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COURTESY: ROCKEFELLER UNIVERSITY

Rockefeller University’s Two-Acre Expansion Sails Up the East River Page 04

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August 11 - 24, 2016 | ManhattanExpressNews.nyc


Jackie O’s Church, Second Oldest On UES,

Focus of Landmarking Drive BY JACKSON CHEN

A

landmarking push for the second-oldest church on the Upper East Side has picked up steam after a devoted community sent in more than 3,000 letters in support of its preservation. The thousands of letters, emphasizing aspects of both architectural and cultural significance, requested a landmark designation for the Gothic Revival-style Church of St. Thomas More complex at 65 East 89th Street. The process is being spearheaded by Carnegie Hill Neighbors, an organization dedicated to preserving the historic character of the area from East 86th to 98th Streets between Third Avenue and Central Park. Lo van der Valk, president of Carnegie Hill Neighbors, said the organization solicited support for landmark designation from nearby residential coop buildings and their board presidents. The group is now organizing, collating, and scanning the several thousand letters before submitting copies to City Councilmember Dan Garodnick, Borough President Gale Brewer, and eventually the Landmarks Preservation Commission. “I am happy to see the outpouring of support for such an important institution of the Carnegie Hill community,” Garodnick said in a statement. “The Church of St. Thomas More is a noteworthy piece of architecture and extremely worthy of landmarking.” The church is the second-oldest church in the neighborhood, according to the Friends of the Upper East Side Historic Districts, which attributed an 1870 construction date to St. Thomas More. According to Elizabeth Fagan, the Friends’ director of preservation, the church was inched out by the Church of the Resurrection at 119 East 74th Street, for which construction began just one year earlier. Separate from its historical

value, van der Valk noted, is the cultural value that the church provides to the community. He explained that the many Catholic schools in the area draw many worshippers to St. Thomas More. “This is the kind of church that people want to belong to, to be a part of the community,” van der Valk said. “This is a real parish church where people feel closely associated with it.” According to Father Kevin Madigan, the church’s pastor, the structure has only been a consecrated Roman Catholic church since the middle of the last century, having previously housed two other Christian denominations — the first Episcopal, and later a Dutch Reformed congregation. The building was rededicated by the Catholic Archdiocese of New York in 1950. The church is now part of a parish of about 1,000 families, according to Madigan, which is divided between St. Thomas More and the Church of Our Lady of Good Counsel at 230 East 90th Street. St. Thomas More also has a colorful history of parishioners, having been the faith home to both former First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and the renowned pop art pioneer Andy Warhol, according to Madigan. Funeral services for Kennedy Onassis, who attended St. Thomas More until her death in 1994, had to be held at the larger Church of St. Ignatius of Loyola nearby due to the size of the crowd of mourners, but five years later, the Kennedy family held a private memorial for John F. Kennedy, Jr., at St. Thomas More after his death in a plane crash. In addition to its role as a place of worship, St. Thomas More also houses several community programs, including one that prepares meals for senior citizens as part of New York Common Pantry as well as 12-step meetings for Alcoholics Anonymous and Gamblers Anonymous. The modest and peaceful struc-

ManhattanExpressNews.nyc | August 11 - 24, 2016

ROBERT KNUDSEN/ WHITE HOUSE PHOTOGRAPHS/ JOHN F. KENNEDY PRESIDENTIAL LIBRARY AND MUSEUM/ BOSTON

Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, seen here while President John F. Kennedy’s first lady, was a parishioner at St. Thomas More until her 1994 death.

JACKSON CHEN

The exterior of the Church of St. Thomas More on 89th Street, between Madison and Park Avenues.

JACKSON CHEN

Inside St. Thomas More.

ture was built by Hubert, Pirrson & Company, and is adorned with stained glass depictions of the Virgin Mary, the Holy Trinity, and Saints Peter and Paul. “Buildings of this sort are more and more being threatened,” Madigan said. “It’s nice to have a building with a sacred nature or aspect to it in the midst of a neighborhood like this.” As recently as last year, there wer e fears that the ar chdiocese might shutter the church to merge the parish with St. Igna-

tius of Loyola at 980 Park Avenue, between East 83r d and 84th Streets. Rumors about that ignited the current landmarking effort. Madigan said the possibility of closing St. Thomas More was raised at one point back then, but that all talk of the church closing is now off the table. “We feel comfortable about it now so we’re not so worried that this church is going to vanish,” Kelly Carroll, the Historic Districts

c ST. THOMAS MORE, continued on p.17 3


Rockefeller University’s Two-Acre Expansion Sails Up the East River BY JACKSON CHEN

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n the dead of night over the weekends of July 29 to August 1 and August 5 to 8, the hum of traffic was noticeably absent from the FDR Drive from East 61st to 96th Streets. Where there normally would be late night taxis zooming by, the East Side highway was completely devoid of traveling cars and instead replaced with construction crews and their noisy equipment and occasional faint yells. Between roughly 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. on Monday morning, August 1, the 12th of 19 enormous structural blocks that were prefabricated in New Jersey was hoist up from a barge by a towering barge crane floating on the East River. Facing the challenges of the river’s sway and of lifting an approximately 1.5 million pound structure, the 230-foot crane, with its loud sputtering motor, cautiously inched its cargo — which will form the structural base for an expansion to Rockefeller University — over the FDR Drive and then connected to other modules put in place on previous overnight shifts. As residents of the Upper East Side snoozed away, the nocturnal contractors then began to weld and bolt the freshly placed module to support columns that rose from the sides of the highway. As the work week’s first sun began to peek out, traffic was set to resume on the FDR and the workers began prepping for the next leg of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation-David Rockefeller River Campus expansion. The $500 million expansion project, which started in fall 2015, was designed by Rafael Viñoly Architects and will add two acres to Rockefeller University’s existing 14-acre campus centered on 1230 York Avenue at East 66th Street. According to the plans, the extension expands the university’s reach four blocks north and

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COURTESY: ROCKEFELLER UNIVERSITY

Rockefeller University is monitoring progress on its two-acre expansion with photos, snapped every 10 minutes from a vantage point north of the campus, that show the modules, currently capped in light blue, that sit over the FDR Drive and will be the structural base for the campus expansion.

will incorporate state-of-the-art laboratories, a dining commons, an academic center, a conference center, gardens, and a green landscaped roof. As part of the project, the university is also responsible for repairing the nearby seawall along the East River and beautifying the East River Esplanade that will be shadowed by the expansion. But the majority of the expansion involves the 19 modules, or connective skeletal structures, that form the base of the project. The three that were installed over the July 29 to August 1 weekend were completed between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m., except for the closure stretching to 7 a.m. on Sunday morning, July 31,with work the following week during roughly the same hours.

c ROCKEFELLER, continued on p.18

FRANK FARANCE

A module for the Rockefeller University expansion being lifted over the FDR Drive, which can be seen with green fencing immediately at river-level to the left of the crane.

August 11 - 24, 2016 | ManhattanExpressNews.nyc


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Imagine If Park Avenue Were One Big Summer Carnival

JACKSON CHEN

A rider begins her zipline adventure at Park Avenue and East 53rd Street.

