been many passionate voices that wanted
Photo by Bill Egbert
The owners of 100 Wall St. could realize a $6-million annual windfall if they built out 2,518 square feet of ground-floor retail in the building’s public arcades, as the Downtown Alliance’s zoning plan will allow.
this proposal to be rejected outright, or conversely, wanted the text amendment passed as is. The modified proposal seeks to strike a balance of community input and public oversight with regard to the infill of arcades while providing flexibility to achieve the desired goals of improved public space, neighborhood retail, and pedestrian experience.” But Blank and her fellow critics — both on the community board and at various organizations including the Tribeca Trust — said the changes don’t go far enough. “It still doesn’t take away the fact that [the arcades] can now be removed, and that we’re getting nothing in exchange,”
Blank said. Landlords that do infill will be obliged to spruce up the nearby public plazas, to bring the 1960s-era spaces into compliance with new standards instituted in 2007 and 2009 that require more plantings and greenery. But critics doubt that this would be fair compensation to the city for handing over development rights to 110,000 square feet of space, which real estate experts estimate could collectively net $250 million in rent as ground floor retail. But what seemed to irk locals most about the plan — which even skeptics agreed could help revitalize a dreary section of the Financial District — was
less about the particulars than the sense that it was being pushed on to the community. The Downtown Alliance said it had been working on the proposal for years with community stakeholders, but when the group presented the fully formed proposal to CB1 earlier this spring, it was the first time many had ever heard such a dramatic zoning change was in the works. After initially rejecting it, the board eventually approved the zoning change in March, but critics claim most of the community was never given the chance to weigh in, and that the Alliance was less than upfront in the way it presented and promoted the plan. “This is a strange example to me of how the community can get a voice,” said Roger Byrom, the chair of CB1’s Landmarks committee, “even though this has been done, in my opinion, in the most manipulative of ways — in terms of not having full transparency from day one, in having oblique answers to very basic questions all the way through this, and then to finally discover that the agencies that are promoting this have used extremely unethical, if not illegal practices to try and get this through.” Byrom’s last comment refers to the disturbing experience of fellow CB1 member Paul Hovitz, who recently received a call to solicit support for the zoning change that purported to come from Chin’s office, but was actually from a public relations firm hired by the Alliance. The plan will now go before the full Council, which is expected to approve it on June 21.
STARSTRUCK Continued from page 2
Battery Park City. But they found the view spectacular — as far as NYC goes — with a sweeping, unrestricted view to the west and fairly good sightlines to the east as well. The only disappointment for them is that by sundown at around 8:30 p.m., the crowds clear out and Wagner Park becomes a veritable ghost town. “It’s fantastic and there’s very few places in NY like that, but the problem is there aren’t too many people passing by,” said Delfausse. “We’re hoping that, when it gets warmer, there will be more people passing by.” The stargazers rolled up with a whopping 10 telescopes for their inaugural visit to the Battery Park City green space on May 29. Their second visit was more subdued, with only four telescopes, each turned to a different celestial body, which is about what you can expect from here on
June 16 - June 29, 2016
Photos by Milo Hess
out at any given Wagner Park stargazing foray, according to Delfausse. The astronomers’ next visit to Battery Park City is scheduled for Thursday, June 16 at sundown. For information
regarding possible schedule changes and other spots where you can catch Delfausse and his crew, head over to the Amateur Astronomers Association of New York website at aaa.org.
(Left) People strolling along the esplanade in Wagner Park on June 9 got a chance to get a close look at some heavenly bodies, like this view of the moon, (above) snapped through one of the telescopes.
June 16 - June 29, 2016
Cyclist killed in hit-and-run on West St., driver arrested
Guilty plea in fake bomb threat at Statue of Liberty BY YANNIC RACK The man who triggered an evacuation of Liberty Island last year after he made a hoax 911 call and threatened to blow up the Statue of Liberty pleaded guilty in federal court this week, according to authorities. Jason Paul Smith, a 42-year-old from West Virginia, pleaded guilty to one count of conveying false and misleading information, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison, said Preet Bharara, US Attorney for the Southern District of New York. Officials said that Smith used a call service for the hearing impaired on his iPad to make the call on April 24 last year, in which he claimed to be an ISIS terrorist named “Abdul Yasin” — a suspect in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing — who was preparing to “blow up” the landmark. Cops responding to the hoax swarmed the island and eventually evacuated more than 3,200 people
because bomb-sniffing dogs alerted them to possible explosives near the visitor lockers at the base of the statue, according to a complaint — although that suspicion was later proven to be unfounded. Authorities said the iPad Smith used was also found to have been used to make 911 calls in May of last year, in which a caller identifying himself as an “ISIS Allah bomb maker” threatened to attack Times Square and kill police officers on the Brooklyn Bridge. Smith is scheduled to be sentenced on September 6.
BY YANNIC RACK A New Jersey man has been charged with manslaughter for hitting and killing a cyclist on the West Side Highway on Saturday evening. Police say the 26-year-old driver, from Newark, was heading southbound on West St. in his 2011 Ford truck around 7:50 p.m. when he made a right turn onto Chambers St. and hit a woman cycling in the lane next to him. The victim, who has not been identified, was taken to Bellevue Hospital but died from head and body trauma. The driver was also charged with leaving the scene of an accident, failure to yield to a pedestrian and driving while impaired — the latter because he tested .062 on an alcohol test on the scene of his arrest, according to a police spokesman. An off-duty MTA officer detained the driver at Warren St. and North End Ave. in Battery Park City around 8 p.m., according to police, where he found the driver sitting in his white truck. The MTA cop, identified as Otis Noboa in news reports, was driving by on West St. when he saw the
cyclist lying on the ground. He pulled over, radioed for backup and then searched the area until he found the driver a few blocks away, according to WABC 7. “She was trying to get up — they were trying to help her. Somebody chased after him and they called the cops,” an eyewitness told the channel. It wasn’t immediately clear who would represent the driver in court. A woman from Philadelphia currently faces up to six years in prison after she pleaded guilty two weeks ago of hitting a woman with her car on Beekman St. last summer, although that accident was not fatal. In Battery Park City, a woman was run over and seriously injured in 2011 when a corporate car turning from Rector Pl. onto South End Ave. at high speed hit her as she was crossing the intersection, according to The Broadsheet. The paper also notes that another woman was run over and killed by a drunk driver at West and Albany Sts. in February, 2009, in an accident that also seriously injured her fiancée.
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FIRST CALL A boisterous burglar apparently couldn’t wait for the grand opening of the Fork and Parrot, a bar set to soon make its debut in Soho — so he simply broke in and had a pre-opening party all by himself, while pocketing $1,000 worth of construction tools, cops say. The hard-partying perp left behind bottles of alcohol after he came in through an open window and vandalized 519 Broome St., which is currently under construction, sometime after 10 p.m. on Saturday June 4, according to a police report. But in addition to taking the tools, he also appears to have left behind his iPhone at the scene of the crime, police say.
