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YOUR WEEKLY COMMUNITY NEWSPAPER SERVING CHELSEA, HUDSON YARDS & HELL’S KITCHEN

Chelsea Bomber Gets Life in Prison BY DUSICA SUE MALESEVIC Ahmad Khan Rahimi was sentenced to life in prison for planting two bombs in Chelsea in 2016 — one on W. 23rd St. that exploded, injured 31 people and damaged buildings and property. Rahimi, 30, was found guilty in October of all eight federal counts stemming from that Saturday night bombing, and for another device that he planted on

CB4’S NEW CHAIR, CHELSEA’S BURT LAZARIN, TALKS TRANSPORTATION, LANDMARKING, LEADERSHIP

Photo by Winnie McCroy

BY WINNIE McCROY After more than 40 years living in Chelsea, including many serving as a member of Community Board 4 (CB4), Burt Lazarin has moved to the top of the ranks. He was recently voted in as the new Chair of CB4, taking over for exiting Chair Delores Rubin. “I don’t think of myself as a leader in the traditional sense, because we’re a board of 50 people with lots of skills and expertise,” said Lazarin humbly. “I have no problem if we’re at a meeting and the head of the housing committee — who knows a lot more about that than I do — takes the lead. My function is to make sure that person is supported, and then to speak for the whole board.” Lazarin said he won’t be a micromanager who dictates what should happen at every meeting, noting, “that creates problems with members.” Instead, he will let people bring their own expertise to the table. His own field of expertise lies in Urban Planning. Born in Brooklyn and raised in the Bronx, Lazarin did his undergraduate at The City College of New York, followed by graduate school in Seattle. He has lived in Albany, London, Chile, and Peru, working as an urban planner in South America for two and a half years while in the Peace Corps. When he returned to New York City, he worked at a firm doing contract negotiations. Fifteen years ago,

Burt Lazarin during his Feb. 6 interview with Chelsea Now, held at CB4’s W. 42nd St. offices. In the background, the emerging Hudson Yards neighborhood.

LAZARIN continued on p. 3

LIFE IN PRISON continued on p. 2

Block Associations Want L Train Shutdown Data BY LINCOLN ANDERSON About 75 members of Village and Chelsea block associations — specifically, ones all located within a few blocks of 14th St. — gathered for a meeting at Lenox Health Greenwich Village last week, all with one pressL TRAIN continued on p. 8

BHM at TNC

See page 15 for Black History Month plays and performances.

© CHELSEA NOW 2018 | NYC COMMUNITY MEDIA, LLC, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

VOLUME 10, ISSUE 7 | FEBRUARY 15-21, 2018


Ahmad Khan Rahimi Gets Life in Prison for Chelsea Bombing LIFE IN PRISON continued from p. 1

W. 27th St. that did not go off due to two men who disturbed the device, along with Chelsea resident Jane Schreibman’s vigilance and law enforcement efforts. The sentencing, scheduled to start at 11 a.m. on Tues., Feb. 13, began a little later as US District Judge Richard Berman, who has presided over the case since the beginning, waited for victims of the bombing — many of whom testified during the two-week trial — to get to court. “They certainly have the right — like everybody else — to be here,” he said. Victims — like Chelsea resident Helena Ayeh — had described what it was like that evening on Sept. 17, 2016 when a pressure cooker bomb Rahimi placed on W. 23rd St. (btw. Sixth & Seventh Aves.) went off and sent a 100-pound dumpster and shrapnel flying. Ayeh, who was fearful she had lost an eye but did not, testified that the explosion was like “The heavens had opened and fallen down.” Berman explained the factors and sentencing guidelines that went into his decision. While he explained he was no longer obligated by mandatory sentencing, Berman nonetheless gave Rahimi the statutory maximums — life in prison for counts one through three, 40 years for count four, 20 years for counts five and six, to be served concurrently. Rahimi was given an additional life sentence for count eight, and 30 years for count seven to be served consecutively. Berman said the sentence was appropriate given the “the heinous and life threatening nature” of the crimes, and the “scheming and extensive preparation to kill innocent people.” There have been twists and turns since Rahimi’s conviction last year that led to a new attorney, Xavier Donaldson, to be appointed his counsel. Prosecutors alleged in a letter filed with the court in December that Rahimi was trying to radicalize fellow inmates at Manhattan’s Metropolitan Correctional Center with terrorist propaganda. On Dec. 29, Federal Defenders’ Sabrina Shroff, who was Rahimi’s lawyer throughout the trial, cited an “unwaverable conflict” — she was at the time also representing the inmate Rahimi allegedly was radicalizing — and could no longer represent him, Berman said. Donaldson argued in his letter to the court that Rahimi should get 180 months — 15 years — for counts one through six. Berman said there was no legal or factual basis to support that sentence. Berman also went through some aspects of Rahimi’s background. The Elizabeth, New Jersey man was born in Kandahar, Afghanistan, came to the United States in 1995, and became a naturalized US citizen in 2011. After high school, Rahimi studied criminal justice at college with his eye on becoming a police officer. The married father of three dropped out of college and ended up at one point working 60 hours a week at Kennedy Fried Chicken and Dunkin’ Donuts. Prosecutors said Rahimi became radicalized sometime in 2012, and a few years later began Internet searches for books on jihad, bomb-making tech-

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File photo courtesy US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of NY

Video evidence in day five of Ahmad Khan Rahimi’s Oct. 2017 trial shows him on Seventh Ave. on the night of the Sept. 17, 2016 bombing, carrying a suitcase containing what prosecutors said was a pressure cooker bomb.

File photo courtesy US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of NY

An aerial view of W. 23rd St. (btw. Sixth & Seventh Aves.) shows damage from the bombing of Sept. 17, 2016.

niques, and downloaded issues of Inspire — the English language magazine of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula that had articles such as “Make a bomb in the kitchen of your mom.” Berman noted that he had granted Rahimi’s request of religious observance for court to be cut short on Fridays during the October trial, and that “it appears during some of those prayer sessions” was when the exchange of terrorist propaganda happened. When it was his turn to address the court, Rahimi did not apologize. “I didn’t come here harboring any hatred toward anyone,” said Rahimi, who immigrated when he was seven. “I didn’t grow up hating anyone.” Rahimi commended his father, saying, “It was always work hard and educate yourself.” Rahimi also claims his father went to law enforcement on multiple occasions and “did his best to quell everything down.” NBC New York reported the day before the sen-

tencing that Mohammad Rahimi said he went to the FBI in 2014 about “concerns that his son could be a terrorist” — a claim that an FBI official disputed in a Sept. 23, 2016 Associated Press article. Rahimi said that once he became a practicing Muslim, he was harassed by the FBI when he traveled. He also disputed that he was radicalizing his fellow inmates, saying that Sajmir Alimehmeti — a Bronx man accused of providing material support to ISIS — was radicalized not in prison but by the FBI. Assistant US District Attorney Shawn Crowley said, “Mr. Rahimi stood there and blamed everyone else for his actions. That is ridiculous.” She added, “He has shown no remorse. He is unrepentant. He feels no sympathy for his victims.” Rahimi “made light of his attacks,” prosecutors said in a letter filed on Jan. 16. “For example, during a call with a family member while trial was proceeding, the defendant bragged: [Another inmate] asked me how are we going to watch the news and I told him I don’t need to watch the news because I am the news [Laughs].” Berman also ordered that Rahimi pay $562,803.03 in restitution to victims of the bombing, which include Helena Ayeh, businesses on W. 23rd St. that sustained substantial damage due to the blast such as Orangetheory Fitness and the Townhouse Inn of Chelsea, as well as Selis Manor, a residence for the blind, visually impaired, and those with physical disabilities that was undergoing renovations. Rahimi also faces charges in New Jersey for a bomb he allegedly placed in Seaside Park, NJ before a charity race — that exploded but did not injure anyone — allegedly placing pipe bombs at an Elizabeth, NJ train station, and for a shootout that took place when he was arrested two days after the bombing. NYC Community Media