BY JACKSON CHEN

N

early seven miles of Park Avenue were carfree as well as carefree as New Yorkers cycled, jogged, and trekked from the Upper East Side nearly as far as the Manhattan entrance to the Brooklyn Bridge — part of the city Department of Transportation’s ninth annual Summer Streets event. On August 6 from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m., traffic took a half day off in favor of open streets

JACKSON CHEN

Zipline riders soared 30 feet high for 165 feet in a few moments of exhilaration.

where New Yorkers were invited to spend their Saturday. The route began from the Fifth Avenue entrance of Central Park at East 72nd Street and turned south onto Park Avenue. Continuing on Park Avenue until it becomes Lafayette Street, the journey for the calorie-burners had its southern terminus at Foley Square. “It’s my favorite event in New York City,” Walter Ge said, adding it was a great way to see the city. “It engenders a feeling of commu-

nity and it minimalizes the size of the city.” Alongside his wife, Ge, a recreational cyclist, began the day at East 61st Street, where the couple live, and headed down toward the Brooklyn Bridge. Before looping back up, the two enjoyed the Foley Square Rest Stop, set up by the DOT, that included a 300-foot-long water slide sponsored by Vita Coco, a supporting partner of the event.

c ZIPLINE, continued on p.7

MTA Finalizes Plans for Splitting M5 Bus Route In Two BY JACKSON CHEN

T

he Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s board, during its July 27 meeting, voted to split one of Manhattan’s worst performing buses, the M5, into two routes. The M5 bus currently spans 12 miles from Washington Heights to Lower Manhattan along Broadway, Riverside Drive, and Fifth Avenue running southbound, and along Sixth Avenue, Riverside, and Broadway northbound. Over the years, the MTA has characterized the M5 as a chronically delayed and poorly performing route. Since the bus doesn’t adequately serve its 11,700 daily riders, plans to

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split its route into new shorter northern and southern runs were introduced in November 2015 and received comments during an April 2016 public hearing. In the end, the MTA agreed in July to divide the current route into the new M5 that will run from the George Washington Bridge Bus Terminal to West 31st Street and Sixth Avenue, and a new southern route, the M55, which will run from South Ferry Terminal to West 44th Street and Sixth Avenue. While the original December proposal only allowed for one block of overlap between West 37th and 38th Streets, the revised route split encompasses 13 blocks of over-

lap between West 31st and 44th Streets. The first iteration also included an extension of the M1 in Downtown Manhattan that has since been excluded from the plan. Riders Alliance, a nonprofit transit advocacy group, said the MTA was very responsive to all the points raised by the public regarding its original proposal. “What happened here is the MTA really listened to the public feedback and split up this route,” Nick Sifuentes, the Riders Alliance deputy director, said, “but created enough overlap so there would be less people who would need to

c M5, continued on p.7

METROPOLITAN TRANSPORTATION AUTHORITY

The MTA’s final plan for splitting the M5 bus route into new northern and southern routes, with a 13-block overlap between West 31st and 44th Streets.

August 11 - 24, 2016 | ManhattanExpressNews.nyc


JACKSON CHEN

Bicyclists on Park Avenue just below Grand Central Terminal.

c ZIPLINE, from p.6 Way out of context amusement rides weren’t relegated to Downtown. At East 53rd Street and Park Avenue, the DOT dropped in a 30-foot tall, 165-foot long zipline that gave thrill-seekers a few seconds of air time suspended over a scene that also included arts and crafts tables and a rotating live music line-up of jazz and female a capella groups just a couple blocks south at East 51st Street. This rest stop and the one at Foley Square were among five set up — the others in SoHo at Spring Street, at Astor Place in the Village, and in Midtown at East 25th Street — along the

c M5, from p.6 switch buses.” According to the MTA, the overlap zone was designed to serve desired destinations — like Herald Square and Times Square — frequently mentioned by the public, lessen the impact on riders, and operate the buses efficiently. The agency added that the $1.1 million additional cost in operations would give the 88 percent of the current M5 customers who won’t have to transfer between the two new routes improved reliability. For the 1,400 riders who will have to transfer, they will need to hop off at one of the stops in the 13-block overlap and switch to the other bus. “I think the split is a necessary change just because long routes are very difficult to manage,” Bill

lengthy swath of Manhattan that New Yorkers wer e allowed to explore without the fear of getting hit by a car. “It’s a cool thing to run up and down the streets,” Carolyn Seras, an Upper East Sider, said. “But I’d rather run unint e r r u p t e d o n t h e We s t S i d e Highway or Central Park.” Seras began at the northernmost point at East 72nd Street and jogged down to Foley Square before heading back up toward her home. While the crowd was manageable Uptown, Seras said the Downtown streets were much narrower and less forgiving of those who didn’t follow the street

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c ZIPLINE, continued on p.8 Henderson, the executive director of the Per manent Citizens Advisory Committee to the MTA, said. “Some of these long routes, that’s really the bane of people’s existence.” Despite the minor inconvenience to some, the right solution in the view of many was to split the long route in order eliminate the many problems that come along with it. “The situation with the M5 is the longer the route is, the more that route is going to be subject to delays,” Sifuentes said. “So shorter routes tend to have better efficiency and fewer problems.” The transit advocate added that Riders Alliance would like to see even more splitting up of longer routes throughout the city. For Henderson, the 13-block

ManhattanExpressNews.nyc | August 11 - 24, 2016

c M5, continued on p.12 7


Coach Inks 20-Year Hudson Yards Lease, Even While Liquidating Real Estate Investment

YANNIC RACK

Coach may have liquidated its investment in 10 Hudson Yards real estate, but there’s no mistaking the retailer’s commitment to the new project.

BY ALEX ELLEFSON

T

he stock in Hudson Yards is soaring faster than developers can build the towers there. Coach Inc., the first tenant in the recently completed 10 Hudson Yards, sold off its $503 million stake in the building for $707 million, the company announced this week. Coach simultaneously signed a 20-year lease on almost half of the 1.8-million-square-foot tower. “We are very pleased to monetize our investment in Hudson Yards, where we were the first

c ZIPLINE, from p.7 configuration of cyclists to the left and pedestrians to the right. More importantly, the Upper East Sider said, she prefers a smooth, continuous running path as opposed to the Summer Streets route that involves frequent stops for east-west traffic. Seras has decided not to return for the remaining Summer Streets Saturdays coming up this month, but others, like Ge, plan to attend again this coming weekend and return next year. His only complaint was the overcrowding at some chokepoints that included “three-yearolds on tricycles and guys on 10-speeds going a little too fast.”

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COURTESY: EARTHCAM

The only building yet completed at Hudson Yards, 10 Hudson Yards has already put the project indelibly on the city skyline.

company to commit to the project and will be the largest tenant in the new building,” Victor Luis, CEO of Coach, Inc., said in a statement. Allianz Real Estate, the New York-based arm of Europe’s largest insurance company, scooped up Coach’s shares in the 52-story tower — as well as those owned by the Kuwait Investment Authority — to acquire a 44 percent stake in the property. “This opportunity reflects the goal of our US team to pursue high-quality, long-term investments with best-in-class partners,” Christoph Donner, CEO for Allianz Real Estate of Amer-

ica, said in a statement announcing the sale. Allianz now owns the building alongside Related Companies and Oxford Properties Group, developers of Hudson Yards, as well as a group of investors advised by J.P. Morgan Asset Management. Coach has been marketing its shares in 10 Hudson Yards for almost a year, Bloomberg News reported in November. Related CEO Jeff Blau told the outlet that it was “always part of the original plan” for one of the investors to sell

c COACH, continued on p.9

Still, the massive amount of people in the streets only proved the event’s appeal among Manhattanites. Last year, close to 300,000 took part in Summer Streets’ three Saturdays, and, according to the DOT, approximately 80,000 took part in the East Side fun this past Saturday. “They do a nice job in organizing it,” Ge said. “In a city like this to have a major north-south street blocked of f, it’s pretty incredible.” The Summer Streets program retur ns on August 13 and 20 from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. For complete details, visit nyc.gov/html/ dot/summerstreets/html/home/ home.shtml.

JACKSON CHEN

The Summer Streets event drew bikers of every age.