BOOZY BURGLARY Two thirsty thieves were seen helping themselves to cases of beer from the back of a delivery truck in Soho last week, cops say. The two were seen stealing two cases containing 24 bottles of Corona each, worth $60 in total, out of the truck while it was parked in front of a Duane Reade on Broadway at 2:25 p.m. on Friday June 10, police say. Cops canvassing the area caught up with one of the thieves, a 40-year-old man who had an outstanding arrest warrant, but the other one got away, according to a report.
LATE-NIGHT YOGA Police arrested a man apparently in desperate need of some new yoga pants after they found him wandering around inside a Soho boutique shop after closing time, according to a report. The 42-year-old man was seen inside the high-end Lululemon yoga store on Prince St. around 2:15 a.m. last Saturday June 11, and was promptly taken into custody, police say. Although he seemingly didn’t have time to try on any clothes, cops found two stolen credit cards in his wallet, according to police.
GUMPOINT ROBBERY A man was arrested for allegedly robbing and threatening to shoot up a drug store in the Financial District last weekend, cops say. The 50-year-old accused perp walked into a Duane Reade on Wall St. at 8:20 a.m. last Sunday June 12 and bagged $337 worth of products — including 44 packs of Doublemint chewing gum, body wash, deodorant and a pair of sandals — before an employee tried to stop him. DowntownExpress.com
He told her, “Back up or I’ll shoot,” according to a report. He fled the store towards Pine St. and was eventually caught on Broadway, and the store employee later identified him in a police line-up, cops say.
AD FR MI EE SS IO N
PUNCH CAR Cops caught a 25-year-old man after he allegedly punched a livery cab driver during an argument in the Financial District and then fled in the victim’s car — only to crash it an hour later, according to a report. The Brooklyn man pulled over the 60-year-old cabbie at the corner of Vesey and West Sts. around noon on Sunday June 5 and hopped in the driver’s $20,000 black Lincoln after punching him to the ground, police say. About an hour later, the alleged perp was arrested after he rear-ended another car at W. Third St. and LaGuardia Pl with the stolen cab and then tried to flee the scene, cops say. His charges include robbery, grand larceny, assault, leaving the scene of an accident, false impersonation and driving without a license, and he is currently being held on $5,000 bail.
IPHONE CAPER A man dressed as an Apple Store employee stole 19 iPhones from the company’s store in Soho, cops say. According to a police report, the thief “dressed similarly” to store employees, who wear blue T-shirts imprinted with the Apple logo, and walked right into the shop’s second-floor repair area around 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, June 1. The man grabbed 19 iPhones from a drawer, worth a total of $16,130, and handed them over to an accomplice, who hid the loot under his shirt before he walked out of the store, police say.
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FILCHING WITH FLATTERY A young teen swiped an iPhone right through an open restaurant window in Tribeca, police say. The victim told police that the girl, estimated to be 13 years old, was part of a group of around 20 men and women who approached her as she was sitting by an open window at Mudville 9, a Chambers St. bar, at around 11:45 p.m. on Friday, June 3. Before grabbing the $900 phone, the girl told the 19-year-old victim and her friend, “You girls are sexy,” according to a police report. —Yannic Rack
Melinda Katz President, Borough of Queens
Scott Stringer Comptroller, City of New York
June 16 - June 29, 2016
Rain couldn’t take the shine off Dine Around Downtown BY TEQUIL A MINSK Y Locals may love the annual Dine Around Downtown food festival, but this year, the weather spirits did not look on kindly. About halfway through the event, the sky opened up and steady and cold rain came down. Residents could see the clouds gathering, however, and swooped in to nab their knoshes early. “We had a large turnout during the first 90 minutes —before the rain,” said Jessica Lappin, President of the Downtown Alliance, co-sponsor of last Wednesday’s food fest at 28 Liberty Plaza that offered tastes from over 40 Downtown restaurants for about $5 a portion. By 1 p.m., the umbrellas popped up, but the downpour didn’t stop the hardy, hungry local foodies, who still formed lines around many stands, even in the rain. People took shelter under the plaza’s sculpture or pedestrian arcades of the Fosun building and on the Liberty St. side of the plaza, some eaters sat at outdoor tables under the protective overhang. Chris Chen visited two restaurant stalls and happily chomped a lamb chop and steak sandwich. Chen has been working on Wall St. for four years and said that normally he doesn’t go out for lunch but there he was with two friends who came from Connecticut to join him at this food festival. Jasmine Rivera trudged through the downpour from Brookfield Place to meet this year’s celebrity host. “I came specifically because I heard that chef Alex Guarnaschelli would be here,” Rivera said as she finished up her charred swordfish taco. Balancing her umbrella and shopping bag, she pulled out Guarnaschelli’s
HAWKERS Continued from page 11
letter sent from Parks commissioner Mitchell Silver to Borough President Gale Brewer. In light of that measure and the possibility of future NYPD crackdowns, the ticket sellers are expected to diffuse even further away
June 16 - June 29, 2016
Photos by Tequila Minsky
(Above) Even in the middle of last week’s downpour, people still lined up for a taste of local cuisine. (Right) Though some have said that pedestrian arcades are a waste, people took full advantage of the public spaces at 28 Liberty St. to nibble their noshes during a rain at the food fest co-sponsored by the Downtown Alliance.
cookbook, proudly pointing out the “To Jasmine” inscription on the title page. Guarnaschelli is a Food Network star and owner and executive chef of a number of NYC restaurants. She was the host and event emcee, and she greeted the crowd around noon. Her “Old-School Comfort Food” cookbook sold out. The National Jazz Museum Allstars band also performed before the rain.
For one brief, shining moment, Lower Manhattan workers could spend their lunch hour enjoying the best tastes
of Downtown, but due to thunder and lightning, the event itself was called to an end around 1:30 p.m.
