The Paper of Record forr Greenwich Village, Vii ll l l ag g e, East Village, Lower East E Side, Soho, Union Square, Ch Chinatown h iin na att o ow w n and Noho, Since 1933
May 24, 2018 • $1.00 Volume 88 • Number 21
Pols decry ‘L’-ack of handicap access in subway shutdown BY LESLEY SUSSMAN
oliticians, L train riders, community group leaders and transit advocates converged in the rain at 14th St. and Third Ave. last Thursday morning to demand that the M.T.A. make the L train stations at there and at Sixth Ave. fully accessible to people with disabili-
ties, handicapped senior citizens and parents with infants ahead of a planned shutdown of the line next year for extensive renovations. These stations and others along the L line from Bedford Ave. in Brooklyn to Eighth Ave. in Manhattan are scheduled to ACCESS continued on p. 33
Tree-mendous win in Dist. 3 ‘P.B.’ vote PHOTO BY MILO HESS
BY SAM BLEIBERG
he winners of Council District 3’s Participatory Budgeting vote were unveiled Sunday at Council Speaker Corey Johnson’s “West Side Summit” on the High Line. Johnson announced that, based on residents’ voting, the grand winner, to get full funding off $242,000, was a
proposal to install 200 tree guards on tree pits throughout the district. Phyllis Waisman, who helped submit the winning proposal, said of the guards, “They planted so many new trees. They’ll protect the new trees from dogs, elements.” Other winners included $250,000 for electronic bus stop signs with arrival times, BUDGETING con continued on p. 43
The spirit of Gene Kelly must have been gracefully softshoeing over Saturday’s Dance Parade amid the rain. Hundreds upon hundreds of per formers hoofed it down Broadway to Tompkins Square Park where things ended with a dance festival.
Croman even worse behind bars: Tenants BY SYDNEY PEREIR A
teve Croman, one of the city’s most notorious bad landlords, may be locked up Downtown in the Tombs, but his tenants are still suffering. Tenants at 141 Ridge St., for example, have been living without cooking gas since last September. “We ask, when will there be a stop to Croman’s behavior?” Silvana Jakich, a representative of the 141 Ridge St. Tenants As-
Hudson R. Park @ 20......pp. 13-32
sociation, said at a rally for Croman tenants last Thursday. Jakich has lived in the Lower East Side building since 2003. Since Croman bought it in 2012, she and other tenants have dealt with apartment woes from no heat and hot water to no cooking gas. Last October, Croman was sentenced to a year in jail for fraudulently refinancing loans and tax fraud. But, as he has been for years, he is also accused of harassing rent-regulated tenants
out of their apartments through dangerous construction and gut renovations, among other practices. When rent-regulated tenants move out, the units can often be filled with market-rate tenants paying much higher rents. That type of construction and apartment gutting — often illegal — is what has left 141 Ridge St. tenants without gas for nearly nine months now. “We have been working diligently to restore cooking gas at CROMAN continued on p. 6
Patel set to go 1-on-1 vs. Maloney now .............p. 2 Pols on Progress, ‘Tech Hub,’ S.B.J.S.A......pp. 8-12 www.TheVillager.com
seph Betesh, as well as de Blasioâ€™s role in pushing for pro-developer housing and zoning across the city.â€?
Clay ton Patterson.
AND THEN THERE WERE TWO: The Democratic primary for the 12th Congressional District on June 26 is now down to a pair of candidates, the longtime incumbent, Carolyn Maloney, and the upstart challenger, Suraj Patel. Patel has now knocked off two other candidates, Peter Lindner and Sander Hicks, a diehard 9/11 Truther, by challenging the petition signatures they collected to get on the ballot. â€œWe fought hard in the courts for three days, but we came up about 100 signatures short,â€? Hicks told us. â€œWe will get back on the ballot in November as an independent progressive candidate. Yes, the challenge came from Patel and his minions. The New York â€˜closed Democratic Primaryâ€™ is closed-minded,â€? he said. â€œWe prefer to run against Maloney in a race in which we can win over progressive free-thinking Democratic, independent, Green and Libertarian voters. Even G.O.P. voters in New York City will be attracted to my maverick, award-winning accomplishments as a small
businessman.â€? He blasted both Maloney and Patel as â€œtepid corporate Wall St. types. ... We predict Maloney will win the primary, and we plan to run a fierce antiwar, â€˜peace through economic developmentâ€™ campaign all the way until November, where we will win,â€? Hicks declared. As for what party line he hopes to run under â€” an established third party of one of his own creation â€” in the general election, Hicks said, â€œWe are exploring the options.â€?