Burt Lazarin Takes the Helm of CB4 LAZARIN continued from p. 1

he and a business partner founded the Policy Research Group, consulting labor unions on contract negotiations. After living in Brooklyn for five years, he followed a wave of friends migrating to Chelsea, which was emerging as one of the city’s newest gayborhoods. (Lazarin and his partner, Frank Ireland, have been together for 37 years, and were married last June.) “When I moved here in 1977, people asked me, ‘Is it safe?’ — because much of what was between 10th Ave. and the river was abandoned,” Lazarin recalled. “There were the hookers and there were the meat trucks, but that was it, because the whole area was built in the early 20th century as support for the docks. But by the early ’70s, the finger piers went away, some warehouses became taxi garages, and the whole south side of 23rd Street, which is now expensive townhouses, was abandoned.”

Photo by Jay Lazarin

L to R, from their June 2017 wedding: Burt and Frank’s daughter-in-law Julie Villa, Frank Ireland, Burt Lazarin, and Ben Ireland (Frank’s son), a Universal Life minister who officiated along with Julie.

INVESTING IN CHELSEA Back in the ’70s and ’80s, Chelsea was becoming known as a gay mecca. It was a time that Lazarin remembers fondly, speaking wistfully of the Meatpacking District bistro Florent, and the framed maps of different cities that lined its walls. By then, he was a fixture in the neighborhood, and ready to invest in its future. “I’ve always been involved, always been a group person,” said Lazarin. “One thing I did when I first came back was I got involved with a group called Identity House, which at the time was fairly revolutionary.” The group did peer counseling for the gay community. “The personal was political,” Lazarin noted, “and we knew that as we worked helping people come out or with relationship problems, we were changing things. It was a self-governing organization that started in ’71, and I served as coordinator, executive director, and clinical director, because for many years I did psychotherapy in addition to contract negotiations.” In 1977, Lazarin banded together with his friends to form another pro-gay organization. “That’s the time when many gays were moving into Chelsea, and we wanted to have a presence, so we started an organization called the Chelsea Gay Association,” Lazarin recalled. NYC Community Media

File photo by Winnie McCroy

At the June 1, 2016 full board meeting of CB4, Burt Lazarin, in background, made sure speakers in the public comment session adhered to their allotted two-minute slot.

“It was to meet your neighbors, with small breakout groups for safety, theater, and the like. We had regular meetings and connected with block associations, to make allies. We wanted straight allies going to City Council to help pass the Gay Rights Bill, and we got people from the neighborhood

to testify in favor of the bill.” That group lasted until 1982, he said, and Identity House still offers walk-in counseling at The Center (gaycenter. org). In the late ’80s, Lazarin also joined the Chelsea Waterside Park Association; he is currently its treasurer (cwpark.org).

JOINING COMMUNITY BOARD 4 “I have always been involved, so when I saw the announcement for CB4 members, I took a deep breath, thought, LAZARIN continued on p. 19 Februar y 15, 2018

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Slip the Surly Bonds of School: Midwinter Recess Fun BY SCOTT STIFFLER From “The Jetsons” to “Star Wars” to the occasional episode of “PAW Patrol,” generations of kids have seen flying ships on the screen and dreamed of slipping the surly bonds of school in favor of otherworldly adventures. Sadly, we’re not at the point where piling into a Tesla Roadster and riding a Falcon Heavy rocket into space is a viable option — so good old terra firma will have to do when it comes to coming up with fun activities during the New York City public school system’s Feb. 19–23 Midwinter recess — and beyond. Fortunately, this town has plenty of options, starting with a space-themed destination that hardly seems like a consolation prize. You can claim it at W. 46th St. and 12th Ave. There, the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum is set to blast off on its annual Kids Week (Feb. 18–24). This year’s theme— “Science is Everywhere”— mines the world of art, sports, games, and nature to reveal the role played by acoustics, aerodynamics, physics, and chemistry. Programming includes a slew of interactive opportunities where kids can hone their fastball skills, create comic books, learn about outer space from NASA astronauts and engineers, meet and greet the animal friends of zoologist Jarod Miller (including a penguin and a kangaroo), and snap a selfie with Mr. Met — plus, there will be performances from Broadway shows including “SpongeBob The Musical” and “School of Rock,” along with tall tales from the Story Pirates. Intrepid staff will offer live demonstrations, planetarium presentations, and themed tours. All Kids Week activities are free with Museum admission. For the full schedule, visit intrepidmuseum.org/kidsweek. At its iconic Tribeca store (395 Broadway at Walker St.) and its new Chelsea Market location (75 Ninth Ave. at W. 15th St.), Asian cultural product purveyor Pearl River Mart has gone to the dogs — and that’s a good thing, given their plans to ring in the Lunar New Year with

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Courtesy Erika Kapin Photography

Open their eyes by blinding them with science, at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum’s annual Kids Week.

Photo by Asiya Khaki

From amazing lion dances to awesome yo-yo skills, Pearl River Mart offers free Lunar New Year activities at its Tribeca and Chelsea Market locations.

Courtesy Film Forum

No monkey business here: Kids will go ape for the 1933 original, when “King Kong” screens Feb. 18 as part of the Film Forum Jr. series.

free in-store events and activities (this time around, it’s the Year of the Dog!). On Lunar New Year’s Day (Fri., Feb. 16), 3:30–

6:30pm at Chelsea Market, you’ll see a Chinese yo-yo performance and a lion dance. On Sun., Feb. 18, 1–4:30pm at the

Tribeca store, artist Xin Song incorporates the ancient art of Chinese paper cutting into a multimedia performance, followed by a Lion Dance ceremony. Back at Chelsea Market on Sat., Feb. 24, 1–4pm, there will be a tea tasting — and internationally acclaimed storyteller Grace “GeGe” Chang dazzles with an Imperial Magic and Puppet Show. For more info, visit pearlriver.com or call 212431-4770. Sundays at 11am, the ongoing Film Forum Jr. series gives kids a taste of the classics by transporting them back to a time before CGI and DVDs — or, for that matter, TV. On Feb. 18, see the original 1933 “King Kong” fight a T. Rex, terrify the audience during his disastrous Broadway debut, and climb the Empire State Building — all thanks to stop-motion animation special effects that inspired generations of future filmmakers. On Feb. 25, a double dose of Laurel and Hardy has the comedy duo paying dearly for attending a lodge convention under false pretenses (1933’s “Sons of the Desert”), while 1927’s “The Battle of the Century” is, Film Forum tells us,

a “classic short of pugilism and cream pies — over 3,000 were used during filming!” Fans of pie fights will also get a kick out of the epic amount of slapstickstyle abuse hurled during March 11’s four short films featuring the Three Stooges, including a 3D screening of 1953’s “Pardon My Backfire,” which finds the boys working as auto mechanics and mixing it up with some escaped convicts. At Film Forum (209 W. Houston St., btw. Sixth Ave. & Varick St.). All tickets are $9. More info at filmforum. org, where you can visit the Film Forum Jr. page and make suggest movies you’d like to see. Bonus cinematic activity: From Feb. 23–March 18, the New York International Children’s Film Festival brings cinema from all over the world to our backyard, at venues around town including Cinépolis Chelsea and the SVA Theatre (both on W. 23rd St.). Animated features and shorts, virtual reality experiences, a “Girls’ POV” slate of programming, and the premiere of Luc Jacquet’s “March of the Penguins 2: The Next Step” are all on the schedule, which you can access at nyicff.org. NYC Community Media