from the park and deeper into surrounding neighborhoods, according to Diana Switaj, the director of planning and land use for Community Board 1. “It’s going to force them into other areas,” Switaj said. The Council is taking steps to tame the ticket-vending trade with
a bill backed by Councilmember Margaret Chin and introduced by Councilmember Daniel Garodnick in the works that would force the ticket sellers to obtain licenses and empower the Department of Consumer Affairs to determine where the ticket peddlers can operate, in addition to giving NYPD the authority to relocate
the vendors if necessary. The licenses, which would have to be renewed annually for a $125 fee, could be revoked by the Department of Consumer Affairs for violating any of a long list of rules against unsavory tactics, including fraud and aggressive sales pitches, and selling tickets in restricted areas. DowntownExpress.com
DROWSY DRIVING CAN BE AS DANGEROUS AS DRIVING IMPAIRED The public is well educated about the dangers of driving while impaired by medication, alcohol or illegal drugs. But drivers may not be aware that driving while tired can be just as dangerous. Driving when tired can be a fatal mistake. Just as alcohol or drugs can slow down reaction time, impair judgment and increase the risk of accident, so, too, can being tired behind the wheel. Drowsy driving is reportedly what caused the fatal crash in June 2014 between a limousine and a Walmart truck that ended the life of comic
James McNair and seriously injured fellow comedian Tracy Morgan. The driver, Kevin Roper, was going 20 miles over the speed limit and was almost at his drive time limit, according to preliminary reports by the National Transportation Safety Board. According to the U.S. National Highway Trafﬁc Safety Administration, about 100,000 car crashes in the United States each year occur as the result of an overly tired driver. Various studies demonstrate that drivers who have remained awake for 18 hours prior to driving
mimic the driving performance of intoxicated motorists. In fact, drowsy driving can be confused with driving with a high blood alcohol content. Sleepiness can arise relatively quickly, and according to Thomas Balkin, PhD, director of the behavioral biology program at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research and a leading expert on sleep and fatigue, it’s difﬁcult for drivers to assess just how sleepy they are. “Sleepiness affects the part of the brain responsible for judgment and self-awareness,”
he says. “When you’ve reached the stage where you are ﬁghting sleep, the effect of any method of reviving yourself can be very short-lived.” Furthermore, people do not have to be in a deep sleep to actually be asleep behind the wheel. Micro-sleeps occur when certain brain cells temporarily shut down for a few seconds. A person is not completely asleep but in a sort of fog as if they are asleep. When sleepiness sets in, the best course of action is to pull off the road. Opening the window, turning on the radio
or blasting cold air is, at best, only a temporary solution. If driving with passengers and feelings of sleepiness appear, hand the keys over to a passenger and have them take over driving, if possible. Otherwise, a short nap and a cup of coffee can be used in combination to increase alertness. It’s also a good idea to avoid beginning a long road trip in mid-afternoon around the hours of two or three o’clock. While alertness generally dips in the evening hours, due to the circadian rhythm, alertness also dips in the late after-
noon, prompting drowsiness. A 2010 study by the American Automobile Association Foundation for Trafﬁc Safety found that as many drivers reported falling asleep at the wheel in the afternoon hours as reported falling asleep late at night. Driving in a warm, quiet car also may spur drowsiness, as would driving after a heavy meal. Driving tired is just as dangerous as other impaired driving. Slow reaction times and unawareness of surroundings can contribute to accidents that are otherwise avoidable..
June 16 - June 29, 2016
COMPACTORS Continued from page 6
sidewalks and attracting rats overnight, these garbage bags are tipped into a compactor about eight feet wide and eight feet tall and stretching 23 feet back into the conservancy building. Then a hydraulic piston compresses the refuse to make room for the next cartload. When the compactor unit is full, a Sanitation truck comes to pick it up. The entire operation for all eight buildings takes about 90 minutes, and the trash bags never even touch the ground. The original reason the BPCA adopted the compactor system was to reduce the rat population, which had exploded in the midst of all the construction at the nearby World Trade Center complex, and on that count the program has been “very, very successful,” according to Michael Gubbins, building manager at The Solaire, which led the way in implementing the program in 2006. “The rat population decreased significantly,” he said. “And without using any pesticides.” But Gubbins said the compactor program has been a boon to the buildings and their residents in other ways, too. “You have one truck coming to pick it up, instead of several, which means less traffic,” he said. “You don’t have the garbage piled on the street, and the trucks idling. And you don’t have to clean up after it,” Gubbins said, referring to the scourge of “garbage juice” that plagues sidewalks across Downtown. “That’s a waste of water and unnecessary labor.” Pomponio added that the Sanitation trucks that pick up the compactors are not the same model as those used for curbside collection, which are drafted into service as snowplows after winter storms. So while garbage bags can pile up for days across the city after a snowstorm, collection continues uninterrupted in BPC. Gubbins said that Solaire’s experience with the program helped win over
RAGE-KUMAR Continued from page 8
people who look to our endorsements.” But Rajkumar took issue with the decision to nix Captain’s Choice, which — in light of the club’s decision to go for Newell — could have left her campaign in a far better position come November. “The removal of Captain’s Choice from the internal club ballot — which would have offered an opportunity for members to support their preferred candidate — smacks of a fix being in,” she said. However, Wilcke took issue with that
June 16 - June 29, 2016
Photos by Bill Egbert
(Above) Rather than stacking bags of garbage at the curb every other day to sit overnight awaiting pickup and attracting rats, most residential buildings in Battery Park City bring each day’s worth of garbage to central compactors in pushcarts, so the trash never even touches the neighborhood’s sidewalks. (Right) Once the carts are rolled up to the compactor, it tips the contents back into the dumpster, where a hydraulic press compacts the trash to the rear of the container to make room for more.
the other two dozen BPC buildings that now use compactors. “We were able to demonstrate to the other buildings how well this works, and they eventually joined in,” he said. And he said that compactors could be a good way to address the problem of residential garbage piling up in fastdeveloping areas elsewhere Downtown — especially if nearby buildings joined together like at BPC. “If you have an area like Downtown where several new buildings are going up, you could have one compactor room serving several buildings,” he said. “It’s well worth exploring.” The compactor room at the conservancy headquarters is 12-feet wide, 18-feet high, and extends 28-feet in from the building line, and the Dept. of Sanitation trucks would require
wider entrances for access on the narrower streets common in the rest of Downtown, so Pomponio conceded that installing a compactor in an existing building could be challenging. “It’s harder to retrofit a building, but not impossible,” he said. But it could be worth the money for some of the pricey residential conversions going on in Fidi, such as 70 Pine St., which will bring 644 units — and nearly two tons of daily garbage — to some of the narrowest sidewalks in the city. In addition to saving ground floor storage space and making trash collection more efficient, a compactor system could even be seen as a competitive advantage for a new luxury building in a tightening market. High-end condominium developments already compete fiercely on amenities — from rooftop
pools to world-class restaurants — but who wants to pay millions for a posh pad only to find they have to march past mountains of garbage every other day? A developer with the foresight to plan for a compactor system could guarantee prospective residents that walking out of their building would always feel just as glamorous as when they walk in. “It gives the building bragging rights,” said Gubbins. “No garbage on the streets.”
statement, saying the decision to remove Captain’s Choice from the ballot was made in as open and democratic a way as possible, with a vote among members that followed a lengthy discussion on the nature of Captain’s Choice and its merits. “We actually spoke at length — about to the point where people’s eyes were glazing over — to make sure we got it right,” Wilcke said. “So I don’t think that’s a fair comment.” Former club president Sean Sweeney said that Rajkumar apparently knew her chances of beating Newell for DID’s
endorsement were slim, since she called Sweeney requesting that Captain’s Choice be added to the ballot as a means of hedging her bet. “She knew she was losing,” Sweeney said. “It was a very shrewd political move.” Regardless, it would seem that Rajkumar is cutting off her nose to spite her face — as well as spite the club — in hurling accusations at her longtime friends and supporters, according to Goodkind. “For her to scorn the club certainly is
bridge burning,” he said. But, despite her harsh words, there doesn’t seem to be any hard feelings on the part of DID’s leadership, which looks forward to supporting her in future endeavors — just as long as she’s not running against Newell. “I consider Jenifer like a daughter and I told her that, and Paul like a son,” Sweeney said. “She’s a little annoyed, I understand, it’s natural. She put a lot of time and effort into this campaign. And Paul and Jenifer were the best of friends. We all were. We still are.” DowntownExpress.com
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Office of the Governor
S or r ow and pride
HOKULEA Continued from page 7
formances by Native American tribes and local hula halau troupes. The following Tuesday, June 7, Captain Chad Kalepa Baybayan and Apprentice Navigator Celeste Manuia Haâ€™o talked wayfinding at the Hayden Planetarium Space Theater at the American Museum of Natural History. On Thursday, June 9, Baybayan and crew regaled New Yorkers with their adventures across the Seven Seas at Patagonia New York Soho, 72 Greene Street, between Spring and Broome Streets, at 7:30 pm. The crew concluded their public events in style at Pier 26 on the Hudson at N. Moore Street in Tribeca, on Saturday, June 11, where they welcomed DowntownExpress.com
the public to tour the canoe and partake in a free festival, dubbed Kamehameha Day, featuring the Hawaiian Airlines Liberty Challenge, one of the worldâ€™s premiere competitive outrigger canoe races. The Hokulea is a 40-year-old replica of ancient Polynesian voyaging canoes, whose twin-hull design gives her the ability to withstand ocean swells. Her iconic triangular sails lend her speeds of up to 20 knots. The Hokulea will depart New York City on June 18, and is scheduled to conclude the remaining 34,000 miles of her daunting task around this time next year, when it will have passed through the Panama Canal, braved the Pacific, and returned to her home berth in Honolulu, a world in her wake.
