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July 28 - August 10, 2016 | ManhattanExpressNews.nyc


Over Stringer, Brewer Objections, Tour Choppers Given Five-Year Renewal

JACKSON CHEN

Prior to this year’s deal to reduce helicopter tours by one half by next year, on a clear summer day more than 300 helicopter tours might leave Pier 6 Downtown for trips up and down the Hudson River.

BY COLIN MIXSON

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group of mayoral appointees voted to extend the deal allowing tourist helicopters to operate over Manhattan from Downtown’s Pier 6 — over the opposition of elected officials who hoped to deny any contract that would allow the locally loathed industry to persist. All of the appointed members of the city’s Franchise and Concession Review Committee voted on July 13 in favor of extending the concession allowing Saker Aviation Services to operate helicopter tours out of the Downtown Manhattan Heliport for another five years, while writing into the contract the terms of an agreement reached earlier this year to cut the number of flights in half by 2017. But the only elected officials with a vote on the panel — Borough President Gale Brewer and City Comptroller Scott Stringer — voted against the new contract, arguing

that the helicopter tour industry should be banished from Manhattan entirely. “There should be no tourist helicopters in New York City, period,” said Stringer, who preceded Brewer as borough president. “They provide little economic payback and instead bombard our communities with unrelenting noise and pollution, which is why they’ve been banned elsewhere in the five boroughs.” “Helicopter tours for a handful of people inflict noise and pollution on thousands upon thousands of New Yorkers, with little in the way of economic benefit to show for it,” said Brewer. “We should get rid of helicopter tourism entirely.” In comments critical of the helicopter tourism last fall, Upper West Side City Councilmember Helen Rosenthal said, “On good weather days there are more than 300 flights a day. Because they run a loop on the Upper West Side, from Downtown Manhattan up to

ManhattanExpressNews.nyc | July 28 - August 10, 2016

the George Washington Bridge and back, each flight has two points of noise impact — so it’s over 600 quality-of-life violations a day for Upper West Side residents.” Helicopter-tour operators and the de Blasio administration, however, have consistently argued that the economic benefits to the city — which also bags $2.9 million in annual rent for the heliport — outweigh the misery of residents. The concession extension, which passed with a 4–2 vote, will allow the high-flying tour guides to operate out of the Downtown Manhattan Heliport until April 30, 2021, while giving the city the option to extend that date by a year, twice. The committee also voted to ratify agreements reached between Saker and the Economic Development Corporation, which controls the heliport, to reduce the number of tourist flights overall, ban flights on Sundays, cease flights over Governors Island and Stat-

en Island, and monitor air quality around the heliport, along with requiring the operator to research and implement new technologies to mitigate noise pollution and emissions as they become commercially feasible. But those modifications, which were designed to ease the burden the industry places on residents, are ill-defined and inadequate in providing real benefits for locals, according to Stringer. “This flawed compromise fails to give the city the enforceable oversight it would need to restore any semblance of peace and quiet for hundreds of thousands of residents,” Stringer said in a statement. In particular, the agreement fails to institute any real means of holding Saker accountable for air and noise pollution in not specifying what measures the EDC can take when those limits are exceeded, according to Stringer. The agreement also fails to specify to what degree Saker must invest in research to mitigate helicopter noise and emissions and when those measures should be considered economically feasible, Stringer said. The terms codified in the new concession were agreed to by EDC and Saker in January as a way to preempt legislation introduced by Rosenthal and her Council colleagues Margaret Chin from the Lower East Side and Brooklyn’s Carlos Menchaca that effectively would have banned the helicopter tourism industry in New York City by imposing noise limits that helicopters used in the industry could not meet. When the terms negotiated by the EDC and Saker were announced early this year, Stop the Chop NYNJ, an advocacy group that opposes the industry, were harshly critical of the three councilmembers, charging they had abandoned the battlefield.

c CHOPPERS, continued on p.16 3


Another Bite at Development Apple For Central Park West Synagogue? BY JACKSON CHEN

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Central Park West synagogue is trying its luck again in asking the city’s Board of Standards and Appeals to grant it permission to construct a nine-story building next door despite the local community’s longstanding objections. The mixed-use building would be constructed adjacent to Congregation Shearith Israel at 8 West 70th Street, with one floor of lobby space, three floors of classrooms and offices, and the remaining top five floors for residential units. The CSI project was originally approved by the BSA back in 2008, but endured a turbulent process as it encountered zoning challenges, a stop-work order, and eventually a BSA denial in April 2016, mainly due to continued efforts of the opposition. In a new application to the BSA filed last month, CSI is now proposing “minor amendments” to the original application approved eight years ago and is asking for a fouryear extension on its construction time and to be placed on the BSA’s Special Order Calendar, which is typically heard before regularly scheduled items. According to the newest plans, the square footage of the building would go down from roughly 42,000 to about 40,000. The application explained that the reduction was mostly due to eliminating a proposed connection between the synagogue and the new building. More significantly from the standpoint of the project’s opponents, the amended plans show off bulkheads that add to the building’s originally proposed height of just over 105 feet to a total of about 119 feet. According to Zachary Bernstein, the attorney from Fried Frank representing the congregation, the 2008 application didn’t indicate the height of the rooftop elements because the project was still subject to review and confirmation of a final

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PBDW ARCHITECTS

A sketch comparing the original building approved by the Board of Standards and Appeals in 2008 with the taller building now part of Congregation Shearith Israel’s new application to the BSA.

design with the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission. Before the new plans being scheduled at the BSA, Community Board 7 was able to weigh in during its July 20 Land Use Committee meeting and passed a mixed resolution that supported the construction time extension and the application’s fast-tracking placement on the Special Order Calendar, but disapproved of the amendments to the plan, which consisted largely of the specification of the building’s bulkheads. Landmark West!, an Upper West Side preservation group, argued to CB7 that additional height impinges on the neighbors’ right to their existing views, light, and air. “We don’t find the amendments to be minor in any way, shape, or form,” the group’s president, Kate Wood, said. “The building is taller, with mechanical and ventilation

units at the back of the building.” State Assemblymember Richard Gottfried has also reiterated his opposition to the project, which he considers too tall and out of character with the neighborhood. “The underlying issues that made Shearith Israel’s last proposal so troubling have not changed,” Gottfried said. “The congregation should not now be allowed another bite at the apple to make it worse.” The assemblymember echoed arguments from Landmark West! that neighbors of the synagogue and its new building would have vital light and air benefits blocked. He added that the height of the building sets a risky precedent for a neighborhood that he considers “architecturally and historically significant.” “If these variances are approved,” Gottfried said, “the new building would harm its neighbor-

hood and advance a dangerous trend in land use.” But Bernstein argued that “the minor updates on limited portions of the roof will not limit light and air to building neighbors.” Aside from the height concerns, Landmark West!’s Wood said that CSI and its team of developers, attorneys, and lobbyists were being duplicitous in their effort to push through the building. According Charles DiSanto, a principal at Walter B. Melvin Architects, a firm specializing in historic preservation and restoration that reviewed the CSI project on Landmark West!’s behalf, the original plans called for 15 classrooms on three different levels. However, the plans CSI filed with the Department of Buildings only showed four classrooms. With the most recent

c SYNAGOGUE, continued on p.23

July 28 - August 10, 2016 | ManhattanExpressNews.nyc


Water Main Disruptions, Followed By Improved Streetscape for East 86th BY JACKSON CHEN

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ater main replacements by the city Department of Design and Construction will disrupt two major stretches on the Upper East Side over the next 14 months with water service interruptions, temporary street closures, fewer parking spaces, and bus stop relocations, but at the end of it all an improved streetscape is promised for East 86th Street. Begun this month, the DDC is working in phases to replace water mains on East 86th Street from Second to Park Avenues and on Madison Avenue between 84th and 85th Streets. The first phase of the project is now underway on the north side of East 86th Street between Third and Lexington Avenues. Once crews finish the north side, they will switch to the south side before moving on to other stretches along 86th Street, according to DDC’s deputy director of community outreach and notification Norberto Avecedo, Jr. Since the replacement of the 12-foot water mains would leave residents and businesses without water for three hours at a time, Avecedo said the city would give notice to those affected 72 hours in advance, with another alert the day before the work that either confirms or cancels the earlier notice.

As the replacements occur and crews take up space on-site, residents would face temporary street closures and less room for parked cars. However, the DDC is planning to have traffic agents and flaggers on hand for pedestrian safety. The M86 Select Bus Service stops would also be temporarily relocated to a nearby corner if there’s conflicting renovation work. Once the water mains are replaced, the DDC will be adding to the streetscape of the busy 86th Street corridor through installation of amenities such as new benches, tree guards, lampposts, and bike racks. The agency hasn’t confirmed the specifics of the streetscape design yet, so Community Board 8 asked the DDC to notify it when a finalized plan is available so the community can weigh in. On top of the streetscape improvements, the agency will introduce neckdowns on several corners of East 86th Street street to create less crossing distance for pedestrians. Bus bulbs — which offer passengers a waiting area away from the sidewalk in order to reduce pedestrian congestion, while allowing buses to simply stop rather than pull over toward the curb — will be installed on 86th Street at Lexington and Third Avenues.

NYC DEPARTMENT OF DESIGN AND CONSTRUCTION

A Department of Design and Construction rendering of improvements planned for East 86th Street between Third and Lexington Avenues.

