The Paperr o off R Record ecc orr d for Greenwich e Gree en nw w iicc h Village, V i ll Vil Vi l l ag a g e, East Vill Village, la ag ge e,, L Lower ow o w e r East S we Si Side, i de ide de, Soho, Noho, Since 1933 So S o ho h o , Union Un U n i o n Square, Squa a re r e , Chinatown Ch C h in ina att o ow w n and Noho ho h o , Si o, S in nccce e1 19 9 33 33
September 28, 2017 • $1.00 Volume 87 • Number 39
Save Gansevoort suit aims to get Landmarks to follow its own laws BY MICHELE HERMAN
hose who have been watching the recent decisions of the Landmarks Preservation Commission with dismay verging on disbelief got some hope in August from the New York Appellate Court. Preservationists and their allies have long felt that under its cur-
rent commissioner, Meenakshi Srinivasan, the L.P.C. has been behaving more like a green light for real estate development than like a preserver of landmarks. In particular, L.P.C. has made a regular practice of declaring the smaller, more workaday buildings within a designated historic LANDMARKS continued on p. 11
Takin’ it to the streets; Sandler photos capture the gritty city that was BY BOB KR ASNER
hen you see Richard Sandler, the photographer and documentary filmmaker, walking down St. Mark’s Place — in his black beret, with a 35-millimeter camera hanging from his neck — you could easily peg him as the quintessential East Village
resident. That is, if he still lived there. Although Sandler had spent his teenage years bouncing around Times Square and considering a career as a pool hustler, he first settled into the bohemian Village streets as a young man in 1966. He had finished
PHOTO BY TEQUILA MINSKY
Donald Trump says he really loves hard, bone-crushing tackles in football. Well, a team of 16 cit y councilmembers — led by Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and Jumaane Williams, above — piled on him Wednesday, “taking a knee” with crusading quar terback Colin Kaepernick’s former 49ers jersey. Kaepernick star ted kneeling during national anthems a year ago to protest police killings of people of color.
Diller Island’s demise; Goes way of Westway
SANDLER continued on p. 22
BY LINCOLN ANDERSON
efore shockingly pulling out of the Pier55 plan two weeks ago, Barry Diller had already pumped more than $40 million into the ill-fated project, the media mogul confirmed to The Villager last week. In addition, Tom Fox, one of the plaintiffs from The City Club of New York who had
been filing lawsuits against the project, detailed to the newspaper, point by point, what conditions they had been negotiating in order to allow the project to proceed. Those negotiations were wrapping up two weeks ago between the City Club plaintiffs — who had recently filed yet another lawsuit against the pier — Diller’s representatives and the Hudson River Park Trust, when Diller, on Wed.,
Sept. 13, in an e-mail to those who had worked on the project, suddenly announced he was throwing in the towel. Diller and his wife, fashion icon Diane von Furstenberg, through their Diller-von Furstenberg Family Foundation, had committed to fund most of the project’s cost, which had ballooned to $250 million — and counting. PIER55 continued on p. 6
Marte mulls Independence run vs. Chin............p. 2 Yea or nay to Constitutional Convention?...........p. 8 Voice signs off for print...........p. 4
MARTE WATCH: So here’s the update as of press time on the City Council District 1 race. The Board of Elections has finally certified the results of the Sept. 12 Democratic primary election, and Councilmember Margaret Chin is indeed the winner with about 222 more votes than Christopher Marte. Interesting to note, Carlina Rivera was the lead write-in candidate, with six votes, possibly due to a little confusion among some voters as to what district she was running in. Rivera, of course, won the primary in the adjacent Council District 2. Also bizarrely getting one write-in vote apiece were two Republicans: former mayoral candidate Joe Lhota and the current one, Nicole Malliotakis. Whatever. At any rate, Marte hasn’t officially conceded yet, even though he told The Villager last week that he was expecting to do so. Basically, he told us this Wednesday that he’s still waiting
to see if he gets the Independence Party line, in which case he will then make a decision whether to make another run against Chin, in the Nov. 7 general election. Marte said, as far as he knows, six Independence Party voters cast their ballots for him on primary day. It sounds like that actually might have been enough for him to win the ballot line. We’re told there may be as many as 400 registered Independence Party members in Lower Manhattan’s District 1. Though, we’re skeptical, given the abysmal turnout on primary day. Marte said the first thing that has to happen is for the Board of Elections to certify the Independence Party primary results. After that, he’ll make his decision whether to run. It sounds like he wants to make all his announcements in one fell swoop — both conceding and announcing whether he’ll run on Nov. 7. He said he would have “a pretty clear picture” soon on how he intends to proceed. Meanwhile, Aaron Foldenauer, for one, who came in a distant third in the Sept. 12 primary, is certain that he is running on Nov. 7 — on the Liberal Party line. The Lower Manhattan litigator’s name is mud among Marte supporters, who feel he helped Chin squeak out a win by siphoning off hundreds of votes that could have gone to Marte. So, what about the idea that the thirdparty vote would simply be split if he and Marte both run? we asked him. Wouldn’t that just be the same situation for the challengers as the Democratic primary — that is, too many candidates running versus Chin and diluting the opposition vote? But Foldenauer remained unapologetic —
even welcoming Marte back into the fray. “I have been publicly planning a third-party run for many months now,” Foldenauer told us, “and I am proud that the Liberal Party has endorsed me. If Chris Marte now wishes to join a separate third-party line at the last minute, then I welcome him back to the race. Our democracy depends on people being willing to stand up and run for office.”
BALLOT-COUNT CODA: In a “coda” to our article last week on the “counting of the paper” for the District 1 primary election, the reason why Jamie Rogers was there actually was CoDA, or the Coalition for a District Alternative, he tells us. Rogers, the chairperson of Community Board 3, said he was not representing C.B. 3 when he was down at the Board of Elections for the counting of the absentee and affidavit ballots. His political club, CoDA, which endorsed Chin for re-election, had been “asked to send volunteers to oversee the process,” he explained. “I would not attend the ballot count as chairperson of C.B. 3,” he noted. “C.B. 3 is a branch of the city government and not political.”
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September 28, 2017
Happy 5778! Marc Wishengrad blew a shofar by the Washington Square Park fountain on the second evening of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish new year. This followed a joint new year’s ser vice by the LabShul and Sufi community members at Judson Memorial Church on Washington Square South. Sufism is known as “mystical Islam.” Par ticipants also circled the fountain holding hands, and in tashlikh — a symbolic “casting off of sins” ritual — blew bubbles into the air and the fountain’s spray. Traditionally, pieces of bread are thrown into the water. TheVillager.com
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September 28, 2017
The Voice puts out ﬁnal print issue 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
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The Villager (USPS 578930) ISSN 0042-6202 Copyright © 2017 by the NYC Community Media LLC is published weekly by NYC Community Media LLC, One Metrotech North, 10th ﬂoor Brooklyn, NY 11201. 52 times a year. Business and Editorial Ofﬁces: One Metrotech North, 10th ﬂoor Brooklyn, NY 11201. Accounting and Circulation Ofﬁces: NYC Community Media LLC, One Metrotech North, 10th ﬂoor Brooklyn, NY 11201. Call 718-260-2500 to subscribe. Periodicals postage prices is paid at New York, N.Y. Postmaster: Send address changes to The Villager, One Metrotech North, 10th ﬂoor, Brooklyn, NY 11201 Annual subscription by mail in Manhattan and Brooklyn $29 ($35 elsewhere). Single copy price at ofﬁce and newsstands is $1. The entire contents of newspaper, including advertising, are copyrighted and no part may be reproduced without the express permission of the publisher - © 2017 NYC Community Media LLC. PUBLISHER’S LIABILITY FOR ERROR
The Publisher shall not be liable for slight changes or typographical errors that do not lessen the value of an advertisement. The publisher’s liability for others errors or omissions in connection with an advertisement is strictly limited to publication of the advertisement in any subsequent issue. Published by NYC Community Media, LLC One Metrotech North, 10th floor Brooklyn, NY 11201 Phone: (718) 260-2500 • Fax: (212) 229-2790 On-line: www.thevillager.com E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org © 2017 NYC Community Media, LLC
September 28, 2017
One month shy of 62 years in print, The Village Voice published its last paper edition on Sept. 20. The iconic tabloid newspaper, once a symbol and avatar of both the counterculture and New Journalism, went out in style with a 177-page issue. The photo-heavy finale was dedicated to the many individuals — from the famous writers and photographers, to the advertising reps and design and production staffs — who contributed to and produced the Voice through the years. The late Jerry Tallmer, the Voice’s first associate editor, and part of the paper’s founding core, is pictured on Page 7, standing outside the Voice’s first offices, at 22 Greenwich Ave., with Publisher Ed Fancher and Editor Dan Wolf. Coming full circle, Tallmer, who went on to become a legend in New York City journalism, in his later years was a mainstay of The Villager. The cover photo for the issue is of a young Bob Dylan giving a salute, shot by none other than Fred McDarrah, the paper’s legendary lensman. Stephen Mooallem, who was named the Voice’s editor this past December, penned a sendoff, headlined, “You’re Probably Reading This on an Electronic Device,” alluding to the obvious fact that the Internet has forever changed journalism — not to mention the world. Plans are for the paper to continue publishing online. Mooallem noted that the Voice’s archives are not digitized. On the other hand, thanks to the staff at the Jefferson Market Library branch, The Villager’s archives, extending back to 1933, are now online. In a final note, the editor said of the Voice’s red plastic street boxes, “I hope they find a peaceful, environmentally friendly resting place – or wind up as part of an Ai Weiwei installation.” It was hard to come by a final issue of the paper, and many of the empty news boxes were seen around town knocked over onto their sides. Now collector’s items, copies of the final issue are also being sold on eBay. Tallmer penned several pieces about the Voice’s early days, some of which ran in The Villager. In one, he recalled how
PHOTOS BY THE VILLAGER
A Fred McDarrah photo of Bob Dylan giving a salute was the cover image of The Village Voice’s final print issue.
the paper got its name. “Norman [Mailer] later said The Village Voice was his name,” Tallmer wrote. “I thought — still think — it was mine. The truth probably is that we both hit on it at the same time. I do know that the long-running masthead tagline — ‘A weekly newspaper designed to be read’ — was mine. Until it was killed by some later regime.”