August 11 - 24, 2016 | ManhattanExpressNews.nyc


c COACH, from p.8 off its interest in the property in order to capture the gain on its investment. In announcing Allianz’s buy-in at 10 Hudson Yards, Blau said the deal demonstrated the “momentum at Hudson Yards is undeniable.” “Hudson Yards is transforming Manhattan’s West Side and creating an entirely new, vibrant neighborhood,” he said. “The recapitalization of 10 Hudson Yards showcases the global appeal of Hudson Yards and is further evidence of the value we have created through our mixed-use strategy focused on best-inclass architecture and planning and meticulous execution.” Allianz is the latest investor enticed by the sprawling project — envisioned as a “city within a city” on Manhattan’s West Side. Less than a week before Allianz committed to 10 Hudson Yards, the developers announced they scored a $1.2 billion loan to support construction of the 1,260-foot-high tower at 35 Hudson Yards. The financing came from the Children’s Investment Fund (TCI), which already sunk $1.3 billion into 15 Hudson Yards last year. In total, the project closed out 2015 with $5 billion in construction financing. Although 10 Hudson Yards is the only building to wrap up construction, the developers have already inked commercial leases to fill up most of its other properties. Additionally, 285 condos at 15 Hudson Yards and 137 condos at 35 Hudson Yards are expected to hit the market this fall. When the project is completed, it will occupy 17 million square feet of commercial and residential space — including 100 shops and restaurants, 14 acres of public space, a 750seat school, a luxury hotel, and approximately 4,000 residences. n

LIVE THE LIFE YOU WANT

Don’t Miss A Thing! Follow Us on Twitter! @MhtnExpressNYC ManhattanExpressNews.nyc | August 11 - 24, 2016

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AMERICAN MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY

An overhead rendering of the Gilder Center expansion, showing the incursion of the project into the surrounding park land.

AMERICAN MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY

A rendering of the completed expansion project from the vantage point of Columbus Avenue.

Lydia Thomas to Lead Defenders of Teddy Roosevelt Park BY JACKSON CHEN

T

he first of several community groups that emerged to oppose the American Museum of Natural History’s expansion is changing its leadership once again, with its cur rent president, Adrian Smith, stepping down for a position with the city Department of Parks and Recreation. Replacing him as the president of the Defenders of Teddy Roosevelt Park is L ydia Thomas, who is one of the nine founding members of the group and a 44-year resident of the Upper West Side. After Smith accepted the position of project team leader for the parks department’s Staten Island division, ethics and conflict of interest regulations required him to relinquish his role as spokesperson for the Defenders since the group interacts with the city agency. Smith, a landscape architect, held the organization’s presidency for roughly six months and succeeded Sig Gissler, the former administrator of the Pulitzer Prizes at Columbia University. Like Gissler, the group’s founding president, Smith will remain on the Defenders’ board that will now be under the guidance of Thomas, who was unanimously voted in as the new president on August 1. “We looked at [Smith’s] expertise for landscape design and we still hope to tap into that knowledge base because he’s still with us,” Thomas said. "We have the same language, and we’re still in the same plane.” Thomas, the founder of a life management and organization business, Power Thru the Clutter LLC, will springboard off of Smith’s parks knowledge and focus her efforts on questions regarding the size and footprint of the Richard Gilder Center for Science, Education and Innovation and its negative effects on the surrounding Theodore Roosevelt Park. “ Wi th ou t muc h in f or m a t i o n f r o m t h e museum at this point," Thomas said, “all

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we have to go on is this rather large concept design of the Columbus Avenue side of the structure.” While Smith said he focused his time as president more on the specific challenges that the project posed for the park’s ecosystem, he feels his tenure yielded good results, with two mature trees — an English elm and a Pin oak — being preserved as part of a redesign rendering the museum revealed to the public on July 21. Originally, nine trees were slated to be removed to make way for the museum expansion, with 17 new ones planted in return. Going forward, the group’s focus will be on upcoming reviews of the project by the Landmarks Preservation Commission as well as evaluation of finalized designs for the expansion. “We still are not satisfied that this is an enormous building,” Thomas said. “We feel that to protect the park long term, we’d like to see the scale of the building pushed back significantly so that more and more of the park can be preserved.” Current plans for the Gilder Center show 20 percent of its footprint on existing park land. Thomas has been invited to serve on the museum’s Transportation Working Group, which is expected to meet again in Sept e m b e r, a c c o r d i n g t o D a n S l i p p e n , t h e museum’s vice president of gover nment relations. The other panel formed by the museum to invite stakeholder input on the expansion, the Park Working Group will now include another founding Defenders member, Stuart Blumin, to replace Smith with a seat at the table. With the Defenders working more closely with the museum than they had in the past, several other groups, including the Community United to Protect Theodore Roosevelt Park and the Alliance to Protect Theodore Roosevelt Park, have split off to voice opposition to the Gilder Center project. According to Cary Goodman, an outspoken critic of the museum expansion who has been involved

DEFENDERS OF TEDDY ROOSEVELT PARK

Lydia Thomas, the new president of the Defenders of Teddy Roosevelt Park.

with a variety of these groups, opponents are now working to form a coalition to build more unity in their mission to save park land. Goodman, who is pushing to have zero park land impacted, led a group of opponents in a meeting with city Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver on July 13. The hourlong meeting has resulted in no specific follow-up from the parks department, Goodman said. Goodman voiced hope that the Defenders’ new president would be more open to bringing together the opposition groups to strengthen their common mission going forward. Thomas acknowledged the fractured efforts of the opponents, but said that saving open park space remains the key and vital goal for everybody involved. “We’re sorry that the splinter groups made it more confusing for the community about who’s working for whom,” Thomas said. “We’re all working for the same end, which is to minimize the impact on the neighborhood.” n August 11 - 24, 2016 | ManhattanExpressNews.nyc


Opposition to West 108th Street Development Escalates BY JACKSON CHEN

O

pponents of a nonprofit organization’s plans to create an affordable housing complex on West 108th Street have stepped up their efforts with their release of an online petition and by retaining an attorney. Save Manhattan Valley was formed to counter the West Side Federation for Senior and Supportive Housing’s proposal for its Valley Lodge location at 149 West 108th Street. According to WSFSSH’s plans, it would demolish its current transitional homeless shelter there as well as three neighboring city-owned garages in order to construct a seven-to-11-story complex of about 250 affordable housing units and 110 transitional beds. However, the Save Manhattan Valley activists argue that the removal of the parking garages and the construction to follow would lead to significant adverse effects on the surrounding neighborhood. Even after WSFSSH announced in

June that it would allow the easternmost garage of about 125 spaces to be maintained for five years beyond the start of construction — to address concerns about the loss of neighborhood parking — the opposition is still not satisfied. “There’s a pattern here,” Glory Ann Kerstein, a founding member of Save Manhattan Valley, said. “Things are being thrust upon local communities without the city assessing or studying the consequences.” Save Manhattan Valley has consistently raised concerns about more traffic congestion and idling cars as hundreds of garage spaces are removed. There are also worries about environmental hazards and the bypassing of zoning regulations in the neighborhood related to the construction of the new housing. To bolster its efforts, the opposition group has begun circulating its petition online on its new website at savemanhattanvalley. org. To date, the group has gotten 600 signatures by canvassing the

neighborhood with paper copies of the petition. With the help of an online social media presence, Kerstein said Save Manhattan Valley is aiming for a total of up to 2,000 signatures that it hopes will grab the attention of local politicians. The group has also retained Michael Hiller, an attorney with a history of fighting against developments that communities consider unfair. While Save Manhattan Valley has raised the seed money to hire Hiller, it is looking for donations totaling $50,000, a cost the opponents said they estimated based on the legal costs of other land use battles. “He’ll take on a case if he feels it’s deserved,” Kerstein said of Hiller. “He’s against poorly planned developments, and that’s our issue.” Hiller explained that he’s aiming to ensure more collaboration among WSFSSH, Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration, and the community. “This is another example of the de Blasio administration supporting a project against the wishes

of the people who would be most directly affected,” Hiller said. The attorney added that the city should instead look to thousands of unused and available affordable housing units that currently exist throughout the city before constructing a complex in a community where serious concerns have been raised. “Until the city utilizes the resources it has,” Hiller said, “it should not be upending communities, specifically without regards to the impacts.” As for WSFSSH, the agency maintains it continues to work with its architects, the city, and elected officials to address all the concerns that have been brought up in the previous public meetings. According to Ariel Krasnow, WSFSSH’s senior project manager for real estate development, the organization has been in contact with many groups, including Save Manhattan Valley.