As for Madison Avenue, Acevedo said there is an ongoing Safe Routes to Schools project from the DDC that would provide three neckdowns on Madison Avenue. Work for the 14-month project is scheduled for Monday to Friday from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., with no plans as of now for extending later into the afternoons or weekends, Acevedo said. n

Our Perspective Given a Fair Choice, Workers Choose Unions

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By Stuart Appelbaum, President, Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, RWDSU, UFCW

ver 1,000 employees at Spanishowned Zara fashion retail stores in New York City have over-whelmingly chosen to join the RWDSU. It’s the biggest retail organizing win in recent years, and Zara workers can now look forward to having a voice on the job, and changing things for the better in their workplace. But unfortunately, American-owned companies rarely treat their employees’ legally guaranteed right to join a union with respect, as Zara did. At many American companies, the right to join a union is disrespected or downright ignored. When workers in the U.S. attempt to organize, they often face a barrage of harassment, intimidation, and other tactics to prevent them from exercising their legal right to a union voice. Bosses hold captive meetings with employees, telling lies about unions and claiming they are bad for workers. They threaten workers’ jobs, and say that they will

ManhattanExpressNews.nyc | July 28 - August 10, 2016

end up closing the workplace if they join the union. They’ll make empty promises about changing the way they do things if workers don’t unionize, or even dole out small raises or make other long-overdue changes in the workplace in hopes of keeping the union out. And, orchestrating it all are so-called “consultants” – union busters – who are paid big money to scare, threaten, and lie to workers. These lowlifes make their living doing whatever it takes to confuse and frighten working people into voting against their own interests. Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump recently spent over half a million dollars on union busters in a failed effort in Las Vegas to keep workers at his Trump International hotel from joining a union. But it doesn’t have to be this way. The RWDSU, the UFCW and Zara reached an agreement earlier this year where the employer agreed to remain neutral and not interfere with the organizing drive at the world’s

largest clothing retailer. This agreement allowed workers at Zara the chance to decide for themselves if they wanted a union, without intimidation, harassment, or the usual bag of underhanded tricks. No union-buster showed up to scare them, and nobody threatened to fire them or close the store. It’s a different approach from U.S.-owned companies, and one that helps make workers and the company stronger. Zara workers – on a fair, level playing field – chose to join RWDSU Local 1102, and now the company and the workforce will move forward with a strong relationship based upon trust and respect. American companies should follow the model of Zara and others who respect the right of freedom of association.

www.rwdsu.org 5


NYC DEPARTMENT OF PARKS AND RECREATION

A rendering of the proposed upgrade of the Bloomingdale Playground on the Upper West Sde.

Parks Unveils Major Accessibility Redesign

for UWS Bloomingdale Playground BY JACKSON CHEN

T

he Department of Parks and Recreation has revealed its draft design of a $5.8 million renovation of Bloomingdale Playground at the corner of West 104th Street and Amsterdam Avenue. The playground, adjacent to P.S. 145 Manhattan, which is better known as the Bloomingdale School, was given a hefty budget to modernize into a state-of-the-art and all-inclusive facility back in 2014. According to the draft presented to Community Board 7’s Inclusive Playground Task Force on July 25, the new Bloomingdale Playground would be completely redone with a design that accommodates children of all ages and abilities. The plans include a fenced off area with a synthetic turf field next to a combination basketball, junior basketball, and tennis court that is surrounded by a track field. On the other side of the fence, the parks department included several play areas for different age ranges that have a spray shower area, an interactive art wall, and several swing sets.

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While the rendering is still in preliminary form, its most prominent feature is an elevated play structure that forms a figure eightlike pathway fully accessible by users in wheelchairs. The park also features an entrance with a compass design on the ground that doubles as a sundial. For the task force, the most important aspect of the proposal is its accessibility for disabled users, and the design allows handicapped children to reach any part of the park. “Visually it’s just very, very appealing to me,” Elaine Hazzard, a resident at the task force meeting, said of the design. “I assume the idea is that a kid who uses a wheelchair can go all the way around it and still be included around everything that’s going on.” The park’s proposed redesign also includes an adult fitness center, a community garden, and a renovated comfort station. Steve Simon, the parks department’s Manhattan Borough commissioner’s chief of staff, said that the design is about 80 percent com-

plete so there was still time for comments and suggestions. The CB7 park task force, created in the fall of 2014 to weigh in on design issues, made sure to put their requests for handicapped and hearing- and sight-impaired accessibility front and center. Following the presentation of the proposed plan, task force members praised its sophisticated design, but also offered their critiques on ways to make the park even more accessible. Sheldon Fine, a CB7 and task force member, said the group had sought handicapped-accessible swings as part of its earlier recommendations. “One thing that hit me in the heart... is that the resolution was to have two handicapped swings,” Fine said during the meeting. “I think it’s better to have no swing area than to have an area with only able-bodied swings.” Parks department staffers explained that JennSwings, which allow for handicapped access, would take up 50 percent more space than their traditional coun-

terparts. But Simon said the department would take another look to see if the design could accommodate the JennSwings. A n o t h e r C B 7 m e m b e r, M e l Wymore, suggested looking at designing the comfort stations to include options for gender-neutral, single-occupancy bathrooms. Wymore said the current changes to the comfort station looked “superficial” and introducing gender-neutral options could add more to the park’s inclusivity. Wymore also requested that the parks department, at the next meeting, present a breakdown of the budget so far. While exact numbers were not given at the meeting, parks department landscape architect Ricardo Hinkle said the design had not yet exhausted the budget. Bloomingdale Playground is one of 47 city parks chosen as part of the Community Parks Initiative, a $285 million effort by Mayor Bill de Blasio and Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver to revamp smaller parks in densely populated and poorer neighborhoods throughout the city. Borough President Gale Brewer showed her support for Bloomingdale by awarding the project a $400,000 grant in the summer of 2015. Simon said his department’s Bloomingdale Playground would set up another meeting with the CB7 task force in the coming weeks. n

July 28 - August 10, 2016 | ManhattanExpressNews.nyc


East 85th Firehouse Engine Temporarily

Shifts Uptown for Overnights

JACKSON CHEN

The firehouse on East 85th Street will shift Engine Company 22 16 blocks north for overnight hours for the next three to four months to accommodate renovations.

BY JACKSON CHEN

A

firehouse at 159 East 85th Street will be relocating one of its engines on the overnight shift as the station undergoes renovations expected to take several months. According to Battalion 10 Chief Richard Tarello, renovations on the firehouse’s second floor will create separate bathroom and locker room facilities for female firefighters and will be completed in three to four months. The FDNY said there are currently 52 female firefighters — out of a total of more than 11,000 — and, according to Tarello, there is one female firefighter within his battalion. The firehouse that is home to Engine Company 22 and Ladder Company 13 is just one of the 47 firehouses throughout the city that don’t currently have separate women’s facilities. The FDNY is pumping $70 million into efforts to renovate the remaining firehouses with separate men’s and women’s bathrooms and locker rooms, another set of facilities for officers, and also an Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant unisex bathroom. But to accommodate the renovations, Tarello said that every day between the hours of 11 p.m. and 7 a.m., Engine 22 would be relocating to the firehouse at 1836 Third Avenue, between East 101st and 102nd Street. “The purpose is to minimize daytime response when traffic is at its

peak,” Tarello explained. “If they stayed up there all day long and tried to respond to lower blocks, it would impact response time.” The chief said the difference of about 16 blocks combined with the typical traffic congestion during the day led the department to schedule the renovations and resulting need for relocation during night hours to avoid fire service delays during the day. Tarello said lighter traffic in the overnight hours should mitigate any impact on response times then, but he could not precisely quantify any potential delays. “We’re hoping there’s no impact on service,” Tarello said. “Our goal is to minimize the impact due to the renovations in quarters, and it was impossible to keep both Engine 22 and Ladder 13 on 85th Street.” The initial relocation plans had focused on Ladder 13, instead of Engine 22, but the FDNY deter mined there was too great a risk of creating a gap in ladder companies between the firehouse at East 67th and the one at East 101st Street. While engine companies provide hose lines and fire extinguishing capabilities, ladder companies are geared for more dire circumstances involving the need for forced entries, ventilating buildings, and conducting searches for life, Tarello explained. According to the chief, the relocation began a couple of weeks ago, and the renovations are due to start any day. n

ManhattanExpressNews.nyc | July 28 - August 10, 2016

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Port Authority, Elected Officials Lock Horns Over New Bus Terminal

SEAN EGAN

A July 21 press conference outside the Port Authority's 4 World Trade Center offices included Matt Green, a staff member of Councilmember Corey Johnson’s, State Senator Brad Hoylman, Congressmember Jerrold Nadler, Borough President Gale Brewer, CB4 chair Delores Rubin, and Assemblymember Richard Gottfried.

