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The Th T h e Pa P Paper ap pe e r of Record Recor orrd o r d for f o r Greenwich fo Grr e G ee e nwich Village, Villag g e, e , East Ea ass t Village, Vii llag V l l ag ll age e,, Lower L ow o w er e East Side, Soho, Union Square, Chinatown So oh ho o, U Un n iio o n Sq S qu ua a re r e , Chinatow w n and an a n d Noho, No N oh ho o , Since Sii n S ncc e 1933 19 3 3 19

October 26, 2017 • $1.00 Volume 87 • Number 43

Neighbors: N.Y.U. flouting agreement to protect light, air BY LEVAR ALONZO


epresentatives from New York University returned to Community Board 2’s Land Use Committee to present for a second time changes to the university’s new building at 181 Mercer St. The project was formerly casually known as the “Zip-

per Building,” due to its zigzag appearance when viewed from overhead, but for now according to university officials it’s just being called 181 Mercer. Last year, N.Y.U unveiled its $128 million multipurpose building, which is to include tons of open space inside of N.Y.U. continued on p. 4

Committee backs L.E.S. / Chinatown rezoning initiative BY LEVAR ALONZO


crowd of angry residents packed the community room at Two Bridges Towers, at 82 Rutgers Slip, for the Community Board 3 Land Use committee meeting to voice their opposition to developers building megatowers in their community.

About 100 residents and members of community activist groups Good Old Lower East Side (GOLES) and CAAAV Organizing Asian Communities packed the Oct. 18 meeting. Many held signs in English, Mandarin or Spanish, saying, “Stop the Division,” ZONING continued on p. 8

Editorial: Vote for Marte!.......p. 14

“I don’t think we’re in Oz anymore, Toto.” An adventure in Annual Tompkins Square Halloween Dog Parade.

fun at Saturday’s Photo by Bob K r asner

Pier 55 sails again: Guv salvages plan BY LINCOLN ANDERSON


t looks like those forlorn “ghost trestles” sitting off W. 15th St. won’t be redeveloped as little fishing piers, after all, but will actually be used for the full-blown Pier 55. Yes, “Diller Island” has risen from the depths — thanks to a huge, Poseidon-like helping hand from Andrew Cuomo. A little more than a month ago, media mogul Barry Diller, the chairperson of IAC, shockingly pulled out of the Pier 55 project, say-

ing that lawsuits filed by The City Club of New York against the scheme had escalated the plan’s costs, delayed the construction and were causing “continuing controversy.” On Wednesday afternoon, however, the governor announced that the plan for Pier 55 — a 2.7-acre “arts fantasy island” that would “float” offshore on tall support piles — is now back on. Cuomo also announced his commitment to finish the entire 4.5-mile-long Hudson River Park — which stretches from Chambers St. to 59th St. — within the next five years.

It has been reported that $200 million is needed to finish the park, and the assumption is that the state would now provide a significant chunk of that cash. Calling Pier 55 an “architecturally significant park” and a “spectacular addition to the waterfront,” Cuomo said the project’s scuttling last month was “a lost opportunity for all New Yorkers.” “I have spoken to the parties involved in the lawsuit against Pier 55 and expressed my belief that cooperative efPIER continued on p. 20

Westway warrior Benstock is still at it............p. 10 Halasa, Johnson on affordable housing...........p. 15


FOR PETE’S SAKE: Marc Fliedner, an openly gay former prosecutor, isn’t the only candidate waging a write-in campaign for Manhattan district attorney. Pete Gleason, a Tribeca resident who ran against Councilmember Margaret Chin eight years ago in the Democratic primary, is running, too. Gleason also challenged District Attorney Cy Vance four years ago as a Republican. He didn’t manage to get more than 13 percent of the vote either time. Gleason has declared he will not accept the endorsement, if offered, of the New York Post because he feels the tabloid unfairly treated a former client of his, a school principal who had been involved in a sex scandal. “The deciding factor to neither seek nor accept the New York Post’s endorsement was the analogy between the Harvey Weinstein debacle and how the Post has treated another woman, my client, the victim

Voting in Tribeca in 2014, Pete Gleason quipped, “ We need a magnif ying glass to put our elected officials under scrutiny.”

of revenge porn Annie Siefullah,” Gleason said. The former firefighter-turned-attorney said Vance’s mishandling of the Weinstein case is his motivation for running this time. Gleason told us his top five campaign planks are: equal access to justice, bail reform, term limits for D.A. (three four-year terms), an audit of all campaign donations to the D.A. over the last eight years, and barring lobbyists from having access to the office. One local politico noted Vance is very lucky the Weinstein story didn’t break in April, when potential challengers still had time to petition to get on the Democratic primary ballot.

FOOD NEWS: We hear word that Westside Market

is coming to the former Mrs. Green’s space on Hudson St. between Bank and Bethune Sts. This comes as welcome news to Village residents in that neck of the woods, who were sad to see Mrs. Green’s close at the end of last year after only a short run in the space. The store had been met with pickets by the Village Independent Democrats and others for fighting unionizing efforts. But many locals really loved Mrs. Green’s, in particular, its prepared foods. Westside Market, meanwhile, is poised to become a local grocery juggernaut of sorts, since it already has a well-established store up at Seventh Ave. between W. 14th and W. 15th Sts. (We’ve personally always enjoyed their little containers of premade couscous and tabouleh salads — also their goofily creative cheese signs.) Westside Market at the Hudson St. spot, of course, could pose some competition to the Gristedes a block away on Greenwich Sts., which has the distinction of being the only supermarket that we know of with carpeting. And a few blocks away, Gourmet Garage at Seventh Ave. South at W. 10th St. recently reopened after being closed for a spell. Basically, support columns in the store needed to be bolstered because the landlord is adding some stories on top of the building. During the closure, the market upgraded its refrigerated cases.

DOLLARS DEBATE: Eco Justice Party candidate Marni Halasa is slamming Councilmember Corey Johnson for being the “big money” candidate for City Council in District 3. She chided that he did not participate in the city’s campaign-finance program and so had no cap on his fundraising and has raked in about half a million dollars in contributions. However, Johnson’s team told us that he technically was not allowed to participate in the campaign-finance program to qualify for matching funds because he didn’t have an opponent in the primary election in September.


ThE 27Th ANnuAL


HAlLowEeN pARadE OCTOBER 31, 2017, 3-6PM Families and children will gather at 3:00 pm at the fountain in Washington Square Park. Free trick-or-treat bags, performances, games, and rides will await the children after the parade on West 3rd Street between LaGuardia Place and Mercer Street. Design based on original artwork by Kathryn Faughnan.


October 26, 2017

Keep yourself injuryfree at any age. Attend our upcoming seminars to learn how.

Thursday, November 2: 7pm – 8pm

Thursday, November 9: 7pm – 8pm

Common Athletic Injuries in the Young Athlete – Prevention & Treatment

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Aging can slow us down, but it doesn’t have to mean getting injured. Join us for a free seminar to learn more about:

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Register now at or call (844) 91-ORTHO (6-7846).

Register now at or call (844) 91-ORTHO (6-7846).

Location and speakers for both events:

Lenox Health Greenwich Village - Community Center 200 West 13th Street, 6th Floor New York, NY 10011 Presented by Northwell Health Orthopaedic Institute: Peter D. McCann, MD Director, Orthopaedic Surgery

Etan P. Sugarman, MD Orthopaedic Surgeon

Michael A. Zacchilli, MD Orthopaedic Surgeon

Daniel L. Seidman, MD Orthopaedic Surgeon

Orthopaedic Institute

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These events are FREE and snacks and light refreshments will be served.