CANâ€™T STOMACH IT: The displaced tenants of 85 Bowery are set to resume their hunger strike on Wed., May 30, after they failed to receive a guarantee that they can return home. This time, according to a press release, the hunger strike will be in front of City Hall, at Broadway and Murray St., â€œto denounce Mayor Bill de Blasioâ€™s collusion with landlords like Jo-
ACKERS HANDOFF: Lower East Side documentarian Clayton Patterson is getting ready to pass the torch â€” at least on the Acker Awards, the annual recognition of underground avant-garde artists and activists. â€œI am looking at turning the Ackers over to a committee,â€? Patterson wrote in an e-mail blast. â€œI feel the concept is now in a place to be understood and can be carried on.â€? The â€œbasicsâ€? of the awards, he said, is that it be â€œrelated to the avant garde â€” in short, creators who have been on the grind for more than a couple of decades, have made a major contribution to our culture but have been mostly overlooked by the mainstream. ... Coolness and likability are not factors,â€? in who should be honored, he noted. Also the awards are to recognize â€œa wide and diverse acceptance of types of creativity and ways of expressing oneâ€™s creativity. And including individuals who are not creators but support the culture in some way â€” like running venues, publishing, printing, gardens and so on â€” a snapshot of the old LES community.â€? The Ackersâ€™ signature elements must also continue, he stressed. â€œThe box, the poster, the bio-booklet are a must,â€? he said. â€œEach served a different purpose. Combined, they give a deeper understanding of the contribution the recipient has made. The award, going on six years, is growing, getting stronger, is stable, respected, loved. The boxes are getting into various collections, which will help to preserve the knowledge.â€? Each year, each recipient places some personal artwork or memento into the boxes, with each recipient getting a box.â€? Patterson added that heâ€™s â€œworking on going globalâ€? with the awards. Getting â€œdeep,â€? he said, at this point in his life, he feels he should maybe turn this annual affair over to a committee: â€œAnywayâ€Śthe deep end of my pool is pulling me toward the drain, so it may be time to pass this on. The award is stable.â€?
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Oh, boy... According to police, a man robbed his girlfriend on Tues., May 15, at 6:56 p.m.. The victim told cops her boyfriend grabbed her arms and held her against a wall, and that, during the struggle, she could not breathe for three seconds. Her boyfriend took her wallet, cell phone and laptop and fled. The itemsâ€™ total value was $2,700. John Doe, was arrested for felony robbery.
Caught in act
A man tried to burglarize an apartment at 110 MacDougal St. on Tues., March 20, at 6:15 a.m., police said. A witness reported seeing the suspect with a crowbar standing in front of a locked apartment door, and he had no idea how the suspect was able to get into the building. Fitzgerald Welch, 53, was arrested for felony attempted burglary.
Clarkson mugging An 18-year-old was jumped at 16 Clarkson St. by a group of nine or 10 boys, police said. During the fight, the boy got a cut on his forehead and his phone was stolen. The fight was broken up by school officials from across the street. His iPhone 7 plus was worth $900. Jayquan Strawden, 19, was arrested for felony robbery.
The alleged pickpocketing pair used the victimâ€™s credit card to buy fanc y shades at an eyewear boutique on Spring St.
86 University Place, mailed a blank check to a beverage company, but someone else added additional writing to the check and cashed it. The incident occurred Wed., Nov. 15, 2017, at 3 p.m. The check was written for $2,340. Charles Cherry, 25, was arrested on May 17 for felony grand larceny.
F train grope
A woman, 41, told police that on Sat., May 5, around 9:10 p.m., a man touched her buttocks while onboard a moving Queensbound F train near the W. Fourth St. subway station. The suspect is describe as black, about age 40, 5 feet 8 inches tall and bald. The victim snapped a cell-phone photo of the alleged groper. Anyone with information about the shooting incident is asked Police said a manager of El Cantinero Mexican restaurant, at to call the Police Departmentâ€™s Crime Stoppers Hotline, at 800-577-TIPS, or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782). Tips can also be submitted by logging onto Dfe[Xp#Ale\+k_ the Crime Stoppers Web site, www.nypdcrimestoppers.com, or by texting them =ifd-gdkf/gd to 274637 (CRIMES) and then entering GliZ_Xj\f]X),^cXjjn`cc^\kpfl`e TIP577. All tips are confidential.
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The Villager (USPS 578930) ISSN 0042-6202 Copyright ÂŠ 2018 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 - ÂŠ 2018 NYC Community Media LLC. PUBLISHERâ€™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 publisherâ€™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 â€˘ Fax: (212) 229-2790 On-line: www.thevillager.com E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org ÂŠ 2018 NYC Community Media, LLC
May 24, 2018
A 23-year-old woman told police that on Sun., April 22, at 1:40 p.m., she was walking up the stairs out of the Prince St. subway station, when she felt someone behind her. She turned around and realized that the latch to her purse was open, and her wallet containing her credit cards was gone. About 20 minutes later, her credit card was used by two unknown women inside Cleo Nicci Eyewear, 65 Spring St., to make $800 worth of unauthorized purchases. The suspects are both described as female, Hispanic, around age 20, with black hair, light complexions and slim builds. Surveillance photos and video of the suspects was obtained from 65 Spring St. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Police Departmentâ€™s Crime Stoppers Hotline. (See item above.)
Tabia C. Robinson and Lincoln Anderson
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.