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The spire of 1 WTC lit up in rainbow colors this week to honor the 49 victims of the deadly shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida over the weekend, in which a lone gunman went on a rampage that became the deadliest mass shooting in American history. The cityâ€™s highest point was one of several landmarks across the city and the world that displayed the colors of LGBT pride in response to the massacre, including the Harbour Bridge in Sydney and City Hall in Tel Aviv. Impromptu memorials and vigils were also held across New York City, which is currently celebrating Pride Month. In response to the shooting, officials announced that this yearâ€™s Pride Parade, scheduled for Sunday June 26, would include heightened security.
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ALTERNATE SIDE PARKING RULES IN EFFECT ALL WEEK Expect more traffic on West St. overnight as the FDR Drive is fully closed for construction at 63rd St. from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. the next morning on Wednesday through Friday nights. Happy Father’s Day this Sunday! Be sure to follow me on Twitter @ GridlockSam and check the website www.GridlockSam.com to avoid the gridlock as you celebrate dads, uncles, grandfathers, etc. on Sunday. Double trouble under the Hudson River on Thursday night: In the Holland Tunnel, one New Jersey-bound and one New York-bound lane will be closed from 11 p.m. Thursday night to 5 a.m. Friday morning. No relief for inbound traffic at the Lincoln Tunnel, where the New York-bound tube will also close from 11 p.m. Thursday night to 5 a.m. Friday morning. The Bamra Bleecker Street Festival will close Bleecker St. between Seventh Ave. and LaGuardia Pl. from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday. The Exchange Board Meeting will close Liberty St. between Church St. and Broadway from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday. The Chabad Gala will close Wall St. between William and Hanover Sts. from 1 p.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday. Several entertainment productions in Lower Manhattan this week will slow traffic on streets including: Broad St. between Water and South Sts. from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday, Liberty St. between West and South End Sts. from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday,
and Greenwich St. between Vesey and Barclay Sts. from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday. Lower Manhattan streets closed all week include: Thames St. between Greenwich St. and Trinity Pl., Fletcher St. between Front and South Sts., and Avenue D between 12th and 13th Sts. 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. From the mailbag: Dear Sam, My wife and I have an argument I’d like you to settle. As the summer gets hotter and we take more and more trips out of the city by car, I prefer to drive without shoes on. My wife says it’s dangerous and not legal. I’ve never heard this before. Besides, how could it be ticketed or enforced? Who’s right? Burt, New York Dear Burt, Your wife might not be a fan of your barefoot driving, but you’re right on this one — it’s a perfectly legal practice. Gridlock Sam
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June 16 - June 29, 2016
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June 16 - June 29, 2016
BY LENORE SKENAZY Solomon Feuerwerker grew up as an alien. Not “alien” as in “immigrant.” Alien as in someone from another planet. That planet was Williamsburg, Brooklyn. While many people in Williamsburg lead lives most of us can relate to, Solomon was the youngest of 11 children in an ulta-orthodox Jewish family. The religious sect he grew up in, a group called the Satmar Hasidim, believes in large families and distrusts the modern world. Members wear distinctive clothing — the men are in black suits, white shirts and side curls — and speak the traditional Jewish language of Yiddish. They do not mingle with outsiders. They do not watch any media. Boys like Solomon go to sex-segregated schools and are forbidden to study almost anything other than religion. No algebra. No biology. No non-Jewish studies beyond what a fourth or fifth grader would get at public school. Which is why it is all the more remarkable that about a week ago Solomon stood up in front of a crowd of 300 and announced that he had been accepted to medical school. The crowd went wild. This was the annual Downtown gala for Footsteps, the organization that helped Solomon and hundreds of others find a way out of ultraOrthodoxy to lead lives of their choosing. Footsteps is not anti-religion, but rather pro-freedom. Its slogan is “Your life, your journey, your choice.” “Our core value is choice,” says Lani Santo, the executive director. “We really help people think through the consequences of their various decisions.” Because people leaving ultra-orthodoxy are often shunned by the community they left behind, including their own
families, Footsteps provides counseling, practical help, and a home base for those who lose their entire support system. The gala was organized to celebrate the milestones in the lives of Footsteps participants, since few had family members to cheer them on. Instead, the audience of Footsteps supporters whooped for a member who just got her first tech job, and another who just became an Uber driver. Several members had become engaged, provoking joyous applause. Then Solomon took the stage as the evening’s keynote, and the audience sat in stunned silence as he told his story. “You need to understand just how insane it is for me to be here,” the 26-year-old began. “I grew up in a typically sized family in Williamsburg: I have 10 siblings. Exposure to the mainstream world is almost non-existent. Some people say I’m an immigrant in my own country, but I prefer ‘alien.’ An immigrant might know about science and history and politics — an alien doesn’t. An immigrant has read books and watched television — an alien hasn’t. An immigrant has spoken to people of the opposite sex without feeling like the world is about to end. An immigrant might be culturally unaware, but at the same time be an informed citizen of the world. An alien is just an alien, and let me tell you, if an alien is going to successfully transition to immigrant, they need Footsteps.” Solomon heard about Footsteps through the grapevine as a teen. By then he’d already been sneaking off to the DVD store in the Puerto Rican part
of his neighborhood and voraciously renting action flicks. These taught him colloquial English, and gave him direction: He wanted to be a cop, just like the guys in the movies. But then he went on a tour of Hunter College sponsored by Footsteps and his life changed. Classes in art and sociology! Laboratories! Students of every stripe talking, studying, laughing together. Footsteps was founded by a Hunter student, Malkie Schwartz, who’d made her way out of ultra-Orthodoxy and wanted to help others who chose that path. Solomon enrolled at Hunter — and immediately floundered. “I had never tackled the concept of the atom, or seen a periodic table of the elements,” he later recalled. “I did not even know that all living things were made up of cells.” He had to make up for lost time and at first, he couldn’t. He was in danger of failing, but reached out for help. And by the next year, he rose to the top of his class in chemistry. Solomon continued to climb, getting A’s in his coursework while working part time, and becoming a mentor to others following in his, well, footsteps. He began volunteering at Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital and doing genetics research. And last year, he graduated with a degree in sociology, but he put off applying to medical school, however, to stay on for a year at Hunter — teaching organic chemistry. Now Solomon is heading to Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia. Yes, he will be an immigrant from New York. But no longer an alien. Lenore Skenazy is a keynote speaker and founder of the book and blog FreeRange Kids.