BY SEAN EGAN

T

he shape of Manhattan’s West 40s and the daily routines of hundreds of thousands of commuters hang in the balance as the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey continues ahead with its plan for a new bus terminal (PABT), even as residents and elected officials speak out against the project and its process — which, they assert, lacks transparency and overlooks their input. June 13’s Community Board 4 Clinton/ Hell’s Kitchen Land Use Committee meeting, which took up the PABT issue, served as a prelude to events that unfolded over the following week. The Port Authority’s actions have met with increasing criticism on CB4 since the project first came to light in late 2015. Since then, the agency launched a design competition and has already narrowed down the selection to five finalists. That does not sit well with the CB4 committee, which feels that the community is being ignored — particularly worrisome, given the project’s potential use of eminent domain, a process by which government can force the sale of privately owned land for public purposes, thereby threatening the displacement of residents and neighborhood businesses and institutions. After a spirited discussion in which committee members firmly condemned any eminent domain scenario, they agreed to draft a letter to the Port Authority voicing their opposition. As Manhattan Express went to press, that letter

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was expected to be approved at CB4’s July 27 full board meeting. Alan Green, a longtime Hell’s Kitchen resident who is deacon of Metro Baptist Church at 410 West 40th Street as well as a cast member of Broadway’s “School of Rock,” said a land grab by the Port Authority could destroy his place of worship and residence. “Hell’s Kitchen is a special part of the city and the thought of eminent domain scares all of us,” Green wrote in a follow-up email, echoing the sentiments of many in the community and noting that he found the idea of expanding the PABT an “archaic” short-term solution, especially since the Lincoln Tunnel is unable to handle increased bus traffic. “There are seven non-profits, including my church Metro Baptist, in those few blocks that do incredible work,” he wrote. “Where would they possibly go and have the same space and accessibility to those in the community who are most in need of help?” On the morning of July 21, a group of elected officials joined residents at a press conference calling on the Port Authority to immediately terminate the design competition. Standing outside the agency’s headquarters at 4 World Trade Center, Congressmember Jerrold Nadler, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, State Senator Brad Hoylman, and State Assemblymembers Richard Gottfried and Linda Rosenthal lined up to deliver statements decrying the way in which the project’s development has been handled to

date. CB4 chair Delores Rubin and a representative of City Councilmember Corey Johnson were also on hand. Nadler, citing a lack of community and neighborhood stakeholder engagement, said, “This is a non-starter. Eminent domain must be off the table for this project.” Brewer, highlighting the need to address quality of life concerns, quipped, “The Port Authority has put the bus before the horse,” while Gottfried chided the agency for encouraging proposals that would require eminent domain, while itself being able to sell off its current bus terminal site for a huge windfall. “Residents of Hell’s Kitchen should not be thrown under the bus terminal,” Hoylman said, criticizing the Port Authority for not considering all of its options, including locating a new facility in New Jersey, with a rail link to Manhattan — a scenario that has gained traction among some Manhattanites. A July 25 editorial from the Newark-based Star-Ledger, however — “New Yorkers, listen up: The Port Authority Bus Terminal belongs in Manhattan” — pushed back hard against that idea. After speaking with the press, the electeds headed to the Port Authority’s board meeting, armed with a jointly written letter addressed to agency chair John J. Degnan and vice chair Steven M. Cohen outlining their concerns in detail. “It would be a grave disservice, not only to our constituents, but to all the people of New York and New Jersey, to proceed with the competition for a new PABT before a thorough and public examination is conducted of all of the outstanding issues and all of the available alternatives regarding a new bus terminal,” reads the letter, which also calls on the Port Authority to respect current residential zoning regulations, examine how any new PABT would fit into the city’s overall network of major transportation hubs, and carry out an environmental impact study. Ruth Arcone, an 18-year Hell’s Kitchen resident who works at the Dwelling Place, a women’s homeless shelter at 409 West 40th Street, spoke out against the project at the agency’s board meeting, voicing fears about losing her job as well as a valuable neighborhood resource. “The main people who are going to benefit are the commuters, and mainly from New Jersey, and it seems like they’re going to get most of the benefits and we’re going to bear the burden,” she said in an interview following the meeting. “[Port Authority officials] don’t seem to be aware of the impact it would have, or they don’t care. And the

c PORT AUTHORITY, continued on p.9

July 28 - August 10, 2016 | ManhattanExpressNews.nyc


c PORT AUTHORITY, from p.8 other thing is it’s just not a reasonable, logical way to do things. It would be a very temporary solution. Things would be better for a while, and then it would be back to the same-old, sameold!” In a press conference after the board meeting, Degnan said the design competition would not be called off. “I don’t see a reason to defer a process which is simply an early step in what needs to be an inclusive process going forward,” he said. “It’s not designed to come up with a definitive concept that will be implemented exactly as represented.” Degnan pledged that the Port Authority would be more “aggressive in initiating” dialogue with elected officials and the community about the project going forward.

LIVE THE LIFE YOU WANT

PORT AUTHORITY OF NEW YORK AND NEW JERSEY

Port Authority chair John J. Degnan (speaking at podium) and vice chair Steven M. Cohen (l.) at a press conference following the agency’s July 21 board meeting.

Cohen made clear, however, that the agency intends to pursue a new terminal in Manhattan as opposed to New Jersey. “I’m confident that the concept that is ultimately approved by the board will minimize, if not eliminate, the concerns about taking private property having an adverse impact on the neighborhood,” Degnan asserted. In a July 26 written statement, Hoylman said, “I’m deeply troubled by Port Authority Chairman Degnan’s stubborn refusal to hear out the legitimate concerns raised by the duly elected officials representing the west side of Manhattan. With so many fundamental questions left unanswered, we maintain it is premature to hold the design competition and believe the Port Authority should terminate the current competition and start a new process that examines a full range of options and elicits greater input from local stakeholders.” Johnson, in a separate written statement, said, “There’s no question that the Port Authority needs a better bus terminal, but this process cannot start from the top and trickle down to the community. My colleagues in government and I are ready to work with the Port Authority, but we need to do it the right way. It’s time to make this a public process.” n ManhattanExpressNews.nyc | July 28 - August 10, 2016

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Natural History Museum Offers

Revised Teddy Roosevelt Park Plan BY JACKSON CHEN

T

he American Museum of Natural History revealed a proposed redesign of the portion of Theodore Roosevelt Park that would be impacted by the museum’s controversial Richard Gilder Center for Science, Innovation and Education expansion. After hearing a wide range of concerns and complaints about the new center on the Columbus Avenue side of the museum complex, the museum went back to the community on July 21 with a revised design of the park formulated in consultation with its Park Working Group — one of two advisory panels the museum created in February to invite input on the Gilder Center’s conceptual design. According to new plans designed by landscape architects at Reed Hilderbrand, the portion of Teddy Roosevelt Park in front of the Gilder Center would include a wider entrance from Columbus Avenue, more quiet areas for locals, their families, and their children, and the preservation of two notable mature trees. “This Park Working Group was really constituted to help improve the conceptual design,” Dan Slippen, the museum’s vice president of government relations, said. “By listening to the Park Working Group, the landscape architect has been able to improve upon the conceptual design… to be able to give the community the type of areas they currently have in the new design.” According to Slippen, the block associations and community organizations with representation in the working group had made clear that a bigger entrance, tree preservation, and separation within the park between its users and museum visitors were all desirable elements in any final plan. Although this second public information session drew a sparser crowd than the museum’s first one, many residents on hand had not retreated from their objections to the Gilder Center. William Raudenbush, an Upper West Sider who has long spoken out against the project, said it was outrageous for the already large footprint of the museum to further encroach upon public park land, and he added that the working groups designated by the museum may not reflect the community’s opinion as a whole. “We are your neighbors, we would like you to look at us as neighbors,” Raudenbush said to museum administrators. “We think uniting your wings is a noble purpose, but we do not want you to take park land and create a mini Times Square on that side of the park.”

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REED HILDERBRAND

An overhead sketch of the American Museum of Natural History’s new proposal for its Gilder Center expansion, designated in blank white at center.

Raudenbush was joined by many neighbors in pleas to reduce the Gilder Center project’s mass. Speakers repeatedly pointed to alternatives like shifting Gilder’s space into current administrative offices within the existing museum footprint or even constructing it at a satellite location. Steve Anderson, president of the Theodore Roosevelt Park Neighborhood Association, said nobody was arguing against the expansion of science programs for the city. However, the community, he said, feels threatened by the daunting series of public approval meetings that opponents in the neighborhood must bring their concerns before while the museum has lawyers and consultants to represent its interests. “We’re just the people who live here, we’re the people that care about our community,” Anderson said. “We are less concerned with the miracles in science education inside the museum, but we are deeply concerned about the chaos that we perceive will be happening around the museum.” The Defenders of Teddy Roosevelt Park, the opposition group that originally led the charge but now has a seat on the museum’s Park Working Group, said the new design is more appropriate than earlier concepts. “While some parkland would still be lost to the museum’s expansion,” Adrian Smith, the Defenders’ president, said, “we believe the role of the park will be preserved and in some ways improved.” But the Defenders group wasn’t without concer ns about increased vehicular and

REED HILDERBRAND

A rendering of the American Museum of Natural History’s new proposal for its Gilder Center expansion, emphasizing its placement in the context of the surrounding Teddy Roosevelt Park.

pedestrian traffic, park access during construction, and, most importantly, the size of the Gilder Center. “The science center entrance would still be too massive, looming over a small park, without convincing justification,” Smith said. “It certainly is not clear why a solution to the museum’s circulation problem requires such a large edifice.” The Gilder Center, estimated to cost $325 million, has an expected construction start date in 2017, with three years of construction allowing for an opening in 2020. The expansion project is still under review by the Department of Parks and Recreation, but the museum is preparing its application to the Landmarks Preservation Commission. According to the museum’s schedule, the landmark application process will be the subject of the next informational session on September 13. n

July 28 - August 10, 2016 | ManhattanExpressNews.nyc


81st Street Access Ramp to East River Pedestrian Bridge Halted Amidst CB8 Tensions BY JACKSON CHEN