May 24, 2018
Croman is even worse behind bars: Tenants CROMAN continued from p. 1
141 Ridge St.,” said a spokesperson for Croman’s 9300 Realty. “The gas service cannot legally be restored without approval from both city officials and the utility companies. Due to circumstances out of our control, we have not yet been granted the necessary permits and approvals following our requests. We have already taken steps to address this issue and will continue to request the permits and approvals that are legally required in order to restore gas service.” The company said it is waiting for approval from the city’s Department of Buildings and Con Edison. D.O.B., however, said no permit application applicable to restoring gas has been filed for 141 Ridge St., according to department records. Croman’s company could apply for two different kinds of permits through a licensed plumber to restore the gas — a limited alteration application or an emergency work notice. The latter could have helped to restore gas in the building sooner, a department spokesperson said. Neither type of permit application was filed, though. Croman’s 9300 Realty did not respond to further questions about whether the owners have hired a licensed plumber to file an application with D.O.B. But ever since Croman has been locked up at the Manhattan Detention Complex,
PHOTO BY SYDNEY PEREIRA
Croman tenants at 141 Ridge St., who have been without cooking gas since last fall, hung a banner last week to express their outrage.
tenants say he has only become more aggressive. The 141 Ridge St. tenants sued to move repairs along more quickly, and went on a rent strike. Croman responded by taking them to court for nonpayment. “Croman has been a name that I have known right away,” Councilmember Carlina Rivera said at the rally. “It is synony-
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May 24, 2018
mous with harassment, illegal activity and exploitation.” Residents around the corner at 159 Stanton St. rallied with the Ridge St. tenants on May 17 in solidarity, alongside members of the Cooper Square Committee and other housing advocacy groups. The Stanton St. tenants also preemptively demanded that future construction at their building be conducted in legally and conscientiously. Previous construction caused extensive problems at 159 Stanton, according to tenants. After Croman bought the building in 2013, unsafe construction and demolition began almost immediately, they said. “We just want to be treated with normal human dignity,” said Kit Brauer, who has lived on the fifth floor at 159 Stanton St. for about eight years. “I don’t want to live in a construction zone.” Brauer said the construction was so dangerous the Red Cross had to help a man on the second floor out of his apartment. There have been break-ins due to a broken front door, shoddy upkeep of the building, a lack of fireproofing, closed fire exists, and construction that caused ceilings and lights to collapse, the Stanton tenants said. During months of construction, the door to the roof was left open, which caused rainwater to flood the fifth floor, Brauer said. “It would rage like the Mississippi,” he said. Stanton tenants settled in the courts with Croman, but they expect construction to begin again. Currently, 10 units in the building are filled — all rent-regulated. Nine more units are still empty. “We worry that tenants will face worse conditions after [Croman’s] release and urge the attorney general’s office to enforce the Croman agreement as strictly as possible,” the 159 Stanton St. Tenants Association said in a statement. Former state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman issued a consent decree last December that requires Croman to pay $8 million back to tenants, have an independent management company manage his properties for five years, and submit to seven years of oversight to ensure that the decree is followed. But despite the A.G.’s consent decree, Jakich of 141 Ridge St. said management has only become more aggressive while there has been no rent abatement to date. “All we’re asking is that our gas be restored and a decent and fair [rent] abatement be issued for the time that we’ve gone without being able to cook adequately in our homes,” she said at the rally. Croman, though, is hardly alone in being accused of pushing out rent-regulated tenants. Other landlords in the Downtown area — notably Ben Shaoul and Jared Kushner — have been condemned for similarly making conditions so unbearable that rent-regulated tenants move out, so that they can jack up the rent once a unit goes empty. Shaoul, who bought 17 East Village
buildings in 2007, admitted that increasing the rents in his buildings was the goal. “The idea was to increase rents,” Shaoul said in an interview with The New York Times published last week. “That was the business plan. That was the intent. It’s America.” The Times published a series of articles detailing citywide deregulation last weekend showing that more than 152,000 rent-regulated apartments have been deregulated since 1993 — the year the state Assembly loosened rent laws. More than 70 percent of those units were in Manhattan. “It’s a shame what’s going on in your building in our neighborhood,” newly elected Assemblymember Harvey Epstein told the rally. “And we all have responsibilities to change this.” The Assembly passed a package of laws this week aimed at strengthening rent regulation. “Hopefully, they’ll take them up in the state Senate soon,” Epstein said. Last year, the City Council passed a dozen laws with the input and assistance from Stand for Tenant Safety advocates. One of those laws, sponsored by Councilmember Margaret Chin, will increase oversight and inspections by D.O.B. “Now we got the muscle,” Chin said at last week’s rally, referencing the new set of laws. “And the good news is that the city has put in money to hire more inspectors.” D.O.B. is hiring more than 70 new inspectors for increased oversight. The law gives the department the authority to audit and inspect one in every four buildings in which at least a quarter of the units are rent-regulated, since those tenants are more often subject to harassment. The aim of the increased inspections is to ferret out landlords who lie on their applications — for which Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and the country’s Middle East adviser, and his company Kushner Companies were outed in March. (The Kushner Companies told The Villager last month that the errors on more than 80 of its construction-permit applications were “unintentional and corrected as soon as found.) But new laws protecting tenants and beefing up rent regulation aren’t enough, Epstein said. “It’s not just strengthening the rent laws,” he said after the rally. “It’s how we have a housing crisis in New York, and we have a system that allows the market to drive a conversation, when we don’t have opportunities for a market-based solution.” More than 20,000 New Yorkers are evicted each year, 43 percent of them from rent-regulated homes, Epstein said. “The reason they are coming out of those apartments and getting evicted is because the rent is too damn high,” said Epstein, who was inaugurated in the Assembly last Sunday. “They can’t afford it.” TheVillager.com