Miles of Aisles: The Chelsea Supermarket Guide BY JOSH ROGERS There may be more fun, noble, or perhaps even poetic reasons to celebrate life in Chelsea, but the thing I keep coming back to is the fact that food shopping has gotten so good. I know of what I write. I can’t tell you why I do it so much, but whatever the reason, I typically visit neighborhood supermarkets a few times a week. So herein lies a Chelsea supermarket guide, gleaned from thousands of hours of shopping experience: TRADER JOE’S (Sixth Ave. btw. W. 21st & 22nd Sts.) | If I had to make only one supermarket trip a week (do people really do that?), it would be here. Overall, Trader Joe’s prices are the best. I cook regularly, but for those who don’t, the place almost seems like a Chinese takeout menu with its huge selection of frozen foods. There’s also lots of prepared foods for lunches, massive varieties of crackers, and other snack foods. I tend to shop solo these days, but TJ’s is the most child-friendly store in the nabe — they always have sample tastings, and there’s more space for strollers. The produce is a weak point, although they have peppers for 99 cents and bags of apples at good prices. They also pride themselves at keeping their bananas at 19 cents each. It’s not the place to go for that once-ina-while recipe, as their spice and meat selections are skimpy. And at least in Chelsea, they don’t carry many cooking ingredients, things like Worcestershire sauce. The lines are the other big drawback, so unless you have lots of emails to check, it’s best to go on weekdays before 11 a.m. or after 8:30 p.m. WHOLE FOODS (Seventh Ave. and W. 24th St.) | Even before Amazon bought the chain last year, the “Whole Paycheck” nickname was never completely justified. Its internal 365 brand was always competitive, and they usually had good specials. The Amazon effect is noticeable on a few items, such as salmon at $10 a pound. Their produce, meats, and seafood have a well-earned reputation for high quality at high prices. You can find good specials on produce, and their potatoes are reasonably priced. IDEAL (Ninth Ave. near W. 28th St.) | It’s definitely worth picking up their flyer every week, because they usually have good specials, particularly on meats, which are decent quality. They’ve had at least three different names since they opened about a decade ago. It would’ve been nice if they were there when I lived across the NYC Community Media

Photo by Josh Rogers

Trader Joe’s has a huge selection of frozen food — and long lines. The best times to shop are weekdays before 11 a.m. or after 8:30 p.m.

street, but I still go there regularly, and I’m sure it is a lifeline for northwest Chelsea folks. The store is well-stocked and spacious. FAIRWAY (Sixth Ave. btw. W. 25th & 26th Sts.) | In Chelsea’s pre-TJ days, I’d regularly drive up to the Harlem Fairway to shop. It was a quick trip on weekends, and I often hoped they’d move into the neighborhood. My wish came true five years ago, but I don’t often shop there. The Harlem store had good quality and prices, and lots of space. Fairway’s quality is still pretty good, but its prices are not the deal they used to be. The Chelsea store is much smaller than Harlem, limiting the selection. They sometimes have good specials, and much to their credit, they are the most neighborhoodfriendly store. They have helped with the Penn South annual barbecue and are “Community Partners” with PS11, donating a percentage of parents’ shopping bills to the PTA. GRISTEDES (W. 26th St. near Eighth Ave.; Eighth Ave. btw. W. 21st & 22nd Sts.; Ninth Ave. near W. 24th St.) | With three neighborhood locations, convenience is the best thing about Gristedes. The lines are seldom bad, and if you need something quick, the odds are it’s the fastest option (the 26th St. & Eighth Ave. ones are a bit nicer looking). The chain has never been known for high-quality fresh foods, and there’s a reason for that. Chelsea supermarkets do leave

somewhat of a produce gap, which is why our family often buys from one of the avenues’ “Fruit Guys,” who often have good quality at great pric-

es. We like the ones on Eighth, but Ninth and Sixth are equally good. Josh Rogers is a freelance writer and editor living in Chelsea.

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Residents Riled by Loss of Mail, Theft of Carts BY DUSICA SUE MALESEVIC A mail cart theft late last month — one of four this year — has longtime Chelsea residents concerned about the safety of their mail. During the early afternoon on Tues., Jan. 23 on W. 19th St. between Sixth and Seventh Aves., a cart full of mail was stolen. The empty cart was later found in a parking garage on 15th St. near Fifth Ave. Four carts have been stolen in the Chelsea area since the beginning of the year, Donna Harris, spokesperson for the United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS), said in an email to Chelsea Now. Harris declined to provide details about when and where the other three thefts took place, citing that it is an ongoing investigation. The USPIS is the law enforcement arm of the postal service, and the cart and mail thefts fall under its purview. It is a federal law enforcement agency with arrest authority that enforces over 200 federal statutes, she said. All of these crimes are currently under investigation, Harris said. “We will fi nd the individual(s) responsible for [these crimes] and bring them to justice for their crimes against our customers and the US mail,” she assured. Upon hearing about the mail cart theft, residents, like Karen Bell, went to their local precinct and post office — the 13th Precinct and Old Chelsea Station — to report it and learn more. (The W. 19th St. theft falls into the 13th Precinct’s area of coverage, although most of West Chelsea is covered by the 10th Precinct.) Bell has lived on W. 19th St. for almost 30 years, and she expressed frustration with the reporting process and the lack of information provided. After hearing about the theft from the block’s regular mail carrier and one of her neighbors — who had a box of blank checks stolen that someone tried to unsuccessfully cash — Bell called the 13th Precinct to see if they were aware of what happened. (The resident whose checks were stolen declined to be interviewed for this article.) “It was kind of a round robin conversation — I couldn’t tell him what he wanted me to tell him. I didn’t know if anything was stolen,” Bell said in a phone interview. After she got “nowhere” with the precinct, she said she went twice to Old Chelsea Station, to try to find out more and why the community had not been informed about the theft. She said

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Photo by Scott Stiffler

Steep steps make it difficult to bring heavy mail carts into buildings, leading to this familiar sight on the side streets of Chelsea.

a supervisor handed her a sticky note with the number of the postal inspection service. Bell said she wanted more information provided “and who to contact specifically so we don’t get the runaround. I think the biggest complaint I have is the frustration dealing with the post office.” Another longtime resident of Bell’s block, Kathryn Nocerino, went through a similar reporting process that Bell did: contacting the 13th Precinct and the Old Chelsea Station. Nocerino said she filed a complaint with the USPIS, only to be told to contact the US Postal Service Consumer and Industry Contact Office. When she contacted that office, they told her it was a matter for the postal inspection service. Bell took it upon herself to check out security cameras in the neighborhood, asking a building at 19th St. and Seventh Ave. and the fire department to check their footage. Both residents pointed out that it is tax season. “It is tax time — they’re getting their W2, 1099 and financial statements,” said Bell, noting that people might not have received bills as well. “Who knows what’s missing?” Nocerino said, “Every time I walk around Chelsea and the Gramercy Park area, I see unattended mail carts.”

