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The Paper of Record for Greenwich Village, East Village, Lower East Side, Soho, Union Square, Chinatown and Noho, Since 1933

April 27, 2017 • $1.00 Volume 87 • Number 17

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Debate over ‘data’ as rent board is chilly toward repeat freeze BY LINCOLN ANDERSON

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here might not be a rent rollback — much less another rent freeze — coming up later this year for tenants living in New York City’s more than 1 million rent-regulated apartments. Tuesday evening, at The Cooper Union’s Great Hall on E. Seventh St., despite the pres-

ence of 150 tenants — both individuals and members of tenant coalitions — from around the city chanting, “Roll-back!” the Rent Guidelines Board, in its preliminary vote, approved increases of 1 percent to 3 percent for one-year lease renewals and 2 percent to 4 percent for two-year leases renewals RENT continued on p. 8

Lynne Stewart lionized as ‘people’s attorney’ at Midtown memorial BY MARY REINHOLZ

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memorial celebrating the life of far-left icon Lynne Stewart drew about 300 people — some of them prominent radicals — to St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in Midtown last Saturday afternoon. They heaped praise on the disbarred Downtown

“people’s lawyer,” who had done serious jail time for aiding terrorism. They eulogized her as a zealous advocate who fought ferociously for justice on behalf of the poor and unpopular — and had taken a bum rap along the way. “What was she there [in

PHOTO BY TEQUILA MINSKY

Students from LREI (Little Red School House) dug the Ear th Day spirit during a visit last Friday to LaGuardia Corner Gardens. They enjoyed checking out a piece of real honeycomb from the Bleecker St. garden’s beehive, above. Because their parents had not signed releases, the kids’ faces couldn’t be photographed — but one can imagine their expressions of intent curiosity.

Seeds of discord? Garden sprouts a sue-ready group

STEWART continued on p. 10

BY LINCOLN ANDERSON

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aying the Friends of Elizabeth Steet Garden “weren’t being aggressive enough” in their efforts to save the threatened Little Italy / Soho green oasis, gallery owner Allan Reiver and three others, including his son, Joseph, recently formed their own nonprofit group and have taken control of the space. The new group, Elizabeth

Street Garden, Inc., plans to sue the city to stop an affordable housing project slated for most of the half-acre garden site. Its board members say the Friends were unwilling to join their lawsuit. In an interview with The Villager this week, Allan Reiver said they are looking at numerous legal angles. “We’re pursuing litigation,” he said. “I’ve retained counsel; they’re doing their research,

speaking to all the local businesses that will be affected if the garden is destroyed. Many of the business owners said they would not have moved here if the garden was not here. “Prior to the garden, the block was primarily industrial. There was a large-scale bakery, La Rosa, on the block. Frankie DeCarlo, owner of Peasant — one of the top restaurants in GARDEN continued on p. 6

Anti-fascists to picket St. Mark’s event..............p. 2 Verrazano two-way toll coming down pike?.......p. 4 Mano a mano: Fox vs. ‘Novo’.. p. 13

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indicates that Minkowitz may be joining the picket, as well. Weinberg says he considers Otway a friend and comrade despite this episode. “I hope my friendship with Lorcan will survive this ugliness,” he told us. “But he has to understand, that if he is going to open his venue to a Jew-hater, I have no choice but to protest it.” Otway did not respond to a request for comment by press time. Weinberg said he was sure the theater impresario would say the event is being held in the spirit of encouraging open “dialogue.” However, the East Village journo said, “There can be no dialogue with such fascistic voices. Would Lorcan open Theatre 80 to David Duke or Marie Le Pen? I see little difference.”

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THEATER DRAMA: It seems that Lorcan Otway’s Theatre 80 on St. Mark’s Place will be picketed by “antfa” (anti-fascist) protesters on the evening of Sun., April 30, when the venue will be hosting a talk by the controversial word-slinger (and saxophonist) Gilad Atzmon. Neighborhood activist Bill Weinberg, who says he will be among the protesters, told Scoopy: “Atzmon has a Web site full of Holocaust revisionism and shameless defenses of age-old anti-Semitic tropes. This isn’t anti-Zionism. It is anti-Semitism, and it is high time activists learned to tell the difference.” Local leftist writer Donna Minkowitz turned down an invitation to be on the panel with Atzmon, perceiving that she was “being used as a token Jew to provide cover for a Jew-hater.” She wrote about the episode in The Forward, in a piece entitled, “Why A ‘Proud Self-Hating Jew’ Asked Me To Tout His Book.” The Facebook announcement for the protest

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CORRECTIONS: Last week’s article on the David Peel singing memorial, due to an editing error, said that Charley Crespo paid for Peel’s memorial at Peter Jarema Funeral Home and also his funeral on Long Island. But it was Harold C. Black who put up the bucks for both. Last week’s article on the inaugural Future of Pier 40 Working Group meeting this Thurs., April 27, said a spokesperson for the Hudson River Park Trust declined comment on what would be discussed at the meeting. However, the spokesperson actually had responded before our press time, saying, “At the request of C.B. 2, we’re just going to be providing some basic background information about Pier 40 and the overall park.” Finally, in last week’s Progress Report section, in Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer’s article, due to an editing error, the agency that Brewer said displayed a lack of oversight or input on the Rivington House scandal was not the Department of Citywide Administrative Services but the Department of City Planning.

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The Trump tidal wave At the March for Science on Saturday, which was Ear th Day, a woman at Foley Square in Lower Manhattan said President Trump’s environmental policies are causing more than just water levels to rise. Saturday’s march occurred in 600 cities worldwide.

PHOTO BY TEQUILA MINSKY

Village Independent Democrats 26 Perry Street, New York, NY 10014 www.villagedemocrats.org Erik Coler - President

You’re Invited to Meet The Democratic Candidates For: Mayor

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Candidates will speak followed by Q & A Tuesday, May 2nd, 6:30 pm – 10:00 pm LGBT Community Center – 208 W. 13th Street VID’s free Tenants’ Clinic meets every Wednesday at 6:00 pm at VID headquarters. Bring all necessary documents. No appointment needed.

Sponsored by: Village Reform Democratic Club

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April 27, 2017

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Brooklyn rep touts 2-way V’zano toll Named best weekly newspaper in New York State in 2001, 2004 and 2005 by New York Press Association News Story, First Place, 2015 Editorial Page, First Place, 2015 Editorials, First Place, 2014 News Story, First Place, 2014 Overall Design Excellence, First Place, 2013 Best Column, First Place, 2012 Photographic Excellence, First Place, 2011 Spot News Coverage, First Place, 2010 Coverage of Environment, First Place, 2009

PUBLISHER JENNIFER GOODSTEIN

EDITOR IN CHIEF LINCOLN ANDERSON

ARTS EDITOR SCOTT STIFFLER

CONTRIBUTORS ALBERT AMATEAU IRA BLUTREICH TINA BENITEZ-EVES SARAH FERGUSON BOB KRASNER TEQUILA MINSKY CLAYTON PATTERSON JEFFERSON SIEGEL SHARON WOOLUMS

GRAPHIC DESIGNER CRISTINA ALCINE

BY COLIN MIXSON

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ruth be tolled, one local congressman thinks it’s time for a change. Dan Donovan has asked the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to study the impact of re-establishing a two-way toll on the Verrazano Bridge, which would nix the current one-way toll that’s been blamed for rush-hour traffic jams in Gowanus and Park Slope and increased congestion on Canal and Broome Sts. in Lower Manhattan. As the Staten Island representative for a Republican-dominated Congress, Donovan’s support would be crucial for any changes to the federally controlled Verrazano Bridge. His sudden interest in a new study is a good sign that change may finally be coming to the span’s toll structure, according to Craig Hammerman, district manager of Brooklyn’s Community Board 6. “If there’s a sense conveyed to the government and M.T.A. that there is interest and support on both sides of the Verrazano Bridge for this, then I don’t see how this wouldn’t happen,” Hammerman said. In January, the district manager fired off a letter to Governor Cuomo requesting a similar study of a two-way toll’s impact. Designed to appease Staten Islanders, the bridge’s current one-way toll exists thanks to a 1986 act of Congress — making it the state’s only municipal span governed by fed-

eral lawmakers. Back in the early 1980s, Staten Island voters kicked up a fuss about pollution from the Verrazano’s massive toll plaza, which ensnared traffic on that borough’s side of the span. But the new toll structure not only benefitted Richmond County residents, but also New Jersey commuters, who realized they could exploit the new one-way toll — which only taxes drivers headed into Staten Island — and save money on their trip by taking the bridge into Brooklyn instead of the tunnels into Manhattan. And the toll-skipping scheme is especially cost-saving for truckers, who can be taxed more than seven times what passenger cars pay for a trip across the bridge. In the more than three decades since then, transit advocates throughout Brooklyn and Lower Manhattan — including Democratic Congressmember Jerrold Nadler — have called for drivers once again to be taxed heading in both directions along the Verrazano, citing traffic concerns and lost revenue. But Staten Island congressmembers have routinely thwarted change on behalf of their right-of-center constituency, making the reform impossible in a Congress that — barring a few years during former President Obama’s first term — has been dominated by Republicans.

Hammerman, though, renewed the push for a two-way toll with his January letter to Cuomo in light of new cashless toll technology, which, in combination with E-ZPass, allows drivers to breeze across the bridge without stopping to pay a toll, relieving Staten Islanders of their pollution argument when it comes to preserving the one-way tax scheme. Donovan, however, has said he would not support the change without a study proving its efficacy. Good on his word, he fired off a letter to acting M.T.A. Chairperson Fernando Ferrer, requesting a study to determine the traffic and revenue-generating impacts of the toll change. “Having Donovan on board would obviously be extremely helpful, if not critical, to making this happen,” Hammerman said. “If the M.T.A. is going to recoup the millions of dollars they’re losing now by having a one-way-toll and it doesn’t cause more traffic — in fact, it lessens traffic — and we could use some of that revenue that they would now generate to help the people of Brooklyn and Staten Island, then it is something I would very much consider,” Donovan said. As reported by The Villager back in June 2014, Nadler told the Manhattan’s Community Board 2 that he anticipated the bridge fee would revert to two-way before long due to high-speed tolling.