A telling photo: an empty Village Voice street news box toppled on the sidewalk this past week nex t to one of the city’s new Wi-Fi kiosks. If “video killed the radio star,” has the Internet killed alt weeklies? TheVillager.com
‘Welcome to Smorg Sq.’ BY LEVAR ALONZO
morgasburg, the popular Brooklyn outdoor food market, has come to Duarte Square. The market is open from Friday to Saturday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Sunday, from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. The outdoor-food outfit has signed a two-year lease with Trinity Real Estate for the space, at Canal St. and Sixth Ave. The long-term plan for the open-air lot is for it to be developed with a residential tower, with a new public elementary school in its base. That plan, though, is still yet to be put into action. Meanwhile, the space has informally been redubbed “Smorg Square,” at least according to welcomers at the venue’s entranceways. According to its Web site, Smorgasburg is America’s largest weekly open-air food market, attracting 20,000 to 30,000 people to Brooklyn each week. It has two locations in that borough: on the Williamsburg waterfront at Kent Ave. on Saturdays and in Prospect Park on Sundays. Smorgasburg launched in May 2011 as a spinoff of Brooklyn Flea and has since spawned dozens of small businesses and attracted millions. There is even a Los Angeles Smorgasburg. Jonathan Butler and Eric Demby founded the outdoor food fest. Butler said the Canal St. installment would not be as big as the ones in Brooklyn. Previously, Butler has stated that the outdoor venue would have about four or five food trucks on the weekdays and about 30 to 40 pop-up vendors. Darlene Lutz, a fine-art adviser who lives at 80 Varick St., a residential building fronting on Duarte Square, is one of the main critics of Trinity Real Estate and the idea of Smorgasburg occupying the space. She said that there are about 20 trucks along with other vendors that pop up, which attracts hundreds of people every weekend. “Originally it was to be seven to eight vendors,” she said. “Now there are 20.” Lutz said she has nothing against the vendors that are there. It’s just that she doesn’t want to live with all the noise and odors from the outdoor food operation coming into her apartment. In a previous Villager article, she worried that her air conditioner become a grease trap due to Smorgasburg. “It’s like your neighbor is having an endless cookout, like cooking for 500 people all day,” she said. “It gives the start-up businesses a leg up, yes, but this shouldn’t be a permanent gig.” She said she has researched some of the vendors featured at Smorgasburg and found that they have already been operating for five to six years. “It’s time for these businesses to look to establish themselves in a brick-andmortar place,” she said. Lutz is frustrated that Trinity has freTheVillager.com
ACTIVE KIDS DO BETTER IN SCHOOL. PHOTO BY TEQUILA MINSKY
A customer’s haul at Smorgasburg in Duar te Square.
quently leased out the space for largescale, noisy events, such as Nike Zoom, in 2015, a basketball-and-sneaker-themed extravaganza during NBA All-Star Week. Occupy Wall Street proteseters hoped to take over the lot after they were evicted from Zuccotti Park back in 2011. But, in that case, at least, Trinity said the square wasn’t suitable for an encampment. “The lot has been used and abused over and over,” Lutz said. Community Board 2 is on record supporting the square’s redevelopment with the tower, which is also slated to include a publicly accessible gym space, as well as the school. C.B. 2 leaders have expressed impatience with Trinity’s moving so slowly on the project. “The small brick-and-mortar businesses are suffering in this community,” Lutz added. “They are definitely taking a huge hit because of Smorgasburg. “From the looks of things there is no running water, electric or even toilets,” she added of the market’s operation. She said many Smorgasburg-goers reportedly are using nearby place’s restrooms. Lutz is impatiently waiting for Trinity to start building its residential tower. Even though that project would be noisy, she said she would rather deal with that than “outdoor dining.” Trinity, five years ago, pushed through a rezoning for the formerly manufacturing-zoned area to allow residential use. She admitted that pehaps Smorgasburg is not geared toward her generation and is intended to draw a younger crowd. “It’s the ‘selfie generation,’ ” she reflected. “The place is cool if you want to sit outside and eat on picnic tables. I guess they have their fun by coming to eat the food and get their pictures with it.” She said Smorgasburg definitely doesn’t plan on closing up shop during the winter time. “I spoke to someone that is lobbying for them,” she said, “and they told me they were going to be bringing in shipping containers.”
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September 28, 2017
Diller Island demise sees it go way of Westway; PIER55 continued from p. 1
Meanwhile, as first reported by The Villager, the wealthy developer Douglas Durst helped finance the City Club’s lawsuits. A former chairperson of the Friends of Hudson River Park, the 5-mile-long park’s leading private fundraising group, Durst had a falling out five years ago with the Trust, the park’s operating authority. With the new City Club lawsuit about to hit court, Diller got cold feet. To paraphrase how one Pier55 supporter bluntly put it, the Chelsea-based billionaire had already “pissed tens of millions of dollars into the Hudson River,” and had had enough. In his Sept. 13 e-mail finale, Diller wrote: “It was six years ago, with such happiness and hope that we started to develop an ambitious plan for a public park and performance center. For many of those years, you and so many others worked with the sole purpose of providing a beautiful park on a dazzling pier for New Yorkers and visitors from around the world to stroll and wander, to be entertained, to be stimulated, to be playful, and to have the most wonderful time in a unique setting. “Unfortunately, for the last two and a half years, that work was interrupted by a series of lawsuits by one tiny group that resulted in multiple stallings in our build process, escalating costs and delays, and media attacks that colored this project in a controversial light from which it will be difficult to recover. “Up until this week, we had been working on a settlement of these lawsuits. But, I couldn’t in good faith agree to a settlement agreement as I felt we had done nothing wrong and that to give victory to these people was in itself wrong. Because of that, and the huge escalating costs of the project, based greatly on the delays catalyzed by the lawsuits and what would be the inevitable continuing controversy over the next three years throughout the building process, my family and I have decided it is no longer viable to proceed. ... I am so sorry.”
Future use of gift? Through a spokesperson, Diller confirmed that he had poured more than $40 million into the project. Asked by The Villager if he would now be willing to take his commitment to spend $250 million on Pier55 and instead shift it to reconstruct the former Pier 54 — which Pier55 was designed to replace — Diller did not say yes and responded only in general terms. “Our foundation will spend all and more than $250 million on future public projects,” he said. Pier55, a high-profile 2.7-acre “floating island” — designed by award-winning English designer Thomas Heatherwick — was to rise off of W. 14th St. in the
September 28, 2017
PHOTO BY REBECCA WHITE
A skateboarder on the Hudson River bikeway passing W. 14th St. looked over at the trestles for one of the “bridges to nowhere” that would have led to Pier55. There would have been two bridges; this would have been the southern one. Barr y Diller two weeks ago bailed out of funding the project, whose cost had grown to a quar ter-billion dollars.
Hudson River Park. It was to be heavily programmed with entertainment performances, 51 percent of which would have been free or low-cost, and the rest of which would have been at higher ticket prices. Under a contract with the Trust, a nonprofit led by Diller — Pier55 Inc. — would have operated and maintained the pier and programmed its entertainment for 20 years. Its critics, however, including environmentalists, panned the plan as “Diller Island” and “Dilligan’s Island.”
Shades of Westway The sudden sinking of the “fantasy island” set off a tsunami of reactions from the project’s supporters and opponents alike, from local politicians, waterfront park activists, environmentalists and area residents. Indeed, it was the biggest defeat of a Lower West Side waterfront project since Westway was beaten back in 1985 after opponents successfully argued the sunken-highway-and-landfill megaproject would harm the striped bass’s spawning grounds. The reactions of Pier55 backers to the epic meltdown ranged from outrage to just plain sad. “Most of the mainstream press is playing this off as billionaire-versus-billionaire,” said Michael Novogratz, who replaced Durst as chairperson of the Friends of Hudson River Park. “But it’s the citizens who are going to lose out on all this. You had this magical pier that was going to appear — with music and Shakespeare and bluegrass — and it’s going away, and it’s not coming back for a while.”
‘Let’s be honest, the mayor got involved after your article.’ Michael Novogratz
Novo slams Blaz, Cuomo Like Diller and Durst, Novogratz is a billionaire himself — a former hedgefunder currently heavily invested in bitcoin. “Novo,” as he is nicknamed, blasted Mayor Bill de Blasio and also Governor Andrew Cuomo for the Pier55 project’s failure. Both publicly strongly supported the plan. “If I was the mayor of the city and I dropped a $250 million gift, I’d feel really stupid,” Novogratz said. He charged de Blasio simply waited too long before starting to make an effort to try to salvage the pier plan. “Let’s be honest,” the Friends chairperson told The Villager, “the mayor got involved after your article, where Douglas admitted to being involved with the
lawsuit.” The Villager’s May 18 article “Durst admits funding Pier55 lawsuit, proving ‘Novo’ suspicion true” revealed the developer had been helping the City Club in their legal fight against the pier plan. Subsequently, de Blasio called Durst in July to beg him to stop funding the lawsuits — but, as Durst previously told The Villager, he already had not been funding them for months. De Blasio commented about Pier55 at an unrelated event at Brooklyn Bridge Park the day after Pier55 imploded. “I think it’s sad that it’s come to this,” the mayor said, the New York Post reported. “I think Barry Diller was trying to do something good for New York City and I very much supported this effort. The efforts to stop it were a mistake... . We had a chance here to have someone else’s money pay for a public park in a world where we don’t have enough money in the public sector.” The Post reported that the mayor also noted that without Diller’s private dough, the project is all but dead. “We’re certainly going to look for any way to revive the concept, but I don’t know of any other source of revenue that would match what he was offering,” de Blasio said. “The city is not going to cover that expense. The only way we could do it is if there were private funds.”
‘Diller got sick of it’ As to why the IAC and Expedia chairman finally pulled the plug on the pier project, Novogratz simply said, “Barry Diller just got sick of getting kicked in the nuts.” Novogratz said that, in fact, Diller had funneled much more money into the Pier55 project than $40 million, even though that was the figure Diller himself gave to The Villager last week. (Perhaps Novogratz was also including government funds the Trust had spent on the project so far, including constructing a series of trestles for two pedestrian bridges out to what would have been Pier55 and some overhanging platforms jutting out from the shoreline.) “Barry Diller just pissed $66 million into the water between the design and development [of Pier55],” Novogratz said. “He had people on staff [for this project] for years. This was a big organization that was going to provide the [pier’s] programming. He was going to curate it for 20 years.” The loss to the park of Diller’s $250 million is incalculable, Novogratz said. “There are 25-odd people in New York City that can make that gift — not 500,” he said. “It’s like the second or third biggest gift in the history of New York.” The project’s cost started out far lower — an estimated $35 million — six PIER55 continued on p. 7 TheVillager.com
Plaintiffs wanted equal space for boats, beaches PIER55 continued from p. 6
years ago when Diana Taylor, the chairperson of the Trust’s board of directors, first broached the idea to Diller. But, as Diller noted, the City Club lawsuits and the delay of construction only added to the escalating price tag. “If these son-of-a-bitches didn’t file these lawsuits, we’d have been done building this thing by now,” Novogratz fumed.