Posted To Wasteland: New residential developments to dump 19 tons more garbage on Downtown every day by 2019 (June 2) What Dept. of Sanitation community officer Iggy Terranova also pointed out at November’s CB1 Quality of Life meeting was that there is no enforcement of fines. Apparently building owners do not have to pay until the building
is sold, and the fines show up somewhat as liens on the building. Jeff Ehrlich Holy Mounds of Garbage, Batman! Thanks for this incisive analysis of the mounting garbage problems caused by over development in Lower Manhattan. The statistics are troubling. What actions are our politicos taking to rectify this imminently dire situation? A. S. Evans
Really important article. Have worked in area for 10 years – and stunned to see the huge amount of development and garbage on the sidewalk. Really horrible. Raises the issue that NYC zoning and land use requirements do not take garbage/trash into account. Bloomberg’s plan for development has serious and permanent consequences. AL DowntownExpress.com
E D ITO R IAL
The Sphere belongs in the 9/11 memorial, not a park BY MICHAEL BURKE On May 27, President Obama visited the Hiroshima Peace Memorial, with the iconic Peace Dome — the last remnant of the world’s first atomic bombing — in the background, and the image moved hearts around the world. But what if the Peace Dome was not there anymore? If generations of Japanese had not preserved the Dome where it stood, would the memory of Hiroshima and the dropping of the atomic bomb have remained so poignant, and its imagery so powerful? It’s a question me must ask ourselves about the last remnant of New York’s own great tragedy. Our billion dollar, eight-acre National September 11 Memorial at the World Trade Center famously remakes the site so that it does not acknowledge the attacks. It has been praised by cultural critics for doing this, as memorial foundation officials say that it must. Apply this thinking to Hiroshima and the Dome would have been gone long ago. There is little chance that the memory of the bombing would have so viscerally powerful across the generations. Today most young people visiting our September 11 WTC memorial have little memory of the day. Half of today’s teenagers were born after the attacks occurred. At the site of the tragedy, they find a pristine, pretty plaza wiped clean of all reminders and lessons of the attacks. By design, the memorial instructs them that there are no traumatic memories there, no lessons here they need learn. So they pose for happy selfies, leaning back on the names of the fallen, and nap on the stone benches. Signs posted remind visitors to respect the sacred history of this place. Why should they, however, when the memorial does not? Joe Daniels, President of the National September 11 Memorial and Museum Foundation, will not allow the return of the Fritz Koenig Sphere — which was damaged in the attacks but remains standing as the last intact artifact of the original WTC — to the memorial plaza. This reminder of the devastation, and proud symbol of resilience, remains hidden away
The Fritz Koenig Sphere, iconic survivor of the WTC attacks, now stands in a wooded area of The Battery.
far from the plaza. How is this different from denying the Peace Dome a place at the Hiroshima Peace memorial? It isn’t. There is no coherent, honest reason for not returning the Sphere to the memorial plaza. While millions visit Michael Arad’s immense waterfalls and Peter Walker’s pretty little trees, the Sphere stands unseen and forgotten in an obscure corner of The Battery, where it serves mostly as a backdrop to a Pier A happy hour drinking spot. This is an obscenity — an affront to truth and memory. The Battery Conservancy, which is in the midst of redesigning the park to serve the new families of Downtown, very reasonably wants the Sphere moved to a more appropriate location. It does not belong there.
Some have suggested it be placed at the new Liberty Park — so Downtowners traveling to work or school or shopping centers will have to face the stark evidence of the 9/11 attacks every day, while visitors to the memorial don’t. Brilliant. As at the Hiroshima memorial, visitors to September 11 Memorial should not be allowed to avoid confronting the site’s history, immediately and directly. It is the duty of anyone coming to memorialize the victims of that terrible day. And putting the Sphere anywhere but back on the plaza where it once stood is an alternative to what? Truth? Memory? Duty? The Sphere could easily fit in a clearing just outside the museum entrance and west of the Oculus Transportation Hub. This would put it literally steps from where it stood for 30 years and survived the 9/11 attacks in place. It is the place where we all remember it. Instead of denying the Sphere it’s rightful place, Daniels and the Foundation — entrusted (and very well paid) to faithfully preserve and honestly convey the history of September 11 — should be demanding and guaranteeing its return to that very spot. They should promise to spend a small part of the annual $25 million stipend they just received from the federal government to make that happen. They should be elbowing others out of the way to get to it. They should celebrate and honor its return. Or they can send the Sphere, a survivor of the September 11 just like all of us, off to a remote hanger out at JFK, or out to Coney Island or up to Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx or some other equally absurd, idiotic spot. But the Sphere is ours — it belongs to Downtown Manhattan. It Belongs at the National September 11 Memorial. If it disappears, Daniels and the memorial Foundation will be to blame — and shame. Michael Burke’s brother, Capt. William F. Burke, Jr., FDNY, gave his life on 9/11. His truck, Engine 21, is a permanent exhibit in the September 11 Museum.
Letters To the Editor: I read your recent article titled “Wasteland” (June 2) with both interest and disappointment. I am fascinated that despite a very successful experiment conducted by the Battery Park City Parks Conservancy and the NYC Department of Sanitation, to install rat proof compactor/dumpsters in BPCPC facilities for the disposal of residential trash, there was no discussion of their success as a possible solution. If the NYC Departments of City Planning, Sanitation, and Buildings worked together, all new apartment towers could be built to accommodate the compactor/ DowntownExpress.com
dumpsters used in Battery Park City to keep trash off the streets. The original goal of the experiment was to reduce the general rat population in a non-toxic manner which in turn would reduce rats in the parks. Residential trash clearly had to be handled differently due to the fact that apartment buildings in Battery Park City are essentially “in” the parks. It is a well known fact that rat poison alone is quite unsuccessful as a “solution” to managing any population of rats. Poison merely reduces rat populations on a temporary basis; if the food source is not removed then the survivors will
have more offspring and the cycle will begin again. Battery Park City Parks Conservancy’s experiment has been an unqualified success and has the happy consequence of making the neighborhood significantly more pleasant as well. These compactor/dumpsters are picked up by special Sanitation trucks that need only one staff person thereby reducing staff costs as well. My point is that the City of New York has to force, via code, the design of these large apartment towers to accommodate the special compactor/dumpsters (they have very specific space
requirements). Unfortunately, I fear that the Department of City Planning does not talk to the Sanitation Department on a regular basis to develop mutual solutions. These compactor/dumpsters would go a long way to solving the current and growing problem. Perhaps a follow-up article on this successful system would be helpful. Tessa Huxley Former executive director of the Battery Park City Parks Conservancy Editor’s note: Thanks for the tip! Please see page 6. June 16 - June 29, 2016
River To River Delivers
Annual fest highlights Lower Manhattan arts
Photo by Darial Sneed
Choreographer Emmanuelle Huynh’s “Cribles/Wild Governors,” from 2015. Among this year’s outdoor performances: Eiko Otake’s “A Body on Governors Island,” on June 19.