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PROGRESS REPORT Pages 8 to 12
Working to keep real estate and mayor in check PRESERVATION BY ANDREW BERMAN
he de Blasio administration, a booming real estate market, an aggressive and well-financed real estate lobby, and spiraling retail vacancies present huge challenges for preservation in our neighborhoods. But in spite of these enormous obstacles, we are making progress. The area between Union Square and Astor Place is facing an unprecedented wave of development pressure. This stems from a combination of a lack of landmark or zoning protections and an aggressively expanding tech industry that sees this area as a new and natural extension of the existing “Silicon Alley” to the north. Office and condo towers of 300 feet in height or greater are rising in the area, from University Place to Third Ave., as are hotels of more than 300 rooms. And the mayor is seeking to rezone a site on 14th St. east of Fourth Ave. for a “Tech
Hub” that will accelerate the area’s transformation as center of the East Coast tech world, unless protections for the residential neighborhood to the south which we have fought for are included. Newly elected Councilmember Carlina Rivera has pledged to fight for these protections and to condition the needed City Council approval of the Tech Hub upon these safeguards being provided, which is the only leverage we have to force the mayor’s hand on this matter. The outcome of that battle, which will decide the fate of this corner of Greenwich Village and the East Village, will be decided later this year, and will likely hinge upon efforts of the freshman councilmember. There has been some important progress to report already, however. A developer had planned to tear down the twin 1866 cast-iron buildings at 827-831 Broadway, between 12th and 13th Sts., and replace them with a 300-foot-tall tech office building. The Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation led the charge to get these buildings landmarked, highlighting their role at the center of the
late-20th-century art world, housing Willem and Elaine de Kooning, Jules Olitsky, Larry Poons and many other prominent artists and art world figures. After a-yearand-a-half-long campaign we led, the buildings were landmarked and saved from demolition late last year. On the Greenwich Village waterfront, we dodged a bullet when we won a restriction on the use of Hudson River Park “air rights” for development anywhere in Greenwich Village a little more than a year ago. Three years earlier, in the last days of its session, the state Legislature passed a measure allowing 1.5 million or more square feet of development rights from the park to be moved inland, which could have potentially completely overwhelmed this and other West Side neighborhoods. Due to this restriction we fought for and won, that danger no longer exists. The Small Business Jobs Survival Act, intended to help save small businesses, has been reintroduced in the City Council with a commitment from new Speaker Corey Johnson to give the bill a hearing and vote. G.V.S.H.P. has been supporting a campaign in favor of the bill, which would make it harder for landlords to refuse to even negotiate with commercial tenants for lease renewals. The current state of affairs often leads to storefront spaces being left vacant for months or years at a time, while landlords seek enormously inflated rents, often from chain stores.
May 24, 2018
And we recently helped stop an attempt by Mayor de Blasio and real estate interests to lift a nearly 60-year-old limit on the size of residential buildings in New York City, which literally would have made the sky the limit for new such developments. The current limit allows buildings like the 1,550-foot-tall tower rising on W. 57th St., which will eclipse even the World Trade Center (minus its spire) in height. But that’s not enough for our mayor and big real estate — they want no limits whatsoever. This would allow them to upzone not just Midtown and the Financial District, but residential neighborhoods like the Upper East and West Sides, and parts of Brooklyn, Queens and even potentially the Village. Proponents of the measure attempted to sneak it into the recently passed state budget, but failed in the Assembly. But this attempt to “lift the cap” has now returned, so while we won the first battle, the war continues. As always, the forces aligned against preservation have vastly more resources and access to power than we do. But the passion and tenacity of those seeking to protect what they love about their neighborhoods has prevailed before. And in spite of the odds, I firmly believe we will again. Berman is executive director, Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation TheVillager.com
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Fighting to save and promote small businesses CITY COUNCIL BY CARLINA RIVER A
ast year was a tough one for the local businesses that help defi ne our district. With ever-rising rents, it’s just as common to walk down a street on the East Side and see a big-box or vacant storefront as it is to see a small business. We did see some victories for small businesses, though. The City Council successfully adjusted the costly commercial rent tax, lifting a significant financial burden for an estimated 2,700 businesses south of 96th St. But there is still so much more that we can do. That’s why protecting and revitalizing our small business community is one of my top priorities for my first year in office. I’m proudly supporting the Small Business Jobs Survival Act and will work with my colleagues to pass this important legislation. This bill will provide shop owners with strengthened positions from which to negotiate lease renewals, and limit landlords from passing on property taxes and other financial burdens to already hard-pressed commercial tenants.