c 108TH STREET, continued on p.14

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West Side National Night Out

Events Draw Enthusiastic Responses BY JANE ARGODALE

A

s part of the annual National Night Out Against Crime, two West Side precincts held outdoor festivities on the evening of August 2 to bring together local police officials and the community. The Midtown North precinct in Hell’s Kitchen and the 10th precinct in Chelsea both hosted events that drew numerous officers as well as many neighbor hood residents, including families with their children. In Hell’s Kitchen Park on 10th Avenue, between 47th and 48th Street, a crowd that included City Councilmember Corey Johnson quickly made short work of 35 boxes of pizza that the Midtown North Precinct Council provided for the evening. “It’s always an opportunity to come together and further our relationships, and it’s one of the biggest community events,” Johnson told Manhattan Express. “The relationship between the police and community on the West Side is really good. There’s an open dialogue, violent crime has gotten lower, and I’m proud of the NYPD’s work here.” Eileen Spinner, a Hell’s Kitchen resident who is treasurer of the Midtown North Precinct Council, described police in the neighborhood as “very responsive,” noting that they had recently acted quickly on noise complaints she

c M5, from p.7 overlap was a much better proposal than the original one with the transfer point at West 37th Street, but the PCAC would have liked to see the new M5 route go further south within the borough. “It still doesn’t solve all problems and obviously doesn’t get people from Upper West Side down... as far as they want to go,” Henderson said. Jason Pineiro, a Brooklyn res-

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JANE ARGODALE

JANE ARGODALE

City Councilmember Corey Johnson (just left of center) with Inspector Peter Venice (to right of Johnson), the Midtown North precinct commanding officer, and other precinct officers at Hell’s Kitchen Park on August 2.

Hell's Kitchen resident Eileen Spinner, who is treasurer of the Midtown North Precinct Council treasurer, in Hell’s Kitchen Park.

made. “Crime statistics have gone down all over the city,” Spinner said. At the 10th precinct event at the Fulton Houses on 17th Street between Ninth and 10th Avenues, police officials emphasized the resources available to residents in the community. Along with games for children, a barbecue with burgers and hot dogs, and a DJ, information booths were set up by groups including the NYPD’s Domestic Violence Unit, the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, the Hudson Guild, and Friends

of the High Line. At the Domestic Violence Unit booth, 10th precinct Officer Maria Candres, handing out information flyers, explained, “It’s good for residents to see cops when they’re not arresting people. There’s a lot of bad stereotypes about cops, especially in low income areas.” Captain Paul Lanot, the precinct’s commanding officer, also praised the event, saying, “We’re building relationships and connections block by block. The people here have been so warm and inviting, and I’m hoping to get to know everybody — or as many

people as I can.” Barry Wilson, a resident of Fulton Houses, found the event successful in improving police-community relations. “People really get to know the police,” Wilson said. “Every year it’s nice. [The police-community relationship] is good, a lot better than it is in other places.” The events in both Hell’s Kitchen and Chelsea remained packed all evening, a sure sign that the effort to spur dialogue and understanding in those communities was something residents see as important to their lives. n

ident, said he would now prefer taking the 1 train instead of the buses for getting up and down Manhattan’s West Side. Pineiro, who often rides the M5 to visit relatives and friends in Washington Heights, said he would have liked to see north-south Select Bus Service, with a limited number of stops, instead of a splitting of the M5. “For me, it’s not fair that literally all major crosstown streets gets SBS,” Pineiro said. “But what

about those buses that go from uptown to downtown?” But Pineiro and Henderson agreed the changes are a net plus as they will provide better bus reliability overall. The PCAC executive director added that a longer route particularly impacts passengers at each terminus because all the bottlenecks in the middle of the route build up, in the worstcase scenario, to leave customers at either end without a bus for 20 or 30 minutes.

“For years we have been calling on buses to manage their trips a lot better,” Henderson said. “I think it’s going to be a positive change because service will be more reliable, with fewer gaps between buses.” The MTA is planning to implement the changes in January 2017, supplemented by a “robust public campaign at bus stops, aboard buses, and through social media,” to inform the public of the changes, according to a spokesperson. n

August 11 - 24, 2016 | ManhattanExpressNews.nyc


Police Blotter UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: DAZED AND CONFUSED (20th Precinct) Police are trying to identify a man who was found naked in front of 50 West 68th Street on July 28 around 3:30 p.m. According to police, the man was found disoriented and sitting on a curb in front of the address. He was later transported by EMS to Roosevelt Hospital, where he remained unidentified. Police released a photo of the unidentified person (available at manhattanexpressnews. nyc), whom they describe as an Asian male, approximately 5'7" and 175 pounds with black hair and a mustache.

BURGLARY: CROOK ON CRUTCHES (Midtown North Precinct) A man on crutches burglarized three different units in an apartment building on West 56th Street on July 26, police said. According to police, the first incident occurred between 7:30 a.m. and 5:45 p.m., when the male suspect entered the 3J apartment and stole earrings and a Microsoft Surface Pro 4. At some point between 9:15 a.m. and 8 p.m., the suspect entered the 6D apartment and took a Rolex watch, a gold bracelet, three pairs of earrings, and a diamond necklace, police said. The burglar was suspected to have entered the 5C apartment between noon and 3 p.m. and took a Macbook Pro. Police released photos of the suspect (available at manhattanexpressnews.nyc), whom they describe as a light-skinned male on crutches and wearing a medical boot.

WEAPON POSSESSION: STRAPPEDHANGER (25th Precinct) Two officers arrested a fare dodger who was later found with a loaded handgun at the 116th Street station on the 6 line on July 29 around 10:45 p.m. According to police, the three officers saw the 26-year-old Jamil Collier "manipulating the turnstile in order to enter the subway system without paying the fare" and attempt to board an oncoming northbound 6 train. Police said the officers ordered Collier, an East Harlem resident, off the train and later slapped on handcuffs after his noncompliance. The man was found to be carrying a Ruger-Prescot .380 handgun loaded with six rounds, police said. Collier was charged with criminal possession of a weapon, theft of service, criminal trespassing, and disorderly conduct.

ATTEMPTED RAPE: BOOGEYMAN BEGONE (23rd Precinct) On July 28, police arrested Juan Barreto, a 27-year-old man who was wanted for an attempted rape of an eight-year-old girl earlier in the month. According to police, Barreto entered the victim's home on July 7 at around 11:15 p.m. and tried to sexually assault her. No injuries were reported and police said that Barreto fled through a bedroom window using a

rear fire escape. Barreto, an East Harlem resident, was charged with attempted rape, burglary, and endangering the welfare of a child.

MISSING PERSON: DAVID FRAZIER (26th Precinct) Police are asking the public for help in locating 19-year-old David Frazier, who was recently reported missing. Police said that Frazier was last seen inside his apartment at 1315 Amsterdam Avenue on August 5 at around 3 p.m. Police attached a photo of the missing person (available at manhattanexpressnews. nyc), whom they describe as a black 19-yearold male, 5'5" and 120 pounds, with a thin build, brown eyes, and black hair. Police said he was last seen wearing a burgundy t-shirt, blue jeans, and blue and white Nike sneakers.