What plaintiffs wanted Fox spoke to The Villager on Fri., Sept. 15, which was supposed to be the final day of the negotiations, hopefully ending in a settlement. “This was a torturous six-week process,” he said, “with a deadline of today to either do it or not. We had litigation pending — the court had asked for a date [for a hearing].” Fox laid out for The Villager the conditions that they were negotiating with the Trust and Diller’s representatives before everything fell apart. He stressed that it was the Trust, eight weeks ago, that had reached out to the City Club plaintiffs to try to forge a settlement. If an agreement were reached, the City Club would withdraw its lawsuit. “They initiated the negotiations,” Fox
PIER55, INC./HEATHERWICK STUDIO
A design rendering of an aerial view of the ill-fated Pier55 plan, showing the current Pier 56 pile field to the nor th and the Pier 54 pile field to the south. Pier 57 is par tly visible at the top. Two pedestrian bridges would have led out to the unique, amobea-shaped pier.
said. For starters, in exchange for allowing the 2.7-acre “arts island” to be built, the plaintiffs wanted assurance that two “soft-edge” access points to the river — totaling an equal amount of space, 2.7
acres — would be included in the park. In fact, these had been included in the Hudson River Park’s original “general project plan,” but the plaintiffs wanted a firm guarantee that they actually would be built. These two spots would have
included beaches and natural areas, and would have served a dual role — as launch areas for small boats, like kayaks, and also as support for the river’s natural habitat. “The Gansevoort Peninsula [two blocks south of W. 14th St.] seemed to make a lot of sense and also the area south of Pier 76 [at W. 36th St.],” Fox said of the two spots they were asking for. In addition, the plaintiffs wanted Pier 97, at W. 57th St., to be completed. While the pier’s piles and deck were rebuilt five years ago, the full project has not been finished — it’s still just a bare concrete pier. Fox said it’s estimated that an additional $10 million is needed to finish the pier. The Trust had been using the pier for concerts, until Durst and other residents complained. Now it is just used for unamplified events. Third, Fox and his City Club co-plaintiffs wanted an interpretive exhibit included on Pier55 about the historic West Side waterfront “that celebrates its rich maritime history,” he said. He noted that there is currently nothing of this nature in the park. The plaintiffs also demanded a ban on non-water-related uses in the “estuarine sanctuary,” meaning the water part of the Hudson River Park. Obviously, PIER55 continued on p. 17
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September 28, 2017
The pros and cons of a constitutional convention BY LEVAR ALONZO
hould New York State hold a constitutional convention — and, if there is one, what exactly would it involve? Trying to help answer those questions and more, State Senator Liz Krueger, Citizen Action of New York, the Legal Aid Society and the Lexington Democratic Club, along with other Upper East Side Democratic clubs, co-sponsored a Sept. 14 forum on the upcoming ballot proposal to hold a state constitutional convention. Area residents packed the All Souls Church, at E. 80th St. and Lexington Ave., in the hopes that their questions and uncertainties about such a convention, on which voters will make a decision in the Nov. 7 general election, would be addressed. Four panelists were on hand to debate the issue. Those on the pro side argued that the New York State Constitution must be revised to encourage greater voter turnout and rein in the influence of entrenched political interests. The representatives of the con side raised concerns about the threat such a convention could pose to important rights and protections currently enshrined in the state Constitution. “I myself am leaning heavily pro-convention, which puts me in the minority among elected officials,” said East Side Senator Krueger, who moderated the evening. “It doesn’t change the fact that I respect both sides of the argument.” This November, New Yorkers, for the first time in 20 years, will have a chance to vote yes or no on whether they want to hold a constitutional convention to amend the state’s founding document. Since 1967, when the last convention was held, voters have repeatedly rejected convening a convention. The recent volatility in voter behavior, as seen in the surprise election of Donald Trump last November, has many local politicians, advocacy groups and voters concerned that a convention could potentially open up a can of worms without predictable outcomes. In her opening statement, Krueger urged the audience to listen and weigh both sides of the issue to make an educated choice come Nov. 7. She refuted social-media rumors that choosing not to vote on that ballot question would be an automatic yes. Nonprofit groups like the Legal Aid Society and Planned Parenthood have taken issue with the push for a convention, warning that the effort could repeal hard-won protections and also be influenced by “dark money” forces. Adriene Holder, the Legal Aid Society’s attorney in charge of civil practice, raised concern that a constitutional convention could weaken or negate Article 17, which protects low-income New Yorkers. Article 17, she explained, was added to the state Constitution at a
September 28, 2017
PHOTO BY LEVAR ALONZO
Bill Samuels addressing a Sep. 14 forum on a proposed state constitutional convention, while, from left, Adriene Holder, Robin Chappelle Golston, Evan Davis and, to Samuels’s right, state Senator Liz Krueger, look on.
convention called during the Great Depression in 1938, and mandates that the state provide assistance to low-income residents. Lawyers have effectively used that provision in court cases aimed at providing adequate social-service support for New Yorkers in need, she said. Holder added that, since its enactment, Article 17 has been targeted by opponents at previous conventions and in the state Legislature. “If a convention is called, every part of the state Constitution could be subject to replacement or revision,” Holder warned. “This includes really the key protection for low-income New Yorkers.” According to the New York State Library Web site, when the last constitutional convention was held, in 1967, the resulting proposed amendments were rejected by voters. The 1938 convention, in contrast, was successful at amending the state Constitution, adding safeguards, including Article 17. Evan Davis, senior counsel at Cleary Gottlieb and manager of the Committee for a Constitutional Convention, argued that a constitutional convention is really a partnership between the voters and the convention delegates. If voters in November decide to hold a convention, 189 delegates would be elected next year to a 2019 convention that would consider amendments to the existing Constitution. Any amendments the delegates approved would then go back before the public for an up or down vote. “The individual amendments are put before the people and ultimately the people will have to decide,” Davis said. “That is a very important protection in this whole process.” In making his case, Davis noted the low voter turnout in this month’s primary elections, when just 14 percent of registered Democrats — who make up the vast majority of city voters — turned out. He argued that because of tough restrictions written into the state Consti-
tution, with voter-registration deadlines set about a month prior to voting, many residents who only tune in during the final weeks of a campaign are deprived of the chance to vote. Online registration requires a driver’s license or an official nondriver’s ID; but Davis said the fact that half of the city’s adults don’t have a driver’s license — with many not bothering to obtain a nondriver’s ID, either — imposes a practical barrier to registering in this way. On the other hand, some think a constitutional convention could strip away important individual rights and safety net protections. “In a perfect world, Con-Con would be a good idea,” said Robin Chappelle Golston, president and C.E.O. of Planned Parenthood Empire States Acts. She added that the process’s downsides are the “lack of transparency and possible loss of what we already have in the Constitution.” Planned Parenthood, of course, is a leading advocate for women’s reproductive rights. Chappelle Golston’s concern is that the public will not be able to weigh in on the process until the convention is over, which she warned could be too late. The convention, she said, would likely become an “inside baseball game,” with backroom deals being reached by delegates. Her organization, she said, fears that existing protections for abortion could be traded away for changes in other key areas. The Sept. 14 forum also made clear that an underlying tension between Upstate and Downstate interests is beginning to surface in the debate over holding a convention. “We live in the New York City bubble and don’t worry much about certain issues,” Chappelle Golston said. “But we have to realize Trump carried 46 of our 62 counties in the state. This would not be a progressive bastion figuring out ways to make our Constitution more
progressive. There will be delegates with other agendas, and that leads to compromise.” She also wondered whether the delegates elected would truly represent all communities across New York. “We also believe there won’t be true representation of the people that make up this great state,” Chappelle Golston said. Bill Samuels, a businessman and founder of Effective NY, a nonpartisan think tank focused on public policy issues, spoke in favor of a convention. He argued that unwarranted fears should not stand in the way of breaking down entrenched traditions that hold the state back. “Andrew Cuomo and that culture is as old and as outdated as Tammany Hall, and we must change it,” he said. He pointed out that most Albany legislative negotiations are hashed out between a very small group, including the governor, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, Republican Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan and Senator Jeff Klein, a Bronx Democrat who heads up the rump Independent Democratic Conference — but not state Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins, who leads the Democrats, who nominally have a majority. “There is no better example than when four men go in a room and they exclude the woman that runs the Democratic Party,” Samuels stated. “Think that’s going to change in 2018?” Samuels argued that individual legislators need a greater say in Albany and that transparency should be encouraged, in contrast to the current practice of closed-door negotiations. Without offering any details, Samuels also advocated for a constitutional amendment to create pension benefits for New York’s many freelance and nonunion workers — an effort that runs counter to strong economic trends in recent decades. “Sixty percent of our workers in Manhattan have zero pensions,” he said. “One of my amendments is to require that the Constitution have a pooling access to all workers, so that not only union workers have good pensions, but the rest of us do, too.” In his closing remarks, Samuels encouraged audience members to run to become constitutional-convention delegates. “This will an exciting time, and it will be fun to bring about change,” he said. “I urge you not to have doubt and uncertainty.” But doubt and uncertainty are what brought many to All Souls Church last week in the first place, and it was unclear at the evening’s conclusion how many of the crowd’s questions had been clarified. Voters now have just six weeks to become comfortable that they are making an informed decision on Tues., Nov. 7. TheVillager.com
Participatory budgeting back on track again BY LEVAR ALONZO
n unseasonably balmy second day of fall mixed with excitement over potential community projects made for some great brainstorming on the High Line last Saturday. City Councilmember Corey Johnson kicked off the fourth straight year of participatory budgeting in his District 3. The initiative gives residents a say in deciding how their tax dollars are spent, by earmarking $1 million in capital funds for projects that are proposed, developed and voted on by community members. Matt Green, Johnson’s chief of staff, started things off by giving participants a brief overview of what “PB,” as it’s known for short, is all about. To those attending for the first time, he said, “It’s a great way to learn about democracy in action, and be the driving force behind real changes in your community.” As a visual aid, Green brought one of the winning ideas from last year’s process — a project highlighting the need for renovations to the grounds of the Elliott-Chelsea Houses. Other winners last year were planting new trees in the district and a renovated heating and cooling system for the Muhlenberg Library, at W. 23rd St. and Seventh Ave.
PHOTO BY LEVAR ALONZO
The attendees broke down into five groups at five tables to brainstorm about par ticipator y-budgeting project ideas, then rotated from table to table to share ideas.
One resident wanted to know how much input the councilmember’s office has in the entire initiative. “We try to stay out of the process,” Green said. “We are just here to facilitate and keep the community in-
Join Us For
formed.” After watching a short video explaining PB, everyone split up into five groups, rotating between five different tables, in order to share their ideas on projects they think are necessary for
their community. Ideas were recorded by Johnson’s aides on their iPads and made ready for online viewing. Residents were encouraged to develop more proposals, get their neighbors involved, and volunteer to be delegates — individuals who help facilitate the PB process and take leadership roles at events like project expos. Marni Halasa, who is running on the Eco-Justice Party line against Johnson in the Nov. 7 general election, was there to experience PB for herself and pitch some of her ideas for community improvements. “I just think this is a great process, something that can greatly help with fi xing economic inequality in our community,” Halasa said. “PB is something that can help with projects. Young and old can come together to bring about tangible change.” At the end of the brainstorming session, the ideas from the five tables were presented. Johnson’s staffers wrapped things up with a raffle, with winners snagging PB T-shirts, a guided tour of the High Line and a chance to have coffee with Johnson.