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According to police, a shoplifter with a sweet tooth hit the Big Gay Ice Cream Shop at 61 Grove St. on Thurs., Apr. 20 at 5:30 p.m. The man strode into the shop and grabbed some ice cream pints without paying, cops said. When an employee tried to lock the front door, so the guy couldn’t leave, the suspect pushed her and left. Clark Dannavan, 44, was arrested the next day for felony robbery.

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April 27, 2017

Fantasy felony A man told police he left his wallet inside 115 MacDougal St. on Wed., Mar. 22, at 1 a.m. and found out that his credit card had been used to buy a slew of sexy goods. According to police, a total of $950 in fraudulent charges were racked up on the 35-year-old victim’s card at the

Fantasy Party porn and sex-toys shop at 333 Sixth Ave. Bryan Diaz, 23, was arrested Wed., Apr. 19, for felony grand larceny.

9th St. burglary Police said a senior burglar struck an apartment at 50 W. Ninth St on Mon., Apr. 17, at 7 a.m. The suspect entered the 32-year-old victim’s unlocked apartment, but apparently wasn’t looking for laptops, watches or jewelry. Instead, he removed a rubber doormat, loose papers and bills and photo books, police said. Paul A. Pannkuk, 68, was charged with felony burglary.

Spicy swipe A woman’s purse was stolen at Negril Village, at 70 W. Third St., on Sun., Mar. 19, at 7 p.m.

According to police, the 52-yearold victim said she put her purse on the Caribbean restaurant’s counter and left it there unattended while using a downstairs bathroom. She later realized she didn’t have her handbag as she was about to make a purchase at a nearby store. Her debit cards were used at multiple locations around town. One month later, Edward Jeter, 50, was arrested Mon., Apr. 17 for felony grand larceny.

K2 infestation Police have noticed an increase in the use of K2 around W. 14th St. and Sixth Ave. and believe that smokers of the drug are coming into the city on the PATH train, which has a stop at the intersection, according to a report in Town and Village. Speaking at a meeting of the 13th Precinct Community Council, Deputy Inspector Brendan Timoney said there were at least 10 people arrested for K2, also known as synthetic marijuana, in the last week, and charged with violating health codes. The suspects ranged in age from 24 to 50 and were all busted

around the intersection, where the bank on the northwest corner closed last year. Residents say the inactive storefront has led to the spot also becoming a magnet for loitering, graffiti and litter.

Blood on tracks A 25-year-old man was struck and killed by an uptown Q train at Union Square early Sunday morning, police said. Patch reported that the train’s motorman saw someone trying to cross the tracks around 4:40 a.m., according to police. “He tried to put the brakes on but unfortunately he struck the individual,” the spokesman said. The man was pronounced dead at the scene. Police have not released the man’s name, but said they believe he was a 25-year-old Texan, Patch reported. Investigators believe they found the man’s wallet in the subway station, according to police.

Tabia Robinson TheVillager.com


People’s Town Hall Meeting s4HE#LOSINGOF"ETH)SRAEL(OSPITAL #AN)T"E3TOPPED )STHE-T3INAI0LANFOR/UR COMMUNITYSUFlCIENT s4HE0OTENTIALFOR.93INGLE 0AYER(EALTH#OVERAGE s7HAT#AN9OU$O Beth Israel is not waiting four years to close. It has closed the maternity ward, cardiac surgery, pediatric surgery and neonatal intensive care. They plan to substitute a 70 bed hospital for a hospital which has 3-400 beds ďŹ lled every day. The partial closures must stop, proper studies done, transparent, and community approved, healthcare plan adopted.

TIME TO GET INVOLVED! Program Chair: Anthony Feliciano - - Director, Commission on the Public’s Health System

NEW YORK PROGRESSIVE ACTION NETWORK

Thursday May 4, 2017 6pm Local 32BJ SEIU - 25 West 18th Street (between 5th and 6th)

Convened by Progressive Action of Lower Manhattan a Chapter of the NY Progressive Action Network Co-sponsor list (in formation): Merger Watch, Metro NY Health Care For All; Commission on the Public’s Health System; Coalition For A District Alternative; Village Reform Democrats; Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club; Manhattan Young Democrats; Chelsea Reform Democratic Club; 504 Democratic Club; Grassroots Action (NYPAN); Riseand Resist, Father Walter Tonelotto, Pastor-Our Lady of Pomoeii Church, LES Power Partnership; Arthur Schwartz, Democratic District Leader, Carolina Rivera, Democratic District Leader; Paul Newell, Democratic District Leader; Ben Yee, Democratic State Committee Member

For more info: contact ProgressiveActionNYC@gmail.com TheVillager.com

April 27, 2017

5


Seeds of discord? Garden sprouts a new group Letitia James, back saving the garden. But the mayor and Chin are unbending. The Lower Manhattan councilmember has always been a staunch advocate for affordable housing, which also is a central plank of de Blasio’s political platform.

GARDEN continued from p. 1

New York — said he would not have moved there if not for the garden. He was one of the fi rst restaurants to open on the block.” In addition to the garden’s positive impact on the area, Reiver said, his legal team has also discovered that the site has a very long history of public use as a community space. “Through public research, we have found that the site was a place of public gathering for close to 200 years,” he said, “where the site was used as a school playground and another kind of school-gathering-related spot before that.” Reiver, who operates a gallery just north of the garden lot, has held a lease from the city for the outdoor space since 1991, renting it for $4,000 a month. As Reiver, who is in his mid-70s, told The Villager back in October 2015, when he fi rst arrived on the block in 1989, he lived across the street from the then-garbage-strewn vacant lot, and — sick of looking at the eyesore every day — resolved to clean it up. After getting approval from Community Board 2 and the city, he landscaped the spot and added statues and monuments that he had collected from estates. He sold two or three of the sculptures per year, but says the sales were just incidental — that he really just intended to beautify the block, and by extension, the surrounding neighborhood.

‘Park statues here’ Area residents back then liked his idea, since the other alternative that the city was floating was for the spot to be a parking lot. Reiver recalled, “There’s an old woman, over 100 years old now. She lives on Prince St. At the end of the community board hearing in 1990, she stood up — she was probably 75 then, she had a heavy European accent — and said, ‘Statues do not make noise,’ and she sat down, and everyone applauded.” Neighbors had also opposed an earlier city plan to build a 600-seat school on the vacant lot. Previously, a school stood on the site of the current Little Italy Restoration Apartments (LIRA) affordable housing development, on Spring St., while the garden lot was occupied by the school’s playground. An even earlier plan had called for a new 1,200-seat school on both the former school and its playground. “In the land disposition for the LIRA sale,” Reiver noted, “the other lot [where the garden is now] was supposed to be used for recreational purposes. The front part was sold to

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April 27, 2017

‘Solomonic decision’

A photo of the old P.S. 21, at Elizabeth St. just nor th of Spring St., from the late 1920s. The school stood at least through the mid-to-late 1970s. In 1981, the Little Italy Restoration Apar tments were built on Spring St., including much of the former school site. Plans to build a new shool never panned out due to community opposition, and the school’s playground became a vacant lot that eventually became the Elizabeth St. Garden.

LIRA and the rear part was to be reserved for recreation.” Fast-forward to 2012 and a new generation of local residents realized the statue-fi lled now-threatened lot — which Reiver most often left closed to the public — was, in fact, city-owned property. They created the Friends of Elizabeth Street Garden both to program the space and fight for its preservation as permanent parkland. With Reiver’s cooperation, they opened the garden up to public use and staffed it. Reiver previously told The Villager that, in the past, he could not really allow the public into the garden on a regular basis due to liability issues — such as people falling over the statues and hurting themselves, for example — and a lack of staffi ng to oversee the place.

Backroom deal Meanwhile, five years ago, the lot was quietly earmarked for affordable housing by City Councilmember Chin and City Hall as a stealth add-on to the Seward Park Urban Renewal project on the Lower East Side — even though the two locations are in completely different community boards and there had been no public review of the plan for Elizabeth St. C.B. 2 was only notified after the fact. Over the past five years, F.E.S.G. has campaigned to try to save the Little Italy green space from being developed with the city-sponsored senior housing project, which, in addition to being championed by Chin,

‘This was a public-gathering place for close to 200 years.’ Allan Reiver

is backed by Mayor Bill de Blasio. The Friends have held several “Wake Up!” rallies — featuring a “Reveille”tooting bugler — including outside the Department of Housing Preservation and Development’s offices and even in front of Brooklyn’s Prospect Park YMCA, buttonholing de Blasio as he entered the gym for his usual morning stretch. Unfortunately, their efforts to save the full garden have not made headway. For the past two years, C.B. 2 has also urged the mayor to shift the housing project to an alternative vacant site at Clarkson and Hudson Sts. — where five times as many affordable units could be built, advocates say — but to no avail. In addition, in a unified front, all the area’s local politicians — with the exception of Chin — as well as citywide elected officials, including Comptroller Scott Stringer and Public Advocate

Indeed, at a Chelsea town hall meeting last month, de Blasio answered a question by a garden member by saying he fi rmly supports the current plan — which would include 5,000 square feet of open space along with the housing. “I’m very much clear that this was the ultimate Solomonic decision,” the mayor replied. “The whole site was [originally] slated for affordable housing and there was no public space. You had an active public space in the interim — and a very good use, obviously,” he said of the thriving community garden. “The decision I came to was to do a split — where there would still be public space and there would be space for activities, but we could also put in affordable housing for seniors that was desperately needed in the community.” Yet, under the city’s current plan, only about one-quarter of the blockthrough lot would be preserved for open public use. “So, right now that’s where we are, and I don’t see that changing,” the mayor told the town hall. “I believe we’re in the right place — even though I know you disagree.”