Longtime Chelsea resident Pamela Wolff said it is a struggle for the carriers to get their carts into buildings’ vestibules due to the fact many have several front steps. “It’s a little tricky for these guys — it’s difficult to keep their eyes on their carts at all times,” Wolff said by phone. Harris said that “Carriers receive training with regard to safeguarding the mail, and we will request [the United States Postal Service] reinforces these elements with carriers, specifically on protecting their carts.” Wolff also went to the Old Chelsea Station to find out about more about the theft before attending the Jan. 30 Council of Chelsea Block Associations meeting, saying, “I wanted facts. What I did is to try to figure out is this an epidemic or a one-off. It’s been a little hard to get information from anywhere.” Wolff did not get her questions answered at the Old Chelsea Station. “It’s frustrating,” she said. “Until we get better information, we can’t really help. We need to keep our eyes open.” Requests for comment from Old Chelsea Station and the 13th Precinct went unanswered. An NYPD spokesperson referred questions to the USPIS, and said in an email, “There continues to be an ongoing coordinated effort of

our patrol cops, investigators, and all of our local, state, and federal law enforcement partners.” Speaker Corey Johnson (who, as a councilmember, represents Chelsea) said in an emailed statement that his office is in contact with the NYPD and Congressmember Jerrold Nadler. “Stealing mail is a serious federal crime and a grave violation of one’s personal information,” he said. Shelby Garner, a spokesperson for Congressmember Carolyn Maloney, said she convened a meeting on Mon., Feb. 12 with the NYPD and the United States Postal Service about mail thefts that have been happening in her district. Residents have contacted her office about checks that have been stolen out of mailboxes, Garner said by phone. Nocerino said the theft “leaves me with the uncomfortable feeling that mail is not safe in Chelsea.” Harris noted that if readers need to report any crimes with a nexus to the US mail that are in progress, they should call 911 and then report it locally to postal inspectors at 212-330-2400 If anyone believes they have been a victim of mail theft, please report it at 877876-2455. Additional reporting by Tabia C. Robinson. NYC Community Media


  

          

            Photo by Scott Stiffler

The properties at 345 and 347 W. 19th St. are on the agenda of CB4’s Feb. 20 Chelsea Land Use committee meeting.

Construction and Concerns Continue at Adjacent Properties BY RANIA RICHARDSON In an uncanny echo of events that occurred years ago in the West Village, a photographer is at odds with the neighborhood regarding the renovation of a dual-building historic residence, this time in Chelsea. Fashion, beauty, and celebrity photographer Kenneth Willardt purchased two adjacent four-story buildings at 345 and 347 W. 19th St. (built in 1910 and 1920, respectively) for $4.6 million in 2013, according to online real estate sources. Located between Eighth and Ninth Aves., the structures sit on a 44-foot x 64-foot lot and total approx. 6,288 combined square feet. Controversy and complications surrounding work on Willardt’s property parallel those experienced by renowned photographer Annie Leibovitz, who formerly owned 755 and 757 Greenwich St. The work on Leibovitz’s buildings was fraught with problems that impacted neighbors. A construction accident in 2002 resulted in evacuation of Leibovitz’s next-door residents, and here, too, Willardt’s neighbors in 349 W. 19th St. have had to vacate, after the NYC Department of Buildings (DOB) declared the building unsafe for occupancy due to destabilization after excavation without a permit. Willardt, whose clients include CondÊ NYC Community Media

Nast publications and Maybelline cosmetics, works in a glamorous industry known for its jet-setting lifestyle that may be out of sync with at least some of the residents on his block. He said that his intention, as confirmed by several nearby residents, is to build a 20-foot rooftop vertical expansion with a swimming pool, fire pit, birthing room, and space for aerial yoga The buildings may be outside the Chelsea Historic District, but the community believes there should be some sensitivity to conservation, especially given the steady erosion of the area’s aesthetic assets, and the fact that these properties are pre-war residences with historic details and character. According to several neighbors, last Christmas Willardt had a party and lit fireplaces built into the walls shared with 343 W. 19th St. Smoke migrated into that building and the owners alerted Willardt, at which time he extinguished the fires. Given what happened with 349 W. 19th St., the owners may be concerned about possible damage to their residence. Chelsea Now could not reach Willardt for comment. Bill Borock, President of the Council of Chelsea Block Associations (CCBA) and Reverend Stephen Harding were



             

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CONSTRUCTION continued on p. 17 Februar y 15, 2018

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L Train Shutdown Mitigation Brings Block Associations Together L TRAIN continued from p. 1

ing concern. As one woman from W. 12th St. put it, while addressing the room, “I have an e-mail list of 500 people — and we’re all angry about this.” “This” refers to the plan by the city’s Department of Transportation (DOT) and Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) to close 14th St. to traffic during rush hours, and possibly beyond, during the upcoming L train shutdown, slated to start in April 2019 and last for 15 months. Residents complained that their oneway side streets are already overburdened and clogged with traffic, and that the city’s scheme would be a disaster for them, just cramming still more cars and trucks into their streets. The plan’s other main component — installing a protected two-way crosstown bicycle path on narrow 13th St. — is also causing a lot of concern for local residents. The ad-hoc coalition of block associations currently has no name, though they’re looking for one. They have no president or officers, either. However, it was attorney Gary Tomei, “The Mayor of W. 13th Street” and father of actress Marisa, who spearheaded the idea of gathering local block associations together for a meeting. Both tubes of the L train’s Canarsie Tunnel under the East River need to be closed for repairs due to flooding by Superstorm Sandy back in 2012. As a result, the MTA decided to suspend L train service during that time between Bedford Ave. in Brooklyn and Eighth Ave. in Manhattan to allow for the work. The L train’s daily ridership between Brooklyn and Manhattan is 225,000 people, while about 50,000 use the line each day for crosstown commuting in Manhattan, according to the MTA. But participants at the Tues., Feb. 6 meeting of Village and Chelsea block associations said the authority must fork over the “data study” upon which it is basing its proposal, and which it previously promised to supply. This data also reportedly includes figures for the amount of vehicle and pedestrian traffic in the affected area. Erik Bottcher, chief of staff for City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, told the residents at the meeting that Johnson was scheduled to meet two days later with MTA and DOT to discuss the plan. Johnson’s office subsequently told

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Photos by Lincoln Anderson

David Marcus, at last week’s meeting of Village and Chelsea block associations who are concerned about the L shutdown plan, showed a subway map. “People will take the J and M lines instead of the L,” he said, pointing to a spot in Brooklyn. “That will dump them here,” he then added, pointing to the Little Italy/Chinatown area. In short, not everyone will then want to continue from that point on up to 14th St., he noted, calling it a serious flaw in the MTA’s plans for 14th St. during the L shutdown in 2019.

Benita Berkowitz said her building on 14th St. needs to have streetfront access since some of its residents are disabled, but that the mitigation plan for the L train shutdown — which calls for the street to be buses only at certain times — would block that.

The Villager (our sister publication) this week that, at that City Hall meeting, it was agreed that the data study would be provided shortly, and that once Johnson receives it, it would be shared with the community. Present at that highpowered sit-down were all the local politicians — or their representatives — whose districts include parts of 14th St., plus new NYC Transit President Andy Byford, DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg and representatives of Mayor Bill de Blasio. In addition, DOT and MTA officials reportedly committed to holding ongoing meetings with the community regarding the plan, though these will be smaller meetings.