Jefferson Market Garden
Children’s Harvest Festival Saturday, October 7, 2017* | 11 am – 2 pm y 11 am8th - 2 pm *Rain Date: Sunday, October ..
Sunday, October 8th at 3:00 pm At the Church of St. Luke in the Fields in the W. Village 487 Hudson St.(corner of Hudson and Grove Streets)
All people and their four-legged friends are Welcome! There will be a service in the church and a recepon aer on the playground for people + pets The Church of Saint Luke in the Fields www.stlukeinthefields.org|212.924.0562 TheVillager.com
BRING CHILDREN TO CELEBRATE AUTUMN... Pumpkins! Crafts! Games! Dave the Worm Guy! Garden Gate: Greenwich Avenue between 6th Avenue & 10th Street Pumpkins and Cookies provided by our friends at Citarella who are proud to support Jefferson Market Garden & our local Community
Free event sponsored by Jefferson Market Garden, Citarella, The New York Public Library. Harvest Helpers: NYC Law Enforcement Explorers, Post 2206 @ the 6th Precinct
September 28, 2017
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR City Club did right thing
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To The Editor: Re “Diller blew $40 million on aborted Pier55 plan” (news article, Sept. 22, thevillager.com): How telling that the players behind Pier55 won’t acknowledge the mistake of making their plans and deal in secrecy and the appearance of sidestepping the environmental review process. Their claim of overwhelming community support echoes Donald Trump’s claims of having won the popular vote and the biggest inaugural crowds. Many in the community were skeptical, or opposed to this over-the-top design, clearly intended to attract international attention and the accompanying tourist hordes strolling the High Line. Those crowds would have been disappointed to find Pier55 closed frequently for private or ticketed events, complete with velvet ropes and guest lists. The park doesn’t need a world-class attraction, it needs to be finished. There’s a lot of riverfront land between 30th St. and 58th St., but absolutely no park at all. In Northern Europe, the meagerly landscaped bike and walking paths that make up most of Hudson River Park are called arterial infrastructure, not parks. While it’s a shame to lose such a big financial gift to the park, the premise was flawed. The City Club did the right thing.
September 28, 2017
Madelyn Wils Wils is president and C.E.O., Hudson River Park Trust
Many opposed Pier55
Pier55 facts and foes To The Editor: Re “Diller blew $40 million on aborted Pier55 plan” (news article, Sept. 22, thevillager.com): While the recent Villager article on the demise of Pier55 contained a number of inaccuracies from various sources, there are a few that are important to correct. First, it was noted in the article that two courts ruled against the Hudson River Park Trust. In fact, the Trust won four lawsuits in state court, including from the highest court of this state. The plaintiffs’ one litigation success, in federal court, was on a technical process issue, which quickly lost any relevance with the redesign of the project that was ultimately approved. Further, the federal court decision never reached any substantive environmental claims. Second, the article included a clear misinterpretation of an anecdote featured in a recent New York Times article. The Trust is on record from community board meetings, newspaper articles and court papers stating that because Pier 54 had been used almost exclusively for events for more than a decade, it was in the public’s interest to
rebuild it by changing the shape to better serve the park’s events and public who used it, which included improving emergency access. While our board chairperson did approach Mr. Diller about funding the reconstruction of Pier 54 at the end of 2011, there was no design concept at that time. It then took a year before his interest in funding a project was even preliminarily established, and still more time before Thomas Heatherwick was hired. Anyone who understands design knows it’s a slow, iterative process, and the concept for what ultimately became the Pier55 design took many months more to percolate. In short, as evidenced by article in Capital New York (now Politico New York) in 2012 and 2013, there was no design to present in those years, and it was also no secret that we were working with Mr. Diller to secure, we hoped, a large gift for a future project. Ultimately, we tried to deliver a world-class public park space for passive recreation and outdoor performances. Thanks to concealed, well-funded delaying tactics devoid of any sound legal basis, that was not to be.
To The Editor: Re “Pier55 is sunk” (Scoopy’s Notebook, Sept. 14): The New York Times has consistently repeated Barry Diller’s propaganda that opposition to his island in the Hudson River Park was limited to a “small band of opponents,” as stated most recently in Monday’s full-page Times article. This is far from accurate. While only a small group had the time and resources to mount a concerted effort, in fact, community opposition to the Pier55 plan was widespread, while community support was thin. Madelyn Wils’s frequently quoted statement that Diller was offering a park was just untrue: He was offering a major performance space, boosting his ego and, not incidentally, his entertainment business. It was of dubious compatibility with a real park, one which is not large and offers badly needed and very popular quiet open space in what is now a residential area along the river. Previous over-amplified events on Pier 54 and other piers regularly drew serious protests. Diller Island looked to many of us as a venue for constant loud events at exclusionary high prices, not a benefit for the community. This point of view got little or no attention in the Times. Yes, the Hudson River Park Trust supported the plan. The Trust is desperate for the money Diller offered, and so was willing to overlook the detrimental effects to the park this authority is supposed to preserve. Quite possiLETTERS continued on p. 12
Gansevoort suit aims to get Landmarks in line LANDMARKS continued from p. 1
district “no-style style,” allowing developers to replace them with much larger buildings in styles that don’t always follow the spirit of the original designation and sometimes flout it. Last year, a coalition of neighbors and preservationists called Save Gansevoort, along with the Historic Districts Council, took the L.P.C. to court over a particularly disturbing decision to allow a single developer to “curate” an entire block-long row on Gansevoort St., smack within the Gansevoort Market Historic District, which was designated in 2003. The L.P.C. gave its seal of approval, known as a certificate of appropriateness, for the plan by Aurora Capital and Gottlieb Real Estate. This includes some serious tampering with prototypical low-rise market buildings, exactly the kind of structures that led the L.P.C. to create the market district in the first place. The one-story building on the corner of Washington St. would be torn down and replaced with an 80-foottall faux-warehouse. And the two-story row immediately east would get a threestory addition on top of it. Save Gansevoort filed an Article 78, the mechanism for challenging the determination of an administrative agency. One of the main arguments centers on this question of “no-style style.” Note that nowhere in the city’s Landmark Law can you find the term “no-style style” or its synonym “noncontributing.” What IS in the law is a list of nine factors that the L.P.C. “shall consider” (note the mandatory verb “shall” rather than the optional one “may”) before issuing declarations of appropriateness: aesthetic, historical and architectural values and significance, architectural style, design, arrangement, texture, material and color. The lower court ruled against Save Gansevoort. But that’s not the end of the story. Save Gansevoort filed an appeal and the Appellate Court granted a motion for a stay. This prevents the developer from doing any exterior work on the threatened Gansevoort properties until the court issues its ruling. The stay is a big deal — the Appellate Court grants them in only about 5 percent of cases, when it believes the case has enough merit for a possible reversal of the lower court decision. Save Gansevoort’s attorney Michael Hiller said that he has won five of the last seven land-use, zoning and preservation cases he was involved in and senses a possible shift in the legal landscape. The courts, he said, “are considering the cases on the merits instead of rubber-stamping what the city wants.” Hiller will file Save Gansevoort’s final brief on Oct. 2. This will be followed by a round of replies, followed by a court date, likely in December. Save Gansevoort is putting out the call for a huge public turnout. Meanwhile Simeon Bankoff, executive director of the Historic Districts Council, explained that his organization, according TheVillager.com
to its internal documents, will or may get involved in legal cases when there’s potential for precedent setting beyond the specific issues. “In this case,” he said, “we felt pretty strongly that Landmarks really did overreach with regard to its interpretation of appropriateness. We’re pleased that the judge feels there’s validity to the argument... . ‘Noncontributing’ is a term from the national Historic Preservation Act, but it doesn’t exist within the city’s law. There are no written rules that say you can knock down ‘noncontributing’ buildings.” The precedent would be huge because of the hundreds of other vulnerable buildings within historic districts. Bankoff believes that L.P.C.’s pro-developer bias stems in part from a truism promulgated by the influential Real Estate Board of New York. “They say that [landmark] designation causes affordability to disappear,” he said. “That’s a lie. What causes it to disappear is their attack on rent controls.” I also spoke to two longtime L.P.C. insiders — a current commissioner and the former head of research — to try to understand what’s behind this drastic shift of focus from protector of landmarks to friend of developers. After all, the city already has a panoply of entities looking out for the interests of the real-estate industry — which looks out for itself pretty well — but L.P.C. is the only one charged with designating landmarks and protecting both the individual landmarks and historic districts it has already worked extremely hard to create. Jay Shockley retired recently after a 35year career on the staff of the L.P.C., most recently as its senior historian. He wrote the Gansevoort Historic District Designation Report, which is 307 pages long and packed with history. He seconds Bankoff’s theory about this administration’s reluctance to designate individual landmarks and historic districts. The real-estate industry, he said, jumped on the theme that the L.P.C. was the sole entity preventing affordable housing from being built. “They concocted this theory and hammered it home,” Shockley said. What’s more, he said, it’s crystal clear the L.P.C. has no idea how to regulate the Gansevoort Market district. “It’s one of the few areas in Manhattan that didn’t get wholesale replaced with purpose-built buildings,” he said. “If you were blindfolded and dropped in, you’d know immediately where you were.” But now, he said, “They are creating faux history and they are obliterating the market site. Landmarks has properly regulated the Tribeca and Soho historic districts, but it’s fair game for anything at Gansevoort; it’s totally ad hoc and doesn’t respect the reason it was designated. In the West Village every single building that’s not high style is getting obliterated.” He’s just as horrified by staff turnover and attrition. “The staff is so demoralized that it has
the highest turnover of any city agency,” he noted. “It’s hard to keep staff with preservation integrity.” Mike Devonshire is a professional preservationist and academic who has served as an L.P.C. commissioner for three years beyond the end of his term because the mayor has not appointed a replacement for him and several of the 10 other commissioners in the same position (a common phenomenon in many administrations). “I’m very happy being there,” he said. “I feel it’s very important for me to be there. I’m the only one with a degree in historic preservation and the only one working in a firm that does exclusively historic preservation work.” This is not to say that Devonshire is happy with the way things are playing out. “For me, the sad tale is that little by little preservation of this city and its historic districts and individual landmarks is getting eaten away,” he said. Devonshire added that the previous L.P.C. chairperson, Bob Tierney, like others before him, would let each commissioner make comments before weighing in with his own opinion and taking a vote. Hearings are videotaped and available online, and show clearly that a different procedure is now in effect: The chairperson states her opinion first and expects everyone to fall in line and all votes to be unanimous. Those close to the proceedings report that commissioners are no longer allowed to confer regularly with the staff of professional preservationists and researchers. And at least two other commissioners are
also chafing at the changes in process and priorities. Attorney Hiller, whose business card has an image of David with a slingshot in his hand, said, “If the court were to sustain our position, it would mean the Landmarks Law would be enforced the way it’s written. We’re not asking them to change the law; we’re asking for the court to require L.P.C. to comply with it. “This case and others like it raise a deeper question regarding what New York City is going to be,” Hiller said. “New York is one of those rare municipalities that has taken real care to preserve its neighborhoods. Think of Las Vegas or Shanghai. They have no neighborhoods, no pocket parks, no brownstones. This is about losing a real part of New York City’s soul.” In addition to the possibility of overturning the original ruling on Gansevoort, there’s another bright spot for the preservationists and other activists who unfailingly show up and speak out at L.P.C. public hearings and wonder if it makes any difference. “I can only speak for myself about the impact of public testimony,” said Commissioner Devonshire. “It means a great deal to me. I’ll do my homework, go visit a site if it’s tricky or controversial. If there’s testimony from a large group of people (if anything happens in the Village, he stressed, those people are on it), it supplements my will to state my opinion and fight if necessary.” To find more information, contribute or get notice of the next court date (likely in December), visit www.savegansevoort.org
PHOTO BY TEQUILA MINSKY
Travis Morales was arrested after “taking a knee” in the middle of Fifth Ave. in front of Trump Tower late Tuesday afternoon. Morales and another protester both knelt on one knee and raised a fist in protest against the Trump presidency. The protest, by Refuse Fascism, was inspired by the actions of more than 200 pro football players who, at games on Sunday and Monday, either took a knee, remained sitting, stood with locked arms or stayed off the field during the national anthem, in protest against Trump’s railing that players like Colin Kaepernick should be “fired” for such protests. September 28, 2017
274637 (CRIMES) and then entering TIP577. All tips are confidential.