October 26, 2017


Neighbors: N.Y.U. flouting agreement 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: E-mail: © 2017 NYC Community Media, LLC


October 26, 2017

N.Y.U. continued from p. 1

it, athletic facilities, classrooms and dorm rooms. The 181 Mercer building would be N.Y.U.’s largest educational facility and is set to open by late 2021 as part of a 25-year redevelopment plan by the university. The 735,000-square-foot structure has three main parts. The blocklong lower section, that stretches from W. Houston St. to Bleecker St. along Mercer St., will house classrooms, theaters, studios, common space and other facilities. A four-court basketball gym and a six-lane swimming pool will be located on the basement level. Students will live in dorms above the base level and faculty will be housed in a tower on the W. Houston St. end. The building would replace the demolished Coles Sports Center, which was a low-rise gym only. On Oct. 11 N.Y.U reps came to show the community the minor modifications the school has made to the plan and answer residents’ ongoing concerns about how the building would affect their quality of life. From the start of N.Y.U’s plan, residents living across the street from the former gym site at 88 Bleecker St. and 200 Mercer St. have vehemently opposed the new building because of its size, design and location. “The thing that N.Y.U is not considering is that the noise coming from this building will affect us, and light and air are a big deal, too,” said Carol Zoref, an 88 Bleecker St. resident. The minor modifications that N.Y.U plans include adjusting the size and placement of three dorm towers, moving another tower closer to Mercer St, slanting the size of yet another tower to make the sidewalk wider on W. Houston St. and reconfiguring one section to let more natural light through to the buildings on Mercer and Bleecker Sts. Residents asked the N.Y.U officials to show how shadows would be cast from morning, noon and afternoon across W. Houston, Bleecker, Mercer and Greene Sts. with and without the proposed modifications. The N.Y.U. group said a shadow study of all seasons was conducted. “One thing that we have to understand here is that 181 Mercer, with or without the modifications, will cast shadows on the street all around,” said Rachel Belsky, N.Y.U project director. “Inherently, it has an 85-foot podium base and towers around, so there will be shadows cast across Mercer St.” This response did not please community members who came out to protest against the building, and they questioned the conclusiveness of the university’s findings. They further asked if it was possibile to conduct their own shadow study. David Weiner, a former 88 Bleecker St. board president, brought a 2012 press release in which Councilmember Margaret Chin, outlined to the community an agreement with N.Y.U. to “protect light and air

Mercer and Bleecker St. residents charge that N.Y.U. has violated its 2012 agreement with Councilmember Margaret Chin and shifted some of the bulk of its 181 Mercer St. project, above, closer toward them.

along the east side of the street” and that the bulk on the building would be pushed toward W. Houston St. “The promise from Chin was that the mass would be moved toward Houston. Now mass is coming toward Bleecker,” Weiner said. “I plead to everyone here to do what was intended. Do it in the spirit of the original agreement and do not hurt your neighbors.” Belsky noted that they reshaped three of the towers to make them narrower, and then shifted them to allow more light and air to come through. “Keep shifting,” Weiner urged, “so that our light and air comes back.” Architect Will Paxon, a partner at Davis Brody Bond, said the way the minor modifications to the plan have been designed, more sunshine will reach the facades of the two nearby residential buildings. Andy Amer, the current board president of 200 Mercer St., sent an e-mail to Chin’s office asking her to hold N.Y.U to the negotiated agreement. Portions of his e-mail ask the councilmember to take a look at residents’ concern about their access to light and air and the noise coming from 181 Mercer — now that the dorms will have openable windows. In an e-mail sent to The Villager, Steve White, another former board president of 200 Mercer St., said the response was immediate from Chin’s office and that they intend to work with residents. One angry resident, however, suggested that N.Y.U simply find another place for

its project. “You should move your building,” he said. When another neighbor asked if there will be any more opportunity to reconsider the design, an N.Y.U. representative scoffed at the notion. “This is the plan that we are moving forward with,” she said. “It’s final and set in stone.” C.B. 2’s Land Use Committee members were all in agreement that the building was a terrible project and that they would make note of the community’s concerns about their access to light and air, plus the problem of noise from the building — especially now that it will have operable dorm windows. The committee urged that N.Y.U work with the community. In response to the project modifications, Chin wrote to Marisa Lago, chairperson of the City Planning Commission. “While I appreciate the overall reduction in the bulk of the building,” she wrote, “that reducation must not come at the expense of residents of 88 Bleecker St. and 200 Mercer St. I urge the City Planning Commission and New York University to work together to ensure that the refi nement of the building’s design honors the agreement won by our community with N.Y.U. [in 2012], and keep the setback of Tower C within the approved building envelope. Under no circumstances should an alteration of these plans jeopardize these hard-won protections.”

                                                  For the month of November 2017, Bleecker Street will be unmissable with deals, giveaways, raffles, events and more! In order to reinvigorate Bleecker Street throughout the month and beyond, neighborhood businesses have come together to offer incentives for you to shop! Many have also donated goods and services to be raffled on both November 18th and 30th, 2017. These exciting prize packs are #ShopBleecker’s way of saying ‘Thank You’ for supporting the businesses in the neighborhood. Here’s how it works: 1. Shop at any of the great businesses participating in this initiative and hold on to your receipt(s)* 2. Take your receipt(s) to 359 Bleecker Street throughout the month. 3. How much you spend determines how many raffle tickets you earn. For every $50 spent, you earn one ticket. 4. Decide which prize package(s) you want to bring home with you and drop your ticket in its box.. 5. Raffles will be drawn on November 18th, 2017 at 6pm and November 30th, 2017 at 5 PM.



‌and many more businesses in Greenwich Village.

October 26, 2017


POLICE BLOTTER Slugs senior actress Police are on the hunt for a thug who viciously mugged an 81-year-old actress Saturday as she was entering her building at W. 13th St. and Seventh Ave. According to news reports, Barbara Davidson was returning from the pharmacy around 6:50 p.m. Oct. 21 when the attacker struck. Police said the unidentified male followed her into the building. As she opened the door to the vestibule, he punched her several times in the head and face, causing her to fall to the ground. He then grabbed her handbag and fled. Davidson — who walks with a cane — suffered bumps and bruises to her head and face but refused medical attention at the scene. The suspect was last seen wearing all black. Police released a video of the frightening assault. “I was an easy mark. I was just about ready to put the key in the door when I felt the really big blow on my head,� Davidson told CBS New York TV news. “Just be careful people, because you just don’t know,� she warned. “One of the things I can say is, especially to women who are older, just kind of watch out.� CBS News reported she has lived in


Sur veillance camera images of the alleged suspect who assaulted an 81-year-old Village woman.

the building for more than 40 years, and appeared in the 2008 Adam Sandler movie “Don’t Mess with the Zohan.� 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,, or by texting them to 274637 (CRIMES) and



  Endorsed candidates

Michael Acevedo, 33, was arrested for felony burglary.

Sneaker suspect

Postal perp

Police said that on Fri., Sept. 22, at 11 a.m., a 12-year-old boy agreed to sell an older youth a pair of sneakers for $1,300. They agreed to meet at a residential building near E. 7th St. and Second Ave. Both went to the place’s lower level, where the boy gave the sneakers to the suspect, who then fled without paying the victim. There were no reported injuries. Police identified the suspect as Ruberto Vanderpool, 21. He is described as standing 5 feet 6 inches and weights 150 pounds.

A man entered 145 W. 12th St. on Fri., Oct. 13, at 12:45 p.m. and opened a package addressed to a 32-year-old woman, police said. The suspect took the items — a water bib and a gel topcoat — from the package and left the building. The woman also told police that the suspect was ordering things using her husband’s credit card and when they arrived at the location, he would enter and remove the packages. On Wed., Oct. 18, Elijah Gonzalez, 16, was arrested for felony burglary.

Robbed by ex ‘Amazon Crime’ According to police, a man attempted multiple times, using a credit card to try to jimmy the lock, to enter 88 Washington Place on Thurs., Oct. 19, at 4 a.m. After forcing his way in, he rang a 45-year-old woman’s doorbell and stated he was delivering a package from Amazon.

A man’s ex-girlfriend stole his money on Thurs., Sept. 14, at 10 p.m., police said. She admitted to swiping the $1,200 out of his apartment at 40 E. 12th St. Rui Shi, 34, was arrested for felony grand larceny.

Tabia C. Robinson and Lincoln Anderson

If the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act (CCRA) passes Congress, carrying a gun into NYC from out of state will be easier than ever.

Ballot measures

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then entering TIP577. All tips are confidential.