PHOTO BY LINCOLN ANDERSON
With the shift to e-commerce, many of our businesses are struggling to compete as New Yorkers go online to shop. Since mom-and-pop storefronts are what help make New York City so unique, we must do what we can to preserve this vital part of our streetscape and economy. In Council District 2, the challenge for small businesses is particularly acute. I am working with the city’s Department of Small Business Services and Depart-
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ment of Consumer Affairs for a better outreach plan to establish stronger relationships with access to entrepreneurial education for these operators. In going store to store, we can gather basic data to understand merchants’ backgrounds and expertise, where they live, whether their business plan can be improved, and if they possess the access to capital for upgrades and expansion. The resulting profile may not only give us in-depth understanding of who is taking the risk of maintaining and starting a business, but would also enable government to connect with stakeholders in unprecedented and direct ways. But we cannot stop there. With our neighborhoods still undergoing decadeslong real estate speculation, commercial rents continue to rise, pricing out homegrown businesses in favor of chain operators and big-box retailers. This means we have to explore land-use routes to small business preservation. In the East Village, I would look to continue discussions about the proposed special commercial district that mandates maximum square footage for storefronts with the goal of attracting smaller-format operators to this historically important commercial area. Additionally, we should ensure small business owners have access to knowledge that will help them compete and thrive. We want owners and their employees to be able to easily access both the technical assistance and financial information that is available to them but is unfortunately difficult to find within the city’s bureaucracy. Clearer guidelines and plain-language explanations of local regulations governing their type of business is essential, since many momand-pops are immigrant-owned and may need access to this information in multiple languages. Grassroots education efforts in this process are also essential. I am organizing
a small business breakfast with relevant agencies and inviting local businesses to hear directly from these representatives. The conversation can include how we can improve rules on sanitation and health inspections, workshops for entrepreneurs, and more. To stem the tide of vacant storefronts, I am exploring ways that we can encourage landlords to bring in local business instead of holding out for an expensive corporate client. Through legislation, incentives and working directly with property managers, we can hopefully find an economically beneficial way to keep our neighborhoods diverse, affordable and true to their historic roots. Over the past year, I logged more miles traveling across Council District 2 than I ever thought imaginable during my campaign for New York City Council. During that time, I connected with the many activists, innovators and independent thinkers whose passion has come to define much of what makes this area so special. Now into my fifth month in office, I am so excited to work for each and every one of you to keep our district strong and thriving. I have long been focused on small business survival, having previously served on Community Board 3’s Economic Development Committee and worked with business owners at Good Older Lower East Side (GOLES). While my Council staff and I are just getting started tackling myriad issues in our communities, I assure you that we will continue to make an independent spirit — and the mom-and-pop stores that help foster it — a signature part of District 2. Rivera is city councilmember, District 2 (East Village, Flatiron, Gramercy Park, Rose Hill, Kips Bay, Murray Hill and Lower East Side)
Low heights, parks, small shops all help us to thrive
ASSEMBLY BY DEBOR AH J. GLICK
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May 24, 2018
e continue to see dramatic changes to our neighborhood as development pressures rise. We often fear embracing the future means we will lose the essential nature of our past, but this does not have to be the case. The city has proposed the creation of a
“Tech Hub” on 14th St. between Fourth and Third Aves., which is currently under review by the City Planning Commission through a ULURP (Uniform Land Use Review Procedure). This is a great opportunity for people to be trained for jobs of the future, which are already here. But the Tech Hub itself, larger than the current P.C. Richard & Son building, will inevitably change our neighborhood’s character. We have long enjoyed the low-rise nature of our blocks, which GLICK continued on p. 12 TheVillager.com
An Urgent Message to the Community The Future Survival of our Small Businesses s the Jobs of their Employees s and the Character and Spirit of our Neighborhoods is in the hands of three lawmakers:
Speaker Corey Johnson
Councilwoman Margaret Chin
Councilwoman Carlina Rivera
This year, in a matter of months, the Small Business Jobs Survival Act will be given a public hearing and voted on by the full NY City Council. If passed into law, the Small Business Jobs Survival Act will give all commercial tenants the right to renew their leases for a minimum of 10 years, as well as equal rights to negotiate new lease terms with their landlords. The bill also provides an arbitration process if the parties can’t reach an agreement. Even as the small business crisis has grown worse with sky high rents forcing our long established small businesses to close and creating empty storefronts on every main street, the powerful real estate lobby used its undue inﬂuence at City Hall. For over the last 8 years this bill, a real solution, was bottled up in committee and denied a hearing and a vote. Now the bill has been reintroduced, the “Landlord’s Lobby” continues to sway lawmakers, many of whom they gave huge campaign contributions, to sell out their principles and community by changing and “water down” the bill to being useless in saving a single business or job. The only hope to pass the Small Business Jobs Survival Act unchanged and stop the rent gouging and closing of our mom and pop businesses, save jobs and the character of our neighborhoods, is for our lawmakers to stand by their campaign pledges and to promote progressive values and progressive legislation. Our lawmakers need to show integrity and fulﬁll the moral obligation our citizens deserve when facing a crisis to survive. It’s time for the community to call for a change at City Hall, for our lawmakers to restore democracy and serve the will of the people, not the biggest campaign donors. This crisis is growing out of control and our mom and pop owners need your help NOW to survive. Act now, let your voice be heard, call your council member today and tell them to pass the Small Business Jobs Survival Act “unchanged” and save our beloved neighborhood!