BY SEAN EGAN It’s time once again — the 15th time, in fact — for New Yorkers to take in boundary-pushing creative work against the backdrop of Downtown’s waterfront. Run by the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council (LMCC), June 16–26’s River To River Festival presents free music, art, theater, and dance in unique venues (as well as outdoor spaces) below Chambers St. This year’s highlights include: Jillian Peña’s Foucault-inspired dance piece “Panopticon;” “M is Black Enough,” a Poets House-sponsored evening of music and spoken word; and Saya Woolfalk’s festival-spanning, multi-
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disciplinary work “ChimaTEK: ChimaCloud Control Center.” Earlier this week, we spoke with some of the artists whose work is amongst the most promising to be presented during the fest. Read on about these events, and visit rivertorivernyc. com for the full schedule.
MUSIC: OLGA BELL’S “KRAI” This live performance of Olga Bell’s critically acclaimed 2014 album “Krai” was actually supposed to be one of the highlights of last year’s festival, but wound up getting cancelled due to inclement weather. While currently on tour in Europe to promote her new
record, “Tempo,” Bell is making the time to return to River To River, for a belated rain date. “It’s difficult to perform this record, to really take it on an extensive tour or anything, because to play it the way that it was written requires six people singing and six people playing instruments,” Bell said. “So every performance of ‘Krai’ is really special, and it’s sort of an honor to have the resources to put it on.” Described by Bell as “a smorgasbord of folk styles from across Russia” that’s then “presented alongside electronic and pop structures,” the song cycle will be brought to life by musicians — including guitarist Rafiq Bhatia, and Aaron Arntz (who toured with
the bands Grizzly Bear and Beirut). In addition, the June 22 performance’s venue of the plaza at 28 Liberty holds a special significance to Bell. “I’m excited to play the piece outdoors; I’ve never done that before. A lot of ‘Krai’ is sort of a love song to the natural world, of these nine regions in Russia, so that will be cool,” she commented, describing how she explored those places via Google Maps and researched their folk traditions in preparation for the album. “And the fact that the concert is free and open to the public is awesome, because there’s literally no barrier to entry.” R2R continued on p. 26 DowntownExpress.com
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June 16 - June 29, 2016
Photo by Maria Baranova
A view from a previous production of “GO FORTH,” Kaneza Schaal’s performance piece inspired by the Egyptian Book of the Dead.
Photo by Noah Kalina
Brooklyn-based musician Olga Bell brings her acclaimed 2014 song cycle “Krai” to life on June 22.
R2R continued from p. 24
THEATER: KANEZA SCHAAL’S “GO FORTH” Another pre-existing work being built upon in its River To River iteration is “GO FORTH,” Kaneza Schaal’s performance piece, inspired by the Egyptian Book of the Dead, which functions as a translation of seven of the text’s chapters (June 18, 19 & 25). “The piece grew out of my thinking about mourning rituals and how we make space for the presence of the absent in our lives,” explained Schaal, who began this line of thinking after suffering the loss of her father and considering the “ritualized grieving process” she experienced. By all accounts, the resulting meditation on loss, grief, and rituals has been as affecting as it is hard to classify. “We’re trying to pull on as many different languages of performance as we can,” Schaal noted, adding that the production features elements as disparate as dance and 16mm film. “There is text, and movement, and we worked with designer/fine artist Christopher Myers.” The result of this collaboration with
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Myers — a photo exhibit inspired by tomb paintings the pair saw in Egypt — is a new addition for River To River. Like Bell, Schaal has nothing but praise for the LMCC and the fest, noting that the wide net it casts and its accessibility helps bring in audience members that may not otherwise attend. “I set out for the piece in my own process of losing a loved one, and it was very gratifying to have audience members find that work useful for them individually,” Schaal said. “I hope that audience members get to consider how we individually and collectively process death.”
DANCE: EPHRAT ASHERIE’S “RIFF THIS, RIFF THAT”
Dancer/choreographer Ephrat Asherie collaborates with her brother Ehud at this year’s River To River Fest.
One exciting premiere is the result of a collaboration a lifetime in the making: Ephrat Asherie’s dance piece “Riff this, Riff that” (June 20 & 21), which is the result of working with her brother Ehud, a jazz pianist. While Asherie is known primarily as a hip-hop, house, and break-dancer, this new work — featuring an ensemble of six dancers and a quartet of musicians — focuses on jazz. “I’ve been looking at the authentic jazz dance roots of these dances,” she said, noting the similarities between the “buoyancy and joyfulness and exu-
berance” of music and dance of the 1920s/30s/40s, and her modern day style. “That is really at the root of all of these contemporary, street, and club styles that I do.” The piece features newly arranged jazz standards, and highlights the talents of individual dancers. “You get to see how all of those elements and each of those voices kind of can play off each other in a more formalized, choreographed vignette,” Asherie noted, while ensuring that — fitting for its focus —
Photo courtesy the artist
there will be a “precise balance between choreography and improvisation” in the work. Ultimately, the piece functions as a lesson about New York, with Asherie hoping that the connections drawn between past and present highlight the city’s progressive history regarding dance, community, and connection. “I feel very strongly like this kind of piece is something that represents very much ‘Only in New York.’ Like, ‘Oh yes, this is what this place is about.’ ” DowntownExpress.com
All-In for Photojournalism at The Half King Chelsea gastro-pub has food for thought on the menu BY NORMAN BORDEN Before West Chelsea became an art district dense with over 300 galleries, and even longer before an elevated public park would once again transform the neighborhood’s relationship with tourism and foot traffic, The Half King bar and restaurant opened on a deserted stretch of W. 23rd St. — which now happens to be less than 100 feet from an entrance to the High Line. When it was established in July of 2000, the three co-owners — journalists Scott Anderson and Sebastian Junger and filmmaker Nanette Burstein — had envisioned Half King as a neighborhood place where members of the publishing and film industries could meet and talk shop. By the fall, weekly non-fiction readings on topics of interest to the co-owners had been added to the menu, along with a rotating schedule of photography exhibitions. “Sebastian and I had done a lot of war reporting,” Anderson recalled, “and we’d both worked with some pretty amazing photojournalists over the years… I recognized there was a limited number of outlets where they could show their work.” So Half King became “one of few venues where straight-ahead photojournalism can be displayed,” he said, noting that the forum they provide “allows the photographer to show their work largely among their peers, and is a great opportunity for photojournalists to get together and see what others are doing.”