$600K Canal heist Police said that on Fri., Sept. 15, at 11:32 a.m., two robbers entered Sean’s Diamond & Jewelry Inc., at 277 Canal St., brandished guns and demanded that one of the male employees open the safe. The employee complied. Before the suspects fled with around $600,000 worth of jewelry, they zip-tied the wrists of three male employees, ages 55, 38 and 26. There were no reported injuries. The first suspect is described as age 28, 6 feet tall and weighing 250 pounds, last seen wearing a Jets cap, a black hooded sweatshirt, black jeans and a black bookbag. The second robber is described as 25 to 30 years old, 5-feet-fiveinches tall, 145 pounds and wearing a camouflage jacket, black baseball hat and brown shoes. Anyone with information is asked to call the Police Department’s Crime Stoppers Hotline, at 800-577-TIPS, or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782). Tips can also be submitted by logging onto the Crime Stoppers Web site, www.nypdcrimestoppers.com, or by texting them to
A woman’s credit card was stolen inside 418 Sixth Ave., at the corner of W. Ninth St., on Tues., Sept. 12, at 2:08 p.m., police said. The 19-year-old victim left her card at the store and an employee used it to make an unauthorized purchase, police said. Destiny Cruz, 19, was arrested for felony grand larceny.
14th St. ﬂap A man was seen shouting and causing a scene at the Human Resources Administration building at 12 W. 14th St. on Fri., Sept. 22, at 10:30 a.m., according to police. When the guy was being escorted out, he grabbed a fire extinguisher off the wall and raised it over his head. A police officer attempted to stop the attack by using a baton, and the suspect refused to be handcuffed by balling his fists and flailing his arms. Lorenzo Bell, 57, was arrested for felony menacing.
Letters to The Editor
Sneak-y shoplift Police said shoplifters stole goods from “multiple shelves” at the Foot Locker store at 58 W. 14th St. on Mon., July 10, at 2:45 p.m. Derek Stewart, 22, was arrested Sun., Sept. 24, for felony grand larceny.
The pain at Jane A man was assaulted inside The Jane hotel, at 113 Jane St., on Sun., Sept. 24, at 3:30 a.m., police say. A man hit the 22-year-old victim in the face with a glass cup, causing cuts to his face near his left eye. The victim was taken to Lenox Health Greenwich Village for treatment. Kyle Teague, 30, was arrested for felony assault.
‘Cher’-ished pieces To The Editor:
LETTERS continued from p. 10
bly the mayor’s and the governor’s support also had something to do with money, easing some of the pressure for the needed governmental funding. The neighborhood’s reaction to the collapse of the project, reflected most recently
in the Sept. 14 issue of The Villager, was a loud sigh of relief and a vote of sincere thanks to Riverkeeper, the City Club and Douglas Durst. Nancy Pasley
Re “Ode to Cher: Gardeners weep over willow’s loss” (news article, Sept. 21): A virtual “giving tree.” I hope everyone is making beautiful coffee tables and art with all that beautiful wood. Bambi Everson
Tabia C. Robinson and Lincoln Anderson
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.
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September 28, 2017
Public input is founding park principle: Plaintiffs PIER55 continued from p. 7
there are already non-water-related uses on existing piers in the park, and Pier55 would have had non-water-related uses — but this ban would have applied to anything new that the Trust planned for the park, such as a new pier on a new footprint, for example. “I have no idea what they might have been planning,” Fox admitted, when asked exactly what they were worried about potentially being constructed in the river down the line. Again, this prohibition would not have applied to Pier55, which, if the negotiations had been successful, would have been “a done deal,” Fox said.
‘Back to the future’ Another important point the plaintiffs were pushing was for “a very robust requirement for community participation in the park,” or, as Fox put it, “Everything needs to be public — just like it was in the beginning [of the park’s creation].” For example, whenever a permit would be required for any action in the park, the community would be notified about it through an e-mail blast, “just like the way I get an e-mail about ‘Bob’ playing guitar,” Fox noted, referring to entertainment events in the park. “It’s ‘back to the future’: At the beginning, everyone complained and moaned, and everyone was heard. And that’s the way you accomplish things.” Fox played a leading role early on in the nearly 20-year-old park and led the Hudson River Park Conservancy, the Trust’s predecessor agency.
‘Keep public informed’ Simply put, Fox said of the current Trust, “They are stewards of the park, and we should know what’s going on. It’s basically saying that the Trust has to do what it was intended to do — public participation.” Yet another requirement they stipulated was for regulations for signs in the park, “so signage wouldn’t get out of control.” Asked if he felt bad that the Pier55 project, as designed, ultimately collapsed, Fox said, no. “Not at all. This is a river,” he stressed. “They’re building a theater. Put it across the street — they can still see the river. I think there’s a site just south of the Standard hotel — Interstate Beef — put it there,” he said, referring to a spacious parking lot outside the Meatpackers Co-op building. “It could be on the Gansevoort Peninsula, it’s 6 acres,” Fox added. “Why not build it there?” In a similar vein, Tribeca architect Michael Sorkin recently pitched an alternative plan that incorporates many
of the planned entertainment uses from Pier55 onto the existing Pier 40. Under that plan’s premise, Diller would give his $250 million earmarked for Pier55 instead to the repair of Pier 40, as well as to the maintenance of the whole Hudson River Park — or at least so Sorkin hoped.
Local politicians opine Local politicians weighed in following the end of the Pier55 saga. State Senator Brad Hoylman said it all points to a fundamental problem with authorities — governmental entities that lack the same level of public accountability as normal state or city agencies. “I think the Pier55 project tested the limits of private philanthropy substituting for major public-works projects,” Hoylman said, “especially when there is major infrastructure involved, like the complete rebuilding of a pier over a protected natural resource. It’s no coincidence that another grand privately funded project, the so-called Garden Bridge over the Thames in London by the same architect, Thomas Heatherwick, also foundered recently. “The way the Hudson River Park was conceived decades ago I think helped lead to this project’s undoing,” Hoylman noted. “There is little formal oversight from either the state or city and a lot of the park’s operational issues, including funding and transparency, fall between the cracks. Robert Moses invented state authorities for this very reason — to bypass normal channels of government and expedite public works. But we can see clearly now the major downside to this model. “Going forward,” Hoylman said, “I’d like to see the Hudson River Park Trust conduct a forensic analysis of the Pier55 project and share this information with the public. Basically, we need to know what happened. Not to point fingers or cast blame, but to learn if any of the protracted legal mess could have been avoided. Did the relatively narrow opportunity for public comment contribute to the project’s demise? Could the state or city have done more, for example, by stepping in to pick up the legal costs? “In addition, we should know how much has been spent on the project,” he asked. “What’s the future of the partially rebuilt pier? Can any of these sunk costs be reclaimed? Will an R.F.P. [request for proposals] be considered for future disposition of the site and what role will the city and state play?”
‘So much was lost’
VILLAGER FILE PHOTO
Faded paint on the arch at the entrance of Pier 54 on the Hudson River near 13th St. shows the pier was once used by the White Star Line and Cunard White Star. The Carpathia brought the Titanic’s sur vivors to this pier on April 18, 1912. The arch is the remnant of the pier shed that once covered the structure. In more recent years, Pier 54 was used as the park’s main enter tainment pier by the Hudson River Park Trust. But the Trust chose to focus on redeveloping a brand-new pier — Pier55 — just to the north, instead of renovating the historic Pier 54, and completely stripped off the old pier’s crumbling concrete decking. What the Trust will do next in this section of the river is not immediately known.
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City Councilmember Corey Johnson bemoaned the loss of Pier55 and the things it would have brought to local PIER55 continued on p. 18
SAINT JOSEPH CATHEDRAL
September 28, 2017
Local politicians weigh in on sinking of pier plan PIER55 continued from p. 0
arts and children — plus to butterflies and bats, too. “The loss of this gift is a blow to Hudson River Park and to the West Side,” Johnson said. “Community Board 2 has one of the lowest ratios of public open space in New York, and Pier55 would have added 2.7 acres of parkland to our community. There would have been innovative partnerships with local public schools and programming with local arts groups. The local community would have had a strong voice in determining the arts programming on the pier. “From an environmental standpoint,” Johnson added, “the new parkland would have featured native flora specifically chosen to support pollinators that have shrinking habitats, like bees and butterflies. It would also have provided needed refuge for migrating birds and even bats. “I want to thank Barry Diller for his generous gift to the public,” Johnson said. “I hope there’s a way this pier can be brought back to life.”
Glick: ‘E.I.S. needed’ For her part, Assemblymember Deborah Glick said a major flaw of the project was that a proper environmental impact statement, or E.I.S., was never done for it. Instead, the Trust only did what is known as an environmental assessment, a lower-level study. “I certainly understand it’s a generous gift from the Diller-von Furstenberg Family Foundation for Pier55,” Glick said. “But it was being done without an environmental impact study, which of course was always a question we raised. It was a major new incursion into the estuary, and if anything deserved a full E.I.S., it was that project.” More to the point, in Glick’s mind, building new piers is risky in our globally warmed world. “And, of course,” she said, “now that we are in an age of rising sea levels, it’s really questionable how much development should occur along the waterfront and in the river — it’s really very, very problematic. Whatever we do moving forward should not be wildly expensive, because we can see the increasing severity of storms and rising sea levels. The walkways to this would have been underwater.” However, the Trust strongly disagreed on that point. David Paget, an attorney for the authority, said, “Anyone who asserts that an E.I.S. was needed for the Pier55 project evidences a complete lack of familiarity with or understanding of the multiple decisions rendered by every level of the state court system — all of which soundly rejected that argument.”