W

ork to create a ramp addition to the East 81st Street end of the pedestrian bridge that connects to the East River Esplanade, as part of an overall renovation of the bridge, has been suspended, according to the city Department of Parks and Recreation. A parks department spokesperson said the ramp work, which would make the structure compliant with the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), had not yet been started and has now been put on hold due to community concerns regarding its design. “In response to concerns we heard from the community,” the spokesperson said, “we set aside the work... at the 81st Street cul-de-sac to investigate other options for that location, which may result in a better design for everyone.” The city agencies involved on the project — Parks, the Department of Transportation, and the Department of Design and Construction — are still proceeding on the overhaul of the pedestrian walkway above the FDR Drive, which will include a ramp on the East River side of the bridge. But during a July 14 Community Board 8 Parks Committee meeting, residents complained that city agencies are providing little information about the renovation, leaving them in the dark about its status, and some board members are echoing those arguments. The renovation project is also creating divisions on CB8. “There also has been a big problem with communication,” Susan Evans, co-chair of the Parks Committee said. “The community did not have any information about what is going on with this ramp, what it’s going to made out of, the location.” Last December, appearing before CB8, the DDC first unveiled a new design for the pedestrian bridge that included viewing windows in the wire mesh fence, an ADA ramp

at the East 81st Street cul-de-sac, and lighting locations. After hearing residents’ complaints at its July 14 meeting, the Parks Committee proposed a joint meeting on the project in September with CB8’s T ransportation Committee, but the co-chair of that committee, Charles Warren, objected to that idea during the full board meeting six days later. “If I had been there, I would’ve objected to bringing up that kind of resolution,” Warren told Manhattan Express, adding the project was under the Transportation Committee’s jurisdiction. “There’s some confusion on this and what exactly happened.” Warren attributed the work stoppage to the city paying attention to community comments about relocating ADA-compliant access to another street like East 82nd, 83rd, or 84th Streets that are less steep. “These are not new concerns,” Warren said of looking at other options. “I think that it’s a good thing to examine, if there are alternatives that makes sense and if it’s less intrusive to the whole community.” Despite claims from many residents about a lack of updates from the agencies, other involved community members contend the ramp stoppage is an unsurprising and minor hitch. Charles Whitman, who lives at 45 East End Avenue, had no qualms about the work halting because he said the ADA access ramp was meant to be addressed toward the end of the multifaceted project anyway. Whitman is a part of a committee, chaired by CB8’s Warren, that meets monthly to receive updates and voice concerns to the three agencies that are jointly working on the project. “The last piece of it is the ADA ramp,” Whitman said. “The project has been moving ahead, they’ve had some delays and encountered some engineering problems.”

ManhattanExpressNews.nyc | July 28 - August 10, 2016

The temporary halt on the ramp portion of the project didn’t matter in the bigger picture, Whitman said. While the ramp work is paused, the parks department said it would be increasing access to the promenade that of fers access to the bridge by adding ramps to the entryways at 82nd and 83rd Streets, on top of the existing ADA-compliant ramp at 84th Street. To resolve the infighting within CB8, the board’s chair, Jim Clynes, offered to lead a public forum with the date to be determined. “To avoid any tur f wars, we won’t call it a Parks Committee meeting, we won’t call it a Transportation Committee meeting,” Clynes said. “There will be a meeting, I will run it, and I think we’ll just call it a forum.”

JACKSON CHEN

Though work continues on renovating the East 81st Street pedestrian bridge, the effort to incorporate an ADA-compliant ramp has been halted.

For Evans, the jurisdictional differences between the two committees are secondary to the concerns heard from neighborhood residents. “It’s not a tur f war, and it shouldn’t be a turf war,” Evans said. “It should be a joint venture because we are here for the community.” n

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Guns, Platform Draw Gays PUBLISHER JENNIFER GOODSTEIN jgoodstein@cnglocal.com

to Trump Tower During GOP Convention

EDITOR IN-CHIEF PAUL SCHINDLER editor@manhttanexpressnews.nyc

CONTRIBUTING WRITERS JACKSON CHEN, LINCOLN ANDERSON, SCOTT STIFFLER, COLIN MIXSON, YANNIC RACK

ART DIRECTOR MICHAEL SHIREY

EXECUTIVE VP OF ADVERTISING AMANDA TARLEY ads@manhattanexpressnews.nyc 718-260-8340

ACCOUNT EXECUTIVES JACK AGLIATA LAUREN BLAIR ALLISON GREAKER ANDREW MARK JIM STEELE JULIO TUMBACO

Manhattan Express, the newspaper for Midtown and the Upper East and Upper West Sides, is published by NYC Community Media, LLC. Send all inquiries to: Manhattan Express, One Metrotech Center North, Suite 1001, Brooklyn 11201 or call 718-260-4586. Written permission of the publisher must be obtained before any of the contents of this paper, in part or whole, can be reproduced or redistributed. All contents © 2016 Manhattan Express. Manhattan Express is a registered trademark of NYC Community Media, LLC. Jennifer Goodstein, C.E.O. | Fax: 212-229-2790 Subscriptions: 26 issues, $49.00 ©2016 Manhattan Express, All rights reserved. NYC COMMUNITY MEDIA, LLC | ONE METROTECH NORTH, SUITE 1001 | BROOKLYN, NY 11201 | 212-229-1890

12

MICHAEL SHIREY

Banners carried by protesters who traveled from Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue to Trump International Hotel at Columbus Circle in a July 18 demonstration.

BY PAUL SCHINDLER

T

hey woke a sleeping giant with the LGBT community,” said Glenn Zuraw about the National Rifle Association, as he stood outside Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue on July 18. “We should have been here on this issue long before now. I cried for three days after Orlando. I didn’t cry after Newtown, and I’m sorry I didn’t.” Zuraw was one of more than 500 demonstrators who braved that day’s late afternoon downpour to raise their voices against the NRA, the Republican Party, and Donald Trump, the man that party coronated as its presidential nominee last week in Cleveland. Protesters — called to T rump Tower by the direct action grassroots group Queer Nation, Gays Against Guns, which formed in response to the June 12 gun slaughter of 49 at an LGBT club in Orlando, and New Yorkers Against Gun Violence — focused their ire on the GOP’s absolutist

support for NRA policies, Trump’s repeated xenophobic attacks on immigrants, especially those from Mexico or who are Muslim, and a party platform that even the Log Cabin Republicans have termed the most “anti-LGBT ever.” Asked what awakening the LGBT movement would mean for the gun debate in America, Zuraw responded, “Look how much we’ve gotten changed. DOMA. Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Gay marriage.” Demonstrator Terry Roethlein echoed Zuraw’s thoughts on what the LGBT community can bring to the table in the push for gun control advances. “What can we in the LGBT community do?,” he said. “Organizing.” For Roethlein, the issue isn’t something new post-Orlando. “I’ve been on the anti-gun violence bandwagon for a while,” he said. “Despite the horror of Orlando, one of the bright sides was how I was glad to see that my LGBT brothers and sisters were

willing to join this movement. I mean, we have marriage equality, which isn’t so important to me. Here our community is moving beyond the particulars to see something that is good for the whole society. That’s what makes America great.” For many in the crowd, guns were only a part of what brought them out on the first evening of the Republican National Convention. “I’m really upset in general with the Republican platform,” said B. C. Craig of Brooklyn. “Trump’s racist xenophobia is added to their inborn homophobia. And Pence is homophobia on steroids.” Craig quickly pivoted in her comments to the gun issue. “We must stop seeing the NRA as politically inviolable,” she said. “They must be made toxic so that no candidate takes their money or their endorsement. The NRA is responsible for so many deaths, especially people of color.”

c TRUMP TOWER, continued on p.13

July 28 - August 10, 2016 | ManhattanExpressNews.nyc


CROSSFIT GAMES GLOCK GIVE-AWAYS

SPARK ANTI-GUN ANGER The decision by the founder of the annual Crossfit Games, held over the past week in California, that winners would be awarded a Glock handgun stirred outrage among advocates for gun control, leading to both a change.org petition that the decision be reversed and a July 23 demonstration outside the Midtown crossfit gym run by Reebok, the Games’ sponsor. Three groups that earlier in the week had staged antigun demonstrations outside of Trump Tower — Gays Against Guns, formed in the wake of the June Orlando LGBT bar massacre, Queer Nation, and New Yorkers Against Gun Violence — marched on Saturday from the New York Public Library at 42nd Street and Fifth Avenue to Reebok CrossFit Fifth Ave, between 37th and 38th Street. “How stupid and insensitive can they be?” said Kevin Hertzog, Gays Against Guns’ founder. “We're in the middle of a grow-

ing trend of deadly gun violence against both civilians and police and Crossfit is proudly giving away the high-capacity gun that was used to kill six people and injure 13 more, including Representative Gabby Giffords, in Tucson in 2011, to kill 77 people in Norway in 2011, to kill a string of immigrants in Sweden in 2009-10, and to kill 32 people at Virginia Tech in 2007?” A Glock was also used in Dylan Roof’s fatal shooting of nine people in an African-American church in Charleston last year and by Omar Mateen in the Orlando killings that claimed 49 lives. More than 22,000 signed the change.org petition, but Crossfit Games founder Dave Castro declined demands that the gun give-away be canceled, saying that only a change in California or federal law would alter his plans. — Paul Schindler

c TRUMP TOWER, from p.12 T im Murphy, a media spokesperson for Gays Against Guns, reinforced Craig’s suggestion that gun control advocates must marginalize the powerful NRA. Already the new group has staged demonstrations against Long Island Republican Congressmember Lee Zeldin and New Jersey GOP Representative Tom MacArthur, both aimed at “embarrassing” NRA supporters on their home turfs. Murphy mentioned other potential targets, including Republican senators seeking reelection such as New Hampshire’s Kelly Ayotte, Ohio’s Rob Portman, and North Carolina’s Richard Burr. M u r p h y s a i d , “ We a r e going to name and shame the whole chain of death” on the gun issue, including those who invest in gun manufacturers – the Blackstone Group and Credit Suisse have been frequent targets of criticism on that score – the manufacturers themselves, the NRA, and legislators who are “puppets” of the gun lobby. In addition to Zeldin, Leah Gunn Barrett, the executive director of New Yorkers Against Gun Violence, mentioned six other New York Republicans in Congress her group is putting pressure on, including Richard Hanna,

DONNA ACETO MICHAEL SHIREY

New Yorkers Against Gun Violence’s Leah Gunn Barrett speaks to the crowd in Columbus Circle.