New group’s messages Earlier this month, the three board members of the breakaway group, E.S.G., issued statements to F.E.S.G.’s members, explaining their decision to form the new nonprofit. Joseph Reiver, who is 25, praised F.E.S.G. for their work supporting the garden and creating a burgeoning sense of newfound community around it, and vowed to keep up its community programming. “The amount of green space and openness to the public in the midst of the romantic architectural aspects and diverse seasonal activities makes the garden the heart of our neighborhood,” the younger Reiver said. “These elements form a unique, shared sanctuary, one that I am absolutely dedicated to sustaining and protecting. “Through my role in Elizabeth Street Garden, Inc. (E.S.G.), I will maintain the free public programming and accessibility of the garden.” In an interview with The Villager this week, Joseph said that, basically, GARDEN continued on p. 7

TheVillager.com


that will manage space and plans to sue the city GARDEN continued from p. 6

the five-member board of F.E.S.G. was split on whether to sue. Two members, Jeannine Kiely and Kent Barwick, were against the idea. A third member never attended meetings, while the other two members wanted to sue. “The whole reason we started the new nonprofit was because others were not willing to join the litigation,” Joseph said. De Blasio made his position on the garden perfectly clear at the Chelsea town hall, Joseph noted. “The bottom line is what’s best for the garden,” Joseph said. In her statement to her fellow gardeners, Renée Green, 85, who was one of the board members of F.E.S.G. who backed suing, said forming the new nonprofit was tough but necessary. The new E.S.G. board member said the garden is “perfect” for her as a nearby open space since she can’t walk far due to arthritis. “It is with deep regret that I have resigned from the board of F.E.S.G.,” Green wrote, in part. “It’s a drastic step, and one that was not easy for me. That I did so was for the sake of preserving the garden. “F.E.S.G. had done such a remarkable job of turning a magical space into a major focal point for the community, yet we weren’t getting any closer to changing the minds of people that matter. We had to get more aggressive and, if necessary, take legal action to save the garden. I realized I could no longer stand by, knowing that the mayor, like Councilwoman Chin, has dug his heels in and angrily said that the best we could hope for is a 50/50 split of the property. While this may sound like a great compromise, to those of us who truly want to preserve the garden, it is totally unacceptable. “I have become a member of the board of the new Elizabeth Street Garden, Inc. (E.S.G.) because I feel that, with them, we stand a better chance of preserving the garden.”

‘Any means possible’ The third board member of the new group is Aziz Dehkan, executive director of the New York City Community Garden Coalition. “This community garden is a vital asset to the Little Italy neighborhood, one of the last few green spaces available to the residents, and we should use any means possible to preserve this space as it currently exists,” Dehkan said in his letter to the rest of the gardeners. “Through the city, the Department of Housing Preservation and Development has targeted community gardens as a place to build what they deem affordable housing. The trade-off of TheVillager.com

PHOTO BY LINCOLN ANDERSON

A shot by renowned photographer Jay Maisel of the then-newly created Elizabeth Street Garden in 1991, taken from the rooftop of 210 Elizabeth St., where his friend Allan Reiver formerly lived. “He took the picture the day I finished the garden,” Reiver recalled. This is the last postcard of a batch that Reiver had made up with this photo. Reiver later relocated across the street into a former firehouse.

destroying community gardens to build affordable housing is unacceptable. There are better ways to achieve making the city more affordable and livable. “Despite the public outrage, despite C.B. 2’s condemnation of this project,” Dehkan continued, “City Councilwoman Chin, the mayor and H.P.D. are intent on bulldozing Elizabeth Street Garden to make way for a building that would be better suited at another location, a site that would create more units and save the community garden. “Friends of Elizabeth Street Garden (F.E.S.G.) has been working to solve this issue through the political process and public demonstrations. Clearly,” Dehkan said, “that has not been enough to stop H.P.D. and the destruction of Elizabeth Street Garden. The only viable next step to stop the loss of this important neighborhood space is through legal action, and at this critical point in time it appears that F.E.S.G. is not willing to take that action. And action must be taken immediately. There is no time for indecision. No time to lose. “I am also certain that E.S.G. will continue to work with F.E.S.G. to ensure that programs remain, that support in the community remains and that together, E.S.G. and F.E.S.G. will form one powerful coalition to save Elizabeth Street Garden.”

‘Effective immediately’ Not surprisingly, leaders of the first nonprofit group were shocked by the move to create the second one and

wrest away control of the garden. “Allan sent us a letter that said, effective immediately, we should no longer be programming the garden,” said Kiely, who was the initial organizer

of efforts to save the garden five years ago. “This new organization will program the garden and staff it. “We had a great lineup,” Kiely said, reflecting on the events they had planned for this season. “Last year, we did 203 public events. Most of them were organized by our volunteer members.” Kiely noted they had a “seed-bomb workshop” — set up through a third party — for Earth Day last Saturday, which had been planned three months earlier. “We actually had a full day of programming,” she said. While the Earth Day event was co-sponsored by the Department of Sanitation’s Compost Project and the Lower East Side Ecology Center, other events that F.E.S.G. volunteers planned to hold apparently are all now kaput. As for F.E.S.G.’s not committing to joining a lawsuit to save the garden, Kiely said, “I can’t comment on theoretical litigation. We made a decision on a certain date.” Basically, F.E.S.G. members studied whether a lawsuit could succeed in this case, and determined it was too much of a long shot. For example, one angle they reportedly looked at was to GARDEN continued on p. 22

THE HISTORIC MESERITZ SYNAGOGUE HAS RE-OPENED. Please join us for weekday Mincha at 7:00 pm, Erev Shabbos/Friday at 7:00 pm and Shabbos morning at 9:30 am. Come in and help keep the history of this 110-year-old synagogue alive. 415 E. 6th Street. 212-505-5264 Look for us on Facebook at Meseritz Synagogue April 27, 2017

7


Debate over ‘data’ as board votes to hike rents RENT continued from p. 1

for rent-regulated units. The R.G.B. recommended the same percentage increases for loft tenants. For the past two years in a row, under Mayor Bill de Blasio, the R.G.B. supported a zero percent increase for one-year renewals and a 2 percent hike for two-year renewals. The initial rent freeze two years ago was historic — the first time New York City had ever seen a zero increase under the current rent-regulation program, which dates back to 1943. This year, many thought surely there would be another rent freeze, given that de Blasio is running for re-election to a second term. And many further hoped for a rollback —as in, an actual rent reduction. Landlords’ projected operating costs under former Mayor Mike Bloomberg were exaggerated — meaning the steady rent increases during those years were unjustified — according to tenant advocates; so, it was time for “a correction,” they argued, convincingly. Last year, Mayor de Blasio — who appoints all the R.G.B. members — also had emphasized that “the data” supported a rent freeze. There were hopes on Tuesday in the Great Hall for a rollback this time around. Yet, this year, the data was different. Last year’s calls for a rollback, in fact, seemed louder and stronger — as if tenants knew it was actually possibly within reach, based on the numbers. “We said a rollback is what we need! We’re here to stop the landlord greed!” the tenants sang on Tuesday. “Fight! Fight! Fight!” they chanted. “Housing is a right!” “Si, se puede!” (“We can do it!”) An Upper West Side woman in the audience — a 92year-old retired gardener — was praying for a rollback. “I’m holding my breath,” she said. “I need it. We used to live on West End Ave. We had to leave because our building went co-op. If we had bought, we would have become millionaires. Last year, a drop in the cost of heating oil justified a rent freeze, in the opinion of most of the R.G.B. members. However, oil’s price has come back up. In short, this year, the data — landlords’ operating expenses — justify a rent increase, according to a majority of the nine-member board. Specifically, the “price index” used to calculate owners’ operating costs justified the raise, in the opinion of most of the board members. Harvey Epstein and Sheila Garcia, the board’s tenant members, opposed the recommended guidelines, which were put forth by Kathleen Roberts, the R.G.B. chairperson. Also voting No on Roberts’s proposal were the two owner representatives, Mary Serafy and J. Scott Walsh, who favored boosting rents more. But the board’s other four so-called public members all backed the suggested rent hikes — eliciting a chorus of boos from the audience. Starting off the proposals, owner members Serafy and Walsh had advocated for steeper renewal increases — 4 percent for one-year leases and 6 percent for two-year leases. “We believe a third straight year of a rent freeze would possibly be a disaster for a certain number of landlords,” Serafy stated. “According to the data, operating costs are up 6.2 percent. Not increasing rents this year will increase the possibility of large increases in the future.” “Not justified! Not justified!” the tenants in the audience chanted. All the other R.G.B. members opposed this proposal. Next, Garcia and Epstein made a pitch for a “twotiered system,” under which landlords who had taken advantage of M.C.I.’s (major capital improvements) and

8

April 27, 2017

Tenants called for a rent rollback — as in, a rent reduction — to no avail at Tuesday’s preliminar y vote of the R.G.B. The board’s final vote will be in June and a rent freeze or rollback are no longer possibilities.