September 28, 2017
PHOTO BY REBECCA WHITE
The northern pedestrian bridge to Pier 55 — ultimately, only some of the trestles for the bridge were completed — would have curled over the old pile field of the former Pier 56. At right is Pier 57, which is being redeveloped into a home for Google offices and a large food cour t.
‘Legislature was misled’ Glick also blasted the Trust for being deceptive from the outset, including when it lobbied the state Legislature in 2013 to amend the Hudson River Park Act of 1998 to allow Pier 54 to be rebuilt wider and shorter. “They should have been doing what they asked the Legislature to do,” Glick said, “which was a shorter, wider pier. That’s what they should be doing now. Pier 54 should be rebuilt, perhaps not in its original footprint...perhaps a bit shorter and wider. They totally and completely misled the Legislature. They provided misleading information.” (The Trust’s main justification for asking for Pier 54 to be rebuilt wider was that it allegedly would make it safer for large crowds at events on the pier. And yet, Diller’s Pier55 design featured two relatively narrow pedestrian bridges connecting the pier to the shore.) A New York Times article two weeks ago revealed how Trust board Chairperson Taylor had whispered the idea for the Pier55 plan into Diller’s ear at a High Line fundraising party six years ago. “It’s quite clear now from the Times article,” Glick said, “that they knew what they wanted to do in 2011, and in 2013 they asked for changes [to the park act], as opposed to [asking for] a specially raised platform well out from the shore. And there was no discussion of something that would rise four or five stories.”
What happens now? As for what should happen with that spot in the river now — such as rebuilding Pier 54 — Fox said he supports a pier there for recreational use and historic ships, which is what the
park’s original plan always called for. “The original plans for the pier did not have performance on it,” Assemblymember Glick confirmed. “It was for historic ships and passive recreation.” The Trust, for one, isn’t ready to answer the question. “The Trust spent nearly six years on Pier55,” a spokesperson for the authority said, “and it will take some time to wind down the project. Right now, it’s too soon to comment on anything related to the future of the site.”
‘A signiﬁcant setback’ Tobi Bergman, a former Community Board 2 chairperson and longtime waterfront park activist, called the Pier55 debacle a shame and said the project would have added luster to Hudson River Park. “I can’t speak for C.B. 2,” Bergman noted, “although we did strongly support the plan after holding several wellattended public hearings. “Personally, I think it’s a significant setback for the park,” he said. “It was an excellent proposal that would have made the park bigger and better and provided very special and unique cultural benefits to the whole city. While Hudson River Park is a good park that has improved the quality of life for hundreds of thousands of residents, it is still treated like chopped liver. This would have enhanced its standing and put it on the map. It’s a great loss and a great shame.” Fox said the denouement of the Pier55 story took everyone by surprise— including the plaintiffs. “I don’t know why they thought they had to settle,” Fox said of the Trust’s reaching out to the City Club to negotiate a deal. “They felt they had a new
permit [from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers] and we filed suit. They modified the plan to take out pouredconcrete piles to replace them with driven piles,” in an effort to skirt a federal Clean Water Act review, he noted. Back in March, a federal judge had pulled the permit for Pier55, ruling that the Army Corps had erred in deeming the pier water-dependent under the Clean Water Act. In fact, the judge said, it was basically an entertainment pier, and thus didn’t need to be sited in the water. The pier’s subsequent redesign, Fox and his allies pointed out, was once again done completely out of the public’s sight — which, again, only backfired on the Trust and Diller, leading to new aspects of the design that were set to be challenged in the latest lawsuit.
Island could have lived Fox said his side, in fact, was willing to accept Pier55 — even with all of its entertainment uses — as long as the plaintiffs got the things they had been negotiating for in return. “There were a lot of things in the settlement to like,” he said. Meanwhile, Novogratz and others are charging that Durst, during the negotiations, tried to “extort” money from the Trust to finish building Pier 97, which is near his new Via 57 West — a striking gray pyramid-like residential building that Durst also happens to live in. “It was a shakedown,” accused Novogratz, who, unlike Fox, was not actually in the room during the negotiations. Durst was not in the room, either. Durst, though, pointed out to The Villager that several months before the Pier55 negotiations started, the Trust had committed to finishing Pier 97 with money from Hudson River Park air-rights sales from Chelsea Piers to a development site on the other side of the West Side Highway owned by Joe Rose, a former Trust board member, who plans 70-story high-rise towers there. Durst sent The Villager the documentation to prove that the Trust had indeed made that funding commitment. What the City Club wanted, however, Fox explained, was simply a commitment from the Trust to finish Pier 97 within the next five years. The plaintiffs didn’t care where the money came from, Fox said, adding it was the Trust that, during the negotiations, first raised the subject of fi nishing Pier 97.
‘Smear campaign’ Fox, in turn, blasted Novogratz and others for trying to “smear” Durst. Pier55 supporters also accused the PIER55 continued on p. 27 TheVillager.com
Pursuing the Unpredictable The New Museum, 1977–2017
Photo by Dean Kaufman, courtesy New Museum, NY
The New Museum, at 40, continues to champion local artists and introduce new talent.
BY STEPHANIE BUHMANN It seems staggering that the New Museum of Contemporary Art, the city’s premier institution for less predictable contemporary art installations, is already turning 40. In fact, when the formidable Marcia Tucker (1940-2006) founded it on January 1, 1977, at the age of 37 and after having been dismissed from her position as Curator of Painting and Sculpture at the Whitney Museum of American Art, it was the first museum in New York since World War II to be solely devoted to showing contemporary art. Four decades later, it remains in that position and it is (perhaps the only) one of the world’s very, very few art museums founded by a woman, as well as perpetually led by one. Over the years, the New Museum has relocated numerous times, consistently growing from its humble beginnings in TheVillager.com
a one-room office on Hudson Street in Tribeca. From there it moved to a larger installment at the New School for Social Research near 14th St., to the first two and a half floors of the Astor Building at 583 Broadway in Soho, a quick stint at the former Chelsea Museum of Art, and finally, to its impressive current home at the Bowery. In fact, it was the inauguration of its freestanding building (designed by SANAA) in 2007 that elevated the New Museum into an undeniable force to be reckoned with. It was during that moment that it transformed itself from a boutique museum into one of the city’s most exciting venues for contemporary art from around the world, as well as into a vibrant hub for new positions and ideas within the field. Not to mention that it has also helped to invigorate a gallery scene in the Lower East Side and Soho.
Although the new building provided the New Museum with increased visibility (and significantly more exhibition space), its programming had already been exemplary for years. While at times refreshingly unpredictable, it also made sure to dedicate ample room to local artists, who had been largely overlooked by the city’s other institutions. It was the New Museum which organized landmark exhibitions of such widely acclaimed artists as Joan Jonas (1984), Martin Puryear (1984), Leon Golub (1984), Ana Mendieta (1988), Nancy Spero (1989), and Carroll Dunham (2003), reminding visitors (and more often than not some of the city’s larger museums) of the rich local talent. Additionally, the New Museum has continually made a point of lending support to international artists who had not yet received institutional attention in the
United States. It was the first local institution to develop comprehensive presentations of what are now household names, including Mona Hatoum (1998), Doris Salcedo (1998), Xu Bing (1998), Cildo Meireles (2000), William Kentridge (2001), Marlene Dumas (2002), and Hélio Oiticica (2002). Founded by Tucker and directed by Lisa Phillips since 1999 (who prior to that had worked as the Curator of Contemporary Art at the Whitney Museum of American Art), the New Museum might be the only institution in the city that has shown as many important female as male artists. It has not only looked ahead, but also back, making sure to feature artists whose work has proven to be highly influential. By presenting the oeuvres of Carolee Schneemann (1996), Martha NEW MUSEUM continued on p. 20 September 28, 2017
NEW MUSEUM continued from p. 19
Rosler (2000), and more recently, the late Carol Rama (2017), for example, the museum continues this sort of ongoing exploration. Overall, the New Museum’s global focus remains unparalleled among other local institutions. Over the past five years alone, it has exhibited artists from Argentina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Cameroon, China, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, Germany, Poland, Spain, South Africa, Turkey, and the United Kingdom, among others. In the past few years, the New Museum has developed its contextual programming, ranging from panel discussions and symposia to thematic publications. As early as 2003, it had formed an affiliation with Rhizome, a leading online platform for global new media art. In 2015, it established its promising Critical Anthologies in Art and Culture series, the first two publications of which entailed “Mass Effect: Art and the Internet in the Twenty-First Century” (2015) and “Public Servants: Art and the Crisis of the Common Good (2016).” This November, the third volume will be released. Entitled “Trap Door: Trans Cultural Production and the Politics of Visibility” and edited by Reina Gossett, Eric A. Stanley, and Johanna Burton, this collection of essays, conversations, and dossiers will explore the representation of trans identity throughout art and popular culture in recent years. The upcoming exhibition program will continue to focus on the Zeitgeist. Featuring an intergenerational group of artists, “Trigger: Gender as a Tool and a Weapon” aims to investigate gender’s place in contemporary art and culture at a moment of political and social upheaval and reignited ideological conflicts (Sept. 27-Jan. 21, 2018). While reflecting on its first 40 years this fall, the New Museum will also train an eye toward the future. In addition to launching a redesigned Digital Archive that will be comprised of 10,000 archival materials and objects, it will host a two-day event bringing together in conversation a range of artists from the Museum’s first four decades (Dec. 2 and 3). Undoubtedly, the conversations will be among the most exciting things to have witnessed in the New York art world, period. Among the participants will be Paweł Althamer, Lynda Benglis, George Condo, Carroll Dunham, Mary Heilmann, Joan Jonas, Paul McCarthy, Donald Moffett, Dorothea Rockburne, Martha Rosler, Anri Sala, Doris Salcedo, and Carolee Schneemann. Thankfully, extended hours and free admission will assure that the event can be attended by anyone — and so the New Museum’s mission continues to
September 28, 2017
Courtesy the artist and Thierry Goldberg, NY
From the group exhibition “Trigger: Gender as a Tool and a Weapon” — Tschabalala Self: “Mista & Mrs” (2016. Linen, fabric, paper, oil, acrylic, and Flashe on canvas, 90 × 96 in.).
© Petrit Halilaj; photo by Fabrice Seixas & archives kamel mennour
Kahlil Joseph and Petrit Halilaj exhibitions inaugurate the South Galleries. Seen here, Halilaj’s “Si Okarina e Runikut” (2014, detail of installation view: “Yes but the sea is attached to the Earth and it never floats around in space. The stars would turn off and what about my planet?”).
spread excitement and information about contemporary art as far and wide as possible. Fortunately for New Yorkers, it all unfolds in our own backyard. The New Museum is located at 235 Bowery (btw. Stanton & Rivington Sts.). Hours: Tues.–Sun., 11am–6pm and Thurs., 11am–9pm. Admission: $18 ($15 seniors, $12 students, free for ages 18 and under; pay as you wish every Thurs. 7–9pm). Visit newmuseum.org or call 212-219-1222.