“I think the idea is to have meetings where you can do a deep dive,” a source said. “It’s harder to do a deep dive with 50 people. This will be really where you can sit around a table.” The source also noted, “We’re going to start these meetings as soon as possible… But we want them to give the community time to review the data.” In addition, at last Tuesday’s community meeting of concerned block associations, Village Democratic District Leader Arthur Schwartz gave many hope when he announced that he intends to file suit over the plan unless the proper environmental reviews are done. Schwartz, who is a well-known attor

ney representing local labor unions and who previously served on Community Board 2, said he would do the lawsuit pro bono. Basically, he said, for a plan of this sort, that would have this many farranging impacts — such as on traffic and commuting patterns, for example — under the law, a State Environmental Quality Review (SEQR) or a City Environmental Quality Review (CEQR) must be done. He noted he has had success filing lawsuits like this in the past, such as one he did to block a Costco from comL TRAIN continued on p. 16 NYC Community Media


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Bands of Every Feather Flock to Tom Clark’s Treehouse Sunday gathering champions singers, songwriters, musicians BY PUMA PERL Tom Clark’s Lower East Side apartment contains all of the accouterments you’d expect from a musician: guitars, vinyl, amps, posters, and a candy dish filled with freshly baked cookies. Well, that’s what you’d expect from Clark. The hometown boy from DeKalb, Illinois, renowned for his all-night Thanksgiving dinners and jam sessions, is a former Brooklyn neighbor of “The Basketball Diaries” author Jim Carroll, current ringmaster of the Treehouse, and a guy who lives for music. You don’t hear many stories like his these days. We no longer live in the city that drew small town kids in from the cornfields. “What brought culture to DeKalb,” he said, “was Northern Illinois University. The first real show I saw was there. The Ramones. I was about 13 and blown away. I’d never even smelled marijuana before. I was already in a band and we started doing Sex Pistols songs after that but we were too young to be angry about anything.” Some friends had moved to New York and he wanted to join them. He sought the counsel of a favorite musician, Marshall Crenshaw. “It was the first and only fan letter I ever wrote,” Clark recalled, who still has the letter in which Crenshaw advised him to “Go for it.” In 1986, at the height of the crack epidemic, he and his two friends found an apartment on 103rd St. and Manhattan Ave. “Every morning I’d walk all the way Downtown because I couldn’t afford the 90 cent subway fare. I’d play in Washington Square Park and on the street.” One day, the owner of Astor Place Hairstylists asked him to play in the shop, taking requests from customers. “I played eight hours a day, seven days a week, for 20 dollars a day plus tips, and looked for gigs at night.” Even after finding gigs three or four nights weekly, he kept to that schedule. He was eventually signed by EMI, befriended by Lenny Kaye (who was designated to produce the album), began opening regularly for Patti Smith, and, through all sorts of divine coincidences, worked closely with Jeff Buckley, Hank Wedel, and many more, most of whom became friends. Including Marshall Crenshaw. “Every day I worked so hard and long, NYC Community Media

Courtesy the artist

A long way from DeKalb, IL: Tom Clark at home in his Lower East Side apartment.

that when I got home I didn’t even want to touch a guitar. I love Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry, and Eddie Cochran, but I realized I’d been listening only to guys who’d been dead for 30 years or more.” A chance meeting with Kevn Kinney, whom he describes as “one of the top five greatest songwriters in the world” led to an invitation to play shows across the South, a collaboration that “put the wind back in my sails.” Back in New York, he began frequenting the bar 2A and eventually started a Sunday night venue on the upper floor. July 10, 2011 saw the debut of the Treehouse. Ivan Julian, Lenny Kaye, Andy Shernoff, Kevn Kinney and Clark all played that night. “I love the bands that play here. I never leave the soundboard and the Treehouse has really great sound. I love that it brings people together; bands and friendships have formed here. Some of the regulars should be superstars, like Monica Passin aka Li’l Mo. She’s played here more than I have,

and she produces incredible shows. Emily Duff is another great one. I try to make everyone feel like superstars because when they’re here they are my stars.” The love is returned. As per Li’l Mo, “In addition to the monthly Field of Stars (a songwriter’s circle) I came up with The Great Harmony Swap, a show so big I do it only once or twice a year. I couldn’t be more grateful to Tom for these opportunities. He has been my champion for years now. He is a champion.” Added Emily Duff, “Tom curates the best music night in NYC. I fell madly in love with him the moment I met him because he embodies everything that I love about this stupid city and rock and roll: He’s up all night and never satisfied.” Andrea Kleiman, a regular attendee, knows why people keep coming back. “Tom greets everyone as if you were walking into his home. Every Sunday Tom has a new surprise waiting, from regulars who play often to bands I never heard of. It’s an eclectic mix that never disappoints.”

One January Sunday I was introduced to the PI Power Trio, led by guitarist Pat Irwin, a seminal part of the No Wave scene and a touring member of The B-52s. Drummer Sasha Dobson and bassist Daria Grace complete the trio. After a rock and roll set that blended instrumental tradition with their special brand of power, Irwin announced that he looked forward to the next set, the Velveeta Underground, a bluegrass band that plays Velvet Underground covers. This sounded either incredibly awful or really awesome. It turned out to be the latter. The six-piece band features “Thirsty” Dave Hansen and The Crusty Gentlemen and consists of lap steel, upright bass, two guitars, banjo, and percussion. They describe themselves as what would happen “if Andy Warhol had taken the Velvet Underground’s ‘Exploding Plastic Inevitable’ show to the Grand Ole Opry.” The following week, I TREEHOUSE continued on p. 14 Februar y 15, 2018

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TREEHOUSE continued from p. 13

returned for The Great Harmony Swap, the theme of which was musicals, ranging from “Purple Rain” to “The Sound of Music.” Over 35 musicians were curated and directed by Li’l Mo. My favorite of these amazingly authentic events was “Summer of Love: Songs of 1967.” Complete with bell-bottoms and Afros, you’d swear you smelled incense as you listened to Jimi Hendrix songs. Some of Clark’s favorite Treehouse memories include The Animals’ guitarist Hilton Valentine and his eight-piece skiffle band, and Dave Davies of the Kinks in the audience for the first Spoonful of Lovin’ night, a Lovin’ Spoonful tribute that included Craig Chesler, Clark, Dennis Diken, Sal Maida, Andy Riedel, and C.P. Roth. His stories take you to Patti Smith’s house when she told him she loved his band, The High Action Boys, and to the recording studio, with Jeff Buckley laying down harmonies under Lenny Kaye’s direction. The most vivid was a November morning, right after Thanksgiving. His mom, visiting from DeKalb, was resting on the couch when Jim Carroll, wearing an Elvis T-shirt, stopped in. The sun was streaming down. They chatted for a long time. She had no idea who Jim was, but said he seemed like a very nice boy. “Jim just wanted to talk to a mom, and in my opinion my mom was a bigger rock star than I’ll ever be.” And future memories? “I’m really sentimental about my hometown and would love to do a record about it. And I have about one day’s work to finish the record I started 10 years ago. It will definitely be out by the fall.” A lot to look back on, and even more to come. Tom Clark presents the Treehouse upstairs at 2A (25 Ave. A at Second St.) every Sunday, 8:30pm–?. Live music, no admission or cover, 21+. Feb. 18, featured performers include Azro Cady and The PI Power Trio. For info, visit facebook.com/treehouseat2A.

The PI Power Trio at the Treehouse. L to R: Sasha Dobson, Pat Irwin and Daria Grace.

Photo Bob Krasner

Courtesy Dina Regine

L to R: Crystal Durant, Dina Regine, Sherryl Marshall, Monica Passin (aka Li’l Mo) and C.P. Roth from the Treehouse “Summer of Love: Songs of 1967” program, July 2016.