October 26, 2017

Learn how you can help keep our city safe and stop the CCRA at Paid for by Cyrus Vance for Manhattan District Attorney

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October 26, 2017


Committee backs community-led rezoning plan ZONING continued from p. 1

and “Stop The Racism, Pass the CWG Plan Now,” referring to the Chinatown Working Group rezoning plan. The opponents presented a brief explanation on why C.B. 3 should sign on as a co-applicant on the C.W.G. plan. The community wants to rezone Chinatown and part of the Lower East Side to keep “supertall” towers out. The board’s support is also critical because it means the city would waive $50,000 in fees required for their request. This move by the community prompted District 1 Councilmember Margaret Chin to join the meeting and offer her full support. “After helping build up this community,” Chin said, “Two Bridges residents deserve the right to take back control and shape the future of their neighborhood.” Christopher Marte, who is running against Chin on the Independence Party line in the Nov. 7 general election, and his supporters charged Chin’s support comes a bit too late. “We have to take every opportunity we can to stop these developments,” Marte said. “So I’m in support of any lawsuits, community-based actions because these developments would change the fabric of our community.”


October 26, 2017


A design rendering showing two “super talls” — the planned 77-stor y 247 Cherr y St. tower, at right, and Extell’s 80-stor y One Manhattan South, currently under construction, at left.

He said if he is the next city councilmember this matter would top his list of priorities. “This issue is time-sensitive,” Marte stated, “and the reason why I continue to run is because of issues like this.” Last week, Borough President Gale Brewer and Chin filed with the Department of City Planning to formally

request a zoning text amendment to protect the neighborhood from outof-scale market-rate development. The application is the first of this sort submitted solely by politicians in nearly 15 years. “We are delivering on the promise we made to the Two Bridges community by using every tool at our disposal to make

their voices heard,” Chin declared. “These out-of-scale buildings threaten to displace hard-working residents, bring forth irreversible environmental hazards and accelerate gentrification.” The amendment drafted by Brewer and Chin would require a special permit for certain developments in the Two Bridges residential area. It would clarify that large, out-of-scale development proposals are not “minor modifications” to this area’s existing zoning and would require public review. Community concerns flared in 2008 when the Bloomberg administration rezoned more than 100 blocks of the East Village and Lower East Side. Advocates feared large-scale development projects would be pushed to the south and into their enclaves. Their fears were brushed off, but eventually proven right: Construction on nearly halfa-dozen supertall skyscrapers is either underway or planned in the area. Extell is currently completing an 800-foot-tall tower at 227 Cherry St. that dwarfs the Manhattan Bridge below it. Members of community groups said they are fighting to stop gentrification from overtaking their neighborhood. “If we don’t stop these effects, then it will continue to trickle down into more ZONING continued on p. 25

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October 26, 2017


Westway foe still fighting Battle of Hudson mental laws be enforced when they preserve crucial resources and keep people out of harm’s way — that’s not perfect, that’s just sensible policy. It’s lunacy to build in a tumultuous public waterway that’s in a hurricane zone.



’ve had a few long conversations recently with Marcy Benstock, director of the Clean Air Campaign, an organization that devotes much of its energy to protecting the lower Hudson River. Benstock and I have known each other since the 1980s, when we were both members of the Federation to Preserve the Greenwich Village Waterfront & Greatport (since disbanded). This was after the death of Westway in 1985, the massive highway-tunnel-cum-real-estate-development venture that Benstock was instrumental in stopping, though it had the support of just about everyone in power. Benstock — a Harvard graduate with a master’s in economics from The New School, recipient of many awards including the Joe A. Callaway Award for Civic Courage (2014) — warned that the development aspects of Westway would rise from the dead, this time more furtively. She warned that the piers would be fitted with infrastructure to make way for buildings. She warned that parts of the river between the piers might be filled and built on, too. This is exactly what she believes is happening now. She points her finger at many players, chief among them the Hudson River Park Trust, the state-city public authority that runs the 4-mile-long strip of park. She calls it Westway II — H.R.P.T.’s relentless piecemeal development and granting of lucrative leases for non-waterdependent uses. Benstock prefers to keep the spotlight off herself; she’s aware that she is an imperfect messenger, easy to dismiss by those with a vested interest in flouting her urgent environmental message. She is passionate and dogged and selfless in her zeal to protect the river she loves, but she often seems to be drowning in detail. Her fliers are dense with single-spaced type; her Chelsea office is packed two cartons deep with papers from old FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) requests. Her sentences are plainspoken and articulate, but there are many of them, and she sometimes diminishes her strongest arguments with hyperbole. As we talked, I wasn’t able to pin her down about the actual number of new incursions on the waterfront. And I wasn’t convinced that they are proliferating at quite such an alarming rate. I thought back to the frustration I often felt in the ’80s: When the antidevelopment forces sounded most paranoid, it was hard to tell if it was because they were indeed paranoid or because they were speaking truth and no one wanted to listen. So at Benstock’s suggestion, I attended a board meeting of the H.R.P.T. The main event was a team from Olin Studios brought up from Philadelphia to present its design for Pier 26 in Tribeca. I began to understand what Benstock had been trying, in her imperfect way, to tell me. This was a truly alarming smorgasbord of overdesign: science-play estuarium, great lawn, elevated forest walk, woodland below the deck, fields, lounge, 35 program spaces, five ecological zones, promenade with large hammocks, re-created marsh, two climbing walls, and a pair of giant sturgeon sculptures. The board seemed pretty rah-rah about the design, though one board member tentatively said: “I’m concerned about an awful lot of stuff we’re putting on it.” Later there was another timid plea: “Maybe one less piece?” If this plan goes through, a whole lot of money is going to be spent and a whole lot of contractors are going to profit; Friends of Hudson River Park planned to trot out Robert De Niro and raise a whopping $3.1 million at its annual gala. This is to educate the public about river ecology on a pier that, if river ecology were really the priority, should not exist at all.


October 26, 2017

How great is the risk? Lower Manhattan is almost part of the ocean, with gale-force winds and driving rains in a hurricane, smashing everything with corrosive saltwater. There are never no impacts even in calm good weather. That stretch is overdue for a hurricane. The city talks only about flooding, not about the precipitation that is likely. In 2013, a bill was agreed on by a semi-secret task force that includes an indemnification provision. If there’s a hurricane, H.R.P.T. doesn’t have to pay damage claims; the taxpayers pay.

Marc y Benstock giving her acceptance speech upon winning the Callaway Award for Civic Courage in 2014. Her remarks primarily focused on West way, the Hudson River Park (which she dubbed “ West way II”) and the lower Hudson River. The full speech, about 14 minutes long, is viewable on YouTube.

Here are some edited excerpts from our conversations. Do you think the recent demise of Pier 55 a.k.a. “Diller Island” will have an impact on the future of waterfront projects? I never speculate or anticipate — I just don’t have time. If decisions were made on the merits rather than on the basis of money and power, it never would have been proposed in the first place. How do you feel about the Whitney’s proposed artwork by David Hammons? It violates the fundamental principal that underlies the Federal Clean Water Act [of 1972]: Nothing should be sited on water if it can go on dry land. How do you feel about the activities of H.R.P.T. and Friends of Hudson River Park? A staggering amount of money is going into pushing projects under the auspices of the Friends, which is made up of titans of finance and deal makers. At every board meeting they either discuss or approve a lease in the executive session, and the leases are hundreds of pages long. There are 75 people on staff and they hire a huge number of contractors. The problem is not with a grand plan, but with making any deal that comes along that happens to violate the Federal Clean Water Act and put people in harm’s way and block views of open water and cost a lot of money. It’s ruinous public policy. Do you propose returning the Hudson to its natural state? The river should be allowed to remain in the state it’s in today without any more obstructions harming and ultimately eliminating habitat and blocking river views. What do you say to critics who argue that the perfect is the enemy of the good? Asking that this nation’s most fundamental environ-

Should Pier 40 be torn down? That’s always a puzzler: What to do with the existing piers. I take the position that the existing piers should live out their lives. If portions become unsafe, those portions should be closed, as they have been periodically. There should be no new investment, certainly not $100 million to completely rebuild the pier and infrastructure to support development for new non-water-dependent uses. If people love their parking and that part is unsound now, phase it out. But don’t throw good money after bad forever. As for the soccer fields, I would look for alternative locations on dry land: Check out rooftops and vacant lots and make serious, responsible efforts to find a place for fields. What’s your position on a new trans-Hudson tunnel? It should happen. When there’s a genuine legitimate public need for a project, that is allowed to be given great weight in the decision-making. There’s an urgent human need for that tunnel. Who pays your salary? The Clean Air Campaign is funded by foundations, public charities and roughly 98 households. They cover my office rent and pay my small salary, which has been the same for 18 years. Who are you working with these days? Sierra Club, Friends of the Earth, NYPIRG and good groups in New Jersey and Staten Island and all around the country. Why do you continue to do advocacy? New York City is exporting bad ideas across the planet that are destroying fisheries, and fish are the only source for protein for many. There are financial, real-estate, architectural and construction interests that would like to see more building in and above the river here and in cities around the world. They have such political muscle that politicians and journalists are not prepared to go up against them, and the public doesn’t understand. What keeps you going? It’s not how I planned to live my life, but at each stage something dragged me along in ways I couldn’t have predicted. I don’t know how I escaped the cultural norm, but money never mattered to me. When Westway was defeated, it was a logical end point. But then various governors and mayors gradually put the pieces in place to build the real-estate portion of Westway in the river in a different way. A staggering amount of time [has been given] by the finest people I’ve ever met and hope to keep meeting, courageous people who work their hearts out for the public good. That’s the saving grace of the battle. The other saving grace is that the work is interesting.