Courtesy the artist and Maccarone Gallery, NY
Alex Da Corte will create a new work for the inaugural installation in the storefront window of the New Museum’s 231 Bowery building — the first in a new series paying homage to the window installations that the New Museum mounted in the 1980s, which included projects by Jeff Koons and Linda Montano. Seen here, Da Corte’s “Fall 2020” (2017. Digital image, dimensions variable). TheVillager.com
The Groovy Moment of Peter, Paul and Mary Digging ‘I Dig Rock and Roll Music’
AP Photo/Bob Dear
At the London Palladium, Nov. 8, 1965, for the Royal Variety Performance in front of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip. L to R: Paul Stookey, Peter Yarrow, and Mary Travers.
BY JIM MELLOAN I remember well the first time I heard Peter, Paul and Mary’s “I Dig Rock and Roll Music.” It would have been sometime in late 1967. I was in London, in my parents’ bedroom, performing the chore I had been assigned: polishing the family’s shoes. It would have played on Radio 1, the BBC’s recently launched rock station set up to win young listeners who had been listening to pirate radio stations such as Radio Caroline. As the trio sung the praises of The Mamas & the Papas, Donovan, and the Beatles, the whole thing seemed wrong to me. Surely you weren’t allowed to do that; talk about other acts in your own song. I told my dad about the song. He agreed with me that this was a very bad thing to do. As it turns out, Peter, Paul and Mary were not the first contemporary act to do this kind of name-checking. Arthur Conley had come out with a song a few months before called “Sweet Soul Music.” Written with Otis Redding, that song gives props to Lou Rawls, Sam & Dave, Wilson Pickett, James Brown, and Otis himself, as well as the Miracles’ “Going TheVillager.com
to a Go-Go.” But unlike the Peter, Paul and Mary song, which was written by trio member Noel Paul Stookey with James Mason and Dave Dixon, that song didn’t bitch about how its own author could really say something, but if he really did say it the radio wouldn’t play it. Manager Albert Grossman put Peter, Paul and Mary together in 1961. The three were part of the Greenwich Village folk scene, and Grossman believed there would be a market for three well-blended voices with a hip, beatnik look. His instincts were good. Their first album, “Peter, Paul and Mary,” released in 1962, spent seven weeks at No. 1, and 10 months in the Top Ten album chart. In early 1962, Grossman signed Bob Dylan, and several of the trio’s biggest hits were written by Dylan. “I Dig Rock and Roll Music” was the group’s first Top 40 hit since early 1965, and its first Top Ten hit since its versions of Dylan’s “Blowin’ in the Wind” and “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right” in 1963. Fifty years ago, the song peaked at No. 9 on the Billboard Hot 100: September 23 and 30 of 1967. It actually did not chart in the UK.
My friend Liz Burns recalls that she first heard the song at age eight, a couple of years after it came out. She had grown up with several Peter, Paul and Mary albums. She says that even at that young age she recognized that this song was “a pandering piece of crap.” It was, partly. But at the same time, it was, depending on your perspective, either a gentle or bitter tweaking of the ascendant rock genre — which in the past three years had left folkies like Peter, Paul, and Mary in the dust — and a genuine celebration of that genre. Kind of a neat trick. Some bitterness was certainly there. Mary Travers had told the Chicago Daily News in 1966, “It’s so badly written. ... When the fad changed from folk to rock, they didn’t take along any good writers.” But the thing was, this time, maybe really one of the only times, the group really had themselves a beat. On “Album 1700,” the 1967 album on which “I Dig Rock and Roll Music” appears, they’re backed by members of The Paupers, a Toronto-based psychedelic rock band that Grossman had recently signed. The bongos that suffuse “I Dig Rock and Roll Music” hark back to the group’s original beatnik image, if
not its sound. The three capture some of the essence of each of the three acts they reference: The Mamas & the Papas’ harmonies, Donovan’s mumbly psychedelics, and the Beatles’ backwards-playing studio tricks. And the tricky, bouncy counterpoint on the “Pah pah pahs” at the end wraps whole thing up with, to use an anachronistic word, pizzazz. Too bad for the group that the earnest, pious crusading for social justice through music that they exemplified was now pretty much a thing of the past. The culture had seen the end of the effectiveness of such tactics, and was morphing into something more fun, weirder, and perhaps blissfully not as honest: the counterculture. Peter, Paul and Mary caught on, and were willing to play along. The group finally had their only number one hit, “Leaving on a Jet Plane,” in 1969. That one, written by John Denver, was recorded in 1967 and also appears on “Album 1700.” It was a return to their more somber side, in keeping with the darker tones of 1969. But for one brief, shining moment, in 1967 when it was the thing to be, Peter, Paul and Mary were groovy. September 28, 2017
Sandler’s photos capture the gritty city that was SANDLER continued from p. 1
college, and moved to E. Third St. from Queens, experiencing the counterculture in full swing until 1968, when he moved to Boston. He spent those two East Village years working various jobs, such as darkroom assistant at Condé Nast and dishwasher at The Paradox restaurant on E. Seventh St. — where Yoko Ono, before she met John Lennon, was the chef. (More about them later.) Before heading further east, he managed to catch shows by Frank Zappa, Simon and Garfunkel, Ravi Shankar, The Doors, Yusef Lateef, Country Joe, Sly Stone, The Who, pretty much everybody — except John Coltrane. One night he and a friend were passing by a club where the jazz giant was playing, when his buddy suggested they go in. “Nah,” said Sandler, “we’ll catch him another time.” Oh, well. In his 12 years in Boston, he could be found professionally practicing acupuncture and studying macrobiotic cooking with the legendary Michio Kushi. His culinary talent brought him to the attention of John and Yoko, who were interviewing a handful of people for the live-in position of their personal chef in 1973. “I was gonna do it,” Sandler said. “I would have moved to the Dakota.” The informal chat with a “very nice” Yoko and a “kinda snarky” John went very well right up until the end, when Lennon asked Sandler about his astrological sign. Sandler, unfortunately, had the wrong answer. “Oh no, forget it,” John said. “I could never have a Scorpio living in my house.” And that was that. “My life would have been much different,” Sandler mused. “I hadn’t even started photography yet.” It wasn’t until a friend in his communal house lent him a Leica in 1977 that he jumped into camera work. From then on, he said, “I never wanted to do anything but street photography.” And he began to make some money with it, getting published in the Boston Phoenix, the Real Paper and Boston Magazine. In 1978, he bought the vintage 1961 Leica that he still uses today. When he moved back to New York City in 1980, he settled into an East Village apartment and a life as a chef at The Cauldron. He designed the place’s macrobiotic menu and set up its kitchen before he began shooting for The New York Times, Barron’s and American Lawyer magazine, among others. But, without hesitation, he said, “The artistic high point of my career was shooting in the [New York City] streets and the subway. His unique look at life between the years of 1977 and 2001 is gathered in his recently published monograph, “The Eyes of the City” (Powerhouse Books). It’s a gritty, funny, intelligent, thought-provoking look back at the city. Speaking of his work back then, he said, “It distilled everything that I felt about society, class, economics. More than just street photography, it was a cultural critique.” It wasn’t easy getting those shots. Getting into people’s faces — sometimes with a flash during the day, unusual at the time — got him “kicked, punched and chased,” he recalled. The hard-won results, some in print for the first time, represent a talent that stands alongside the best of his breed, such as Garry Winogrand (with whom he briefly studied). Sandler’s examination of street culture naturally evolved into documentary filmmaking. Shot over a sixyear period in the “Crossroads of the World,” the awardwinning doc “The Gods of Times Square” examines a bygone era when preachers shouted their messages of sin
September 28, 2017
PHOTOS BY BOB KRASNER
Richard Sandler holding the Leica camera he has shot with since 1978.
Sandler, in his old E. 10th St. apar tment, with a movie camera he used for documentaries.
and salvation in front of porno theaters. Currently, he has two works in progress — and in need of funding — that explore the histories of two groups of Native Americans. “A/K/A Martha’s Vineyard” explores the story of the Wampanoag tribe on that island, while another unfinished piece deals with tribes in the Hudson Valley. Another film, “Brave New York,” chronicles, as he put it, “twelve years of intense change in the East Village ’hood.” Sandler spent 25 years in the ’hood, but he was ready to go even before Raphael Toledano bought his building and paid him to leave. “I was sick of the army of college students and the boring yuppies buying up the lifestyle,” he said. “My building was like a college dorm. I’m 70 — the East Village is not a place for people my age.” He packed up in the spring of 2016 and headed up to Catskill. “It’s a town that’s in the process of reinvention,” he
said. “People there are trying to make it a great place for everybody.” Though he loves his new apartment and the “healthy, cleaner environment,” he admits it was tough to leave E. 10th St. “It was nostalgic and sad,” he said. “My experience went back to when it was a real neighborhood. But it wasn’t feeding me anymore,” he reflected. “The book is my farewell to New York. I really, really documented New York, and it was time for other things.” And, he added, “I’d rather be in nature.” The Leica Store, at 460 W. Broadway, will be exhibiting the photographer’s work from the 1970s and ’80s at “Richard Sandler, The Eyes of The City,” opening Thurs., Oct. 5, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. and running through Sat., Dec. 2. For more information about Sandler and his work, visit RichardSandler.com and http://www.powerhousebooks.com/books/the-eyes-of-the-city/ . TheVillager.com
TOP DRIVER DISTRACTIONS Using mobile phones Leading the list of the top distractions behind the wheel are mobile phones. Phones now do more than just place calls, and drivers often cannot pull away from their phones, even when driving. According to the California Department of Motor Vehicles, studies have shown that driving performance is lowered and the level of distraction is higher for drivers who are heavily engaged in cell
phone conversations. The use of a hands-free device does not lower distraction levels. The percentage of vehicle crashes and nearcrashes attributed to dialing is nearly identical to the number associated with talking or listening.
Daydreaming Many people will admit to daydreaming behind the wheel or looking at a person or object outside of the car for too long. Per-
haps they’re checking out a house in a new neighborhood or thought they saw someone they knew on the street corner. It can be easy to veer into the direction your eyes are focused, causing an accident. In addition to trying to stay focused on the road, some drivers prefer the help of lane departure warning systems.
Eating Those who haven’t quite mastered walking and
chewing gum at the same time may want to avoid eating while driving. The majority of foods require a person’s hands to be taken off of the wheel and their eyes to be diverted from the road. Reaching in the back seat to share some French fries with the kids is also distracting. Try to eat meals before getting in the car. For those who must snack while en route, take a moment to pull over at
a rest area and spend 10 minutes snacking there before resuming the trip.
Reading Glancing at an advertisement, updating a Facebook status or reading a book are all activities that should be avoided when driving. Even pouring over a traffic map or consulting the digital display of a GPS system can be distracting.