ROBBERY: MTA BUDGET BLUES (26th Precinct) A suspect wearing a blue MTA shirt robbed a 55-year-old man who was trying to buy his subway fare at the 125th Street station on St. Nicholas Avenue, police said. On July 26 at around 4 a.m., the man donning the MTA shirt approached the straphanger from behind and placed a sharp object on his neck before removing his backpack and leaving the station, police said. The victim suffered minor injuries but refused medical attention. Police were unable to determine if the suspect was, in fact, an MTA employee. Police released videos of the suspect (available at manhattanexpressnews.nyc), whom they describe as a black male, 35 to 40 years old, 5'7", 170 to 180 pounds, and last seen wearing a blue MTA shirt, blue jeans, and black and white sneakers.

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ASSAULT: BONE-BREAKING BRAWL (18th Precinct) An argument on July 17 at around 4 a.m. escalated into a violent confrontation that left one of the victims with a broken leg, police said. According to police, three men began arguing with the two victims around West 50th Street and Ninth Avenue. After the dispute escalated, the three suspects began punching, kicking, and stomping on the two victims, leaving one with a broken leg and the other with cuts and bruises. Afterwards, the two called a taxi that brought them to Bellevue Hospital for treatment. Police released photos of the suspects (available at manhattanexpressnews.nyc), whom they describe as Hispanic males in their 20s.

HATE CRIME: HAWAIIAN PUNCH (26th Precinct) Police said two lei-wearing ladies attacked a 29-year-old Asian female aboard a northbound 1 train on June 26 at around 7:30 p.m. According to

ManhattanExpressNews.nyc | August 11 - 24, 2016

c BLOTTER, continued on p.14 13


TKTS Experiments

With New Lincoln Center Venue

JACKSON CHEN

Budget theatergoers queued up for bargains on the first day of a TKTS experiment at Lincoln Center.

t was opening day for the TKTS booth at Lincoln Center and — being a theater audience, after all —the crowd on hand was at the ready with a standing ovation. On August 2, budget theatergoers formed a long snaking line that hovered at around 60 people at the Zucker Box Office inside the David Rubenstein Atrium at Lincoln Center at 61 West 62nd Street. They were waiting to choose from discounted Broadway tickets available from TKTS’ temporary new location. As the clock hit noon, the three ticket booths opened to enthusiastic cheers. TKTS, which is operated by the nonprofit Theatre Development Fund, is adding to its

three existing locations in Times Square, at the South Street Seaport, and in Downtown Brooklyn at MetroTech. Operating since 1973, the service offers same-day and next-day matinees or evening tickets to shows like “Something Rotten!,” “Fun Home,” “Matilda,” and “Jersey Boys” at 40 or 50 percent discounts. According to the TDF, Lincoln Center approached the group with a mutually beneficial proposal for the new location. “It can bring more people into the atrium to see what events Lincoln Center offers,” Michael Naumann, TDF’s managing director, said, “and we thought it was a way for us to have a place to accommodate more New Yorkers.” Naumann said the location on the Upper West Side would serve as a contrast to the cur-

c 108TH STREET, from p.11

c BLOTTER, from p.13

“We have already made changes based on [Save] Manhattan Valley’s comments,” Krasnow said. “We’re happy to work with them and have them work with us.” She added that WSFSSH is willing to meeting with the opponents again in the fall, but has not yet been directly contacted by the group. “We’ll be back with more talking to community groups and the community board and getting to a better place where everyone’s happier with the project,” Krasnow said, noting that the city review process has been pushed back due to her group’s efforts to address community concerns. n

police, the two women boarded the train at the 86th Street station, where the female victim was with her parents, a 63-year-old Asian male and a 60-year-old Asian female. One of the suspects leaned towards the 29-year-old and began screaming and shouting profanities, police said. According to police, the suspects then pulled her to the floor and began punching her in the head, while making anti-Asian statements. The victim was left with bruising, swelling, pain to her head and torso, and a concussion. She was treated and later released at St. Luke's Roosevelt Hospital. The two suspects left the subway at the Cathedral Parkway station at West 110th Street and were spotted by a surveillance camera walking past 545 West 111st Street after the incident. Police released photos of the suspects (available at manhattanexpressnews.nyc), and described the first female as an Hispanic, wearing a black tank top and black pants, and the second female as an Hispanic, wearing a black top and blue pants, both of them wearing multi-colored leis.

BY JACKSON CHEN

I

14

rent Times Square location, which tends to attract out-of-town tourists. “Being on the Upper West Side, we’re hoping we’ll be able to attract New Yorkers to take advantage of theater in New York City,” Naumann said. “If our assumptions are correct, we’ll be bringing in more New Yorkers that wouldn’t be utilizing our services otherwise.” Despite some technical difficulties on opening day, the locals were extremely pleased with the new spot, even though for now, at least, it’s billed as only temporary. Some ticket seekers even arrived as early as 11:15 a.m., according to Naumann. “I was visiting the whole area today, and my husband and I wanted to see a play,” said Amy Mase, a Kips Bay resident. “I said let me try this because it’s local.” The line moved a bit slow for Mase’s liking, but she was still able to purchase same-day tickets for “Cagney.” And overall, she said, the location was attractive because it is “off the beaten path” and in an indoor air-conditioned facility. Joyce Davis, a Floridian visiting and staying on the Upper East Side, characterized the Times Square TKTS location as “too many people and too hot.” “I expected more people and I’m glad there’s not,” Davis said of the new location in comparison to the Midtown alternative. “The line over at Times Square is tremendous. But this is nice. I hope they keep it a secret.” Most ticket buyers agreed that the Lincoln Center location is a welcome addition they hope becomes permanent. “I work in the area, so it’s very convenient,” Larry Attia, who bought tickets for “Fun Home,” said. “I know it’s a three-month trial so I thought I’d use it and encourage it because I’d love it to be permanent.” After the three-month initial run, during which the TKTS at Lincoln Center will be open Tuesday through Saturday, noon to 7 p.m., TDF and Lincoln Center will evaluate whether to make the location or one nearby permanent. n

ROBBERY: BARBERSHOP SHAKEDOWN (23rd Precinct) A barbershop employee at 2024 Third Avenue, between East 111st and 112th Streets, was robbed at gunpoint by two suspects on July 23 at around 2 p.m., according to police. Police said that two armed male suspects demanded money from the 38-yearold employee and forcibly removed from him an iPhone 6, a gold necklace with a gold medallion, and $1,500 in cash. The two suspects fled on foot eastbound on East 112th Street and the victim was not injured in the incident. Police released photos of the suspects (available at manhattanexpressnews.nyc), whom they describe as both being males in their 30s with dark complexions, short black hair, and medium builds. Police said one of the males was wearing a blue T-shirt and green shorts and the other male was wearing a white T-shirt, black cap, and dark jean shorts.