‘Trader Joe’s’ of optic wear, with B’way fl air BY EL ANA DURE


reg Freidus went to optician school with the hopes of one day owning an eyewear shop. The native New Yorker graduated and subsequently sought different experiences that allowed him to learn the trade and gain relevant skills. Greg said he worked in “all genres of the field,” including stints with a big-box store, private practice and independent shop. All the while, he never lost sight of his end goal, he said. The hard work and years of practice ultimately paid off. In May, Greg’s dream of owning an eyewear store became a reality. After six years of learning experiences, Greg and his wife, Karen, opened Center Stage Optique in the West Village. The couple celebrated the store’s ribbon cutting ceremony Oct. 4. Center Stage offers customers a different eyewear shopping experience. The business meshes Karen’s Broadway passion with Greg’s opticianry background, creating a unique ambiance that provides shoppers with an enjoyable visit. “We wanted to offer a fun, unique shopping experience that is whimsical and reflects our personalities, which is not old or stodgy or boring, at all,” said Karen, who worked on Broadway for 13 years running the group sales department at Jujamcyn Theaters. She explained that optometry shops often look like old medical offices, meaning uninviting, and the couple wanted to break away from that mold. The store features a reception desk with theater tickets incorporated into the design, a collage of the Freiduses’ favorite Playbills on the dispensing tables, and a stage curtain that serves as an exam-room wall. Customers can also strut down the red carpet and model their glasses in the store’s Broadway mirror.


Greg and Karen Freidus have mixed opticianry and touches of Broadway in their new eyewear shop.

Non-Broadwaygoers need not shy away from Center Stage; the store offers fashionable eyewear for people of all interests. As Karen explained, the Broadway theme is only a detail; eyeglasses are the main idea. Center Stage offers high-quality frames for a fair price, Karen said, joking that the couple likes to call themselves “the Trader Joe’s of eyewear.” The store offers a package-pricing deal, bundling the frame, basic lens and basic anti-glare treatment for a cheaper price than the frame would cost elsewhere, Karen said. Center Stage also accepts out-of-network insurance benefits, allowing eligible customers to receive a partial reimbursement from their insurance companies after purchasing glasses.

“We decided when we opened the store that we didn’t want to be in bed with insurance companies,” Karen said. “They can control your pricing to some degree.” The couple also decided that they wanted the shop to serve as a community center. As such, Center Stage plans to host Broadway trivia nights, actor meet-andgreets and a grand opening party. Customers can also enjoy a refreshing cup of fruit water and a tasty cookie snack while shopping at the store. “We know that this is a great tourist destination,” Karen said. “But the people that live and work here are really going to be our bread and butter, and we want to make this a destination for them.” Myriam Simone, a local shopper, came across Center Stage when she was walking her dog Bernie. She knew she needed new glasses, but instead of leaving with just one pair, she bought four. “This is ideal. I love it because I did theater in my past,” she said. “I will definitely come here for years to come. As long as this is here, I’m here.” Greg and Karen both said they are excited for the experience to own a business and look forward to serving the West Village and Chelsea communities. They said they hope locals will continue to support area small businesses and recognize the importance of having a local eyewear shop. “Glasses are important,” Karen said. “They are part of your health, part of your vision, but they are also a fashion item and they really define your face.” Center Stage Optique is located at 45 Seventh Ave., between W. 13th and W. 14th Sts. Any customer who comes to the store, follows centerstageoptique on Instagram and mentions The Villager will receive a 10 percent discount off all frames.

October 26, 2017


Vote yes on Con Con: End voter suppression



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October 26, 2017

hile voters in many states participated in early-voting primaries in last yearâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s presidential election, few New Yorkers realized that our state does not allow for any early voting at all. In fact, it is harder to cast a vote in New York than in almost any other state across the nation. This is a huge problem. But the good news is that this November, New Yorkers have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to take the first step toward changing that forever. On Nov. 7, New Yorkers will vote on whether they would like to convene a convention to consider changes to the stateâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s constitution. By voting yes on a constitutional convention, New Yorkers can make voting easier in the state by allowing early voting, introducing sameday registration and enabling greater access to absentee ballots. New York is a state with passive voter suppression caused by its antiquated voting laws that restrict how and when citizens can vote. Voter participation in the state is surprisingly low â&#x20AC;&#x201D; almost the lowest in the country. In last yearâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s presidential election, only 57 percent of eligible voters in the state turned up at the polls, putting New York 41st in the nation for turnout. There is no doubt that the difficulties voters face in accessing the ballot results in low participation. Not only is New York one of 16 states that does not allow early voting, but the state constitution prohibits the practice. As a result, those with full workdays or busy schedules are forced to choose between voting or fulfilling their other responsibilities. Not only does New York limit voting to one workday, but the state also makes it exceedingly difficult to vote by mail. In California, voters can get permanent absentee status, which allows them to skip the polls for every election and mail in their ballots. In contrast, New York only permits absentee ballot voting in extreme cases â&#x20AC;&#x201D; if a voter is absent from the country or city, has an illness or disability that prevents him or her from reaching poll sites, is detained in jail or is a patient in a veterans hospital. The rules governing participation in New Yorkâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s primaries are even more restrictive. Primaries in this state are closed, meaning that a prospective voter must be registered with a party to participate. New York law requires that

Randy Mastro.

first-time voters be party registered at least 25 days before the election. And if voters want to switch their affiliation, they need to have decided at least six months before the primary vote. An analysis by The New York Times found that New York has the earliest deadline for switching party affiliation of any state in the country that holds closed primaries. As a result, the number of voters participating in primary elections is abysmal. In 2016, just 8 percent of eligible city voters voted in Juneâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s federal primaries and 10 percent voted in Septemberâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s state and local primaries. Over the years, legislators have announced plans to make voting easier and address these seemingly unnecessary limitations on ballot access. But these proposals have gone nowhere, and voting remains burdensome as the recent participation numbers bear out. Thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s why New Yorkers must take advantage of the opportunity afforded by a constitutional convention and introduce these badly needed voting reforms. A convention is particularly important for a proposal like early voting, which would require a change to the constitution. To do this via the normal legislative process is particularly challenging since it requires two successive sessions of the Legislature to approve before presented to the people for a vote. A convention provides a much easier solution for enacting reform. It lets citizens bypass Albany altogether and vote instead for delegates to represent them at the convention. Any proposals drafted by delegates at the convention appear on the ballot for a statewide vote. In a progressive state like New York, citizen engagement and electoral participation should be encouraged, not discouraged. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s time to say yes to a constitutional convention and make voting easier in New York. Mastro is chairperson, Citizens Union of the City of New York

October 26, 2017



Vote Marte!