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Photo by Alan Rand

L to R: Lenny Kaye and Tom Clark at the Treehouse, June 2017. NYC Community Media


More Than the Sum of Its Month Black History celebrated in plays, performances, tours BY SCOTT STIFFLER On Sun., Feb. 18, Save Chelsea board members Cher Carden and Laurence Frommer lead “Retracing Black History Through Chelsea and The Tenderloin.” The two-hour walking tour, which begins at 1pm, brings attention to an often-overlooked period. “Chelsea played a significant role in New York’s African American community and its history, particularly in the second half of the 19th century. Churches, schools, and music served a vibrant community,” said the organizers of the event, which will retrace how African Americans shaped northern Chelsea, the district once known as The Tenderloin, and New York City. The cost is $30, $20 for members of Save Chelsea. To register, visit savechelseany.org. Several notable productions are currently on the boards or upcoming at Theater for the New City (aka TNC; 155 First Ave., btw. E. Ninth & 10th Sts.). Through Feb. 25, Brandi Varnell directs Joan Bigwood’s “Or Current Resident.” This production from TNC resident theater group Squeaky Bicycle Productions chronicling the multi-generational, Silicon Valley-based Finch family “throws the covers off an eccentric little universe that has survived on fortitude and self-deception and now lies shivering in the cold glare of unexpected, untenable revelations.” Also through Feb. 25, Bette Howard directs Michael A. Jones’ “Josh: The Black Babe Ruth.” This production, returning after an acclaimed run last year, dramatizes the life of Josh Gibson, a standout home run hitter in the Negro Leagues whose Major League ambitions are complicated by family matters, personal vices, and institutional racism. In the final installment of playwright/ director William Electric Black’s powerful and provocative “Gunplay” series (dedicated to addressing the epidemic of gun violence), “Subway Story (A Shooting)” centers around the character of Chevonn, an African American teenage girl who turns her nonfiction writing assignment into a highly stylized composition experienced by the audience as “a fantastical mashup of literary images that are part Lewis Carroll and part queasy reality, revealing issues affecting our children including alienation, discrimination, bullying and the easy availability of firearms.” The play runs Feb. 22 through March 18. For tickets and info on other proNYC Community Media

Photo by Jonathan Slaff

Sarah Q. Shah (foreground) and the cast of “Subway Story (A Shooting),” Feb. 22–March 18 at Theater for the New City.

Photo via facebook.com/nancygilesofficial

Photo by Jonathan Slaff

Nancy Giles, host of “The Mosquito” at Dixon Place. The next installment of this free monthly series happens Feb. 19.

L to R: Perci Percival and Dave Roberts in “Josh: The Black Babe Ruth,” playing through Feb. 25 at Theater for the New City.

ductions, visit theaterforthenewcity. net. Inspired by the success of last year’s “Black Herstory Night,” iconic experimental theater and artistic incubator Dixon Place is teaming up with the International Human Rights Art Festival for “Black Queer Night” — a celebration of experiences meant to

“move hearts and remove obstacles.” Featured artists include Nia & Ness (the dance/poetry tales of two women in a committed relationship). Oxana Chi and Layla Zami’s “Feeling Jazz” is a “dance-music-dialogue between a body and a saxophone.” Additionally, there will be excerpts from Layla Zami’s spoken word piece “Homesong,” Oxana

Chi’s “Through Gardens” (a blurring of her own biography with that of Tatjana Barbakoff, a famous dancer, muse and political resistant from 1920s/30s Europe), and “(re)SOURCE,” Maria Bauman’s solo dance exploration of lineage and resilience performed to a Haitian electronica-percussion soundscape created live by Val-In. It all takes place Wed., Feb. 21, starting at 7:30pm. Also at Dixon Place: Mon., Feb. 19, 7:30pm in the front lounge (free admission!), it’s this month’s installment of “The Mosquito” — a regular series hosted and curated by the very funny, always acerbic but rarely acidic Nancy Giles, who’s always the best thing about “CBS Sunday Morning” on the all-toorare times she appears as a commentator (and has been known to sling more than one cutting zinger as a news channel pundit). Among the rotating cast of storytellers, stand-up comedians and musicians, frequent guests include Pat Candaras, Cynthia Kaplan, Peri Gaffney, Kathryn Rossetter, Sheila Head, Susan Burns, Sue Giles, and Nancy Shayne. Dixon Place is located at 161 Chrystie St. (btw. Rivington & Delancey Sts.). For info, visit dixonplace.org. Februar y 15, 2018

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L TRAIN continued from p. 8

ing into a development site where a state armory was formerly located; that location instead is now home to the McBurney YMCA, at W. 14th St. and Sixth Ave. Schwartz had argued, among other things, that the Costco’s impact on car and truck traffic would be too great. In addition, Schwartz said he successfully sued twice to block large projects from occurring at Pier 40, at W. Houston St. The activist attorney explained that, under law, environmental impacts from “large-scale projects” must go through the proper reviews. These impacts include such things as those affecting “kids at school, ambulance and fire truck access to our houses,” he said. “There are supposed to be impact studies,” he stressed, “not cherry-picking from a few tables [of facts].” He noted that also factors that must be considered in cases like these are if the project is near a park — such as Union Square Park, for example — or a historic district, such as the Greenwich Village Historic District, which extends to within half a block south of W. 14th St. “That is a long, drawn-out process,” Schwartz said of SEQR and CEQR. “They could have started that a year ago, but they didn’t.” Schwartz added that he is currently using this legal tactic to fight the closure of the historic Mount Sinai Beth Israel Hospital, at E. 16th St. and First Ave. “We have four months to go to court about it after they release their plan,” Schwartz told the meeting, regarding the L shutdown mitigation plan. “I’m going to send them a letter saying, ‘If you don’t start the environmental review now, we’re going to court to get an injunction,’ ” he announced, sparking applause in the room. In general, the meeting was a litany of concerns and fears about what may be in store for the two historic Downtown enclaves. A couple from 17th St. complained that after they met, hopefully, with MTA representatives a year ago, the authority was now suddenly presenting the plan as a “fait accompli.” “Seventh Street is the first street north [of 14th St.] to go all the way through,” the woman said. “We have buses up the kazoo. Like everybody else, we can’t take the extra traffic.” They noted that the city — apparently independent of the L shutdown plan — also wants to close Broadway at 17th St., to pedestrianize Union Square West, and make all traffic turn west onto the side street. “Don’t do this now,” they pleaded. Bill Borock, head of the Council of Chelsea Block Associations, said residents should volunteer to count cars on their own before and after the MTA implements its plan, to verify the numbers. “We’re going to be inhaling poison,” Tomei warned, regarding the prospect of increased traffic on 13th St. “It’s going to be a disaster for our trees… noise pollution, air pollution.” Scott Moran, principal of City and Country School, at 146 W. 13th St., said the protected bike lane would go right through the K-through-12 school’s drop-off area. He said DOT officials told him the bike lane would be installed not in April 2019, but earlier, in the

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Photo by Lincoln Anderson

Buttons bashing the city’s plan for a protected, two-way crosstown bicycle lane on 13th St. were free for the taking at a meeting of Village and Chelsea block associations opposed to the city’s plan for the upcoming L train shutdown plan. The bike lane is a part of the plan, but would apparently be permanent. Also being distributed were fliers for a March 1 public hearing, titled “Finding Solutions to Our Transportation Crisis,” sponsored by state Senators Brad Hoylman and Liz Krueger, to be held at the CUNY Graduate Center, at 34th St. and Fifth Ave. The event will feature a panel of transportation experts, including Polly Trottenberg, commissioner of the city’s Department of Transportation, and Alex Matthiessen, of Move NY.