Jean-Louis Bourgeois Coalition of Distributors to Save Supermarkets, Grocery stores & Bodegas and Newsstands TheVillager.com
May 24, 2018
Low heights, parks, small shops help us thrive GLICK continued from p. 10
allows for light and air to penetrate to the sidewalks, and for a sense of community where you know your residential and commercial neighbors. I have fought alongside many great community organizations, such as the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation and the Cooper Square Committee, to keep this community fabric intact, and will continue to do so. I hope that we can advance the Tech Hub while also ensuring that it does not become a precedent for larger undesired construction in the neighborhood. I will continue to support a rezoning on Third and Fourth Aves., as well as University Place and Broadway, that implements reasonable height and bulk restrictions, so that we can move toward the future without losing the essential elements that have made our neighborhoods unique. The West Side is chronically park-starved, and as more development leads to an increase in the number of residents, the need for Hudson River Park to provide active and passive recreation space is further exacerbated. We must also look to balance the demands placed on Hudson River Park to ensure that it continues to thrive in the future. While I am pleased that we were able to get $50 million in the state budget for capital build-out in Hudson River Park, that cannot be the end of state support. Following last yearâ€™s efforts of the Community Board 2 Future of Pier 40 Working Group, I continue to have conversations with stakeholders about how best to en-
sure that our finite resources, such as Pier 40, are able to address the needs of the community as well as the financial needs of the park. The governor and mayor must recognize that the parkâ€™s long-term cost is a public responsibility and should not be shouldered solely by commercial developments within the park. I will continue to work on behalf of our neighborhoods to remind both the mayor and governor of the importance of this resource to us and the entire city. Our neighborhood shops continue to be pushed out by greedy landlords demanding unrealistic and unacceptable rents. So instead of the grocery store, dry
Senator Brad Hoylman Is Proud To Be A Part Of The Village Community And Its Accomplishments
cleaner or corner bodega, our neighborhoods are awash with empty storefronts, or shops targeting tourist shoppers, not locals in need of basic neighborhood services. With each store that is gone, we lose not only the service it provided, but also foot traffic, which threatens the remaining stores. Businesses in Manhattan, south of 96th St. are subject to a commercial rent tax under which a business is assessed effectively a 3.9 percent tax of its annual rent if rent exceeds $250,000 annually. Unfortunately, with rising rents, this no longer applies to just big-box stores. So, while businesses are often paying more than their fair share, landlords have been allowed to drive up rents, and drive out tenants unchecked. I have introduced a bill that would impose a monthly vacancy fee for commercial storefront spaces after they remain empty for four or more months. The fee would be 3.9 percent of the last rent payment received for the space, and would apply to any vacant storefront south of 96th St. in Manhattan for which annual rent exceeds $150,000 per year. Funds collected by this fee would be deposited into the Borough of Manhattan Microbusiness Loan Fund, which would be used solely for assisting micro-businesses in Manhattan. Our city continues to grow and evolve, and I endeavor to ensure that it does so without compromising the foundation of what makes the city a desirable home. Glick is assemblymember, 66th District (Greenwich Village, Soho, Noho, Hudson Square, Tribeca and part of the East Village)
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CALL for more info 718-260-2516 Looking Forward To Seeing What Next Year Brings! 12
May 24, 2018
HUDSON RIVER PARK @ 20 Celebrating 20 years! A special Villager supplement Pages 13 to 32
May 24, 2018
HUDSON RIVER PARK @ 20
After all the hurdles, the ﬁnish line is in sight BY MADELYN WILS
ince its founding 20 years ago, Hudson River Park’s positive impact on the lives of New Yorkers has been significant and wide-ranging: from a child examining plankton during one of our free estuary lab classes to the more than $10 billion invested along Manhattan’s far West Side. Sunbathers, soccer players, joggers, diners, nature enthusiasts, boaters and those fledgling scientists now consider the 4-mile park an integral part of their life. Last year alone, we had 17 million visits. It’s hard to imagine that just two decades ago, our waterfront was closed off to New Yorkers. Getting to this point required — and still requires — the vision of many, including local politicians, the state and city, our board of directors at the Hudson River Park Trust, and perhaps most critically, our community partners — from Community Boards 1, 2 and 4, our Hudson River Park Advisory Council and Hudson River Park Friends, to groups representing dog owners, playgrounds, ballplayers, gardeners and kayakers and many more along the park. It is thanks to those partners that we’ve gotten so much done on the park while overcoming a number of hurdles along the way. I remember first-hand the importance of bringing the community together from my three years as co-chairperson on the Hudson River Park Conservancy’s Advisory Board from 1995 to 1998. (The Conservancy was the predecessor to the Trust.) At that time, many parties had to come together to realize that a waterfront park
DUSC Congratulates Hudson River Park on its 20 Year Anniversary
DUSC Summer Camp June 11–August 31 Pier 40 in Hudson River Park www.dusc.nyc 14
May 24, 2018
PHOTO COURTESY H.R.P.T.