month and a half ago, we endorsed Christopher Marte in the Democratic primary election for City Council in Lower Manhattan’s First District. Marte, 28, though a relative political newcomer, nearly toppled an embarrassingly weak-looking two-term incumbent Margaret Chin, losing by a scant 200 votes. He is now running in the general election on a third-party line, as the Independence Party candidate. A third candidate is also in the race, Aaron Foldenauer, also running on a third-party line as the Liberal Party candidate. However, Foldenauer came in a very distant third in the primary, with only 700 votes, while Chin and Marte each garnered more than 5,000 votes. There is no way Foldenauer is going to leapfrog Marte in terms of being the “anti-Chin” community candidate, so all he will be doing is potentially draining votes from Marte, and very possibly helping Chin win a third term. In short, a vote for Foldenauer is a vote for Chin. It’s a wasted vote. If Foldenauer, as he says, really thinks defeating Chin is important for the health and future of the district — as we do — then, frankly, he should just drop out of the race now. Foldenauer’s negative ads against Marte show that he “goes low” rather than high. Really, what’s his goal in this election? And Foldenauer has zero track record of community activism in the district. On top of that — he was a lifetime registered Republican until about a year ago. Yes, seriously. Plus, let’s face it, voting in New York is often along ethnic lines. But despite a Jewish-sounding name, Foldenauer is a gentile, from Virginia. On the other hand, Marte, without any doubt, is the community’s candidate. He grew up the son of immigrant parents on the Lower East Side, where his dad owned a bodega. It’s no surprise that Marte is enthusiastically backed by most of the Village area’s prominent political clubs, including Village Independent Democrats, Village Reform Democratic Club and Downtown Independent Democrats. The same reasons we strongly supported Marte in our editorial in September are the same reasons we do now: He always sides with the community and he always has the community’s back. Always. Too many times Chin has let down or actively worked against the communities in her district’s northern end. Meanwhile, she has been nothing but a “developer’s doormat” in the Two Bridges area on the Lower East Side waterfront, allowing bridge-dwarfing “supertall” towers to be built and / or put into the pipeline for construction. Only now, at such a late date, have Chin and Borough President Gale Brewer started to take any action at all to stem the tide of neighborhood-busting and gentrification-promulgating supertalls. In fact, Chin is usually late to act on important community issues — whether losing an affordable Met Food supermarket in Little Italy or speaking out against a mammoth, illegally oversized Niketown superstore in Soho. She holds a press conference — when it’s too late to do anything. And where was Chin on Rivington House when the de Blasio administration disgracefully allowed

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR ‘A fitting remembrance’ To The Editor: Re “Hammons ‘ghost pier’ at Gansevoort takes shape with Whitney” (news article, Oct. 12): Thank you for your article on the Whitney Museum’s proposal to install a public artwork by David Hammons at Gansevoort Peninsula. David Hammons, a truly remarkable artist, proposed this project to the Whitney as an homage to the work “Day’s End,” by my late husband, Gordon Matta-Clark, which some of your readers may remember from the 1970s. David’s vision not only honors Gordon’s idea of a lightfilled sanctuary and post-industrial community park, but pays tribute to the waterfront, the neighborhood and our city’s history. David Hammons’s proposed installation honors the past and looks forward to the future. I hope it is realized. It would be a fitting remembrance of Gordon and his work, a tribute by one “poet” to another. Jane Crawford

Not just any cutout To The Editor: Re “Ai Weiwei ‘Fence’ in full effect underneath the arch” (news article, Oct. 19): The silhouette in this piece is not just any silhouette. It is a reproduction of a door designed in the 1930s by Marcel Duchamp for a surrealist gallery in Paris. The name of the gallery, “Gradiva,” is an homage to an early book by Sigmund Freud. This is admittedly all very elitist while the traditional Christmas tree is not. Surely, the Christmas tree can be moved for this Christmas. The urgency of reminding this country that it is by definition not a country of fences cannot. Monique Fong

It’s no time for Con Con To The Editor: Re “Why politicians fear constitutional convention” (talking point, by Curtis Sliwa, Oct. 12): Curtis Sliwa confuses caution with fear when he urges a vote to organize a constitutional convention. At this moment, the president, the U.S. attorney general and Congress seem poised to bulldoze the terrain of American society. Think of the dangers facing a woman’s right to choose, immigrant rights, workplace protections, preservation of

the environment and clean water, support of public education, voter access, civil rights and regulation of big money in all its forms. There are rights and freedoms that the New York State Constitution protects. There are regulations that the New York State Constitution enables. The framework that the New York State Constitution constructs empowers our state attorney general to protect our rights in court. It is important that New York State acts with caution and waits before making our state constitution vulnerable. Mr. Sliwa hinges his argument on the goal of increasing voter turnout. He lists several issues that would energize voter turnout if New York State held a constitutional convention. He includes the value of an honest discussion about term limits, plastic bags and red-light cameras. These are issues that legislation and a healthy public-information campaign can address. In these turbulent times, a constitutional convention creates an opportunity for divisive and energized factions. It is the power of faction that concerned James Madison at the 1787 Constitutional Convention. These factions may attack cornerstones of our community. In the flurry of an enormous lawmaking undertaking, the moment to change something or everything can emerge. Now is not the time to open that rabbit hole. Debra Michlewitz

Back Marte and businesses To The Editor: Re “Utilizing all the tools to save small stores” (talking point, Oct. 19, Corey Johnson): Delighted to see that Councilman Johnson seeks to help our small business owners. Too many have been forced out of their stores by ultra-high rents and other costs. I do believe that Mr. Johnson would find an ally in Christopher Marte, who is running on the Independence Party line for District 1 City Council. So, I suggest District 1 voters go to the polls on Tues., Nov. 7, and vote for Christopher Marte on the Independence Party line. And let’s save our city’s small businesses. Sylvia Rackow E-mail letters, not longer than 250 words in length, to 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.


EDITORIAL continued on p. 16


October 26, 2017

Marni Halasa.

Corey Johnson.

On housing, we need a ‘Mitchell-Lama 2.0’

City’s future depends on affordable housing



ousing is happiness. And when housing is affordable, everyone has the opportunity to live with integrity, better oneself and fully experience our amazing city. However, housing costs have skyrocketed. As a result, millions have been forced to leave New York City due to the hyper-gentrification of neighborhoods, with escalating rents displacing tenants and small businesses. Therefore, offering real and attainable solutions has become a vital issue if we want to save our city. Those who tend to get hurt the most are middle-income people. While many middle-income individuals can pay for their housing, the reality is their payments account for a significant amount of their take-home pay. I firmly believe that housing costs should not consume a disproportionate amount of a person’s income. Instead, I believe housing costs should be affordable, allowing middle-income families to enjoy a reasonable amount of discretionary income. One older program, Mitchell-Lama, offers a potential solution to solve our most pressing problem. Mitchell-Lama provides a framework for new affordable housing policy that works for today’s problems. I propose that 35 percent of all new rental construction should be designated as affordable housing catering to low- and middle-income households. Additionally, I propose that 35 percent of all existing units should gradually transition to an affordable housing designation. Meaning that buildings that currently have no affordable housing and no rent-controlled or rent-stabilized units, will offer every fourth unit as affordable housing as they become available until the building meets the 35 percent affordable housing threshold. Once a building meets that threshold, the rest of the apartments can be rented at market rate. I would also advocate expanding the

program to include co-op apartments since this would protect even more vulnerable residents. Landlords will not be left out of this proposal since they would be given tax abatements and low-interest mortgages by a Mitchell-Lama designation to help offset their losses. The difference between my policy and Mitchell-Lama as it now exists, is that my policy allows for an affordable housing life cycle: Rents would change as incomes change, with a continuous flow of units into affordable housing as other units price out. Mitchell-Lama worked for New York in the past and if resurrected with minor tweaks, such as I am suggesting, it can work again. To help fund my affordable housing proposals, I would institute an annual 1 percent vacancy tax on “ghost apartments” that sit empty, impose reasonable linkage fees for developers, and use city-owned vacant lots for housing sites. I would also pressure Albany to abolish 421-a, which would allow us to reclaim the forgone $1 billion in property taxes lost to this tax abatement. This plan would ensures that housing would never again be a major financial struggle for working families, the backbone of our city’s economy. What our district has been missing with Corey Johnson and Christine Quinn before him is a representative who not only has a moral conscience, but does not accept money from corporate and real estate interests. The purpose of a city councilmember is to help create policies that make people’s lives easier, not pad the bank accounts of corporate gentrifiers. My policies seek to help forgotten populations who struggle every day to pay their bills and live fulfilling lives. If elected to the City Council, I promise to ensure that the voiceless will always have a voice, and that the action I take will be real. Halasa is the Eco Justice Party candidate for City Council District 3