Writer and editor Anna Van Lenten and James Price (an editor at Getty Reportage) were hired as co-curators in 2010 to make the photography series more consistent. As a result, Half King is operating on a “strict schedule now,” Van Lenten said, with new shows every seven or eight weeks. “We’ve standardized the frame sizes (32 x 23 inches) and operate like a gallery/salon, even though we don’t look like one.” That’s for sure — the 11 photographs in each show are displayed along the walls of a separate dining room that seats 50, and is closed off from the bar and other diners. “The openings are meant to be super focused discussions around the story or book launch, very casual and intimate,” Van Lenten explained. “We turn off the lights and do a slide show that lasts from 45 to 90 minutes and encourage the audience to ask questions. We show narrative photography. They’ve spent years immersed in stories they bring to us; they’re quite intense, and know their subject top to bottom.” In her ongoing search for future exhibitors, Van Lenten asks other photographers to recommend people they like. She also pays attention to award shows, Facebook and Instagram, and she subscribes to lots of newsletters. In any case, “The bar is high. The work has to be beautiful and visually distinctive; the story has to be compelling either because the photographer took an alternative approach
Photo courtesy The Half King
L to R: Half King founders Sebastian Junger, Nanette Burstein and Scott Anderson.
Photo © Adriana Zehbrauskas
HALF KING continued on p. 28
“The family of Adán Abraján de la Cruz.”
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TRIBECA SYNAGOGUE, a nonprofit organization is seeking sealed bids for sales and installation of security related enhancements. The project includes Construction of a Concrete Block Wall. Installation or CCTV equipment, Installation of a perimeter security LED lighting system, Installation of a physical Access Control System and Installation of blast resistant film. Selection criteria will be based on knowledge of surveillance and security, adherence to work schedule, prior experience and references, costs. Specifications and bid requirements can be obtained by contacting us at firstname.lastname@example.org. All quotes must be on company letterhead. All interested firms will be required to sign for the proposal documents and provide primary contact, telephone, fax and email address. Bids will be accepted until 5pm on July 20,2016 and work is to commence by July 30,2016 and completed by September 30,2016 June 16 - June 29, 2016
HALF KING continued from p. 27
or had an interesting evolution; and the photographer has to speak English well enough to give a talk on opening night.” One excellent example of Van Lenten’s credo is the current exhibition: “Family Matters,” by Mexico City-based photographer Adriana Zehbrauskas. It’s a bittersweet story that began when 43 male students from the Ayotzinapa Rural Teachers’ College in Guerrero, Mexico disappeared on September 26, 2014, taken by the police and then handed over to a narcotics gang. The photographer had been working on assignment with one of the families and had asked for photos of their missing brother. There were none — all they had were cellphone photos that could be accidentally deleted or lost if the phone was changed. Since nobody printed pictures, she realized these families could suffer another loss — the memories of their missing loved ones. Zehbrauskas decided to start a personal project where she would take family portraits for free and hand out the prints on the spot. Shooting “Family Matters” called for driving eight hours back and forth from Mexico City to Huehuetonoc, Guerrero, going through dangerous narcotics gang-controlled territory. Having worked in the area for 10 years as a freelance documentary photographer, she said, “You have to stay alert for kidnappings and shootings.” In the town, Zehbrauskas set up a table by the church where family members could meet her for their free pictures and people could clearly see what she was doing — taking portraits with her iPhone and using a small Canon printer to produce the photo on the spot. “I’ve taken lots of photos,” Zehbrauskas said. “Eighty portraits on my first trip in 2016, and I also give my subjects large prints on my return trip from Mexico City. I’m paying my expenses with a Getty Images Instagram grant I was awarded in September 2015 to document underrepresented communities. I upload this work on Instagram and also publish on the New Yorker Magazine’s live feed.” At the exhibit’s opening on May 24, it was standing room only as Zehbrauskas showed about 40 images in a fascinating hour-long slide presentation. Her comments added
June 16 - June 29, 2016
Photo © Adriana Zehbrauskas
“Don Gerardo and La Rubia.”
a greater understanding and deeper appreciation of the project and its challenges. Her talk also demonstrated the unique opportunity that photojournalists from around the world have to show and discuss their work. In my view, many of the 11 images in the exhibition can be considered to be in the realm of fine art photography. One outstanding example on view now is “Don Gerardo and La Rubia.” I see this photo as an intimate portrait of a man and his friend, a horse — the composition, lighting, and the print are all beautiful, as are the subjects themselves. Also impressive was the portrait of “The family of Adán Abraján de la Cruz.” Adán was one of the 43 missing students. This photograph was taken after the First Communion of Adán’s eight-year-old son, Angel, in Tixtla, Guerrero. You not only see the sadness in this photograph, but also feel it. Angel’s mournful, wistful look is haunting, reinforced by his mother
and Adán’s parents standing with him. Another photograph, the faceless portrait of 19-year-old Xalpa, is a powerful reminder of the students’ disappearance on the night of September 26. Xalpa was one of the survivors and understandably didn’t want his face shown. You can only imagine what he saw and the pain he feels now. Sadly, there are many more stories of missing people in Mexico, and Zehbrauskas hopes her continuing work on “Family Matters” will help keep the families of the victims from feeling abandoned. With stories like these, The Half King Photography Series has more than fulfilled the co-owners’ original intent. As for the future, Anderson said that changes in the neighborhood (most notably, rent increases) have made it “increasingly difficult for a small business to operate. We’ve had a good run. Our lease is up for renewal in 2019, so we’ll have to wait and see what happens.” In the meantime,
Photo © Adriana Zehbrauskas
there are burgers, beer, and plenty of food for thought at The Half King. Adriana Zehbrauskas’ “Family Matters” is on view through July 17 at The Half King (505 W. 23rd St., btw. 10th & 11th Aves.). Hours: M–F, 11am–4pm; Sat. & Sun., 9am– 4pm. Visit thehalfking.com and halfkingphoto.com or call 212-462-4300. Twitter: #hkphotoseries. DowntownExpress.com
Just Do Art purchase tickets, visit nytf.org or call 212-213-2120, x204 (after business hours, 866-811-4111).
DOCUMENTARY: “THE DESTRUCTION OF MEMORY”
Photo courtesy ARC
Image courtesy Museum of Jewish Heritage
ARChive of Contemporary Music opens its doors to the public through June 26, for a sizzlin’ summer sale.
Tradition! Father’s Day is a great excuse for dad to belt one out, at this “Fiddler on the Roof” singalong, June 19, at the Museum of Jewish Heritage.
BY SCOTT STIFFLER
the invention of the necktie. One thing’s for sure: The Museum of Jewish Heritage’s sing-along screening of 1971’s “Fiddler on the Roof” is a socially acceptable way to come in costume as the film’s iconic characters, then belt one out — which, sad to say, is discouraged at the otherwise excellent revival now on Broadway. In the likely event this gathering of the musical theater tribe gives your family patriarch a taste for more, note that it’s co-sponsored by National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene — whose summer residency program at the Museum presents a fully-restored performance of the Roaring Twenties romantic comedy operetta “The Golden Bride” (July 4–Aug. 28).