I.A.I.’s (individual apartment improvements) and vacancy increases in the past three years would have to give their tenants a rent reduction of 4 percent to zero percent for one-year renewals or 2 percent to zero percent for two-year renewals. If the landlords hadn’t done any of these, their units would get lease renewals in the range of from zero percent to 2 percent for both one and two years, per the tenant members’ proposal. Epstein said they had been looking at “the data,” too, but that it told them a different story. “More than 35 percent of people pay more than 50 percent of their income toward rent,” he said. “Fortyfive percent of people going into homeless shelters come from rent-stabilized housing.” Meanwhile, he added, “Owners’ income exceeds their costs, year after year.” Added Garcia, “We exist as a rent board because there is a homeless crisis. One hundred thousand people will be going through the shelter system this year. There are 60,000 people in the shelters — 30,000 of them are children. “Landlords are paying 57 percent of every dollar to run their buildings — down from 68 percent a few years ago,” she added. “Tenants’ wages are stagnant. Tenants across the city are struggling, while landlords are doing just fine.” Garcia noted that leading landlord group the Rent Stabilization Association sued to repeal the R.G.B.’s mostrecent rent freeze, but lost in State Supreme Court. “The court ruled that the R.G.B. can take into account affordability,” she noted. However, all seven other R.G.B. members opposed Epstein and Garcia’s motion. “Shame! Shame! Shame!” came shouts from the audience — along with a loud snake-like hiss. Then Roberts put forth her winning proposal, which passed by a vote of 5 to 4. “We need a revolution,” one woman in the audience grumbled to fellow tenants. Speaking after the vote, Epstein said there won’t be a rent freeze or rollback for lease renewals starting this October because the final figures must be “in the range” that the R.G.B. proposed Tuesday night.

However, veteran tenant activist Michael McKee, of Tenants Political Action Committee, said there’s nothing in the law that says that must be the case. “Not at all true,” McKee said. “While the R.G.B. has never adopted final rent adjustments that were higher or lower than the ranges, there is no prohibition against their doing so. The ‘ranges’ are nowhere mentioned in the law or the regulations. The ‘range’ methodology was adopted by the former Bloomberg R.G.B. chairperson, Marvin Markus, as a means of tamping down tenant protest — don’t put out an actual preliminary number, keep people off-base.” However, told of McKee’s response, Epstein said, the city’s Law Department — the Corporation Counsel — this year is saying they, in fact, must stay “in the range.” “Corp Counsel told us specifically this year that the votes need to be within range,” Epstein said. “I totally hear what Mike is saying and I think he’s right about what he’s saying about the statute. But there’s all these administrative-procedure act things and Corp Counsel says now that we have to be within the range.” Epstein — a former chairperson of the East Village’s Community Board 3 — said he was “disappointed” there will be no rent freeze, much less a rollback. “We think the data really supported it,” he reiterated. “I think the board really ignored the data.” However, Helen Schaub, a public member on the R.G.B., when asked how the board could have backed a rent freeze for two years, yet now supports an increase, also cited the data. “The data is different than last year,” she said. She said a breakdown of the price index of landlords’ operating costs done by R.G.B. staff is all clearly spelled out on the R.G.B. Web site. “The price index was negative for two years,” but not this year, she noted. Asked if the board felt that rent increases during the Bloomberg years that were “rubber-stamped” by the R.G.B. — based on exaggerated cost projections, according to advocates — have been corrected by a couple of years of rent freezes, she said, “I think it is.” Joseph Strasburg, president of the Rent Stabilization Association, predicted — unhappily —that, by the end of this current process, tenant advocates would succeed in driving down the rent increases as far as possible. “In June, we believe there will only be 1 percent and 2 percent increases,” he said. Yet, landlords continue to face increasing New York City real estate taxes, he said. The R.S.A.’s landlord members represent about half of the city’s 1.2 rent-stabilized apartments. Regarding their lawsuit challenging last year’s rent freeze, Strasburg said his group strongly disagrees with the basis of the judge’s ruling — mainly, that affordability should be considered by the R.G.B. when it sets rents. “Affordability was not even mentioned in the [original rent-regulation] statutes,” he said. However, given that this year’s price index is actually up — 6.2 percent — but the R.G.B.’s rent-increase recommendations are only about half that amount, Strasburg indicated the R.S.A. might sue again. “We may find that this year is a better lawsuit for us,” he said. There will be five public hearings throughout the boroughs to gather input on the proposed increases, after which the R.G.B. will hold its final vote on Tues., June 27, at Baruch College’s Mason Hall, at 17 Lexington Ave., at E. 23rd St., at 7 p.m. Two Manhattan public meetings will be held in the Downtown area: Thurs., May 25, at the Landmarks Preservation Commission’s ninth-floor conference room, at 1 Centre St., at 9:30 a.m., and Wed., June 14, at the U.S. Customs House, at 1 Bowling Green, from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. TheVillager.com


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April 27, 2017

9


Stewart hailed as ‘people’s attorney’ at memorial STEWART continued from p. 1

prison] for? It was because she stood up against the forces of revenge and the forces that say, ‘Don’t cross us — or you’ll pay a price,’ ” said Reverend Lawrence Lucas. A black Roman Catholic priest, Lucas once clashed with Mayor Ed Koch, who had accused him of racist and anti-Semitic remarks when he was the pistol-packing pastor of Resurrection Church in Harlem during the 1980s. “She had to pay a price like all of those who are fearlessly concerned about justice,” said Lucas, who went on to work at the city’s Department of Corrections. He noted that Stewart helped to gain a 1988 jury acquittal for Bronx cop shooter Larry Davis, who had faced an attempted-murder conviction for, as Lucas put it, “trying to defend his life against a group of thugs called police officers.” Other speakers portrayed Stewart, an atheist who believed in armed struggle, as a secular saint. “When the people who put Lynne in jail and their bones have turned to dust, Lynne’s [legacy] will live on!” thundered Newark activist Larry Hamm, chairperson of the People’s Organization for Progress as he addressed Stewart’s family, friends and supporters in St. Peter’s sacristy. “Lynne Stewart was a people’s lawyer,” he said. “What does that mean? She was brilliant and could have worked on Park Ave. or Lexington Ave. or Fifth Ave. But she didn’t choose to do that. She didn’t choose to defend the powerful and the wealthy,” he continued to shouts of approval from the crowd. “She chose to be a servant of the people!” Hamm, who called for the establishment of a scholarship fund to help prospective law students hoping to pursue “difficult” careers in Stewart’s line of work, described her 10-year sentence in 2009 as a “de facto” death penalty. Stewart’s trial judge in Foley Square had originally sentenced her to 28 months, but federal prosecutors successfully appealed his ruling. Stewart, 77, died March 7 at her Brooklyn home, some three years after she was granted compassionate release from a Texas prison in late 2013 for her stage-four breast cancer. At that time, she had served about four years of her sentence —mainly for issuing a press release, in violation of prison rules, from one of her clients, imprisoned convicted terrorist Omar Abdel-Rahman, to his violent followers in Egypt. The Muslim cleric, also known as “The Blind Sheikh,” died several weeks before Stewart did. He had been sentenced to life in solitary confinement for being the mastermind of the first terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in 1993, as well as conspiring to conduct multiple other bombings around the New York City area. Stewart, who believed AbdelRahman was innocent, wept in court at his 1995 conviction.

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April 27, 2017

PHOTOS BY MARY REINHOLZ

At one point during the memorial, a group of people stood up holding signs championing the late Lynne Stewar t and many of the themes that defined her life of radical activism.

Radical attorney Ron Kuby and Kathy Boudin, the former Weather Underground terrorist-turned-Columbia professor, at Lynne Stewar t’s memorial.

Left-wing journalist Chris Hedges, a former foreign correspondent for The New York Times and a Presbyterian minister, said Stewart “had a profound empathy for people who suffered.” He said her “epiphany” came in the early 1960s when she went to work as a teacher in Harlem,

a community that she “didn’t even know existed,” as a middle-class young woman from Queens only 5 miles away. It was in Harlem, he said, where Stewart met her longtime second husband, Ralph Poynter, who was a teachers union organizer across the hall. It was, Hedges recalled,

“at a time, as she said, when her skirts were as short as her hair was long,” a remark eliciting laughter from attendees. Hedges said that any celebration of Stewart also had to be “a celebration of the life of Ralph Poynter and a celebration of their family.” Poynter, he added, encouraged Stewart to attend law school, noting she went on to defend the poor — “and all those that the state was trying to crush and erase.” (Her other controversial clients included members of the Black Panther Party, the Weather Underground and mob turncoat Sammy “The Bull” Gravano.) The sacristy erupted with applause when Hedges claimed that Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman, her last major case, “had nothing to do with the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center.” Meanwhile, he characterized Stewart’s own trial with two other co-defendants as “a show trial.” Other speakers included Glen Ford, the executive editor of the Black Agenda Report, and Geoffrey St. Andrew Stewart, Stewart’s son from her first marriage, who is also a criminal defense lawyer. New Jersey visual artist Ruth Bader Neustader spoke a few minutes about the picture she painted of Stewart while Neustader was a volunteer for WBAI, noting that she is giving it to Stewart’s family. Poynter held it aloft amid cheers and pounding drums. At one point during the memorial at the so-called “Jazz Church,” at Lexington Ave. and E. 54th St., about 50 of Stewart’s supporters entered St. Peter’s sacristy singing and carrying signs with messages like “Rest in Power,” “Resist” and “Justice.” One of the organizers of the event was the International Action Center, a volunteer organization co-founded by Ramsey Clark, a former U.S. attorney general. Clark had represented Abdel-Rahman and asked Stewart to defend him at his trial. Attendees first gathered on a lower level of St. Peter’s, where there was food and beverages laid out on long tables, along with images of Stewart resurrected on a screen as she recalled her life and her struggles in a disembodied voice. People introduced themselves to newcomers and mingled with old friends. The Villager spotted leftist royalty in the crowd, such as civil-rights attorney Ron Kuby, who had briefly represented Abdel-Rahman with Kuby’s late West Village partner Bill Kunstler. This reporter snapped a photo of Kuby with former Weather Underground leader Kathy Boudin, who spent 22 years in jail for her role in the infamous 1981 Brink’s armoredcar robbery in Nyack, which led to the shooting deaths of a security guard and two police officers. Boudin, now 73, teaches at Columbia University. She declined to comment for this article. TheVillager.com