here is absolutely no question about it: The single most pressing issue facing New York City is the lack of affordable housing. Unprecedented real estate speculation and an influx of millionaires and billionaires are putting incredible pressure on our housing stock. Market rents are being driven to astronomical levels. Rent-stabilized tenants are being forced out. Neighborhood residents who have lived here their entire lives are finding themselves unable to makes ends meet. Longtime neighbors are being replaced by Airbnb tourists. This phenomenon is manifesting in cities across the country, and most acutely on Manhattan’s West Side. It impacts us on a humanitarian level, as the homeless population surges and countless others live in fear of losing their homes, and on a community level, as our close-knit neighborhood networks are priced out of existence. We must aggressively build new affordable housing while stopping the hemorrhage of existing affordable housing. We must do it like the city’s future depends on it, because it does. Since being sworn into office, I have made this issue an absolute priority. I’ve fought hard for new affordable housing in Council District 3, with more than 1,000 new affordable units currently in the pipeline. Some examples include the former slaughterhouse site at 495 11th Ave., which will be a 100 percent affordable building with 250 units. I negotiated nearly 500 units of new affordable housing, 180 of which will be for seniors, at 550 Washington St., at W. Houston St. A 100 percent affordable building with 160 new units is under construction at 413 W. 18th St. Two 100 percent affordable buildings totaling 300 new units are coming to former Department of Environmental Protection and M.T.A.

sites in Hell’s Kitchen. We need to do more, and quickly. Demanding more affordable housing in my district will continue to be my top priority. It is equally essential that we keep the affordable units we have. Like water pouring out of a hole in a bucket, the city has been losing affordable housing for decades. Unscrupulous landlords are exploiting loopholes in the rent-stabilization law to deregulate units. When our rent laws were up for renewal in Albany, I was arrested in the state capitol while demanding that these loopholes be removed. I was the prime sponsor of the Council bill that renewed rent stabilization in New York City. I helped lead the fight for a rent freeze at the Rent Guidelines Board. I’m sponsoring legislation to expand supportive housing for people with H.I.V. I co-sponsored the State for Tenant Safety bills, which crack down on construction-as-harassment and created the office of Tenant Advocate within the Department of Buildings. I have helped lead the fight against Airbnb, which is transforming entire buildings into illegal hotels and taking thousands of units off the market that could be housing full-time residents. We have succeeded at extending the life of our largest affordable housing developments. We extended tax abatements for Penn South to 2052, maintaining affordability at the 2,820-unit Chelsea bastion of affordability. Manhattan Plaza is currently extending its Section 8 contract until 2044. I want to thank everyone who has fought alongside me these four years. We have much more work to do, and I hope to be honored with the chance to serve you another four years. Johnson, who is running on the Democratic and Working Families party lines, is city councilmember, Third District, including the Village, Chelsea and Hell’s Kitchen October 26, 2017


Marte for City Council EDITORIAL continued from p. 14

this beloved, deed-restricted community facility to be stealthily sold to luxury developers? Asleep at the wheel. Chin was utterly ineffective fighting the New York University expansion plan — and now (surprise!), as reported in this week’s Villager, we see that N.Y.U. is willfully flouting agreements it made with her on the 181 Mercer St. project. Yes, she is the developer’s doormat. Marte would stand up and fight and not allow residents’ light and air to be taken away. The issue that highlights her arrogance is the Elizabeth St. Garden, where only Chin and de Blasio are monomaniacally obsessed with building housing. Every other politician is siding with the community members, who cherish this beautiful, unique, heavily used, intensively programmed open space. Chin and de Blasio continue to snub a Community Board 2 proposal to put the housing on an alternative site where five times as much affordable housing could be built. And the kicker, of course — Asian Americans for Equality, or AAFE, is a lead applicant to build the housing on the garden. Chin, of course, was a founding member and leader of AAFE. It definitely doesn’t pass the smell test. And, as we’ve noted before, the idea

of putting housing on the garden never even came up for a proper public review before C.B. 2 — but was secretly slipped in by Bloomberg and Chin, and then endorsed by de Blasio. Marte has vowed, if elected, to save the garden and shift the housing to a more-appropriate site. He is not afraid to stand up to power. Clearly, Chin is — and, in fact, has been an enabler for development and gentrification. Chin has had her two terms. That’s the most that councilmembers usually get. She can only run for a third term due to the “coup” staged by Bloomberg and former Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who engineered a term-limits extension behind the voters’ backs. Two is more than enough for Chin. Marte is the kind of leader we need — someone who listens to the community and supports the community. Yes, insiders say many people will just “vote the line,” “darkening the oval” for the Democratic candidate. But Marte is confident, if he can simply “remind” all his primary supporters to get out there and vote again, he can win. If he can pull this one off, it will truly be historic. And he has the community on his side — so anything is possible. Help make some history! Save your community. Vote Marte in the general election on Tues., Nov. 7! And please, DON’T vote Foldenauer!

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October 26, 2017

An homage to constant flux Kate Shepherd has a ‘lock’ on 56 Henry

Installation view, Kate Shepherd’s “Bagels and Locks.”

BY STEPHANIE BUHMANN For her latest exhibit — “Bagels and Locks” — Kate Shepherd lures us into the realm of New York City’s construction sites. In fact, some visitors might easily engage in the illusion of having stumbled upon one, scaffolding and all. Shepherd, who though best known for her almost minimal but lusciously slick-surfaced enamel paintings has a long practice of material exploration, succeeds in shining a spotlight on the delights of the rough and tumble — partially by bringing it indoors. Here, boarded up street facades serve as memorials for the notion of impermanence in a city where constant development tears at the infrastructure. In New York, gentrification is hardly a new phenomenon and yet, the increasing speed of it makes it difficult to follow. Whereas the process of seeing

Courtesy the artist and 56 Henry

Installation view, Kate Shepherd’s “Bagels and Locks.”

a neighborhood transformed from rags to riches seemed to take at least a decade, it now tends to unfold in less than a handful of years. Shepherd’s outlook is not nostalgic but rather factual, finding relevant visual appeal in Hunter green plywood, for example, that aims to keep pedestrians from trespassing onto yet another construction site slotted for new condominiums. At 56 Henry, one of the walls is painted in muddied-up beige with a diamond shaped peephole cut into it. Covered by a Plexiglas, the latter serves as a stylized invitation for street side voyeurism. Another wall is made of large, rough-hewn boards affixed with a set of doors that rest mildly askew, chained together and padlocked. What Shepherd draws attention to can be experienced on an outdoor city walk any day and yet,

by bringing these elements into an indoor setting, she has created an unusual sanctuary; a place for contemplation. In that, “Bagels and Locks” manifests as an homage to constant flux. In this setting, we get to recognize that it is not only the city which is changing, but also everything and everyone who is navigating its intricate web. To stand still for a moment and to absorb it in this distilled and simplified form enables us to realize what construction fragments really are: remnants of a particular slice of time. Through Nov. 19 at 56 Henry (56 Henry St., btw. Market & Catherine Sts.). Visible from the street 24 hours a day. Gallery doors are open to the public Thurs.-Sun., 12-6pm and by appointment. Call 646-858-0800, email info@56henry. nyc, or visit October 26, 2017