Chris Gibson, Tom Reed, Chris Collins, Elise Stefanik, and John Katko. Gunn Barrett contrasted the current political climate with that of the 1990s, when many Democrats became skittish about gun control after elections reversals that followed legislation pushed by President Bill Clinton banning the sale of assault rifles. Alluding to Hillary Clinton favorably, she said, “It is very unusual for the Democratic presidential candidate to speak as forcefully on the gun issue as she has.” Still, New Yorkers Against Gun Violence is also working

ManhattanExpressNews.nyc | July 28 - August 10, 2016

Demonstrators, including City Public Advocate Letitia James, targeted Crossfit Games sponsor Reebok and ESPN, which broadcast the competition, in a protest that included a die-in on Fifth Avenue.

to keep Democrats accountable. Governor Andrew Cuomo, Gunn Barrett said, “needs to get busy.” The state has not yet developed the point of sale ammunition background check database required under Cuomo’s 2013 gun legislation, and Governor Jerry Brown in California has led his state much further, she said, adding that remaining issues New York must tackle include firearms safe stor age and ammunition microstamping requirements, as well as provisions to remove

c TRUMP TOWER, continued on p.23 13


City’s New Regs

Clamp Down on Cranes

MILO HESS

The scene at the Worth Street crane collapse in February.

BY COLIN MIXSON

T

he city took the first steps toward tightening regulations of construction cranes and their operators, implementing several measures designed to prevent collapses like the one that claimed the life of David Wichs, a 38-year-old Upper West Side man, in Lower Manhattan earlier this year. The action by the Department of Buildings (DOB) follows the recommendations of a crane-safety panel set up in the wake of the February 5 toppling of a crawler crane on Worth Street. The Crane Safety Technical Working Group reported its findings last month. The new regulations were put into effect at the end of June by order of DOB Commissioner Rick Chandler, and may be tweaked and refined over coming weeks as they’re written into the city’s construction code, according to a spokesperson for the agency. The new rules include: • Requiring mobile cranes to be fitted with wind measuring devices, called anemometers, which record real-time wind readings. • Requiring contractors to hire “on-site lift coordinators” with the authority to shutdown crane operations in the event of unsafe conditions. • Restricting mobile crane operations whenever winds exceed 30 miles per hour. • Requiring crane operators to secure cranes when not in use as per a specified “wind-action plan,” which includes retracted, jackknifed, and laid-down positions. These regulations are in addition to emergency measures taken immediately after February’s crane collapse, which included banning mobile

14

MICHAEL SHIREY

A crane at work on West 57th Street.

cranes rated for 20-mile-per-hour wind gusts or less from operating on public streets and an increase in fines related to “failure to safeguard cranes” from $4,800 to $10,000, both of which will remain in effect. Furthermore, the now-mandated on-site lift coordinators will be subject to unannounced inspections, during which city sleuths will check recorded wind readings at work sites and compare them to the actions of the lift coordinators to ensure operations were shutdown in accordance with the commissioner’s mandate. Joe Soldevere, a spokesperson for the DOB, stressed that additional regulations will likely follow, and that the new rules announced in June comprise measures that the building’s department felt could be implemented without new legislation on the part of City Council and which were simple enough to be implemented quickly. “We will have additional actions to announce in terms of enacting the recommendations that the working group has already made,” said Soldevere, “but as the commissioner said, these regulations are solid, sensible, and doable.” Reacting to the new crane regulations, Upper West Side City Councilmember Helen Rosenthal said, “I’m particularly pleased that all mobile cranes will now be fitted with wind measuring devices, because the wind gusts caused by canyons of tall buildings can be much stronger than what’s measured in the middle of Central Park. As the working group’s report shows, these recommendations will make New York City’s crane safety regulations some of the strictest and safest in the world — we have to get safety right.” Upper West Side City Councilmember Mark

Levine is the main sponsor of Intro 420, a pending measure that would place limits on construction near schools. That measure received a committee hearing last June but has seen no action since then. Ben Kallos, an Upper East Side councilmember, has been working on stricter regulations for construction sites since April 2014 when he proposed Intro 299, also known as the Construction Safety Act. Under the bill, workers seeking hoisting machine operator licenses would be required to have qualifying experience in New York City and complete specific examinations administered by the DOB, instead of other accredited organizations. Kallos said while the industry is moving toward having a national standard of construction safety, New York’s landscape is unique and should have operators with distinct experience within the city. “The key piece is to make sure the folks have training, make sure they’re certified, and make sure their training is local to New York City,” he said. Kallos’ measure has seen no recent Council action. While there have been no recent crane accidents on the Upper East or West Sides, there were three serious crane-related accidents throughout the borough in the two years leading up to February’s Tribeca tragedy. According to the DOB’s accident database, a construction worker was injured when a spider crane on the roof of 353 Spring Street tipped over on February 7, 2014.

c CRANES, continued on p.17

July 28 - August 10, 2016 | ManhattanExpressNews.nyc


Citi Bike’s UWS Infill, Expansion North Plans Faulted BY JACKSON CHEN

R

esidents, community board members, and even City Councilmember Helen Rosenthal picked apart Citi Bike’s expansion and infill plans for the Upper West Side during a CB7 meeting on July 12. After expanding the bike share program north to 86th Street last summer, Motivate, the operator of Citi Bike, and the Department of Transportation are now working to reallocate some bikes away from the largest stations in the neighborhood and create new stations that would offer better network penetration. According to the DOT, three docking stations on Riverside Drive — at 67th, 78th, and 82nd Streets — would be reduced in size and six new stations would be infilled between 59th and 86th Streets. Alongside the infill plan, Citi Bike is also expanding above 86th Street toward 110th Street with 18 new stations. Despite several workshops and meetings that DOT held on siting, the plans to increase the amount of stations received a variety of criticisms regarding the agency’s outreach efforts as well as particular locations that were chosen. For r esidents of West 87th Street near West End Avenue, the planned location of a new docking station at that corner took them by surprise. “A lot of people ar en’t just worried about the craziness of this certain spot,” Natalie Hilzen, a West 87th Street resident, said. “But people were very upset because no one had been notified that this was going on.” The residents argued that if either the DOT or Citi Bike had approached residents of West 87th Street, they would’ve been informed of upcoming construction projects that would compete for space with the proposed station. “There are ambulances, huge laundry trucks, food delivery services, nursing home staff,” Hilzen said. “And we’re between two entrances of the West Side

Highway so people are always coming through our blocks.” Siding with the residents, CB7’s T ransportation Committee co-chair Dan Zweig also criticized DOT’s online for ms for citizens offering feedback. According to Zweig, the DOT’s website page that takes comments and criticisms regarding proposed locations always defaults to a positive review, regardless of the nature of the comment. “You all come and say, ‘We reached out to the public with many meetings and the website,’ but you did it flawed,” he said. Zweig also pointed to one proposed site that he said was contrary to the city’s Vision Zero goals for street safety. “ Yo u m i g h t a s w e l l c h a n g e your program... to Vision One because you’re going to lose a cyclist every year if you put a site up there,” he said. According to Zweig, the proposed station at 107th Street and West End Avenue, which merges into Broadway just above 107th, would leave cyclists in an extremely precar ious situation because the nar rowness of the block combined with the double parking would have fast-moving vehicles coming very close to parking lanes and the docking station. Zweig said he raised this problem several times throughout the siting process but the plans still include the 107th and West End Avenue spot, an example that he argued was indicative of the complaints about a process lacking sufficient community input. “All of those people in the neighborhood have never heard that this was coming,” Zweig said. “If people are saying they don’t know, it’s not just because they’re not on Twitter.” Councilmember Rosenthal, who also worked carefully on the siting process, agreed with the concerns raised at the July 12 meeting and asked DOT to review with her some of the locations that have raised complaints. Colleen Chattergoon, DOT’s Manhattan community liaison,

ManhattanExpressNews.nyc | July 28 - August 10, 2016

NYC DOT

The plan the city Department of Transportation presented at Community Board 7’s July 12 meeting for modifying and expanding the Upper West Side’s Citi Bike docking station network drew significant criticism.