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April 27, 2017

11


EDITORIAL Frozen out

T

uesday evening, in the East Village, the Rent Guidelines Board bucked their trend of the past two years by recommending increases for lease renewals starting this coming October for rent-regulated apartments. The board’s recommendations were 1 percent to 3 percent increases for one-year lease renewals and 2 percent to 4 percent for two-year renewals. Given that there are still more than 1 million rentregulated apartments in this city, the R.G.B.’s actions affect the welfare of perhaps upward of 2 million people — or nearly one out of every four of us. Although the so-called “price index” for landlords’ operating and maintenance costs is up this year by 6.2 percent, landlords are still making a good profit on their properties. In other words, the price index is a flawed mechanism —since it only looks at landlords’ expenses and doesn’t consider the income they are raking in. Hence tenants’ chants of “Open your books!” at The Cooper Union Tuesday. More to the point, beginning in 2008 during the Bloomberg administration, the R.G.B., in the words of Michael McKee, the prominent veteran tenant advocate, “went nuts in approving unjustified rent hikes, and continued this during the next six years — during the recession, when tenants were hanging on by their fingernails.” As McKee puts it, “The partial rent freezes of the last two years only began to compensate tenants for the excessive rent hikes of the Bloomberg era. A rent rollback really is needed to correct the damage.” And returning to the issue of owners’ net profit, McKee noted, “If landlords’ costs go up, but their incomes go up faster, there can be no justification for a rent increase.” We agree that a rent rollback — an actual rent reduction — is in order to rectify the unfair rent hikes during Bloomberg. Mayor de Blasio has pledged to tackle the inequities in what he calls “The Tale of Two Cities” of New York. What his R.G.B. has done over the past two years — he appoints all the board’s nine members — has been fantastic for middle-class and lower-class residents. But now is not the time to cave. Yes, a 1 percent rent increase might seem small. But 1 percent year after year adds up, and soon one’s rent is hundreds or a thousand dollars more than it once was. Workers’ salaries are stagnant. The city gets more expensive. The key question now is whether the R.G.B. must, in fact, vote “in the range” — within the recommended increases it proposed Tuesday night — when it makes its final decision in June. In other words, can the board still vote for a rent freeze or even a rollback — a rent reduction — in their ultimate vote? According to McKee, they definitely can; there is nothing in the rent-regulation law or regulations that mentions “ranges” or staying within them. Harvey Epstein, a tenant member on the R.G.B., told us that the city’s Corporation Counsel — i.e., the Law Department — “specifically told” the R.G.B. members this year that they “need to be within range.” Also, the board has never voted “outside the range,” he noted. Umm...so? There had never been a rent freeze, either, until two years ago. Is de Blasio just afraid to call for a third rent freeze? We need clarity here. The more than 2 million rent-regulated New Yorkers deserve it. We have more than a month to figure this out. There is a legal answer here. There is also a moral one.

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April 27, 2017

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR Peel was my professor To The Editor: Re “David Peel, 74, the king of pot, punk and protest” (tribute, by Paul DeRienzo, April 13): I knew David since 1971. I had the pleasure to record with him, tour with him, and become friends — beyond friends, family really. What I learned from him about life is not in any book, or on any record. It’s all inside. I will miss him. A lot. Jeff Levy

Peel wake on public TV To The Editor: Re “ ‘Streets were his stage’; Friends, fans fittingly honor Peel with park jam” (news article, April 20): The first 28 minutes of the David Peel memorial wake were broadcast on April 24 on “Revolting News” on mnn.org and on Spectrum Channel 56, RCN 83 and FiOS 34. Featured are Harold C. Black, Dana Beal, Richie West, Aron Kay and more. The second 28 minutes will be aired on May 8, same time, same station. We’ll hear Eliot Dean Ween and others. Here is the joyous singing in Tompkins Square Park that went on till after dark: https://www.youtube. com/watch?v=RdUlYMGJVVg .

“Bitter End’s Weintraub returns to where it began, on Bleecker.” Unfortunately, we can’t cover everything, though if Jerry were still around, he surely would have written a fitting send-off.

What a turkey! To The Editor: Re “V.I.D. backs Marte over Chin in primary for Council District 1” (news article, April 20): Where’s enforcement by the chicken-and-duck patrol on poultry hanging in Chinese restaurants? Chin passed a law on this health hazard. What a joke. Susan L. Yung

‘Bedder’ get used to it To The Editor: Re “I survived, but will Lower Manhattan healthcare?” (Progress Report, by Arthur Schwartz, April 20): It will be pick and choose for a hospital bed. Helen Murphy

It’s not an accident

Thelma Blitz

Bitter obit omission To The Editor: I am a longtime subscriber to your paper — and was a longtime Village resident and businessman. I did not see an obituary for Fred Weintraub, the owner of the longest-existing club in the Village. I call your attention to the obituary on Weintraub in The New York Times. It seems if it is not a gay man or some kind of nut job that your paper won’t give any ink to prominent straight people! Fred was an original, very clever, and he made The Bitter End into a world-famous club! Without liquor — a cafe with music in the early ’60s! Joseph Marra Editor’s note: The Villager did “give ink” to Fred Weintraub, albeit back on April 5, 2012. The late Jerry Tallmer profiled him in a typically fine article,

To The Editor: Re “Cyclist hit by truck on 1st Ave. dies of injuries” (news article, April 20): I try to ride in the park or on the West Side bike path as much as possible because this terrifies me. Buses are the worst — they cut off bikers all the time and push them off the road or into traffic. I know people who have died on quiet country roads where someone was turning and not paying attention. When will police take these cases seriously? It’s not an accident. It’s manslaughter. Sara Miltenberger E-mail letters, not longer than 250 words in length, to news@thevillager.com or fax to 212-229-2790 or mail to The Villager, Letters to the Editor, 1 MetroTech North, 10th floor, Brooklyn, NY 11201. Please include phone number for confirmation purposes. The Villager reserves the right to edit letters for space, grammar, clarity and libel. Anonymous letters will not be published.

EVAN FORSCH

Trump shatters America’s foundations.

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A message to ‘Novo’: Public participation matters

TALKING POINT BY TOM FOX

R

e “Thanks, ‘Crusty’ club” and “Row, row your selfish boat” (letters, by Michael Novogratz, March 30 and April 12): I think Mr. Michael Novogratz misunderstands our objections to the Pier55 project. It’s basically a theater that could be built anywhere, just not in a maritime sanctuary. The absence of meaningful public participation in the planning was a significant flaw in the project. Because the Hudson River Park Trust failed to invite public participation from the beginning of the Pier55 project — as it was established to do — the project suffered from mistaken assumptions and failed to adequately assess alternative locations, ranging from Gansevoort Peninsula to Pier 76. A little historical perspective might be helpful. To avoid the controversy and delays that defeated Westway — the last top-down scheme that was planned to fill in this portion of the Hudson River — we drafted the legislation that created the Hudson River Park Trust. That founding legislation required public participation in the planning, design and management of the new park. Rather than being presented with a completed plan to “review,” the public would participate in the planning of the park. Park professionals consider public participation a key element in the planning process. A broad spectrum of residents is involved early, and continuously, in the planning process, which incorporates public concerns, needs and values into public decision-making. This kind of process increases transparency and public confidence in public agencies and encourages the exchange of information, ideas and values between citizens and parks planning staff. Public participation can be cumbersome but it’s well worth the effort. The process ensures all the relevant issues are addressed in an open and constructive manner before they become controversies. It’s understandable that Mr. Novogratz is unaware of what meaningful public participation in park planning is or why it’s important. Unfortunately, there are no park professionals in leadership roles at the Trust to explain that to him. In planning Pier55, a wealthy donor pledged the funding needed to build and operate a major new projTheVillager.com

The idea for Pier55, a $200 million “fantasy ar ts island” proposed for off of W. 13th St. in Hudson River Park, was fanc y but was hatched in secret, and then planned for t wo years without public input, the writer argues. The plan required an amendent by the state Legislature to allow the pier to be built outside the old footprint of Pier 54, the park’s former main enter tainment pier. A s designed, the Pier55 project would have stretched bet ween the old wooden-pile fields of Piers 54 and 56.

ect in the park. Instead of working within the proposed use and physical parameters set for the reconstruction of Pier 54 in the park’s General Project Plan and the Estuarine Sanctuary Plan, the Trust met privately with the donors and their consultants for two years and then acted as a developer. With funding provided by Mr. Novogratz, as the chairperson of the Friends of Hudson River Park, in 2013 the Trust hired a lobbyist to help change the Hudson River Park Act in the closing hours of the legislative session by obfuscating its intentions at Pier55 — but the Trust and Friends knew perfectly well what they planned to do. They then presented a completed plan, consistent with the new legislative changes, to Community Board 2 at several meetings. However, it was not as enthusiastically received as Mr. Novogratz would have us believe and there were concerns and questions voiced about the project. Acting as a developer, the Trust tried to minimize public participation by scheduling the public comment period for the project over the Thanksgiving, Chanukah, Christmas and New Year’s holidays, while most people were distracted with personal responsibilities or out of town. The tactic was transparent and the Trust was forced to extend the public com-

ment period. Questions raised about the project’s location, configuration, change of use and the prohibition against non-water-dependent uses in this estuarine sanctuary were dismissed. Ignoring opposing views rather than

The park belongs to us all, not just a few bureaucrats or wealthy donors.