August 11 - 24, 2016 | ManhattanExpressNews.nyc


Manhattan Employees of Spanish Retailer Zara Win Union Representation

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COURTESY: RWDSU

Employees of Zara are joined by other members of Local 1102, which workers at the Spanish fashion chain's Manhattan stores just voted to join. Lawrence Ubell

BY PAUL SCHINDLER

A

t a time when organized labor has faced considerable pushback, both from public sector employers and in corporate America, the retail sector continues to be a bright spot for union growth. On August 2, the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) announced that Zara, a Spanish fashion chain with eight Manhattan locations, has agreed to recognize the union’s Local 1102, which will represent more than 1,000 workers at those stores. The Manhattan employees are the first Zara workers unionized in the US. Earlier this year, Zara, which is owned by Inditex, the world’s largest clothing retailer, agreed to remain neutral as RWDSU carried out its organizing efforts, which resulted in a majority of workers signing cards voicing their support for a union. RWDSU Local 1102 was formed in 2009, when it organized nearly 1,200 workers at H&M. Joseph Minton, an associate at Zara’s 59th Street store on Lexington Avenue, voiced enthusiasm for the new union representation, saying, “Working in retail is extremely fast-paced and hectic. I’m excited that the company

is willing to listen to our concerns and work with the union for everyone’s benefit.” Both Gemma de Leon Lopresti, the Local 1102 president, and Stuart Appelbaum, the RWDSU president, praised Zara for the retailer’s posture during the organizing efforts. “Zara’s approach to recognize the right of its workers to form a union, without intimidation, is a message to all retailers — you can be successful and still respect the rights of your employees,” de Leon Lopresti said. RWDSU has a strong representation among Manhattan retail workers, with members who work at Macy’s (where a new four-year contract was recently negotiated on behalf of 5,000 New York-area employees), Bloomingdale’s, Saks Fifth Avenue, Cole Haan, Modell’s Sporting Goods, Duane Reade, major super markets such as Gristedes, and local car washes. In addition to its 59th Street store at 750 Lexington, Zara, which opened its first US location in New York City in 1989, has stores at 1963 Broadway at 66th Street, 666 Fifth Avenue between 52nd and 53rd Streets, 500 Fifth Avenue between 42nd and 43rd Streets, 39 West 34th Street, and three locations further downtown. n

ManhattanExpressNews.nyc | August 11 - 24, 2016

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15


EXPRESS YOURSELVES

On Manhattan’s Streets, Finally Getting to Zero

PUBLISHER JENNIFER GOODSTEIN jgoodstein@cnglocal.com

EDITOR IN-CHIEF PAUL SCHINDLER editor@manhttanexpressnews.nyc

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

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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

16

BY COREY JOHNSON

O

n June 6, a 67-year -old woman was crossing West 38th Street when she was struck by a motorist making a turn onto Eighth Avenue. Tragically, she did not survive the crash. She is now one of 123 New Yorkers who have been killed in traffic fatalities in 2016 alone. These terrible incidents are a jarring reminder of the need for Vision Zero, a city initiative that aims to achieve zero fatalities or serious injuries on our streets. Accidental traffic fatalities are, in many cases, avoidable, and our city can and must do more to protect lives and bring the number of those fatalities down to zero. In Manhattan, pedestrians, trucks, cars, and bicycles share bustling streets, and this presents a great challenge. But it’s one we must overcome, and it’s going to take a range of approaches. I’d like to discuss some of them here. Under the de Blasio administration, the Department of Transportation (DOT) has enacted many practical, effective, and lifesaving street improvements. Some of these initiatives are taking shape right at this very moment. In Midtown, the DOT has been introducing split-phase signals at several problematic intersections. Split-phase signals give pedestrians a lead-time before cars can make a turn into the crosswalk. This is crucial, as two of the three pedestrian fatalities in Council District 3 this year were caused by the motorists’ failure to yield the right of way. Split-phase tur ning is an improvement that should be expanded across the District, particularly at notoriously intersections like 41st Street and Dyer Avenue. The DOT has also begun construction on a protected bike l a n e o n S i x t h A venue fr om West Ninth Street to West 32nd Street. With shorter pedestrian

crossings, traffic calming measures, traffic signals specifically designed for cyclists, and more, this project will bring greater safety to this busy corridor. Street redesigns are necessary for a city that relies on a grid system built in 1811, and these targeted, effective solutions are going to make a big difference. I encourage the DOT to implement them wherever appropriate to ensure safety for pedestrian, cyclists, and motorists alike. The increase in cycling has tremendous benefits, both for our environment and our overwhelmed transportation system. As the number of cyclists continues to grow, we need to create a culture of safety around biking that will benefit cyclists and pedestrians alike. At the street design level, traffic signals that specifically target cyclists, like those we’ll see on Sixth Avenue, will certainly help and should be implemented more broadly. At the enforcement level, our public safety officials must ensure that cyclists are held accountable when they disobey existing traffic laws that protect both their safety and the safety of others. And ultimately, as we discuss traffic and pedestrian safety, there is no way of getting around this startling fact: New York City receives 2.7 million cars from outside the city every single day. Any serious effort to combat pedestrian injuries and fatalities must include a plan to reduce the number of cars on the road. The Move NY Plan presents an appealing option. Under the plan, tolls would be enacted on East River crossings to Manhattan, while tolls would be reduced at bridges and tunnels in other boroughs. The idea is to limit the number of cars that pass through Manhattan and encourage the use of public transportation. It’s a plan that has earned the respect of Ydanis Rodriguez, the City Council’s outstand-

ing Transportation Committee chair, as well as an increasing number of elected officials at both the city and state level. I encourage the de Blasio administration and the DOT to look earnestly at this plan and consider adopting of some of its key components. Of course, an intelligent tolling system won’t work all on its own — an “all of the above” approach is needed. New York State should revisit congestion pricing, which would limit the number of cars in Midtown during peak hours. We need to adequately invest in our public transportation system. We need to expand initiatives that are already proving successful, like split-phase timing and innovative street redesigns. And we need to invest in alternative forms of transportation for the West Side, like ferry service. All across Council District 3, we are lucky to have outstanding transportation advocates. The transportation committees on our community boards are among the most active, and I’ve had the privilege of working closely with them. Organizations like Clinton Hell's Kitchen Coalition for Pedestrian Safety (CHEKPEDS) and Transportation Alternatives are diligent and fierce advocates, and because of their work, we’ve already seen improvements on our streets that are saving lives. I look forward to continuing my work with these leaders and organizations, and with you, members of the community, to implement bold solutions for the safety of all New Yorkers. T o g e t h e r, I k n o w w e c a n achieve Vision Zero. Lives are depending on it. City Councilmember Corey Johnson, a Democrat, represents District 3 on Manhattan West Side. For more information on the city’s Vision Zero initiative, visit nyc.gov/html/visionzero/pages/ home/home.shtml. n

August 11 - 24, 2016 | ManhattanExpressNews.nyc


EXPRESS YOURSELVES

No Sign of Predators Trying to Catch a Peek at Chu BY LENORE SKENAZY

O

ur governor wants us to panic about a problem that does not exist: Sex offenders preying on kids playing Pokémon Go. About a week ago, State Senators Jeff Klein and Diane Savino proposed legislation banning Level 2 and 3 sex offenders from playing the popular new phone game. The senators also demanded that the game’s developers eliminate any Pokémon within 100 feet of the home of a registered sex offender. Not to be outdone, Gover nor Andrew Cuomo jumped on the Poké-wagon 48 hours later to make an even tougher, first-in-thenation law: From now on, even a Level 1 Sex Offender found playing Pokémon Go while on parole could end up in prison. That means that if you happened to be an 18-year -old who got a sext from your 16-year -old girlfriend, and this got you labeled a low-level sex offender (which is already crazy), you could play a game on your phone and end up in prison. It should be noted here that Pokémon Go is more like solitaire than poker. As you walk along, cartoon creatures suddenly appear on your phone. You “catch” them by tapping the screen. Now, I realize that anytime a politician mentions new and harsher sex offender restrictions, many voters cheer. That is why politicians keep proposing them. But these laws will not make our children safer, because they are based on the incorrect idea that registered sex offenders pose a big threat to kids. They do — on “Law & Order: SVU,” because that makes for an exciting plotline: The creep outside the playground, preparing to pounce, or the criminal mastermind online, stalking children by decoding their posts. But in real life, which is as horrifying as it is mundane, the vast majority of sex abuse occurs at the hands of someone in the child’s life: a relative, family friend, or other

c ST. THOMAS MORE, from p.3 Council’s director of advocacy and community outreach, said. “In the meantime, we’re just trying to build community support to make people know it’s there and appreciate it.” The current landmarking efforts aim to raise awareness about what many in the community clearly consider a valuable aesthetic addi-