late summer of this year. Sierra Vemeyer, representing Craig Lamb, a managing director for several residential buildings in the area, said Lamb supports a one-way bike lane on 13th St., but not a two-way one. Vemeyer later told The Villager that Lamb asked Trottenbeg at the recent open house about the plan at the 14th St. Y if the bike lane would be permanent, and that the DOT commissioner responded, “I hope so.” Vemeyer and others also voiced concern about what a “protected” bike lane would mean for 13th St. Would it block emergency-vehicle access to buildings on that side of the street, for example, they wondered? The DOT has not been forthcoming about exactly what this barrier might look like. Making 14th St. buses-only to accommodate rushhour commuters would be a big inconvenience for residents of the street, some noted. “There are many people in our building that need vehicle access, who are handicapped,” said Benita Berkowitz, from E. 14th St. Her husband, Jimmy Heller, the building’s treasurer, said the number of local residents in the surrounding blocks from river to river that the plan would impact exceeds the number of commuters that the MTA is claiming must be accommodated during the L shutdown. “We represent a hell of a lot more than 50,000 people,” he said. “Somehow they are using that number to justify what they want to do to us.” “It is a common thread — skepticism of the MTA’s figures,” echoed David Marcus, a board member at the Cambridge co-op, at 175 W. 13th St., who led the meeting. A spokesperson for state Senator Brad Hoylman agreed that, “The data study is the missing piece right now.” Another woman put it, “We know they’re going to be hurt twice a day,” referring to commuters. “We’re going to be hurt 24/7.”

Indeed, the exact times when the MTA would want to make 14th St. bus-only are not yet fully clear, the residents said. Bottcher assured the community meeting, “We need a plan that is the best plan — not only for the L train but for the people that live in the community. Corey lives on West 15th Street,” he noted. Bottcher added that part of the plan is for ferries to link Brooklyn to Stuyvesant Town, where there would be a “bus depot” to take people crosstown. However, Marcus interjected, “But not everyone is going east / west at that point. Some are going north/ south.” One Chelsea resident said a dedicated bus lane for Select Bus Service on 23rd St. “has been a disaster. Traffic is backing up on the street. That itself needs a constant review,” she said, warning the same thing could happen if buses are prioritized on 14th St. “The real answer to congestion is going to be reducing the number of cars in Manhattan,” Bottcher told the meeting. “Corey supports reducing the number of cars coming over bridges and through tunnels to Manhattan.” Wayne Kwadler, representing Lenox Health Greenwich Village, confirmed that the comprehensive-care center was concerned about the bike lane blocking access to its new ambulatory surgery center on the fourth floor of W. 13th off of Seventh Ave. One young cyclist said she “would be so happy” if there were a crosstown bike lane added on 13th St. But another cyclist said there are already plenty of one-way crosstown bike lanes, such as on Ninth St. going west and 10th St. going east. There is also a bike lane on Eighth St. The ad-hoc group of affected Village and Chelsea block associations plans to meet again this week. “There’s strength in numbers,” said Janet Charleston, from the W. 15th St. 100 Block Association, as their inaugural gathering ended. “This is just our first meeting. This is just the beginning.” NYC Community Media


POLICE BLOTTER LOST PROPERTY: Loss of identity A woman discovered that her New York State driver’s license was missing on Thurs., Feb. 1 at 5:40 p.m. The 80-year-old woman told police that she last saw her license on the corner of Eighth Ave. & W. 25th St. She was not bumped or jostled and does not think she is the victim of a crime.

PETIT LARCENY: Desperately seeking sheets A woman ordered bedding from the online boutique Rue LaLa, but she never received the package. The package was delivered on Thurs., Feb. 1 at 7 a.m. to a building in the Penn South co-op. The 55-year-old woman told police that the bedding is valued at $300.

PETIT LARCENY: Lobby laundry quandary A woman had her laundry stolen on Wed., Jan. 31 at 12 noon. The 23-year-old arranged for the laundry to be delivered to her apartment on the 300 block of W. 21st St. It was left in the lobby, but she never received it. Her landlord said that a male was seen on camera taking the laundry. The total value of clothes taken is $865.

CRIMINAL MISCHIEF: Breaker behind bars A man was seen in front of 515 W. 20th St. (btw. 10th & 11th Aves.) breaking a glass door. The incident happened on Thurs., Feb. 8 at 4:55 a.m. Police say the act was caught on surveillance camera and the 31-year-old male was arrested. Damage to the door is valued at $250.

LOST PROPERTY: 24 lost on 10th and 25th A woman carrying numerous bags lost her wallet on the corner of 10th Ave. & W. 25th St. The incident occurred on Sat., Feb. 10 at 1 p.m. The 49-year-old woman does not believe that she is the victim of a crime, but that her wallet simply fell out. She had $24 dollars in the wallet. —Tabia C. Robinson

THE 10th PRECINCT Located at 230 W. 20th St. (btw. Seventh & Eighth Aves.). Commander: Capt. Paul Lanot. Main number: 212741-8211. Community Affairs: 212-7418226. Crime Prevention: 212-741-8226. Domestic Violence: 212-741-8216. Youth Officer: 212-741-8211. Auxiliary Coordinator: 212-924-3377. Detective Squad: 212-741-8245. The Community Council meets on the last Wed. of the month, 7 p.m., at the 10th Precinct or other locations to be announced. MIDTOWN SOUTH PRECINCT Located at 357 W. 35th St. (btw. Eighth & Ninth Aves.). Inspector Russel J. Green, Commanding Officer. Call 212239-9811. Community Affairs: 212-2399846. Crime Prevention: 212-239-9846. Domestic Violence: 212-239-9863. Youth Officer: 212-239-9817. Auxiliary Coordinator: 212-239-9836. Detective Squad: 212-239-9856. The Community Council meets on the third Thurs. of the month, 7 p.m., at the New Yorker Hotel (481 Eighth Ave., btw. W. 34th & 35th Sts.). Visit midtownsouthcc.org. THE 13th PRECINCT Located at 230 E. 21st St. (btw. Second & Third Aves.). Deputy Inspector: Brendan Timoney. Call 212477-7411. Community Affairs: 212-4777427. Crime Prevention: 212-477-7427. Domestic Violence: 212-477-3863. Youth Officer: 212-477-7411. Auxiliary Coordinator: 212-477-4380. Detective Squad: 212-477-7444. The Community Council meets on the third Tues. of the month, 6:30 p.m., at the 13th Precinct. CASH FOR GUNS $100 cash will be given (no questions asked) for each handgun, assault weapon or sawed-off shotgun, up to a maximum payment of $300. Guns are accepted at any Police Precinct, PSA or Transit District.