September 28, 2017
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September 28, 2017
‘New Tammany’ isn’t for democracy
TALKING POINT BY DODGE L ANDESMAN
fter the election of Trump, I was initially inspired by the call to action the leaders of my local Democratic Party had made. They have done due diligence in challenging the president on issues both social and economic. They have called for mostly dormant citizens to wake up, get involved and protest our president. The party has encouraged all disenchanted voters to get involved in the local Democratic Party, so they, too, could have an impact, so their voices could be heard. However, on the local front, it’s clear to see that activists on the most grassroots level will never be heard by the local party apparatus. The party’s motto? “Join us, sit down, and shut up.” While many progressives have acted with a newfound sense of urgency, wanting to get involved with the local party, it’s clear that they will be discouraged from doing so in any significant way. On Sun., Sept. 17, members of the County Committee convened to “nominate” their choice for state Senate for Daniel Squadron’s district, since he chose to vacate the seat after the deadline for a normally scheduled primary. The senator, in the timing of his decision, took the first step in opening the door and awakening the Tammany beast within the party establishment. Instead of a normal primary, County Committee members, who are elected on a block-to-block basis, would be tasked with “choosing” the Democratic nominee. While not an ideal or even acceptable process, activists on the grassroots level have been trying to make it as transparent as possible. It’s true, as opponents like to highlight, that candidate Paul Newell, a Democratic district leader, recruited a slew of local activists to fill vacant County Committee slots. However, if politicians or opposing Democratic clubs wanted to scout out new activists, encourage them and help them petition, then they, too, could claim County Committee members under their tutelage. Yet, it’s crystal clear that those in power don’t feel the need to do so. So, Newell encouraged people to join the County Committee, where, in a hyperlocal sense, their voices could be heard. I’ve seen many candidates for County Committee this year take their campaigns seriously, knocking on doors, working long hours to get
Dodge Landesman is demoralized over the way par ty leaders recently picked the Democratic nominee to run for Daniel Squadron’s former state Senate seat.
enough signatures while building alliances with activists across the district. Despite their efforts however, many received a rude awakening when they realized that the one power they were supposed to have upon election was completely negated and meaningless. Their one task, as described and defined, is to vote and fill vacancies of elected officials who resign their seats or die in office. In a sense, this is the most Democratic outcome in an undemocratic process. Since County Committee members represent only a city block or so, they are the most local voice of their community, and thereby can be the most accurate voice for voters who couldn’t get the opportunity to weigh in. A vote was held, and it was almost immediately deemed meaningless, even though Paul Newell received more than 70 percent of the vote. About 20 minutes later, Brian Kavanagh declared victory on Twitter. On the other side of the East River, Brooklyn County Committee members were denied a vote altogether (having Chairperson Frank Seddio cast a vote on the County Committee’s behalf without any consultation from the members themselves), and the reason why is abundantly clear. It seems that those in power have a certain vendetta against Newell for acting independently. While I supported (and still support) Yuh-Line Niou, Newell’s opponent in the primary for state Assembly last year, I recognize talent when I see it, and I appreciate all meaningful and conscientious voices in in an election. While voters would prefer a wealth of quality candidates to pick from, party insiders make it their lives’ mission to narrow the playing field, so that the least independent person can be elected without even breaking a sweat. Talented people who choose to run against an establishment pick are forever brand-
ed with a scarlet letter, rather than being seen as a key community player who can help build a powerful coalition to benefit the entire district in the future. Insiders employ an “us versus them” mentality — only their team and allies should benefit from an elected official, and provincial politics should rule instead of broad, coalition-building politics. Now that Brian Kavanagh is the Democratic nominee for state Senate, he will almost certainly win the position in November. A record of reform and activism will be negated from day one, and the G.O.P will use Senator Kavanagh as the ultimate punching bag. Will Kavanagh have any credibility when he introduces campaign finance reform? Adding his name as a sponsor on any ethics-reform bill would surely sink and hurt it. The New York Post and other conservative publications will have a field day, calling the Democrats the party of the corrupt, and using Kavanagh as an example. They will use this when competitive congressional and statewide races emerge next year throughout the state. I admire Kavanagh, and I admire his record. He has been a leader on election reform and has often stood up against developers. Perhaps if he decried the process and called for a full vote, I would support him in next September’s primary election. He will forever be beholden to Keith Wright and Frank Seddio, so his voice will be silent when reform efforts are made to defeat the apparatus that Carmine DeSapio and Vito Lopez left behind. He’ll be unable to make meaningful legislative reforms, and he will be radioactive to progressive Democrats. Who knows who will be running for state Senate in September. Newell is conscientious and well-qualified for the job, and he has continued fighting despite knowing full well he would draw the ire of the city’s most powerful players. Alan Gerson had a stellar record in the City Council and is friends with many different types of activists, showing he does not hold grudges and strives to bring everyone to the table. Diego Segalini has experience in the arts and values the city as their epicenter. Eileen Naples brings a unique perspective, having worked in the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office. Any one of these candidates would be a dramatic improvement over Closed-Door Kavanagh. Landesman is a former member, Community Board 2, and former State Committee candidate, 65th Assembly District September 28, 2017
September 28, 2017
Diller Island’s demise PIER55 continued from p. 18
City Club of trying to pressure Diller to contribute a “significant amount” of money to “their fund” as part of the settlement. But Fox said the request was to cover their legal fees. “We asked for legal fees as part of the settlement,” he stated, “but that request was denied because the Trust thought it would provide the City Club with resources to work with in the future.” The Trust declined comment when asked if the money the City Club was asking Diller for was actually to pay for legal fees. “C’mon, can anybody admit they were wrong?” Fox said in frustration. “This is the same issue that killed Westway — déjà vu all over again. This is a special habitat, a vital estuary that helps feed the Atlantic Ocean. It’s a vital, living thing. Why can’t they just appreciate it? “It’s procedure,” Fox stressed. “It’s like covering up a lie. “It might have been on Gansevoort,” he mused of the site for the ill-fated Pier55 project, “but nobody ever asked. The process was never public enough.”
Trust: ‘Case was ﬂimsy’ In a statement on the overall outcome, the Trust said, “It’s important to remember that while the plaintiffs were successful in their repeated attempts to delay the project, their legal case was flimsy throughout. They never really sought to establish any environmental harm. They had a wetlands expert whom the Trust discredited and was never heard from again. “They lost at every level of the state court system, including all environmental claims and public trust and transparency assertions, which of course were not founded in any laws or regulations. Their one victory was a technical process one that lost any relevance when we shifted to a no-fill project. “Also, they never got any environmental group or activists to join their suits or file supporting briefs or affidavits. They were solitary complainants. They profess to have brought the suit because of a lack of transparency and environmental harm, but they proved neither and lost all of their lawsuits asserting both.”
Lots of work left As for Novogratz, he said there’s still more than enough work left to do on the rest of Hudson River Park. “We’re going to build Pier 26 [at North Moore St.],” he stated, “Gansevoort, Pier 57 — Google’s going to be on the top floor and there’s going to be a food court. There’s a ton of good stuff TheVillager.com
that’s going to come to this park.” Like Pier 97, the piles and deck for Pier 26 were rebuilt, but it still needs to be landscaped and finished. Citi, which has offices right nearby, has pledged $10 million for that. The park at Gansevoort — formerly home to a Department of Sanitation garage – still needs to be designed and the peninsula itself environmentally remediated. Meanwhile, redeveloping Pier 40, the community’s “family sports pier,” at W. Houston St., will be the next big fight, Novogratz said. The community is expected to resist efforts to maximize the amount of development on the massive, 14-acre pier. “That pier needs to generate $10 million to $12 million a year for the park’s maintenance,” the Friends chairperson said, noting it currently brings in barely half that amount. “In some ways, it’s idiotic that the city doesn’t kick in money for Pier 40,” he noted. “Just 0.5 percent of the city’s budget goes toward parks. If the city gave $12 million a year to the park, you wouldn’t need to have so much [commercial] stuff on Pier 40.” Yet, people shouldn’t hold their breath waiting for the mayor and governor to pay for Hudson River Park, as government funds for it have increasingly become few and far between. “We’ve got a benefit coming up,” Novogratz said hopefully of the Friends fundraiser, which typically nets millions for the park. “Pier 40 is going to be the next one,” he said. “It’s going to be a wrestling match. You learn in this city stuff, it’s like a ground war.” Also, Glick noted, rather than glitzy projects like Pier55, the Trust should focus on finishing the unbuilt parts of the park north of Chelsea up to W. 59th St. — including across from the new Hudson Yards area. Lots of families will be coming to Hudson Yards, she noted.
PHOTO BY REBECCA WHITE
A man walking on the greenway looks out at one of the uncompleted Pier55 bridges, perhaps perplexed about what it’s for.
the Trust instead favored redeveloping the pier with luxury residential housing. Both uses would need a legislative change to the park act. Ironically, the Trust is now favoring commercial office use at Pier 40 as the best way to generate revenue there.
‘Bridges to nowhere’ And what now of the forlorn-looking trestles that were pounded into the river to support the two pedestrian
bridges that would have led out to the dazzling Pier55, none of which now will probably ever be built? “Tom Fox can ride his rowboat around there, if it makes him happy,” Novogratz scoffed. Maybe, it was suggested to Fox, they could be...fishing piers? He thought that idea sounded not bad. “I think they should have a design contest,” he said, “and a fishing pier would be appropriate — because it’s water-dependent.”
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‘A terrible situation’ As for Durst, asked his thoughts on the demise of Pier55, he said, “My opinion is that they should have followed the law, in which case it would not have been two courts that ruled against them.” Asked how he feels, in general, about the flashy-pier-turned-fiasco, he said, “I think it’s a terrible situation for everybody involved.” Queried as to what he supports being there now, he said, referring to the former Pier 54, “I would like to see the original plans for the pier reinstated. The original plans did not have performance on it. It had historic ships and passive recreation.” Durst resigned from the Friends five years ago after the Trust rejected his proposal to retrofit Pier 40 with commercial office space. At the time,
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Volume 1 | Issue 3
The Pulse of
Lenox Health Greenwich Village
Breast Cancer Awareness October is breast cancer awareness month – the perfect time to stop procrastinating and get your annual mammogram. Mammograms can detect changes in breast tissue before they are palpable by human hands. That means earlier diagnosis and treatment and a much better prognosis. It’s a fact – mammograms save lives.
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Did you know…
You can decrease your risk of developing breast cancer by exercising regularly, being within a normal weight range and limiting your alcoholic intake.
Did you know…
There will be about 230,000 new cases of invasive breast cancer diagnosed in American women this year.
Getting screened for breast cancer can save your life. Lenox Health Greenwich Village has a state-of-the-art imaging center equipped to meet the breast imaging needs of the entire community. Visit Northwell.edu/LHGV or call (646) 760-6800 to schedule an appointment.
September 28, 2017
September 28, 2017