attempting to address them is hubris reminiscent of the 1970s and ’80s and not the way public planning is done in America these days. The Hudson River Park is public space — it belongs to all of us, not just a few government bureaucrats or wealthy donors. If thousands of people hadn’t fought for decades to pro-

tect this river from exploitation, and open it to public use, there would be no Hudson River Park. The park and the planning process should not be modified to accommodate the wishes of the wealthy. If donors want to contribute to building the park and participate in an open and meaningful public planning process, that’s great. If not, the park can be financed as was initially envisioned with the revenue it generates for our city and region in increased real estate taxes, tourism and enhanced public health. The park has generated billions of dollars in new real estate taxes in adjacent neighborhoods and this valuable public asset should be protected not exploited. Slandering my fellow plaintiff Mr. Robert Buchanan for being a conscientious steward of this valuable marine estuary may help salve Mr. Novogratz’s wounds, but it’s not going to move this project forward, or secure the future design, programming and management of the park. Mr. Novogratz should stop whining about opponents and listen. Most importantly, he should insist that the Trust hire qualified park professionals in leadership positions, secure adequate public funding for the full 5-mile-long Hudson River Park’s completion and maintenance and ensure the meaningful public participation that created the Trust, and the General Project Plan for the park in all future projects. That way he could make a meaningful contribution to the public good. Fox was a citizen appointee to the West Side Task Force in 1986, and the West Side Waterfront Panel from 1988-’90; the first president of the Hudson River Park Conservancy (the predecessor to the Hudson River Park Trust that completed the Hudson River Park’s concept and financial plan) from 1992-’95; a member of the Hudson River Park Alliance (which supported the Hudson River Park’s founding legislation) from 1996-’98; and a founding board member of Friends of Hudson River Park. Most recently, he was a plaintiff with his fellow City Club of New York member Robert Buchanan in the successful federal lawsuit against the Pier55 plan, which led Judge Lorna Schofield last month to nullify the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ permit for the project. Schofield ruled that the Corps had violated the Clean Water Act by incorrectly ruling that the “basic use” of Pier55 — performances and recreation — was water dependent.

April 27, 2017

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Time to intensify fight against bad landlords

PROGRESS REPORTS BY ERIK COLER

T

he fi rst time Aaron Carr tried to explain what a state-issued J-51 tax credit was to me, I had no idea what he was talking about. He might as well have been speaking in another language to me. Aaron, a close friend of mine, had recently left his job as a chief of staff to an assemblymember to start his own nonprofit. He sat me down and told me about his great idea, something that he had encountered working in the state Assembly but could not take on working from within the system: bad landlords who break the law by taking advantage of the good-faith-based system of tax credits. Aaron took the time to explain that what he wanted to do was go after landlords with his new nonprofit, the Housing Rights Initiative. How he would do that was the ingenious part.

Erik Coler is helping crack down on landlords who skir t the rentregulation laws.

New York State issues a tax credit to landlords called a J-51. This credit is issued for those who used their money to fi x up their buildings, doing major repairs, boilers, exteriors, etc. The owner receives huge tax breaks. However, as a rule, 100 percent of his or her units must be rent stabilized.

The problem that we are facing in the Village today is that we have a lot of bad landlords who will either try and make it hard for the tenants or outright break the law by illegally taking their units out of rent stabilization or harassing their tenants into leaving. I will stress that not all landlords are bad or break the law. But it is important that we take on bad landlords that we do know are breaking the law. Aaron had the idea that instead of waiting for landlords to take units out of rent stabilization and then wait for the government to rectify the problem, he would start organizing tenants to fight for their units. He would take a proactive approach, figuring out which landlords were breaking the law, through using public information, and organizing tenants building-wide, and then suing the landlord to return the units to the system. So far, Aaron has been wildly successful. In his first year he has already organized four lawsuits, one of which is the second-largest tenant lawsuit in the history of New York City. We have a state government that has a reactive approach to landlords that break the law. In New York State, abusing the J-51 tax credit means, if you are a tenant, the burden is on you to find your rental history, understand the

We’re making the most of our limited park space BY RICHARD A. CACCAPPOLO

O

ur community recognizes that we live in beautiful neighborhoods. So, it may be surprising to learn that our district is actually the second lowest in the city in terms of open space per person — just 0.58 acre of parkland per 1,000 residents, or 25 square feet per person. With so little parkland, our efforts on the Community Board 2 Parks and Waterfront Committee are aimed at protecting and improving the open space that we have, as well as creating and enabling new open spaces for both active and passive recreation. We work in collaboration with our neighbors, and with many others: the city’s Department of Parks and Recreation, other city agencies, block associations, friends groups, conservancies and other nonprofits, as well as our elected officials. Thanks to this joint effort, 2016 was — and 2017 promises to be — an exciting, busy and productive time. We had many significant park developments to celebrate last year. President Obama’s decision to honor the L.G.B.T. civil-rights movements with the designation of a new national park at the historic

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site of the Stonewall uprising — including Christopher Park and the surrounding blocks — was especially noteworthy. So was the opening of a new public park, St. Vincent’s Triangle Park, and the New York City AIDS Memorial Park included within it. In addition, we helped secure funding for repairs that will save Pier 40 in Hudson River Park, an effort more than 10 years in the making. Also, we were able to make progress on the challenge of noise complaints within and around Washington Square Park. This complex issue will continue to be addressed in a way that achieves a balance for musicians, performers, parkgoers and local residents. Also, in Washington Square Park, we witnessed the commencement of the third and final phase of what has been an extraordinarily successful, though extended, renovation project. We also celebrated the start of the construction of Pier55, a project we had worked hard to refine and which we supported, though this project was recently interrupted by a federal court ruling overturning the Army Corps of Engineers’ granted permit. As we enter the warmer months of

Rich Caccappolo is the current “Mr. Parks” of Community Board 2.

2017, we are pleased that the renovation of Soho Square (which will be renamed Spring Street Park) has begun, as has the interim renovation of the triangle on the eastern edge of Duarte Square. We look forward to the start of DeSalvio Playground’s reconstruction, the Father Fagan Park and Charlton Plaza renovation, Seravalli Playground comfort station reconstruction and Passanante Playground surface repairs. Projects that have been approved and are in process, but in earlier phases of activity, include the redesign of the pe-

complexity of the laws of the tax credits, and file the complaint. It is ridiculous to have a government expect people to be able to be to have the time to do this and be experts in the law. The burden to fight illegal violations of rent stabilization should be on the landlord, not the tenant. As president of the Village Independent Democrats, I am focusing our attention on proactively fighting bad landlords. We are starting to organize tenants in buildings who we know specifically receive tax credits, or who harass tenants, and or break the law in any form. We will fight by suing, educating or pressuring the landlords to do right by their tenants. We will go to the buildings that we know are breaking the law and inform tenants and organize them. We host a free housing clinic every Wednesday at 6 p.m. at our clubhouse, in the basement of 26 Perry St., and are consistently going after bad landlords. However, we as a community need to be proactive in fighting bad landlords, and take the fight directly to them. We in the Village need to use our rights that we have as tenants to fight back. Coler is president, Village Independent Democrats, and member, Community Board 2 destrian area outside of Little Red School House, renovation of Jackson Square, replacement of the Jane St. Garden fence, wall repairs at the Merchant’s House Museum, reconstruction and stabilization of the stair tower at Tony Dapolito Recreation Center, and development of new park space on Gansevoort Peninsula. We also look forward to seeing the Department of Environmental Protection turn over to our community the spaces that it used during construction of City Water Tunnel No. 3. And there are other efforts on our list, including the Pier 40 redevelopment plan, the maintenance of Vesuvio Playground, the gardens on Hudson St. south of Bethune St., improvements to the Greenstreets island where Jane and Horatio Sts. meet West St., ongoing storm-resiliency efforts for Hudson River Park, and ongoing improvements — including safety measures — at Bleecker St. Playground. Our committee will also continue to support the effort to preserve Elizabeth St. Garden as a unique, green, public open space and New York City park. Count them all up: There are nearly 20 park and open-space projects in process in our community. Our committee is proud of our efforts. If you are interested in getting involved, join us at our monthly committee meetings, the first Wednesday evening of each month. For details, visit cb2manhattan.org. Caccappolo is chairperson, Parks and Waterfront Committee, C.B. 2 TheVillager.com


The inside track on outsiders Art on A Gallery merges mediums and champions community BY PUMA PERL Last week, Wendy Scripps, the owner of Wendigo Productions and Art on A, and I met up at the Bowery Electric’s Friday Happy Hour to chat about her work and her vision. This year, she is the Acker Award recipient for community activism; many folks acknowledge her as “The Godmother of the Lower East Side,” based on her mission to keep the Downtown scene alive. “I love the outsiders, because I was an outsider,” said Scripps, who was born and raised in Northern California. “My parents moved to the Upper West Side when I was about 20, and a year later I found my home in the East Village. I never felt like I fit in before, but this neighborhood fit like a glove. When my mother told me about my great grandfather, Samuel Gompers, an immigrant who grew up down here, I understood the connection even better.” Looking around the bar, one could see living proof of the East Village family she has nurtured. Raffaele Mary, widely known as Raff, was serving up the drinks. She is authentic rock and roll: former singer for Cycle Sluts from Hell, a writer, blogger, and general manager of Wendigo Productions and Art on A. In the DJ booth stood bassist Sam Hariss, member of The Sweet Things, one of the local bands that often plays at the rock shows presented by Wendigo. Kelly Virginia Vinson, a Texas-born neighborhood artist and East Village resident whose jewelry creations are sold in Art on A’s shop, occupied one of the barstools. “I have trunk sales at the gallery, and every year there’s a holiday party and there are so many friends selling their work and buying gifts for others” she told me. “Wendy does so much more than people know about. She is also associate producer on fi lms by Dean Dempsey [“Candy Apple”] and Michael Levine [“Streit’s: Matzo and the American Dream”].” The creation of Art on A grew organically under the umbrella of Wendigo Productions, founded in 2010, by Scripps, Rik Rocket, and other friends. The original focus was promoting and booking local bands. “I feel like I understand the way musicians think,” reflected Scripps. “We were the nerdy kids, the misdiagnosed kids. I was severely dyslexic and thrown in special education classes even though I read independently on a college level. I drew in full perspective at age 10. Our minds go on overload and we fi nd different ways to communicate.” The original tiny storefront was located on Avenue B, and they began inviting bands and local artists to display their merchandise in the window. They tried an art show, and decided to fi nd bigger digs and open up a Courtesy the artist

Katrina del Mar’s “Feral Women/Filmed Portraits” exhibit includes this photo of Kembra Pfahler.