PUBLISHER Jennifer Goodstein

THE WEST SIDE’S COMMUNITY NEWSPAPER PUBLISHED BY

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EDITOR Scott Stiffler ART DIRECTOR John Napoli

CONTRIBUTORS Lincoln Anderson Stephanie Buhmann Dusica Sue Malesevic Winnie McCroy Colin Mixson Puma Perl Rania Richardson Tabia C. Robinson Paul Schindler Eileen Stukane

Photo by Scott Stiffler

The entrance to work, via the basement of 345 W. 19th St. CONSTRUCTION continued from p. 7

among those who expressed concerns at Feb. 7’s full board meeting of Community Board 4 (CB4) — including possible unpermitted or illegal work in general and proper protection for Saint Peter’s Chelsea, located behind Willardt’s properties, at 346 W. 20th St. The 19th century church, for which Harding serves as interim pastor, is known for its 100-foot-tall clock and bell tower and its close association with the Clement Clarke Moore poem commonly known as “The Night Before Christmas.” It is currently undergoing its own restoration and was recently profiled in this publication as one of two Chelsea recipients of money from the New York Landmark Conservancy’s Sacred Sites grant program. On Oct. 10, 2017, the office of Councilmember Corey Johnson (who has since become City Council Speaker) held an on-site meeting with representatives from the DOB, the NYC Department of Transportation, and residents to review concerns about the properties, the steps taken and action to address them. Matt Green, who serves as Johnson’s Deputy Chief of Staff, District Director, told Chelsea Now that the DOB has assigned both properties to their high level “Executive Inspections Unit” that works closely with city’s fire, police, preservation, and investigation departments and will clear all future filings. They are reviewing plans and documents submitted by the engineer to ensure that work conforms to plan. “Our office will continue to work closely with neighbors and all relevant City agencies to ensure that any work at these properties complies with building code,” Green said in an email. J. Lee Compton, who co-chairs the Chelsea Land Use (CLU) committee of CB4, announced at the Feb. 7 full board meeting that 345 and 347 W. 19th St. would be on the agenda of the next CLU meeting. Owner Kenneth Willardt has been invited and representatives of St. Peter’s, the 300 West 18th/19th Street Block Association, and the CCBA are expected to attend. The Feb. 20 meeting is open to the public (info at nyc.gov/html/mancb4).

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LAZARIN continued from p. 3

‘It’s time to shit or get off the pot,’ and sent off the application with two recommendations,” said Lazarin. He was appointed to CB4 in 2005, and later joined its Business Diversity Task Force (BDTF). Even before he joined, they had sought to maintain diversity when granting liquor licenses. One of the first things he recalls them doing was conducting a “windshield survey” — walking block by block to tally up the number of bars and restaurants in the area. “We wanted to get some idea of what people meant when they said the area was saturated,” said Lazarin. “Your saturation might be my fun or my opportunity.” The Task Force came up with their own definition, to remain aware of current businesses as people applied for new liquor licenses, and to allow the community to weigh in at public hearings. Prior to joining the BDTF, Lazarin had already been serving as co-chair of the Business Licenses & Permits (BLP) committee (see nyc.gov/html/mancb4 for more info). “We advise, and provide opportunity for people in the community to voice objections to specific aspects of a licensee or their method of operations,” Lazarin said. “Over the years, we have developed a format of ‘deny unless’ the business meets all of our stipulations. If Albany accepts those stipulations, they become legally part of the licensees’ method of operations. Then, if they are not following those stipulations — often things like no amplified music or an earlier closing time — then they’re liable.” During his time as co-chair of the BLP committee, there have been several businesses the community has voiced opposition to. Lazarin recalls a fight over the gay sports bar Boxers attempting to move into a stand-alone building on 10th Ave., near a school. “The whole thing was about the 200-foot rule, which means no bars within 200 feet of a school building’s entrance,” Lazarin noted. “The school was set far back, but people were measuring from door to door, questioning if the emergency exit counted. It became like ‘how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.’ The full board in October 2011 voted to deny Boxer’s application because of ‘proximity’ to the school, which was the real issue (not the exact footage), though we did list stips to be incorporated in a license just in case State Liquor Authority approved it. Boxers litigated the 200’ rule and subsequently lost and gave up the site.” They eventually moved NYC Community Media

Photo by Winnie McCroy

Bringing a low-key style of leadership to the table, Burt Lazarin says he won’t micromanage — but will defer to other board members whose experience eclipses his own.

near Ninth Ave, also in Hell’s Kitchen. A year ago, Lazarin recalled, Boxer’s withdrew an application for another location, Ninth Ave. in Chelsea, “where during a site visit I and another BLP member described to them problems they would have in getting community approval.” More recently, the BLP committee has come up against issues like the drunken brunch crowds at Il Bastardo (whose Seventh Ave. and W. 21st St. location has since closed), and a proposed twolevel, 20,000-square-foot Starbucks Reserve Roastery, which Lazarin said disregarded CB4’s list of stipulations, choosing instead to go directly to the State Liquor Authority. To him, it’s a balancing act. “We want to make sure [new businesses] are compatible with existing businesses,” said Lazarin. “We are trying to find balance between both the residents and the people who come in for ‘regional recreation.’ You have to balance it out, so people who live there are not crazed and abused by the people who come to recreate.”

LOOKING OUT FOR LOCAL CONCERNS As Chair of CB4, it will be Lazarin’s

duty to make sure things remain balanced and fair for Chelsea residents. He was nonplussed by the recent announcement that Google would purchase the Chelsea Market building, saying that were he a businessman, he too would favor purchasing the property, as the rezoning battle was waged four years ago. He added that he “would hope they honor Jamestown’s promised community commitments,” and would assume that Google would keep the retail portion intact, saying, “it would be a pretty stupid public relations move to eliminate the Chelsea Market.” Lazarin looks forward to working well with new City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, who also served as Chair of CB4, from 2011–2013. During that time, Lazarin was Second Vice Chair under Johnson, with Christine Berthet as First Vice Chair. “This is [Johnson’s] district, where his feet are and where he lives, where his New York roots are,” said Lazarin. “We have our priorities, most of which are probably aligned with his, so I don’t see any problems. Not that he isn’t going to be Speaker for the whole City Council — but he may have a softer spot for Chelsea.” He is encouraged by Johnson’s promised changes to the Uniform Land Use

Review Procedure (ULURP), hoping that there are ways to peel some of the layers off. He also applauded that City Planning will now manage ULURP electronically, which may speed up that process. Lazarin is also in favor of extending the Special West Chelsea District when necessary to protect historic buildings. He will spearhead efforts to landmark or otherwise acknowledge these buildings, like the Federal Houses and the brownstone in the West 20s where GMHC was founded. As Hudson Yards continues to grow, Lazarin will make sure that CB4 gets its promised seat on the board of The Culture Shed, the large performance space in the middle of this new neighborhood, saying, “We were supposed to get a seat on the board, which we have not gotten yet. And they specifically wrote into the agreement that they would limit the amount of private events held there, and add some public space to offset that.” In his eyes, Hudson Yards has already transformed Manhattan, just because of the extension of the 7 Subway line. Eventually, he would like to see that line extended south down 11th Ave. “The tunnel already goes down to 25th Street, so it’s just a matter of extending it down and bumping it up next to 14th Street and Eighth Ave., and having a cross-platform exchange,” Lazarin said. “It’s time to start thinking and planning for that, as we have that new community integrate with existing neighborhoods.” Lazarin is also a fan of proposed crosstown bike paths on 26th and 29th Sts., and he’s not saying “no” to the controversial congestion pricing, either. “Bike paths are very controversial, because it takes space from one and gives it to another. It changes patterns, and people often don’t like changes,” he noted. “We need to make arrangements to make deliveries, because that is important, but ultimately this makes it safer for both bike riders and for pedestrians.” And when it comes to proposed congestion pricing, Lazarin said he’s seen it work in cities like London, Stockholm and Singapore, so why not New York? “There are costs of driving a car into Manhattan — not only individual costs but costs to the community,” Lazarin said. “We often quote that CB4 has one of the highest asthma rates in the city, because of the traffic, the tunnels, the backups, and the tour buses. So, it’s something that could be useful, something that could benefit our district.” Februar y 15, 2018

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