said the agency would conduct a neighborhood walkthrough in order to garner specific suggestions from Community Board 7. A DOT spokesperson said they are still in the process of scheduling that walkthrough. Not everyone on the Upper West Side, however, is unhappy with the Citi Bike expansion. “I really can’t believe there’s this much objection to the relatively small slice of urban space Citi Bike wants to take out for a transportation form that’s far

more desirable than driving is,” said David Vassar, an Upper West Side cyclist. Vassar said he hoped the public narrative would change and people would accept bicycles as an improvement as well as something inevitable. A c c o r d i n g t o t h e D O T, t h e expansion north of 86th Street up to 110th Street is scheduled to begin its rollout in August, while the infill stations below 86th should start appearing this fall. n

15


Alphie McCourt, Youngest of Irish Clan of Writers, Dies at 75 BY ALBERT AMATEAU

A

lphie McCourt, a writer and memoirist, died suddenly at his home on the Upper West Side while taking an afternoon nap on July 2. He was 75. Bor n in Limerick, Ireland, Alphonsus Joseph McCourt was the youngest brother of the late Frank McCourt, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of “Angela’s Ashes,” and of Malachy McCourt, the writer and actor. Another older brother, Michael, of San Francisco, died last year. As a young man who came to New York to live for a time with Frank, 10 years his elder, McCourt found work wherever he could and eventually owned two restaurants in Manhattan. In 1975, he married Lyn Rockman, who survives him, as does their daughter, Allison. For 20 years, from 1993 until he retired in 2013, McCourt worked for the Penn South Co-op in Chelsea in charge of apartment restorations in the 2,800-unit residential complex. Brendan Keany, general manager of Penn South, recalled meeting McCourt in the late 1980s at Allison’s, named for his daughter. The restaurant on Eighth Avenue near Penn South closed after a time, but McCourt went on to run Los Panchos on Columbus Avenue near 71st Street. However, as a man with a family, running bars and restaurants was not ideal, so McCourt found the job at Penn South, inspecting apartments and directing their restoration. The author of short stories, newspaper essays, songs, and verse, McCourt, in 2008, published a memoir, “A Long Stone’s Throw.” Surveying the range of jobs McCourt had taken on in a review of that memoir in Manhattan Express’ sister publication The Villag-

c CHOPPERS, from p.3 “It’s a complete sell-out by our elected officials, especially Councilmembers Chin, Rosenthal, and Menchaca,” said John Dellaporta, the group’s head. “They promised us they were going to try to enact a complete ban, and instead behind our backs cut a deal with the helicopter industry.” Rosenthal, however, noting that advocates and elected officials have been working on the helicopter issue for a decade, said of those

16

er, the late Jerry Tallmer wrote, “Working on a great glop-a-da-glop mainframe computer on Wall Street; issuing tickets for British and Irish Railways; a one-day job as bellhop in a Montreal hotel; a bank teller in Montreal; an encyclopedia salesman — for a month; working at the Army and Air Force Exchange Service on 14th Street as a buyer of luggage and musical instruments, knowing nothing about luggage and less about musical instruments; filing clerk; and, oh yes, teacher.” L yn McCourt recalled first meeting her future husband. “We were friends for a long time before we were married,” she said. “He was working as a bartender at the White Horse Tavern when I came in with a writer friend. He told me that he ‘saw the light behind’ me when I came in. He could twist words and turn something ordinary into something poignant. Just before he went to California around 1970, we spent a whole night walking and talking. He came back from California in 1974 and we got married in 1975. It’s been 40 years.” Then, recalling the devoted relationship her husband had with Allison, L yn continued, “Our daughter has special needs and has learning and speech problems. Alphie sang to her every night as a baby and eventually she sang back to him. They were inseparable. He’d have breakfast with her every morning. He was a great father — he, who hadn’t seen his own father very much. When we went to Ireland in 1980 he went north to find his father, and he did find him. I’m a Jewish girl from the Bronx who wanted to marry an Irishman with a brogue, and I did.” Joe Hurley, of Joe Hurley’s Irish Rock Review, said McCourt, in his later years, had gotten into singing with the group, performing tunes from “the Great Irish Songbook,” like “The Old Triangle.”

voicing impatience, “They would like the three of us [councilmembers] to work miracles and pass this bill immediately.” In reaction to the franchise contract renewal, Rosenthal said, “I’m looking forward to seeing the first report from the helicopter agreement. It won’t sit on a shelf — we’ll scrutinize it to make sure the tourist helicopter industry is holding up their side of the deal.” Tour flights thunder in and out of the Pier 6 heliport 28 times every hour during the day, six days a

COURTESY: THE VILLAGER

Alphie McCourt, 1940-2016.

Hurley recalled, “He just performed with us at the Highline Ballroom in March. He loved being around young people. The place was full of young people and rock and roll, and then Alphie comes out — you could hear a pin drop. He would talk about how he had these incredible older brothers… fantastic storyteller. He never tooted his own horn.” On July 6, a memorial gathering for McCourt on the Upper West Side attracted nearly 200 friends. “I got calls from Guatemala, Ethiopia, Ireland, Spain,” Lyn said. The call from Ethiopia was from a woman who helped the McCourts with their daughter. “Her husband was in New York and had phoned her,” Lyn explained. “She wanted me to tell her that what she had heard was a lie.” At the July 6 gathering, the words repeated over and over by speakers were, “He was a gentle man.” Malachy McCourt, the last of the four brothers, was the final speaker and ended his remarks with a song, with everyone joining in. Another celebration of Alphie McCourt’s life is planned for September. n

week, according to figures from the Helicopter Tourism & Jobs Council, amounting to more than 100,000 take-offs and landings each year. Despite that, the number of 311 complaints relating to chopper noise is relatively low, with just under 1,300 complaints relating to helicopter noise in 2014, compared to nearly 130,000 complaints related to noisy parties. But that number provides little comfort to locals who live around the busy helipad or the choppers’ route.

“It’s truly a constant onslaught of noise,” said Craig Abruzzo, Stop the Chop’s vice president. “I’ve lived on the Upper West Side for almost 40 years — my home is now a bunker in a war zone that offers little refuge from the thunderous roar and shaking vibrations caused by helicopter tours,” said Rhonda Waggoner, an Upper West Side resident who turned out for a Council hearing on the chopper flights last fall. — Additional reporting by Yannic Rack n

July 28 - August 10, 2016 | ManhattanExpressNews.nyc


EXPRESS YOURSELVES

For Better or Worse, Through Snow, Rain, Heat, or Gloom of Night BY LENORE SKENAZY

Y

ears ago, when Marcia Zug read a GQ magazine article about mail-order brides, she was revolted. A high-flying New York City photographer, fed up with all the demanding models he was dating, wanted to find a subservient woman to make him happy, the magazine reported. So he ordered a pretty bride from a foreign country. When the bride got here he found her annoying, too. So he sent her home — pregnant with his child — and went back to dating models. Zug never forgot that piece. After leaving her hometown of Manhattan to become a professor of family and immigration law at the University of South Carolina, she finally got around to the task of exposing the evil men who get their brides by mail. So she delved into her research — and guess what? Now she’s married… to a very different narrative. “I’m not suggesting that this is the marital path for everybody,” Zug said in a phone call. But in her new book, “Buying a Bride: An Engaging History of Mail-Order Matches” (NYU Press), she presents the opposite of the idea she went in with. Far from depressing and degrading, mail-order matrimony “can actually be a very good choice for certain people in certain situations.” The book starts at the dawn of mail-order love: Jamestown, Virginia, circa 1600. Unlike New England, which was settled by families, Jamestown was settled

by men. Conditions horrendous — one settler described it as “hell, a misery, a death” — and there weren’t any English-speaking women to not enjoy it with. Some men hightailed it home, others married Native American women and went to live in their comfier villages. In desperation, the Virginia Company decided to try attracting Englishwomen by paying their dowries. For young women toiling as servants just to save up enough to marry, the offer was liberating, and about 140 came over. They got to choose their husbands and seem to have been treated quite well, thanks to the laws of supply and demand. And laws were written to keep them happy, as well. They could, for instance, legally break an engagement — something they couldn’t do back in England. Fast forward to the Western frontier a couple hundred years later when, once again, American men were heading out and women weren’t. As much as these men needed wives, some women back east needed husbands. These included women appalled by the local prospects, like the gal who placed this ad in a Missouri paper in 1910: “Attractive woman, not a day over thirty, would be pleased to correspond with eligible man. Would prefer one with property, but one with a good paying position would be satisfactory. The young lady is of medium height, has brown hair and gray eyes, not fat, although, most decidedly, she

c CRANES, from p.14 More than a year later, on May 31, 2015, city records show, seven people were injured when a crane dropped an air conditioning unit after trying to hoist it to the roof of 261 Madison Avenue between 38th and 39th Street. A Daily News story on that incident pegged the number of injuries at 10, three more than the DOB reported. Less than a week later, on June 2, a construction worker was injured during the installation of a tower crane at 41 East 22nd Street, according to accident reports. In 2008, two crane collapses on the Upper

is not skinny. Her friends say she is a fine-looking woman. Object matrimony. Reason for this advertisement, the young woman lives in a little dinky town, where the best catches are the boys behind the counters in the dry goods and clothing stores, and every one of ’em is spoken for by the time he is out of his short pants.” Gosh, I’d marry her — what spunk. Zug found little evidence of exploitation or mistreatment of these brides. And today, the same holds true. Americans seeking brides can easily go online to meet prospects. Most of the women live in Asia or Eastern Europe. And while it seems like a terrible imbalance — any schlub with US citizenship can attract a desperate catch — it makes for a better marriage market for everyone. “The women come from countries where their prospects are not great,” explained Zug. Some live where they’re not allowed to pursue a career. Some live where they are worthless if divorced, widowed, already have children, or are simply too old — perhaps 25. They look to America, and the path to get here is marriage. “These men are often much more attractive to them than the men they see in their countries,” Zug said. The men are not allowed to marry women sight unseen. Legally they must meet at least once before they marry, and the mail-order sites organize trips to get the prospects together. Once here, said Zug, the brides