TheVillager.com

ART ON A continued on p. 17 April 27, 2017

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A new life for ‘Dead End’ Gritty, forgotten gem gave us Bowery Boys franchise BY TRAV S.D. Some names of the theatre deserve to have been forgotten; playwright Sidney Kingsley (1906-1995) isn’t one of them. Kingsley invented not one but at least three original genres of the stage and screen. His forte was to take a fascinating American subculture, obsessively research it, and then depict it on stage. In 1933’s “Men in White,” he gave the world its first “heroic doctors in a hospital” show, pioneering everything from “General Hospital” to “ER.” It was one of the few bona fide hits of the Group Theatre. In 1949’s “Detective Story,” Kingsley created the police procedural, blazing a trail that would lead to things like “Dragnet,” “Law & Order,” and “The Wire.” But the setting and characters of another of his Broadway smashes would come to have the longest shelf life of all: 1935’s “Dead End.” The Axis Theatre Company is reviving this forgotten gem at their home in Sheridan Square through May 20. “Dead End” originally ran on Broadway for two years. Produced at the height of the Great Depression, it told of a group of poor, directionless, (and apparently hopeless) New York City street urchins, and some well-meaning adults who try to help them. It went on to become a 1937 Warner Brothers film starring Humphrey Bogart, Joel McCrea, Sylvia Sidney, and the kids from the original Broadway cast, including Leo Gorcey, Huntz Hall, Gabriel Dell, and others. Their popularity launched several successful comedy film franchises starring the kids under different names: the Dead End Kids (1935-1939), Little Tough Guys (1938-1943), the East Side Kids (1940-1945), and the Bowery Boys (1946-1958). In the intervening time, the world of the play evolved from one of hard-hitting social realism to one lowbrow slapstick comedy, featuring such plot devices as robots, genies, and mad scientists. Nowadays, that is what most people remember about the Bowery Boys. It is rare for audiences to have an opportunity to grapple with the original source material. “I was obsessed with the Bowery Boys when I was a kid,” recalled the revival’s director, Randy Sharp, “and have been fascinated by them ever since. There’s something about these New York City street kids that’s very American. I’ve had the Bowery Boys make appearances in some of my past shows, like ‘Hospital’ ” (Sharp’s annual multi-epi-

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April 27, 2017

Photo by Pavel Antonov

Jon McCormick (foreground) and Lynn Mancinelli in rehearsal for “Dead End.”

sode experimental soap opera parody, which can ultimately also trace its lineage to Kingsley’s “Men in White”). Ordinarily, Axis produces Sharp’s own original plays, but on occasion the company will take on an existing work and give it their own patented stamp. In the past, for example, they have done Georg Büchner’s “Woyzek” and Benjamin A. Baker’s “A Glance at New York.” Significantly, the latter play is a gritty 1848 gaslight melodrama about life among New York’s working class, not unlike “Dead End.” According to Brian Barnhart, Axis’ producing director, the company considered such plays as “The Philadelphia Story” and “Our American Cousin” (the play Abraham Lincoln was watching the night he was shot) before settling on “Dead End.” With a cast of 14 (some Axis veterans and some newcomers), this is the largest cast production the company has ever presented. The original 1935 production had a cast of 35, when the economics of theatre were very different. The entire cast is onstage throughout the length of the show. “One of the immediate challenges of ‘Dead End’ is how to deal with its iconic, stamped-out characters,” noted Sharp. “The hooker with the heart of gold; the snotty kid; the bad guy. In

real life there is no such thing as a ‘Bad Guy.’ So who is that? Why does he talk like that? Maybe the Bowery Boys aren’t so cute. They seem to be enacting something dark and not very joyful. These are real children and adults living in tenements. Audiences were being exposed to the fact there was an unimaginable divide between rich and poor at the time, one even greater than there is now.” Audiences less familiar with the Axis house style should know not to expect an “on the nose” production. What is on view will be quite different from what one might have experienced at the original play or film, or subsequent revivals in 1978, 1997, and 2005. While Kingsley’s original text (with some cuts) remains the framework, in Axis productions one often fi nds the moment-to-moment behavior of characters surprising and unpredictable, with motivations and line-readings not the obvious ones. For this reason, to this observer, Axis productions are never boring. Undergirding this production is a tapestry of live sound, organically devised by the cast through improvisation. Frequent Axis collaborator Paul Carbonara (of Blondie) is composing an original score at Sharp’s direction that will draw from

Hollywood movie soundtracks. One thing the Axis production will have in common with other theatrical versions and not the famous film, however, is a much franker treatment of language, references to sex, and depictions of violence and poverty, all of which were softened or expunged from the Hollywood film. “In 1935 there was no Internet,” said Sharp. “Kingsley was using the theatre as a tool to literally educate people about conditions happening feet outside their door. It was a snapshot of real life during the Depression. The challenge is how to rediscover that now. Everyone has seen [images of] poverty and been inured to it. I want to reawaken them. How do we look at this again? I don’t want the audience to just sit back and let it skim over them. This is about a literal dead end, with no way out. These people still exist. We can’t dismiss them.” “Dead End” runs through May 20: Wed. & Thurs., 7pm; Fri. & Sat., 8pm. Additional performances Mon., May 1, 7pm (official opening Wed., May 3). At Axis Theatre (One Sheridan Square, btw. Washington Pl. & W. Fourth St.). For tickets ($30 adults, $20 students, seniors; $15, artists & those under 30), visit axiscompany.org or call 212-8079300. TheVillager.com


ART ON A continued from p. 15

gallery. “It’s hard to get gallery shows if you are outside the norm. We love the outsider art,” said Scripps. And the “outsiders” love Art on A, which seamlessly merges mediums. As Raff pointed out during my visit to the gallery, “We all come from several worlds. Rik is an artist and the original guitarist of the Toilet Böys. People know me from the rock world, but may not realize that I studied at Parsons.” The shows and the artists reflect that sensibility. October 2016’s “The Art of New York Rock” exhibition presented the artwork of musicians included in Steven Blush’s book “New York Rock.” Included were Chris Stein, Rick Bacchus, and many others. The closing party featured live music, with crowds spilling over into the street. March 2017’s “The Art of New York Waste” exhibition celebrated the underground rock and roll newspaper, with work by editor-in-chief/photographer Lucky Lawler and many other contributors. Robert Butcher, an artist and photographer who was included in the New York Waste event, talked to me about his September 2016 solo show, “American Madonnas & Liars,” which included images of both Raff and Scripps, and explored the interaction between subject and viewer. “I met Wendy at Manitoba’s [99 Ave. B] and loved her straightway,” said Butcher. “It was like speaking to an old friend. Wendy is benevolent, a benefactor, and a patron with a unique vision. She’s the glue that holds us together.” Scripps intends to continue her mission by exploring different fronts, both personally, and for the community. “I don’t like to be onstage,” she said. “I’m a behindthe-scenes person. I’m working on a nonprofit to help artists stay in the neighborhood by securing housing. For myself, I would like to study poetry and writing. Someday, I want to publish my memoirs.” Currently on view is a look into the world of artist, Katrina del Mar, a multi-faceted East Village resident. She’s an art and commercial photographer, visual artist, painter, fi lmmaker, and also fronts a punk band, The Shirtlifters. Del Mar’s show, “Feral Women/Filmed Portraits,” returns her to her roots as a visual artist with a riveting exhibition of photo portraits, fi lmed portraits, and black velvet paintings and drawings. During the run of the show, some of del Mar’s fi lms will be shown, and raucous opening and closing parties are to be TheVillager.com

Photo by Joseph Alvarez, courtesy Wendigo Productions

Wendy Scripps, owner of Wendigo Productions and Art on A Gallery.

Courtesy the artist

Courtesy the artist

Wendy Scripps as featured in “American Madonnas and Liars,” an Art on A exhibit. Art by Robert Butcher.

Katrina del Mar’s “Jade with gold nail polish” (2016, oil pastels and gold leaf on black paper, 22x30 in.).

expected. “I’m super excited to be showing at Art on A, to be working with curator Rik Rocket and with Raffaele,” she said. “They are East Village legends, both badass rock ’n rollers whose art practices are cross-disciplinary, encompassing music, writing, and visual arts. I’m grateful to Wendy

Scripps for doing her part in keeping the art and music scene going in this rapidly gentrifying city. The corporate culture is trying to make a corpse out of our amazing city, to drain the blood and flatline the pulse by ousting the artists. We are here fighting to keep the heart and soul of the city alive and well!”

Katrina del Mar’s “Feral Women/ Filmed Portraits” exhibition runs April 27-May 18, at Art on A Gallery (24 Ave. A, btw. Second & Third Sts.). Gallery Hours: Mon., Thurs., Fri. & Sat., 1–8pm; Sun., 1–7pm. Call 212-300-4418 ort visit artonagallery. com. Also visit wendigoproductions. com and katrinadelmar.com. April 27, 2017

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NOTICE OF NAMES OF PERSONS APPEARING AS OWNERS OF CERTAIN UNCLAIMED PROPERTY Held by Excellus Health Plan, Inc., d.b.a. Excellus BlueCross BlueShield, 165 Court St., Rochester, NY 14647 The following persons appear from our records to be entitled to unclaimed property consisting of cash amounts of fifty dollars or more.