trusted adult. “Stranger danger” sounds like a huge threat, but the FBI stats on children abducted for nefarious purposes showing exactly what percent were snatched by registered sex offenders? In 2009: Zero. And in 2010, it was less than one percent. Even the group that put missing kids’ pictures on milk cartons, the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, has labeled stranger danger a “myth we have been trying to debunk.” What’s hard to believe or even understand is that registered sex offenders pose very little threat to children. A study of Washington neighborhoods compared blocks with registrants on them to those without and found no difference in the number of sex crimes committed. That’s because even though we have heard that people on the registry are insatiable child molesters, the surprising truth is that they have a very low level of recidivism. It is about five percent. That is lower than any other criminals other than murderers. So the sex offender registry itself is a failed idea, a way of labeling hundreds of thousands of people who are, for the most part, not going to hurt anyone, much less a stranger. In fact, my guess is that you probably know someone — a friend, or a friend of a friend — who is on the registry, even though you know they aren’t a threat to anyone. Add to this the idea that registrants are going to use Pokémon Go as predator helper and you have created a fantastical scenario that would be a great plot point for a Liam Neeson movie — or maybe “The Simpsons.” But making legislation based on that fantasy is worse than mere grandstanding. Far from reassuring parents, it scares them even more by making it sound as if our kids are in constant danger the second they step outside. These laws ignore the wonderful fact that, in fact, it is the opposite. Kids today are safer

tion to the neighborhood, but also to quell any risk that the church might be imperiled at some point down the road. Madigan emphasized that any discussion about landmarking would be a matter for city agencies to take up with the archdiocese under the leadership of Cardinal Timothy Dolan. Though he would likely not be directly involved in that process, Madigan said he

ManhattanExpressNews.nyc | August 11 - 24, 2016

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today than they’ve been in 50 years — and it isn’t just because they’re “helicoptered” (adults are safer today, too, and we don’t helicopter them). Crime is back to the level it was in 1963. The real danger kids face is in not going outside. Obesity and diabetes are on the rise, not child rape. Making it seem as if registered sex offenders are constantly on the prowl for tots and only harsh new laws can save them is a lie. The new legislation is pointless. Governor Cuomo and Senators Klein and Savino are guilty of a new political crime: fear-pokémongering. Lenore Skenazy is author and founder of the book and blog “Free-Range Kids,” and a contributor at Reason.com. n

wouldn’t mind the designation, even if it meant some restrictions when it comes to exterior maintenance. “Both for historic and religious reasons, it’s nice to have a church that goes back to the 19th century,” Madigan said. Van der Valk noted that St. Thomas More’s historical value has already been recognized by New York State, with the State Historic

Preservation Office having determined in June that the complex is eligible for the State and National Registers of Historic Places. Those protections, however, are not as strong as those afforded by a city landmark designation, so van der Valk is hoping the thousands of letters demonstrate to the LPC just how much the community cares about the church and its permanence in the neighborhood. n

17


c ROCKEFELLER, from p.4 “Constructing the steel superstructure off-site and bringing it in via barge was the most creative and efficient way to do a building this size over a busy urban highway,” Timothy O’Connor, executive vice president at the university, said, adding that Rockefeller has owned the air rights over that portion of the FDR since the 1970s. The creatively unique venture of building over a highway with jigsaw pieces being sailed in has attracted the attention of some residents across the river. Frank Farance, a 36-year Roosevelt Island resident, said he’s been observing and snapping photos of the construction work ever since he was aware of it two months ago. “Just architecturally, it’s interesting,” Farance, a member of the Roosevelt Island Residents Association, said. “I saw how many spots they had to go and I said I’m just going to have to dedicate myself all night to looking at this.” While the construction doesn’t bother him when he eventually does get to sleep, Farance still wondered if there were better uses for that space, like his suggestion for affordable housing. “I hope something useful comes out of the space they’re taking up,” Farance said. “Because it seems to me like there’s a lot of big institutions that just grab space, and I’m not seeing what that societal benefit is other than a real estate transaction.” While the Niarchos-Rockefeller expansion’s primary and obvious goal is to further the university’s mission with modern labs and research facilities in the expansion’s centerpiece Marie-Josée and Henry R. Kravis Research Building, Rockefeller is not ignoring the public. Along with working to redesign the portion of the Esplanade underneath its expansion, the university has also established a $1 million fund to maintain the landscaping of the esplanade, as well as donating $150,000 to the Friends of the East River Esplanade, an organization dedicated to its restoration and reinvention from East 60th to 120th Streets. For the most part, community members seem appreciative of the

18

COURTESY: ROCKEFELLER UNIVERSITY

A rendering by the university shows the construction over the FDR that the modules currently being put in place will enable.

university’s diligent and welcoming approach to reaching out for residential input, according to the East Sixties Neighborhood Association. “We think it’s very well thought out, it has minimal impact on the community except for those who use the FDR Drive in the wee hours of the morning,” Barry Schneider, co-president of the ESNA, said, adding he hasn’t heard many complaints about the closures. Schneider is also a member of Community Board 8, which has reviewed and approved of the project. While he acknowledges there were concerns from the community with a university expanding so widely, Schneider said, “we’re not living in a quiet cul-de-sac in Chappaqua. You have institutions, parks, bridges, schools, and it’s a huge mélange of various kinds of buildings.” The CB8 member, and his wife Judy, who is on the board’s Parks and Recreation Committee and co-president of ESNA, both agreed that Rockefeller University was very cautious about all aspects of its project, from the affected greenery of the esplanade to the minimal impact on the FDR Drive. “A lot of people do outreach but [Rockefeller University] did an exceeding amount of outreach,” Judy said. “They really worked with the community, and I thought they did a really well done job.” According to George Candler, Rockefeller University’s associate vice president of planning and construction, the project is on time, on budget, and produces a biannual newsletter with progress details for Upper East Siders.

FRANK FARANCE

A daytime shot of the crane, with the modules already inserted visible just ahead of the crane, and the FDR Drive visible at the green fencing level just above the river.

“Rockefeller has been committed to making improvements that benefit the community as part of this project,” Candler said, noting that the esplanade’s redesign will include new landscaping, seating, lighting, a bike lane, and a noise barrier for the FDR Drive. “The collaborative process has helped to ensure the public enhancements meet the needs of the community.” As the expansion project continues, the university is working alongside the city Department of Transportation to close down the

FDR Drive during several dates throughout August. But in trying to be as minimally intrusive as possible, the construction will continue taking place during late-night hours. Neighborhood residents, meanwhile, will quite literally continue waking up to new portions of Rockefeller University in their midst. Though the overnight, over-the-FDR portion of the expansion should be complete before Labor Day, the overall project construction will continue until 2019. n

August 11 - 24, 2016 | ManhattanExpressNews.nyc


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Great Divides OSLO Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater 150 W. 65th St. Through Aug. 28 Tue., Thu. at 7 p.m. Wed., Fri.-Sat. at 8 p.m. Wed., Sat. at 2 p.m.; Sun. at 3 p.m. Beginning Mar. 23 Vivian Beaumont Theater 150 W. 65th St. Tue.-Sat. at 8 p.m. Wed., Sat. at 2 p.m.; Sun. at 3 p.m. $107 at Newhouse; $77-$147 at Beaumont telecharge.com or 212-239-6200 Three hrs., with two intermissions

BUTLER

T. CHARLES ERICKSON

Michael Aronov and Anthony Azizi (foreground), and Jefferson Mays in J.T. Rogers’ “Oslo,” directed by Bartlett Sher, now at Lincoln Center’s Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater and opening up at the Vivian Beaumont in the spring.