Madelyn Wils is the head of the staff at the Hudson River Park Trust, the state-cit y authorit y that is building and operates the 4-mile-long water front park.
could really be achieved and provide an amenity for all. Looking back, the park’s funding blueprint did not anticipate the financial challenges of maintaining a park that was mostly built in the water with aging infrastructure. In order to make that model work, we’ve needed to be innovative about how we raise the money needed to keep the park running smoothly and looking beautiful. Aside from leases and permits with tenants ranging from Chelsea Piers and the Intrepid to Classic Car Club and Grand Banks — an oyster bar on a historic wooden schooner — we’ve worked side by side with the community to advocate for other creative ways of funding our build-out and operations. One of those is through the sale of unused development rights from the park’s commercial piers; leadership from our community partners, together with our local politicians, helped us successfully advocate for and secure the 2013 amendment to the Hudson River Park Act that now allows us to tap that potential funding source. Without that innovation and the community’s willingness to make hard choices in support
of a broader goal, we would not be able to say that we have begun work on $100 million in critical repairs to Pier 40’s decaying steel piles. We are currently moving through the public review process of a second potential air-rights sale that that will result in nearly $50 million more to advance construction of new park areas in Chelsea and Clinton, as well as funds to maintain infrastructure. These upgrades wouldn’t be possible without the broad community support for the air-rights sales that will make them possible. This innovative mix of funding has made a tangible difference for everyone using the park. Over the past six years we’ve been able to increase revenue from a wider range of sources. For parkgoers, that increased revenue has meant cleaner bathrooms and park grounds, lusher landscaping and many more flowers, as well as repairs on important park features, like playgrounds and docks when needed. We have also been able to expand our programs and become leaders in environmental education and research focusing on the Hudson River. As for capital funding — the money that helps us finish building the park — the state and city recently announced a combined $100 million, and we’ve identified potential sources for all but about $40 needed to finish the park. That means in the coming years, the park’s northern section will see significant progress on projects like completing Pier 97, Gansevoort Peninsula and the “upland” park area near the current W. 30th St. Heliport. At the same time, we are already moving full-steam ahead on some of our other signature projects, all slated to open in 2020: Piers 26, 55 and 57. With its lawn and forest area, a sturgeon-themed playground, an “ecological get-down” to be used for educational purposes during low tide (the only space of its kind in the city) and, finally, sports areas, Pier 26, in Tribeca, will meet a number of community needs. To the north, Pier55, a spectacular landscaped public park pier in the Village that will also include intimate performing-arts spaces, is now under construction. Finally, a redeveloped Pier 57 is expected to open. Aside from office and retail space, that Chelsea project will feature significant additions of public park space: a large park on its rooftop with spectacular views, and a public esplanade along its perimeter. These three projects are significant Trust undertakings and had broad support from our community partners, including all three local community boards. Clearly, 2020 will be a banner year for the park. In short, for the first time in 20 years, after all the hurdles, we can see the finish line. Through all the challenges, really just one major hurdle remains: making sure Pier 40 remains a significant source of operating revenue for the entire park while providing ball fields and park amenities. We expect to continue working with the community and the local politicians who serve it on a long-term plan for Pier 40 that balances financial selfsufficiency with equally important community goals. Getting the future of Pier 40 right is critical for the entire park’s long-term sustainability, and for our neighbors who depend on this W. Houston St. pier as a resource. After 20 years of momentum and progress, the park is more beloved than ever. Now, over the next several years, we’ll take the final steps to deliver the completed park that our millions of users deserve — and that so many of our friends in the community helped make possible. Wils is president and C.E.O., Hudson River Park Trust TheVillager.com
May 24, 2018
HUDSON RIVER PARK @ 20
‘Nobody had made an island’: Diller on Pier55 BY LINCOLN ANDERSON
o one can argue that Pier55 is not a different kind of project. For starters, even its name is different — it’s written “Pier55,” with no space between the pier and its number. Of course, that’s minor, and some even think it’s a bit of an affectation. Far more significantly, the construction and ongoing operation of this $250 million “entertainment island,” as it’s being called, will be funded primarily by a private citizen, media mogul Barry Diller. The billionaire businessman and his wife, fashion design icon Diane von Furstenberg, are famous for their philanthropy, having notably given a great amount of funding to the High Line to help realize that groundbreaking project — which is just a block away from the site of the future Pier55. The undulating pier will rise 62 feet at its southwest corner, its highest point. Some are outraged that it will block views to the river. But it is being built. A huge crane was brought in this Tuesday to begin pile-driving to install the supports that will hold up the ambitiously designed structure’s concrete deck. Pier55, also the name of the nonprofit entity that will run the pier, currently has a paid staff of five. The nonprofit is even managing the pier’s day-to-day construction. The Pier55 staff currently includes an executive director, a project manager, a director of artistic programming, and a director of education engagement. Diller heads its board of directors. The landscaped pier is expected to open in the fall of 2020. It will sport a unique “amoeba”-like shape, with its footprint rotated, so as not to be parallel to the park’s other piers. Its hallmark will be its seasonal arts-and-entertainment programming, from late spring to early fall, with the first performances to debut on it in 2021. There will be 250 events each season. Fifty-one percent of them will be free or low-cost, meaning under $30. The other 49 percent will be “fair-market value,” comparable in ticket price to other local nonprofit arts organizations, such as The Public, New York Theater Workshop or the Manhattan Theater Club. The pier will boast three performance spaces: a 700-seat amphitheater facing the water; a smaller “southern space,” featuring benches and seating on a hill; and the “Main Space,” in the pier’s center area, which will also serve as a social space, with food and beverage options. This last space will also be able to host large events, like a jazz orchestra. Last year, after The City Club of New York indicated it would not cease its litigation against the project on environmental grounds, Diller gave up in frustration at one point, and for six weeks, the project was very much dead. The Pier55 office was shuttered. But Governor Andrew Cuomo interceded, promising the City Club plaintiffs he would complete the unfinished sections of the 4-mile-long Hudson River Park — which stretches from Chambers St. to W. 57th St. The plaintiffs relented, and Diller came back onboard. The Villager recently sat down with Diller at his Frank Gehry-designed, white, sail-like IAC Building, at 18th St. and 11th Ave., which, built in 2007, is the headquarters of his media empire. It was Gehry’s first building in New York. Diller, 76, whose days are tightly scheduled with
May 24, 2018
PHOTO BY DAVID SHANKBONE
Ar ts lover Barr y Diller — attending an event at the Metropolitan Opera, above — says he will be ver y hands-on with Pier55, a project he sees as a legac y “gift-benefit” to New York — and the world.