East Side happened less than three months apart. According to Department of Buildings accident records, an incident on March 15 of that year left seven people dead and 22 injured after a tower crane collapsed at 303 East 51st Street. Shortly afterwards, on May 30, another crane collapsed at 335 East 91st Street, leaving two dead and one injured. The deadly February crane collapse in Tribeca isn’t the only instance of a crane toppling over in recent memory. A crane collapse on July 19 snarled traffic on the Tappan Zee Bridge for four hours, although motorists largely escaped the crash

ManhattanExpressNews.nyc | July 28 - August 10, 2016

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not only have far rosier prospects than back home, they often make the men shape up, too. As in “I’m learning a whole new language. Go get your GED!” And unlike the GQ article, many of these couples live happily ever after — maybe even happier than most, since everyone likes to get a surprise in the mail. Lenore Skenazy is author and founder of the book and blog “FreeRange Kids,” and a contributor at Reason.com. n

unharmed, with only three drivers suffering “very minor” injuries, according to Governor Andrew Cuomo, who spoke at a press conference following the accident. The collapse occurred amid a $3.9 billion project to replace the aging 1955 span, and the toppled crane was one among 28 that were installing pilings using a vibrating hammer at the time that it fell. The governor described the fallen crane as a newer model, which had conducted heavier work than it was carrying out at the time of the accident. — Additional reporting by Jackson Chen n

17


Police Blotter MISSING PERSON: FOUND DEAD (20TH PRECINCT) Police found the body of a missing Upper West Sider on July 14 along the Hudson River near the Hudson Heights neighborhood. Patrick Healy, a 21-year-old man who was reported missing on July 10 and last seen at his 327 West 83rd Street apartment, was pronounced dead by responding EMS at the location.

ROBBERY: A DANGEROUS RIDE (CENTRAL PARK PRECINCT) A cyclist was robbed at gunpoint when he was riding through Central Park on July 16, police said. Police got the call from the 23-yearold male victim who dialed 911 at around 1 a.m. after he was robbed near East 106th Street and Fifth Avenue. The cyclist explained to police that he was riding through the park when he encountered three men. One of the suspects had a gun and demanded the cyclist’s belongings, which included a backpack that had a wallet with $60, his driver’s license, and a Chase Bank debit card. After the victim complied, the suspects ran away and the cyclist was not harmed, police said. Police released photos of the suspects (available at manhattanexpressnews.nyc), whom they don’t otherwise describe.

FALSE BOMB: BOMB CHUCKER CHARGED (MIDTOWN NORTH PRECINCT) Following a late-night standoff of several hours, police on July 21 arrested Hector Meneses, a Queens resident, on charges that he threw a fake bomb into a marked NYPD van in Times Square. According to police, the 52-year-old man was driving around West 46th Street and Seventh Avenue in a gold-colored SUV around 11:30 p.m. on July 20 when he tossed a hoax device into a NYPD van with two officers in it. The device, police said, was made of a candle, a cylindrical object, and an electronic component with a flashing red light, that was all wrapped in a white cloth. The officers immediately drove the police van away from Duffy Square in Times Square, police said. The surrounding area was secured and the bomb squad determined that the contraption was a hoax device, according to police. At roughly 2:10 a.m., police located the SUV a.m. near Columbus Circle, where they found Meneses alone in the car and putting on a red plastic helmet. After hours of attempting to communicate, the bomb squad eventually determined the SUV was safe, despite Meneses’ claims of explosives inside, and the Emergency Services Unit removed him from the vehicle, police said.

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MENACING: BOX CUTTING BIGOT (MIDTOWN SOUTH PRECINCT)

Police are looking for several suspects believed to be connected to 15 instances of grand larcenies between January 30 and May 11. Police said that banks informed the victims that their credit cards were compromised and being used at various BJs, Targets, and local shops spanning across New York City, Long Island, and New Jersey. Police released photos of the suspects (available at manhattanexpressnews.nyc), whom they don’t otherwise describe.

Two men had a box cutter pulled on them after confronting a man who was yelling homophobic slurs at them on July 11 at around 1:30 p.m., police said. The suspect was around West 33rd Street and Eighth Avenue when he insulted the two men, one 21 and the other 22, and later threatened to kill them. The suspect ran into Penn Station after the victims called 911. Police released photos of the suspect (available at manhattanexpressnews.nyc), whom they describe as a black male with dreads in his 40s, 5’7”, 180 pounds, who was last seen wearing a green shirt, dark-colored pants, and glasses.

ROBBERY: TRAMWAY TROUBLES (19TH PRECINCT) A newsstand at 1147 Second Avenue, between East 60th and 61st Streets, was robbed on July 12 at around 4:30 p.m., police said. According to police, the suspect went behind the counter of Tramway Newsstand and told the 42-year-old newsstand operator to open the register, threatening to kill him. After the victim complied, the suspect made off with $2,000 in cash and a cell phone, fleeing westbound on East 60th Street. Police released photos of the suspect (available at manhattanexpressnews.nyc), whom they describe as a bald black male, 30

GRAND LARCENY: CRIMINAL CHECK OUT (23RD PRECINCT)

MISSING PERSON: ONE-MONTH-OLD FOUND (18TH PRECINCT) Police located a missing 20-year-old mother and her one-month-old baby boy on July 23, three days after the two were reported missing and last seen in their 427 West 52nd Street residence. After being found within the boundaries of the Midtown South Precinct, the infant was taken to Bellevue Hospital for evaluation and the mother was put in custody with charges pending and an ongoing investigation, police said.

MISSING PERSON: CHARLES FULLER (24TH PRECINCT) Police are trying to locate Charles Fuller, a 66-year-old Upper West Sider reported missing after having been last seen on July 23 at around 6 a.m. at his 201 West 98th Street home. Police released photos of the missing person (available at manhattanexpressnews.nyc), whom they describe as a black male, 5’6”, 190 pounds, with brown eyes and black hair.

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to 40 years old, 6’, and last seen wearing a blue T-shirt, green shorts and dark-colored sneakers.

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Meneses was taken into custody at 7:45 a.m. on July 21, according to police, and he has been charged with a laundry list of crimes, including placing a false bomb, making terroristic threats, and menacing.

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ManhattanExpressNews.nyc | July 28 - August 10, 2016

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19


When Feelin’ Good Was Easy BY STEVE ERICKSON

E

ven the best films about lesbians directed by men, such as Robert Aldrich’s “The Killing of Sister George” and David Lynch’s “Mulholland Drive,” tend to end unhappily, if not tragically. A new French film directed by a lesbian, Catherine Corsini’s “Summertime,” both follows this pattern and subverts it. It might be the closest anyone has come to “the lesbian ‘Brokeback Mountain’” yet. There’s no real equivalent in French cinema to the Western, but “Summertime” evokes the appeal of the French countryside as well as any Anthony Mann or Budd Boetticher film did for our own rural areas. It traces out a conflict between country mouse and city mouse where lesbianism — including the tensions of coming out in the early 1970s, even for a hip Parisian involved in political activism — has a major role to play, but not the only one. Young Delphine (Izïa Higelin) likes rural life, but a local woman has broken her heart by leaving her and getting married to a man. She decides to move to Paris. Quickly, she meets activist Carole (Cécile de France), who lives with her boyfriend. The two attend feminist meetings and become attracted to each other, although Carole has no sexual experience with women. Things seem to be working out well, as the copious nudity and sex scenes testify, but then Delphine’s father has a stroke and can’t run his farm anymore. She feels the need to return home, although Carole can still visit her on weekends. Corsini’s direction of the early scenes of feminist activism seems influenced by silent comedy. The feminists go out pinching men’s butts in revenge for men’s objectification of their bodies. They throw veal at a doctor who speaks against abortion. Their meetings are loud

20

STRAND RELEASING

Izïa Higelin and Cécile de France in Catherine Corsini’s “Summertime.”

and raucous. (In an indication of the limits of second wave feminism and/ or the demographics of early ‘70s France, they sing about women being enslaved while in a crowded room but without any people of color.) When they finally decide to free a gay man from a mental hospital, Janis Joplin’s “Me and Bobby McGee” plays on the soundtrack. The emphasis seems to be more on freedom than the “nothing left to lose” part of the lyrics. Delphine, however, doesn’t have any real political commitment. Her attraction to feminism is a longing for Carole. She only really understands how it applies to her life when she has to run a farm in an ultra-patriarchal environment. Corsini evokes the French countryside with a seductive atmosphere. Delphine is so devoted to rural France that she can tell the difference between different regional soils. As she relates, the region where she came from has muddy, perpetually damp ground that one sinks into, even in summer. Delphine and Carole’s idyll in the country is depicted with lush, sunny cinematography, and the colors flatter both actresses.