BY CHRISTOPHER BYRNE

I

f the prospect of sitting through three hours of Mideast political negotiations on a sultry summer night seems daunting, I under stand — but many other New Yorkers are not so inhibited. Because it’s very hard to snag a ticket to this fascinating play about the 1993 Oslo Accords — a most unlikely peace negotiated between Israel and Palestine in Norway — in its current run at Lincoln Center’s Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater. And it’s not too early to think about buying tickets to its spring opening at the Broadway-sized Vivian Beaumont, also at Lincoln Center. This is a show you shouldn’t miss. On the surface, “Oslo” is the lit-

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eral story of how a Norwegian diplomat, Terje Rod-Larsen, and his wife, Mona Juul, brought these legendary adversaries together to talk away from the world’s spotlight. The advances, reversals, negotiations, fights, and ultimately agreement that occurred over the course of about 18 months are beautifully chronicled in J.T. Rogers’ script. This is also a very human story of people who set out to do great things and change the world and must do battle with their histories and identities along the way. It is not an easy peace that is forged but one dependent on a willingness to bend, the need to save face, and the advantages of “constructive ambiguity” in a treaty. Notwithstanding the seriousness of the subject matter, Rogers writes

with great good humor and sustained tension. This is a cloak-anddagger political thriller — though on a small scale on Michael Yeargan’s economical set — where common ground is found through the common consumption of scotch and waffles. Indeed, it’s Rogers’ ability to make these quotidian touches so effective at illuminating character that makes the sausage-making of diplomacy and the crafting of policy so accessible and the play so fascinating. The events of the play, which were conducted in private and shrouded in secrecy, are punctuated by reminders of the devastating history of violence between Israel and Palestine conveyed through a series of chilling projections. This context makes the moment of agreement among the

59E59 Theaters 59 E. 59th St. Through Aug. 28 Tue-Thu. at 7 p.m. Fri.-Sat. at 8 p.m. Sat. at 2 p.m. Sun. at 3 p.m. $25-$70; ticketcentral.com Or 212-279-4200 Two hrs., with intermission

most compelling theater of recent memory — and the heartbreak that the accords did not hold even more distressing. Bartlett Sher has directed brilliantly. He remains the master of finding the human center of outsized characters — as he does in the musicals he directs. He is helped by a stellar cast that includes a magnificent performance by Jefferson Mays as Rod-Larsen and a brilliantly understated, grounded, and powerful portrayal of Juul by Jennifer Ehle. They provide a stabilizing, if sometimes appealingly idiosyncratic force against the more dramatic actions of Israeli cabinet member Uri Savir, in a remarkable rock-star performance from Michael Aronov,

c DIVIDES, continued on p.23

August 11 - 24, 2016 | ManhattanExpressNews.nyc


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ManhattanExpressNews.nyc | August 11 - 24, 2016

• Maintain your bike so that it is safe to ride. • Do not carry others on your bike (such as a friend or a child) if it is not designed to do so. Riding on the handlebars or behind the cyclist can be dangerous. • Avoid the use of ear buds or headphones while cycling. You want all of your senses to be available to avoid accidents. • Cycle out of the way of drivers’ blind spots so you’ll be more visible.

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walking on a leash, so you’re not pulled out into traffic. • Use caution at bus stops. Many injuries occur from pedestrians running to catch a bus or stepping out into traffic after exiting a bus. Remember, there will be another bus behind the one you’re chasing and safety is more important. • Wear brightly colored or reflective clothing if walking at night. • Do not cross highways or interstates on foot.

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August 11 - 24, 2016 | ManhattanExpressNews.nyc


No Big Apple Circus at Lincoln Center This Coming Fall BY GINA MARTINEZ

B

ig Apple Circus, a beloved non-profit that entertained families for decades, won’t be coming back for the 2016-17 season after not meeting its $2 million fund-raising goal. The New York staple has entertained families since 1977 with annual performances at Lincoln Center as well as in Cunningham Park in Fresh Meadows, Queens. The circus was founded by jugglers Paul Binder and Michael Christensen, who brought their act from Britain to the US. They started the non-profit as a mission to entertain and improve the lives of millions. Throughout the years, Big Apple performances presented acrobats, clowns, and animal acts that featured dogs and horses instead of the wild tigers and elephants found in most circuses, including Ringling Brothers. Big Apple focused its efforts on helping young children through entertainment. Besides setting up their red-top tents that seated up to 1,700 for shows, Big Apple brought the circus to more than 250,000 children in hospitals around the country, with its members performing “clown rounds” in pediatric wards. Financial struggles began in 2008 following the national recession. Wall Street had been a huge benefactor, providing up to $1 million a year in funds, which helped to keep the circus

c DIVIDES, from p.20 and Ahmed Qurei, the Palestine Liberation Organization finance minister, given a more restrained but incisive characterization by Anthony Azizi.

Given the current political climate, someone involved in the production of “Butler” might have considered that attempting to stage a comedy about slavery is either tone-deaf, cynical, or both. The play, by Richard Stand, is the story of a runaway slave seeking sanctuary at Fort Monroe in Virginia, right before the start of the Civil War, the day after Virginia seceded from the Union. The story turns on how one General Butler ostensibly saves the slave Shepard Mallory from being returned to his owner

going. Events like Hurricane Sandy as well as the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, which hobbled ticket sales when the circus was visiting Beantown, and a crippling ice storm in Atlanta, when the company traveled there in 2014, all conspired to balloon Big Apple’s deficit. An online campaign raised some money, with donations ranging up to $50,000, but the Big Apple principals hoped that an emergency fundraiser would get the attention of big donors. To their surprise, no one stepped up. The circus raised only $900,000, far short of its $2 million goal, which would have allowed Big Apple to continue staging their shows in New York. In a statement, executive director Will Maitland Weiss, said the 2016-2017 performances would have to be canceled but the funds raised will go to already running community programs like Clown Care, which sends clowns to pediatric hospitals across the country to lift the spirits of young patients undergoing treatment. Weiss promised to continue the circus’ charitable work and hinted at the possibility of returning. “Our deepest thanks go out to the many people who sent donations and voiced their support for the circus,” he said. “While the response was heartening, we ultimately did not raise enough cash to go forward with rehearsals and ticket marketing in August.

in the South. Butler, it turns out, is a lawyer, and he interprets the Articles of War to prevent Shepard from being returned. All very well and good, but the interpretation still turns on Shepard being property, and though Butler is motivated to save Shepard from certain death the tone is all wrong. Strand imagines the interaction between the two men as a war of wits, with vaudeville style bits, over-the-top slow burns, and comic banter. It’s as offensive to attempt to make light of the real dangers slaves faced trying to get away as it is to romanticize the reality of slavery. As it happens, I saw this production the same day Bill O’Reilly on Fox said that the slaves who built the White House were well fed, as if that possibility mitigated the fact that they were slaves.

ManhattanExpressNews.nyc | August 11 - 24, 2016

NAEISHA ROSE

The Big Apple Circus has entertained New York families since 1977.

However, we will continue operating Clown Care and other community programs and hope to be able to return to performing under our Big Top in a later season, including offering our specially adapted performances for children and families affected by physical and/ or cognitive challenges.” n

Director Joseph Discher has directed this as if it were a Kaufman and Hart play or a tacky sitcom, and the performances match the style. Ames Adamson as Butler is insufferable. He plays the role as if he were in a Looney Tunes cartoon, a cross between Yosemite Sam and Foghorn Leghorn — with due apologies to those comic icons. John G. Williams as Mallory is reduced to a stereotypical wisecracking character. We’re supposed to think he has an irrepressible spirit and can’t help himself, but it’s not believ-

able, particularly when he bares the scars on his back from being whipped. The other two characters, Lieutenant Kelly, Butler’s adjutant played by Benjamin Sterling, and Major Cary, sent for Shepard by his owner and played by David Sitler, exist for the other two to bounce jokes off. Again, pure sitcom drivel. It’s almost unthinkable that a company could defend mounting a play this insensitive and demeaning in 2016, but, then, a lot of what’s happening around us in today’s world is also unthinkable. n

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