New York County, New York AMAN B. PATEL PO BOX 28082 NEW YORK, 10087

HENRY W. HERR PO BOX 26668 NEW YORK, 10087

NAFTALI, GLORIA 90 MACDOUGAL ST NEW YORK, 10012

SHRUJAL S. BAXI PO BOX 26668 NEW YORK, 10087

AMENT MD, JOSEPH D 1045 PARK AVE NEW YORK, 10028

HURD, LAURA 33 GREENWICH AVE APT 11 NEW YORK, 10014

ST LUKES ROOSEVELT HOSP CTR PO BOX 792 COOPER STATION, 10276

CHAPMAN, JENI 140 CABRINI BLVD APT 36 NEW YORK, 10033

JANET B. SERLE 1 GUSTAVE L LEVY PL NEW YORK, 10029

NAM, IL NAN APT 4A 497 GREENWICH STREET NEW YORK, 10013

CONNER, JESS 324 E 91ST ST APT 29 NEW YORK, 10128

JASON A. KONNER PO BOX 26668 NEW YORK, 10087

CRIMP, DOUGLAS 139 FULTON ST APT 912 NEW YORK, 10038

JASON D. HOROWITZ 635 W 165TH ST FL BO192 NEW YORK, 10032

DAN DOUER 1275 YORK AVE NEW YORK, 10065

KAPLAN, KAREN L 180 E 79TH STREET APT 8C NEW YORK, 10075

EMERGING VISION INC 520 8TH AVE NEW YORK, 10018

NEW AMSTERDAM MED ASSOC 210 E 64TH ST NEW YORK, 10060 NORTH GENERAL HOSPITAL 1879 MADISON AVE NEW YORK, 10035 PANESS, GWENN 401 EAST 34 STREET APT S 2 NEW YORK, 10016 PAUL T. KEMPKES 520 8TH AVE NEW YORK, 10018

KEMP, DEAN 18 W 71ST ST APT 4 NEW YORK, 10023

POISSON, ELIZABETH M 7 2ND AVENUE APT 1A NEW YORK, 10003

KOFFMAN, JEFFREY 108 W. 78TH ST APT #2 NEW YORK, 10023

RAMIRO JERVIS PO BOX 5051 NEW YORK, 10087

KRIEGER, KENNETH 45 EAST END AVENUE APT 2F NEW YORK, 10028

REBECCA T. HAHN PO BOX 27764 NEW YORK, 10087

FISHER, TONI 444 EAST 82ND ST # 8 S NEW YORK, 10028

LEVY, JULIA 309 E 87TH ST APT 6D NEW YORK, 10128

ROBIN RAWLINS DUELL PO BOX 26668 NEW YORK, 10087

GERSTNER, LOUIS 188 E 76TH ST APT 9C NEW YORK, 10021

LUTZ, JESSICA APT 4F 245 EAST 46TH STREET NEW YORK, 10017

SANDEEP S. KOCHAR 8 PETER COOPER RD APT 8F NEW YORK, 10010

EMPIRE VISION CENTER PO BOX 29850 NEW YORK, 10087 FIELD, JOSEPH A 220 E 72ND ST APT 27C NEW YORK, 10021

GUIDO M. DALBAGNI PO BOX 26668 NEW YORK, 10087 HAKEMACK, CANDICE 315 EAST 86TH STREET APT 3NE NEW YORK, 10028

MARK A. HARDY 622 W 168TH ST NEW YORK, 10032 MARY SCHOEN PO BOX 26668 NEW YORK, 10087

SARAVANAN K. KRISHNAMOORTHY PO BOX 29737 NEW YORK, 10087 SHEPARD D. WEINER PO BOX 27662 NEW YORK, 10087

STEPHANIE M. GOODMAN 1275 YORK AVE NEW YORK, 10021 SUAREZ, DEREK 324 EAST 94TH STREET APT 3 NEW YORK, 10128 SURAJ K. TIKKO 542 E 5TH ST NEW YORK, 10009 THOMAS J. HERZOG PO BOX 26468 NEW YORK, 10087 TIMMERMAN MD, TARA 205 E 76TH ST STE M2 NEW YORK, 10021 TO THE ESTATE OF FLORA MINCER 448 RIVERSIDE DR APT 72 NEW YORK, 10027 TRUSTEES COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY PO BOX 27764 NEW YORK, 10087 UMESH K. GIDWANI 1 GUSTAVE L LEVY PL NEW YORK, 10029 WEINER, BRIAN J 19 E 80TH ST APT 5E NEW YORK, 10075 WILLIAM M. SCHIFF PO BOX 5051 NEW YORK, 10087 ZIAD S. ZAKY 622 W 168TH ST NEW YORK, 10032

A report of unclaimed amounts of money has been made to Thomas P. DiNapoli, Comptroller of the State of New York. A list of the names contained in such a notice is on file and open to public inspection at the principal office of the insurance company, located at 165 Court Street, Rochester, New York 14647 where such abandoned property is payable. Such held amounts of money will be paid or delivered to proven entitled parties by the insurance company listed above through August 31, 2017. On or before September 10, any remaining unclaimed monies will be paid or delivered to the State Comptroller.

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C.B. 2 on ‘statue garden coup’ GARDEN continued from p. 7

use the Public Trust Doctrine. Under that principle, the state Legislature must fi rst vote to “alienate” public parkland — meaning remove it from use as such — before it can be put to other uses. But this argument notably recently failed in a community coalition’s legal fight against the New York University mega-development project on the school’s two South Village superblocks; that community lawsuit argued that the city-owned “open-space strips” of greenery with park uses along the edges of Mercer St. and LaGuardia Place had to be “alienated” fi rst before the four-building N.Y.U. project could proceed. But in June 2015, the state’s highest court, the Court of Appeals, ruled in favor of the N.Y.U. plan.

‘Different from N.Y.U.’ However, Reiver said, “Our research indicates there are a lot of differences from the N.Y.U. case — such as the public-use history, the land-disposition agreement.” In the meantime, the Friends members are not banned from using the garden, but now cannot run activities there. “I’m glad that they’re going to continue to open the garden to the public,” Kiely said. “The more support there is for the garden, the more likely it can be saved.” If Reiver’s lawsuit is ultimately successful, Kiely said, “that’s wonderful news.”

Cude: ‘It’s not good!’ Meanwhile, Terri Cude, chairperson of C.B. 2, blasted the move by Reiver and Co. to create the new nonprofit and seize control of the space — and urged that F.E.S.G. be restored as the garden’s stewards. “This breaches Allan Reiver’s agreement with C.B. 2 to support independent management and returns this essential public amenity to private control,” Cude said, apparently referring to the board’s 1990 recommendation that he be given control of the lot. “We condemn the eviction of the Friends,” Cude added, “the nonprofit community organization that has expended a tremendous amount of energy and effort to beautify the space, provide extensive public access, and offer successful programming in a part of our area severely underserved by park space. “C.B. 2 remains steadfast in its strong support of making Elizabeth Street Garden a permanent public park,” Cude said. “Ongoing independent control of the space is vital to this goal. We call on the leaseholder to immediately rescind this unilateral action, which is contrary to the public open-space needs of the community and the city.” In an interview with The Villager, Green, one of the new nonprofit’s three board members, reiterated that she had decided a different course needed to be taken. “I felt very strongly that we weren’t being aggressive enough,” she said. “Allan hired an attorney and he asked the Friends of Elizabeth Street Garden if they would join the suit, and they never said they wouldn’t or

22

April 27, 2017

they would.” Green’s last job was as mayor of Livingston, N.J., for one year. Before that, she was on the town’s Council for three years, after being town clerk for 26 years. Since retiring, for the last 10 years she has lived near the Little Italy garden. Asked when they will sue, Allan Reiver declined to provide a date, but assured they will. He added that other plaintiffs will likely join the suit, including businesses and individuals.

The full nine yards Recalling, the O.K. he got from C.B. 2 27 years ago to fi x up the crummy lot, Reiver said he went beyond what was asked of him. “The city only required that I fence it and clean it up,” he said. “The community board recommended that I create a park-like setting. I put in sod, magnificent trees. ...” Using a forklift, Reiver personally installed all the sculptures in the garden. They were primarily to beautify the space, not for purchase — though he admitted he used to sell two or three a year, though not many lately. “Everything was put there for aesthetic purpose,” he noted of the sculptures, “totally aesthetically.” As soon as the garden was created, the impact on the gritty area was felt. “It changed immediately,” he said. “Peasant moved in, retail moved in.” Reiver noted that, in his earlier life as a developer, he specialized in fi xing up spots in downtrodden neighborhoods. “I had the same desire to change this neighborhood,” he said. “I wanted to improve the neighborhood — and more than that, create a neighborhood. The area lacked a gathering place for the community.”

‘Keep building support’ Kiely of F.E.S.G. said her group will continue to try to save the beloved space. “Our greatest asset is the extraordinary level of public support for the garden,” she said. “The Friends will continue building on this support, and continue fighting until the mayor and Councilmember Chin recognize that there are multiple alternative sites available that would enable the city to create more affordable housing while saving the park. “Friends continues to explore every option to preserve the garden as a permanent public park, and is fully committed and has the strong backing to do so.” Meanwhile, Joseph Reiver said the garden’s programming has been going well. “The Easter egg hunt was great, with 200 eggs,” he said. “The kids found them all in 40 minutes. “We had the Lower East Side Ecology Center workshop. We had meditation.” The garden’s new “Call to Art” is exciting, he said, with an online gallery where anyone can post photos of artwork they have made that was inspired by the garden. The gallery and other events can be found at elizabethstreetgarden.com .

TheVillager.com


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