Delphine does hard work each day — it’s not entirely clear how Carole occupies her time — but she seems to enjoy it. The concept that “the personal is the political” was popularized by feminism and has become a bit of a cliché by now. With Corsini’s film, even her casting is a political statement. It would have been easy for her to cast two women who look like supermodels, and if “Summertime” were even a medium-budget American film, that no doubt would’ve been the case. Like Lena Dunham, Izïa Higelin is slightly chunky and doesn’t quite fit America’s narrow standards of female beauty. She’s believable as a woman who grew up on a farm, not dieting and reading fashion magazines. Carole is more conventionally beautiful; given that Cécile de France’s first prominent role was in the homophobic horror film “High Tension,” perhaps she’s doing penance here. The middle third of “Summer time” evokes a paradise — family problems, hard work, and all — that can’t last. Carrying on a closeted romance in the midst of this Eden is dangerous. Even more

perilously, Delphine may be more devoted to country life than Carole. Many LGBT people have no nostalgia for the small towns where we grew up and are happy to have escaped from them. That’s not the case for Delphine. A lesbian who wants to own a family farm is someone new in LGBT cinema, which has generally been geared toward the kind of politicized urban subcultures depicted in the beginning of “Summertime.” Corsini pulls off an epic romance and an austere melodrama with great skill. n

SUMMERTIME Directed by Catherine Corsini Strand Releasing In French with English subtitles Film Society of Lincoln Center 165 W. 65th St. filmlinc.org IFC Center 323 Sixth Ave. at W. Third St. ifccenter.com

July 28 - August 10, 2016 | ManhattanExpressNews.nyc


Manhattan Treasures SATURDAY MORNING STORYTELLING For more than 60 years, children have gathered around the Hans Christian Andersen statue near Central Park’s Conservatory Pond to hear Andersen’s and others’ fairy tales and other stories told by a master company of storytellers. Today, you can hear the Japanese tall tale “Three Strong Women” and Freya Littledale’s folk tale “The Magic Fish.” Jul. 30, 11 a.m.-noon. This event is free. The Conservatory Pond is just north of the 72nd St. & Fifth Ave. park entrance. SYMPHONYSPACE.ORG

Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes, who in their 40 years of performing have often played with Bruce Springsteen and members of his E Street Band, and George Thorogood & the Destroyers, together for more than four decades and known for their boogie blues, both mount the stage tonight at the Beacon Theatre, 2124 Broadway at 74th St. Jul 30, 8 p.m. Tickets are $55.50-$99.50 at beacontheatre.com.

EL PULPO IN THE PARK Master percussionist and Havana native Joaquín “El Pulpo” Pozo, descended from a long line of revered Afro-Cuban musicians, is known for his unique style, a melodic approach to four-conga drumming identified by its percussive inventiveness, and an authentically African approach to making the drums “talk.” As a composer and band director, Pozo leads his tight ensemble on a journey that melds the traditional sounds of Cuba — rumba and son — with more modern jazz, mesmerizing audiences through both its rigor and its playfulness. Pozo and his band appear as part of the Harlem Meer Performance Festival. Charles A. Dana Discovery Center, Central Park, near 110th St., btwn. Lenox & Fifth Aves. Jul. 31, 2-4 p.m. This event is free, but RSVP at goo.gl/gTNYMY.

QUEEN HELEN MIRREN As part of its “National Theatre Live/ Performance in HD,” Symphony Space screens a 2013 live London performance of “The Audience,” which stars Helen Mirren as Queen Elizabeth II, meeting over six decades with prime ministers from Winston Churchill and Margaret Thatcher to Tony Blair and David Cameron. The play, written by Peter Morgan, screenwriter for “The Queen,” in which Mirren won an Oscar also portraying Elizabeth II, and directed by Stephen Daldry, earned three Tony nominations when it later transferred to Broadway. The screening includes a Q&A with Mirren and Daldry. Leonard Nimoy Thalia Theater, 2537 Broadway at W. 95th St. Jul. 31, 7 p.m. Tickets are $24, $22 for seniors, and $16 for those 30 and younger at symphonyspace.org.

KENNETH BRANAGH TAKES ON SHAKESPEARE CLASSIC In another HD screening from the London stage, the Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company presents “Romeo and Juliet” in a modern, passionate, and black and white version of Shakespeare’s heartbreaking tale of forbidden love that the Daily Mail says has “a pulsating energy.” Branagh co-directs with Rob Ashford, reuniting with the stars of his film version of “Cinderella,” Richard Madden and Lily James, as the star-crossed young lovers, Sir Derek Jacobi as Mercutio, and Meera Syal as The Nurse. Leonard Nimoy Thalia at Symphony Space, 2537 Broadway at W. 95th St. Aug 4, 7 p.m. & Sep. 3-4, 1 p.m. Tickets are $24, $22 for seniors, and $16 for those 30 and younger at symphonyspace. org.

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UNCLE TOM V. UNCLE SAM In “Uncle Tom versus Uncle Sam,” a satirical, socio-political play about fighting cultural and identity crises presented by Anthony Anderson of ABC’s “Black-ish,” Shawn and Margaux are a newlywed interracial couple living in gentrified Bed-Stuy. Unable to conceive, they decide to adopt, but only, according to Shawn, if the child is white. He argues, “If I can relieve myself of the constant worry of my child being taken away from me at any moment, at the whim of those who don't care one bit about Black Lives Matter, then that’s what I'll do!” Leonard Nimoy Thalia at Symphony Space, 2537 Broadway at W. 95th St. Aug 5-6, 12-13, 19-20 & 26-27, 8 p.m.; Aug. 7, 14, 21 & 28, 3 p.m. Tickets are $30, $25 for students & seniors, $15 for children at symphonyspace.org.

LOOKING FORWARD TO CAROL BURNETT In “Laughter and Reflection,” comic legend Carol Burnett reprises the classic off-the-cuff banter she engaged in weekly on her smash CBS variety show decades ago. “I love the spontaneity of these evenings,” Burnett says. “I never know what anybody is going to say or do or ask, so it keeps me on my toes.” Beacon Theatre, 2124 Broadway at 74th St. Sep. 16-17, 8 p.m. Tickets are $59.50-$179.50 at beacontheatre.com.

ManhattanExpressNews.nyc | July 28 - August 10, 2016

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c SYNAGOGUE, from p.4 application, that number is back up to 15, but according to DiSanto, “in a way that could easily allow for the spaces to revert to other, non-community uses.” That point is significant since CSI’s argument for receiving variances is based in good part on the education mission carried out in the classrooms, but Wood is dubious about the synagogue’s commitment to sticking to the 15-classroom plan. She contended that the classrooms could have been incorporated into the plan in order to win approval for more space in a bait and eventual switch maneuver. Bernstein explained the synagogue still needs the 15 classrooms that the variances are based off of and that the current application reflects that. The attorney added that the discrepancy in the number of classrooms was due to “a filing error showing otherwise on poor advice of consultants that these plans could be updated when design solutions were found to restore the program.” Preservationists strongly oppose CSI’s attempt to jump back into the approval process by having only the amendments to their original plans reviewed through the BSA’s Special Order Calendar. Instead, they say, CSI should be required

c TRUMP TOWER, from p.13 firearms from people “in crisis.” Gunn Barrett said she got engaged in the gun control issue after the 1997 murder of her brother, 40-year -old Gregory Gaines Gunn, who was married with two children, at his Oklahoma business. Cathy Marino-Thomas, another Gays Against Guns spokesperson, emphasized that any Democrats who continue to take money from the NRA will be protested along with Republicans. “No one is exempt,” she said, even as she suggested that the Cleveland convention was the site of many of the worst offenders. “Why are they not allowed to carry guns inside the hall, if they ar e so safe?,” Marino-Thomas asked of rules barring weapons from the convention center, despite Ohio’s open carry law that allows demonstrators outside to have guns. “Why do they get a safe zone and nobody else does?” Several of the protesters speculated on the kinds of coalitions that could be built around the gun issue. Craig and Roethlein each mentioned that law enforce-

JACKSON CHEN

Congregation Shearith Israel, at the corner of Central Park West and 70th Street, with the vacant lot proposed for development at the synagogue’s rear.

to start the process from scratch because of how dated the original 2008 approval is. “Circumstances change, the economy changes, all of the factors that weighed into the BSA’s

ment officials often speak out about the need for sensible gun legislation, and that instinct may be heightened in the wake of the targeted shooting deaths of eight police officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge. Both, however, emphasized that any conversation about such a coalition strategy must include people of color, among whom there is widespread anger over shooting deaths by police. “ We h a v e t o f i n d c o m m o n ground,” Roethlein said. “But Black Lives Matter will have to be part of the conversation. Not just white liberals.” That point underscored one of the challenges for a movement that, at least on this occasion, fielded a crowd of protesters that was predominately white. As the demonstrators reached Columbus Circle, where the Trump International Hotel is located, after marching from Fifth Avenue, one black man watching the procession called out, “I would be with you if all the guns would be gone, but what you want would take the guns away from everyone except the people I don’t want to have the guns. That’s why I need my gun.” n

ManhattanExpressNews.nyc | July 28 - August 10, 2016

previous analysis, all that has changed,” Wood said. “I would say this is a different building in significant ways from the building they got approval for in 2008.” n

MICHAEL SHIREY

Gays Against Guns spokespeople Tim Murphy (center) and Cathy Marino-Thomas (r.), along with Little Donnie.

23


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