‘Comfort Women’ statue remembers victims of sexual slavery BY ANNABELLE BLAIR Statue of Peace, a memorial to “comfort women” who were exploited as sexual slaves by the Japanese military during World War II, was recently unveiled at Chelsea’s Museum of Korean American Heritage (MoKAH), located within W. 24th St.’s Korean American Association of Greater New York (KAAGNY). The monument depicts a bronze girl in traditional Korean clothes sitting next to an empty chair with the shadow behind her of an old woman. The inscription reads, “This monument is an historical marker offered in the memory of the hundreds of thousands of women and girls who were forced to be comfort women, and is dedicated to eradicating sexual violence and trafficking. Their powerful history and noble spirit should never be forgotten.” It is an exact replica of the statue outside the Japanese embassy in Seoul, South Korea, and designed by the same artists, Kim Seo-kyung and Kim Eunsung, who attended the Oct. 13 unveiling. Historians say up to 200,000 women from at least 13 Asian-Pacific countries and a former Dutch colony in modern Indonesia were forcibly enslaved by the Japanese government and brutally raped by Japanese military officers and personnel. Many were girls — often between 12-19 years old, according to testimonies cited by Margaret Stetz, a professor of women’s studies and humanities at the University of Delaware. Dr. Pyong Gap Min, a sociology professor and director of the Research Center for Korean Community at Queens College, said the “hyper sexual exploitation” was extremely violent and frequently exposed women to injuries, pain, infertility, vaginal ruptures, and diseases, in addition to beatings, stabbings, and humiliation. Although Japanese officials have attempted to dismiss the issue by offering token recognition and money to victims, no formal apology for the atrocities committed against comfort women has ever been offered by Japan or accepted by the women themselves — or the many groups and coalitions formed to honor and support the victims. The Statue of Peace is the first statue for comfort women erected in New York City and the tenth nationwide, according to the Washington Coalition for Comfort Women Issues. Across the United States, 13 comfort women memorials stand in public locations, including inside historical Korean-American associations, according to Min. The recently erected memorial in Manhattan did not provoke any contention, Min said, because it is located inside a Korean Museum and sponsored by the Korean American Association of Greater New York. “No one can say anything,” he said. He noted, however, that the statue’s influence is “minimal” because of its location indoors on the sixth floor of a complex where it will likely attract less attention than it would in a prominent space in New York City. On the same weekend as the Oct. 13 memorial unveiling, Min also hosted an event to remember comfort women at Queens College in Flushing. The eighth annual conference, called “The Redress Movement


October 26, 2017

Courtesy Research Center for Korean Community at Queens College

Academic speakers and sponsors at Queens College in Flushing on Oct. 13. During a two-day conference, they discussed the redress movement for “comfort women” who were sexually enslaved by the Japanese military during Word War II.

Courtesy Korean American Association of Greater New York

New York politicians, human rights officials and members of the Korean American Association of Greater New York attended the unveiling of Manhattan’s first “comfort women” statue on Oct. 13

for the Victims of Japanese Military Sexual Slavery: Looking Back at the 27-year Movement,” was hosted by the Research Center for Korean Community at Queens College in Flushing. The center is a nonprofit research institute for the local Korean and KoreanAmerican communities in Queens, with the neighborhood of Flushing having one of the largest Asian populations in New York. At least 17 academics, human rights leaders, and activists presented their research this year and addressed topics, such as shame, legacy, girl-victims, and gender-war crimes. Speakers compared the atrocities experienced by comfort women to the Holocaust, with expressions of “never again.”

Some Japanese officials and citizens deny the testimonies of comfort women. They contend that the women were paid prostitutes and ignore or dispute the 500-plus documents of research that scholars say prove the Japanese government approved of the sexual trafficking. In the year 2017 alone, Japanese interest groups have fought to have similar comfort women statues in San Francisco and Glendale, CA, removed from prominent public locations. Academics at the conference emphasized the global importance of the issue, beyond Korea-Japan relations, as the heart of basic human rights, often championed by the United States. “This is not Japan’s history, it is the history of humanity,” Alexis Dudden, a professor of history at the University of Connecticut, said during the conference. “And we all have a right to that history.” James Park, a New York City resident and KoreanAmerican, said he took the day off work to attend the conference. “I was literally close to tears,” he said when describing his experience after the conference’s first two sessions. “As a male who doesn’t know this topic, to have it exposed right to your face.” A year after the fi rst comfort woman came forward in 1991, protesters began gathering weekly in front of the Japanese embassy in Seoul, setting the world record for the longest-running protest on any issue. “I think it’s time, after 25 years, that we expand our scope of activities with other movements of human trafficking, regardless of gender and regardless of where it’s happening in the world,” Bonnie Oh, a retired professor of Korean studies at Georgetown University, said at the conference. The Museum of Korean American Heritage is located within The Korean American Association of Greater New York (149 W. 24th St., sixth floor (btw. Sixth & Seventh Aves.). Learn more about them online at and OFFICIALKAAGNY.


“WHY WHY ALWAYS” Set in a dark dystopia where supercomputer Alpha 60 pulls the strings and pushes the buttons of an emotionally lobotomized population, “Alphaville” is a gritty, bullet-ridden, noirish nightmare through which a chain-smoking, trench coat-wearing secret agent assumes the guise of a journalist (talk about Fake News!) to track down the computer’s inventor and bring him in from the cold. By no means derivative yet certainly owing debts to George Orwell and Raymond Chandler, French New Wave filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard’s 1965 black and white prophecy of doom still packs a wallop — but its then-futuristic vision of technology as the ruler of a single city didn’t foresee an Internet with the power to engage, stimulate, and placate on a global scale. Taking Goddard’s film as “a foundation and a jumping off point,” the longtime collaborative team of Shaun Irons and Lauren Petty have crafted a hybrid stage presentation that defies mere categorization as “multimedia” (although that’s a good place to start). Using performance, dance, live-feed cameras, sound, scale models and other we-won’t-spoil-it-for-you elements, “Why Why Always” mimics certain plot points and buzzwords from “Alphaville” while mapping its own search “ for the human, poetic and emotional amidst a landscape of mechanization, isolation and control.” The contemporary phenomenon of online ASMR (autonomous sensory meridian response) videos also has a key role in the world of “Why Why Always,” with repetitious, seemingly soothing acts (such as towel folding) rendered both comforting and ominous when placed alongside a world of whispers, secrets, and seductresses — and that’s all the explanation we’re going to attempt, still swooning as we are from the show’s video trailer (available for view via their website). Wed., Oct. 25 through Sat., Oct. 28 at 7:30pm; Sun., Oct. 29 at 4pm. At Abrons Arts Center (466 Grand St., btw. Pitt & Willett Sts.). For tickets ($25), call 212-352-3101 or visit Show info at

“OFF THE METER, ON THE RECORD” and “THE HOME PLACE” at the IRISH REPERTORY THEATRE You don’t need to wait for their holiday production of “It’s a Wonderful Life” to appreciate how much better off the world is with the Irish Repertory Theatre in it. Attending two current productions from this nonprofit Chelsea gem will do more than just earn your angel wings — it will send you out of the W. 22nd St. facility hungering for more (a craving that can be attended to somewhere between Nov. 29 and Dec. 31, when their live radio play version of George Bailey’s redemption tale takes place). Good news in the meantime: Two of Irish Rep’s stalwart stewards are helming current projects. Through Nov. 5 on the W. Scott McLucas Studio

Photo by Paula Court

At Abrons Arts Center through Oct. 29, “Why Why Always” uses Jean-Luc Godard’s 1965 film “Alphaville” as a jumping off point.

Photo by Carol Rosegg

Photo by Carol Rosegg

“The Home Place” takes place in the Irish town of Donegal during a sweltering 1878 summer; at the Irish Repertory Theatre through Nov. 19.

A NYC cabbie comes clean with tales of the gritty city in “Off the Meter, On the Record” at the Irish Repertory Theatre through Nov. 5.

Stage, producing director Ciarán O’Reilly is the director of “Off the Meter, On the Record” — writer/ performer John McDonagh’s world premiere solo work based on 35 years spent as the driver of a NYC yellow taxi. Eons before apps and ages before Uber, McDonagh answered the hails of everyone from Upper East Side matrons to celebrities, with an occasional consulting job thrown in (he was the one who taught Richard “Top Gear” Hammond how to beat the mean streets of Manhattan while in cabbie mode). Pithy and poignant, McDonagh blends classic NYC seen-it-all observational humor with earthy Irish storytelling. Through Nov. 19 on the Francis J. Greenburger Mainstage, artistic director Charlotte Moore directs Brian Friel’s “The Home Place.” Set in the northwest coastal town of Donegal during a sweltering 1878 summer, Ireland’s dawning Home Rule movement has

nationalist tensions already simmering by the time a doctor arrives determined to demonstrate the indigenes’ “inferior place in the natural order.” His measuring of craniums doesn’t sit well with the villagers, nor does this politically dangerous form of Darwinism do much to improve relations with his cousin — a liberal-minded Anglo-Irish landlord who, along with his son, has a romantic interest in Margaret, the dutiful “chatelaine” at the lodge in which they all reside. “Off the Meter, On the Record” plays through Nov. 5: Wed. at 3pm & 8pm; Thurs. at 7pm; Fri. at 8pm; Sat. at 3pm & 8pm; Sun. at 3pm. Tickets are $50. “The Home Place” plays through Nov. 19: Wed. at 3pm & 8pm; Thurs. at 7pm; Fri. at 8pm; Sat. at 3pm & 8pm; and Sun. at 3pm. Tickets are $50-$70. For reservations to both shows, call 212-727-2737 or visit Irish Repertory Theatre is at 132 W. 22nd St. (btw. Sixth & Seventh Aves.). October 26, 2017