Lower East Side-based filmmaker Tim Slade brings his most recent work to neighborhood venue Anthology Film Archives, prior to a screening at the British Museum that will be followed by worldwide release — a local-to-global distribution tactic that’s appropriate, given his film’s focus on the global catastrophe resulting from a century’s worth of war waged against numerous individual cultures. Based on Robert Bevan’s 2006 book of the same name, “The Destruction of Memory” looks at the agents and instruments of cultural destruction, as well as those who have dedicated their lives to protecting, salvaging, and rebuilding in response to the loss of art, architecture, and literature — and, by extension, identity. Interviewees such as the Director-General of UNESCO and the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court discuss the current situation in places like Syria and Iraq, while linking past decisions that have, Slade notes, “allowed the issue to remain hidden in the shadows for so many years.” Sophie Okonedo (Tony-nominated for her current role on Broadway, as Elizabeth Proctor in “The Crucible”) narrates. Director/Producer Slade will open the house to questions immediately following the screening.
The “Fiddler” event takes place Sun., June 19, 3pm, at the Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust (36 Battery Place). Tickets are $15, $10 for Museum or Theatre Folksbiene members, and $36 for families (up to four people). To
Tues., June 21, 6:30pm, at Anthology Film Archives (32 Second Ave., at Second St.). Visit nycdestructionofmemory.eventbrite.com for tickets ($17.50 general, $13 for students). Visit destructionofmemoryfilm.com for more info.
ARChive OF CONTEMPORARY MUSIC’S SIZZLIN’ SUMMER SALE While we were busy heralding the advent of the CD, mourning the loss of vinyl, praising the iPod, and debating the right to download our favorite tunes, the ARChive of Contemporary Music’s mission remained the same: amass the world’s largest collection of popular music, for use by artists and scholars. Two times a year, the general public benefits from the bounty of their pack rat mentality, at a sale that’s as carefully curated as the three million sound recordings in ARC’s permanent collection. The highlight of this summer event: 65,000 recently donated 45s. The other 30,000-or-so items include pop, jazz, country, dance, rock, world, and Broadway music. There are hundreds of CDs for $1–$5 each; cassettes and Classical LPs, 2 for $1; plus music books of all kinds, 7 singles, VHS & DVD videos, and 60s psychedelic posters. The good news: All proceeds go to support the ARChive’s nonprofit music library and research center work. The bad news: You’ve missed the spirited June 9 members-only cocktail party and early shopping soirée. But don’t fret. Join ARC’s merry little band while you’re flipping through their bins, and you’ll score an invite to their second sale of the year, come December. Daily, 11am–6pm, through Sun., June 26, at ARChive of Contemporary Music (54 White St., btw. Broadway & Church St.). Visit arcmusic.org or call 212-226-6967.
FATHER’S DAY “FIDDLER ON THE ROOF” SING-ALONG Starting with (but not limited to) the fact that you’re alive to read this, Dad deserves a certain amount of respect — so don’t steal the old man’s thunder during his show-stopping rendition of “If I Were a Rich Man.” That’s assuming you’ve started a new “Tradition!” of your own, by allowing him to channel his inner Tevye — at what we’re confidently predicting will turn out to be the best go-to Father’s Day gift since DowntownExpress.com
Photo by Derek Wiesehahn, courtesy Vast Productions USA
Ferhadija Mosque in Banja Luka, Bosnia & Herzegovina, during its rebuilding. June 16 - June 29, 2016
June 16 - June 29, 2016
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Other state authorities, such as the Brooklyn Bridge Park Authority, allow for public comment at their board meetings, but at the BPCAâ€™s June 8 board meeting, authority chairman Dennis Mehiel suggested that allowing elected officials to speak on behalf of locals was a â€œreasonable approachâ€? to enhancing public participation during meetings, where board members discuss and vote on matters affecting the lives of residents. â€œTo have the public, through its elected representatives, to be able to come in and talk to us and express concerns, and so on and so forth, I think is a reasonable approach,â€? said Mehiel. But Battery Park City residents are deeply unsatisfied with the change of policy, condemning it as an attempt to placate the community while barring them from providing any local meaningful input to a board ultimately accountable only to far-way Albany, according to one community leader. â€œThe bottom line for me is that the major stakeholders in Battery Park City are its 20,000 residents, who have no voice, and the authority seems unwilling to have a dialogue with us,â€? said Community Board 1 member Anthony Notaro, who chairs the its Battery Park City Committee.
â€œEven though now the elected officials can talk, nothingâ€™s changed. I have no dialogue with the authority, and they have continually shut out major stakeholders from their decision making process. That needs to be addressed, and this does not address that.â€? Some are pointing to the boardâ€™s notion of public input as a good reason to shake up the authorityâ€™s leadership and install more locals to a group that currently includes only one Battery Park City resident, Martha Gallo. â€œThis not only reinforced the need for more local stakeholder representation on the board itself, but also could be the spark for interest by the community to consider a substantial change in control,â€? said Battery Park City resident and CB1 member Tammy Metzler. But the BPCA insists that its plan is the best means for meaningful stakeholder input, arguing that not only would locals be able to communicate with board members through their elected officials, but the legislators would also be able to engage the board members in discussion, which is often not the case with public comment at other agencies, which allow community members to make brief statements at meetings without replying to them, according to an authority spokesman. â€œUnlike the public comment sessions
of some other boards, where individuals read statement after statement to members who sit silently and without discussion, our new policy provides for actual engagement between the publicâ€™s elected representatives â€” on any matter those representatives feel appropriate to discuss â€” and the BPCA Board in an open forum,â€? said spokesman Nick Sbordone. But the BPCA has yet to define the nature of this â€œactual engagement,â€? or say how much time the board is prepared to devote to it during board meetings. So the result may be even worse than the impotent, ignored, pro forma comment periods at other agenciesâ€™ meetings â€” but these would be open only to elected officials rather than the public. As for allowing input from residents, that would be allowed under the new policy, but only in the form of written comments â€” which can be sent up to 24 hours after a meeting and will be included in the minutes. The authority characterized the change as creating the potential for â€œunlimitedâ€? community feedback which would become a matter of public record, to be made accessible online, while also allowing for the authorityâ€™s meetings to function smoothly. â€œThe new policy also enables the public to submit comment on any matter of interest up to 24 hours after the close
of a board meeting for review and inclusion in the minutes of that meeting. No time limit, no word limit â€” and all while creating a record, posted on our website, for the public to draw on for reference and research purposes at any point in the future,â€? said Sbordone. Locals are welcome to submit written comments on any subject, however, Mehiel framed the change as giving community members a chance to weigh in on items being decided by board members at the meetings. But agendas for BPCA board meetings are only made public 24-hours before the meeting, giving locals scant time to compose their comments on those topics, and leaving no guarantee that board members would even see them before casting their votes on agenda items, according to Zeeshan Ott, spokesman for state Sen. Squadron. The boardâ€™s compromise proposal certainly provides for more public input at authority meetings than Battery Park City residents were ever allowed before, but locals still say it falls short of that they were hoping for to improve communication with the notoriously aloof panel that rules over their comminuty. â€œTheyâ€™re extending an olive twig instead of an olive branch,â€? said Battery Park City resident Tom Goodkind.
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June 16 - June 29, 2016
June 16 - June 29, 2016
June 16, 2016