‘Diller Island’ sails again: Cuomo salvages plan PIER continued from p. 1

forts to complete the overall park are more constructive than litigation and stalemate,” Cuomo said in his statement. “I believe all parties have a higher goal and desire that the park should be completed, and can be completed, in the near future. It is my hope that if the people of the State of New York grant me an additional term of office, that the park should be completed in that time period.” Cuomo plans to run for another four-year term in November 2018. “I also expressed my belief,” the governor said, “that the opposition to Pier 55 was ultimately counterproductive, and that I would like to see a positive, constructive effort with all concerned parties moving forward. “We have had productive conversations and it has been agreed that the legal dispute commenced by the City Club will cease, Pier 55 will go forward, and we will work cooperatively to complete the full vision for the park. “Given the change in circumstances, I have asked Mr. Diller to consider proceeding with the Pier 55 project as his concept could be an important and lasting legacy. I know Mr. Diller’s intent was to create a space that would benefit future generations. I applaud his philanthropy and motives and believe the dream is still within his grasp.” Before Diller threw in the towel last month, he and his wife, Diane von Furstenberg, had committed to largely financing the project, whose price tag had ballooned to $250 million, through their family foundation, while a Diller-led nonprofit, Pier55 Inc., was to program the pier with arts and entertainment for 20 years. This was all set down in a lease negotiated with the Hudson River Park Trust, the park’s governing state-city authority. Diller pulled out of the project right as negotiations were wrapping up with the City Club, under which it was hoped a settlement would be reached to allow Pier 55 to move forward. Wednesday’s announcement also included statements from Diller; Richard Emery, the City Club’s attorney; and developer Douglas Durst, who partially funded the club’s lawsuits. Diller said everyone has been begging him not to abandon the project. “In the last month, I have been the recipient of so much importuning, from so many people,” Diller said, “all with the same sentiment: They all express their hope that we not give up and instead find some way to proceed with building Pier 55. Letters, calls, e-mails, texts — and just walking the streets of New York — I have had countless people tell me how much they were looking forward to having this new pier, and how unfortunate were the circumstances of its cancellation. ... So many people had worked for six years to create both the concept and the plans for the pier. In these last weeks, I began to think that we should not let it go, and that I would try to put aside the disappointments and difficulties of these last years. “The governor has informed me that the City Club litigation will not be pursued if I go forward, and that is an important factor and welcome news. “So,” Diller said, “I’m going to make one last attempt to revive the plans to build the park, so that the intended beneficiaries of our endeavor can fall in love with Pier 55 in the way all of us have. We’ll need to reinstate our agreements with the Hudson River Park Trust, with the state and federal agencies that had given us permits, our contractors, and we’ll need to know that the plaintiffs will not reinstate their liti-


October 26, 2017


Governor Andrew Cuomo has managed to refloat Pier 55.

gation. And with all that, we’ll joyfully proceed.” (For the record, many Villager readers have been calling and e-mailing the paper in recent weeks to say they have appreciated the paper’s ongoing coverage of the story, and were glad that the billionaire-funded project had sunk.) The City Club has now indeed dropped its litigation against the project in return for the governor’s commitment to finish the park and protect the river’s marine environment.

‘All parties desire that the park be completed in the near future.’ Andrew Cuomo

“On behalf of the plaintiffs — City Club, Tom Fox and Rob Buchanan — the completion of Hudson River Park and the protection of the estuary have always been of utmost importance to the entire environmen-

tal, civic and preservation community,” attorney Emery said. “Today’s historic commitment by Governor Cuomo to finish the park and protect the estuary is a great victory for park users and all New Yorkers. In that spirit, we will not litigate against Pier 55 and will work with the governor to realize his visionary plan for completion of the Hudson River Park and for protection of the Hudson River.” Still-uncompleted parts of the overall Hudson River Park include Pier 97, at W. 57th St. — which is just a raw concrete deck that needs to be landscaped; Pier 76, at W. 36th St. — half of which is supposed to be developed as a park; much of the “upland park” (non-pier) areas in Chelsea and Hell’s Kitchen; and Gansevoort Peninsula, south of W. 14th St. Durst is a former chairperson of Friends of Hudson River Park, which today is the park’s main fundraising group, but had a falling out with the Trust, which is building and operates the park. On Wednesday, Durst praised Cuomo for brokering the deal. “My goal has always been the completion of the park and the protection of the Hudson River,” Durst said. “Today’s agreement is a major step in that direction. I applaud the governor for his leadership, vision and achievements in rebuilding New York State and his commitment to Hudson River Park.” No Trust officials’ statements were included on the governor’s press release. According to a source, that’s because they were not involved in brokering the agreement. Neither did Mayor de Blasio have a statement on the press release. In response to a request for comment from The Villager, the Trust provided one from Diana Taylor, chairperson of the Trust’s board of directors. “After more than six years of painstaking hard work,” Taylor said, “it was a tragedy for the public that the project was canceled last month. We will work with all stakeholders to figure out a way forward and bring this incredible project to fruition.” Fox, one of the City Club plaintiffs, told The Villager he was not at liberty to speak much about the developments, though he offered one succinct and heartfelt on-the-record comment. “I’m very much looking forward,” Fox said, “to working with the governor to assist in the completion of the Hudson River Park, which I initially started working on with his father, Governor Mario Cuomo, in 1986.” According to a source, there is technically no settlement document now, like the one the City Club was previously working on with the Trust and Diller’s representatives. Everything that was in that document is actually contained in the original Hudson River Park Act of 1998, the source said, such as provisions for areas for historic ships to moor; “soft edges” — marshes and wetlands — in spots along the park; and a prohibition against building new non-water-dependent uses in the Hudson River estuarine sanctuary. The entire Hudson River Park was originally slated to be completed more than a dozen years ago — by 2003. As Diller indicated in his statement, they will now have to go back and redo their lease with the Trust, and new permits will be needed from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the state Department of Environmental Conservation for the in-water work. Tobi Bergman, a former chairperson of Community Board 2 and a longtime waterfront park activist, was happy at the announcement. C.B. 2 supported “Diller Island.” “Good news,” Bergman said, “and if the result of the lawsuit is getting the park completed more quickly, all the better.”


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.

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Committee backs plan for rezoning



ZONING continued from p. 8

of the Lower East Side,â&#x20AC;? one speaker warned the board. The supertall opponents are using the 2014 Chinatown Working Group communityled plan as the basis for their request. Under the C.W.G. proposal, new developments would be capped at 350 feet, with up to 55 percent guaranteed affordable housing and mandatory community space included. â&#x20AC;&#x153;So, basically Walmart cannot come into this neighborhood without the community having its say first,â&#x20AC;? one activist explained. Many residents spoke in support of the groupâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s presentation. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I only know the buildings are getting higher and higher, impacting our lifestyle,â&#x20AC;? one Two Bridges area resident said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;My rent has raised from new developments.â&#x20AC;? â&#x20AC;&#x153;I feel these megatowers and developers are making a profit off the lives and culture of this community,â&#x20AC;? another resident said before the committee voted. But some committee members were skeptical of the community-based plan, viewing some parts of it as too ambitious. One committee member initially said she was unsure about the request, calling parts of the plan â&#x20AC;&#x153;unrealisticâ&#x20AC;? â&#x20AC;&#x201D; yet she ultimately supported it. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve changed my mind!â&#x20AC;? Lisa Kaplan said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I have real reservations about some parts of the proposal. But I think we have to negotiate with the city. The proposal on the floor is so outrageous and so out of scale that we have to sit down and be part of the discussion about this area.â&#x20AC;? The committee voted unanimously in favor of supporting the community plan as a coapplicant. The full board, in turn, at its meeting on Nov. 1, is expected to support the committeeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s recommendation.

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