meetings, wore a blue blazer, with no tie and a gray button-down shirt. Behind him, the small conference room’s windows — featuring white pixels gradually thickening on the glass toward the top — overlooked the West Side Highway, the Hudson River bikeway, Chelsea Piers and, beyond them all, the whitecapping Hudson River. “How can I help you?” Diller said as he sat down at the table. The Villager: Why are you doing this project? What is the vision? Barry Diller: I thought it was a great opportunity to do something original. Nobody, basically, made an island in the Hudson River, and that was original. The architecture is very ambitious. The programming is ambitious. And I thought it was an opportunity to help create something that would benefit the people of New York and the people who come to New York. I’m mindful of the wonderment I’ve felt since I came to New York, of seeing things that, at some point — 50 years, 100 years before — somebody had taken the elective to do. They’re all electives. All public art is essentially an elective. It’s not like the sewer system or
electricity or whatever. And I’ve always been in awe of that elective. Then, five, 10, 100 years later, of having it as a gift-benefit to the people of the city, of the world. That’s quite as fulsome as I think I can say it. V: I know Diana Taylor, the chairperson of the Hudson River Park Trust’s board of directors, initially got you involved in this project by showing you an idea of what the island could look like. Was the plan always to make it an arts / entertainment pier — was that your idea? B.D.: The Pier 54 that they tore down had only been used for events, basically concerts. And so, the intial idea was basically to recreate it, and put some trees on it. And from there we kind of...went astray. We first of all said, “O.K., It’s not a pier. It’s an island. It doesn’t have to be rectilinear, no boats are coming on either side of it. Let’s make it ambitious. V: But it reached a point where there was a lawsuit against it. You threw in the towel. The project was scrapped for a period of six weeks. The Pier55 office shut down. Can you take us through your thoughts then? And how did Governor Cuomo save it? Was it a phone call to you? B.D.: It was very simply, we had been delayed. What I found, which I did not know, now do know: If there’s opposition to any public project, it will die. And by opposition, I don’t mean, just 42 people out of 2,000 people just simply say, “We don’t like this,” or whatever, whatever. We had approvals from the community boards, from every regulatory authority. However, if there is opposition in the form of litigation, I think, on any public project, more than likely, history has shown it will die. That is just the nature of things. I was astounded to learn that, even though our lawyers consistently said we would prevail on the merits, that because of the litigation process, the risks were untakeable because you simply could not risk investing... . When we canceled, we had lost somewhat more than $40 million, or invested... . V: In design...? B.D.: Just pure design, preconstruction, etc. And I said, “Well, O.K., I don’t like it, but I can take the loss.” I would feel far worse if it was $150 million and nothing was shown for it. So, that stopped me. And then, some weeks later, the governor called, thought he had a chance to put this back together and asked me. And I delayed him a bit, and said, “Yes, if you can do it, and it’s clean, yes, I’ll go forward.” And he did, and we did. V: Do you understand the opposition of Douglas Durst and Tom Fox to this project? [Fox was one of the City Club plaintiffs. Developer Durst, at one point, funded the lawsuit — as first reported by The Villager. Durst was a former chairperson of the Friends of Hudson River Park, but had a falling out with the park’s governing authority.] B.D.: I never understood Douglas Durst. It was never really explained to me. And I asked him, and he actually said his objection was “due to process.” He felt that the process was a bad process. So, too, did the others, but the others’ objections, in its purest form — the pier not being water-dependent and it’s not being another anything on the water...I found to be frankly absurd. Absurd because the total space that we were taking was in the footprint that was approved by everybody. V: Well, the footprint was shifted slightly north from the original Pier 54 location... . DILLER continued on p. 18 TheVillager.com
The Durst Organization is proud to support Hudson River Park and Celebrates its 20th Anniversary
May 24, 2018
HUDSON RIVER PARK @ 20
‘Nobody had made an island’: Diller on Pier55 DILLER continued from p. 16
B.D.: Yes, but the footprint — the amount of space we were taking — was exactly the same. So we weren’t adding additional space. And I can’t help feel that this was motivated, in large part, by their experience with the Hudson River Park Trust. They had a not-good experience — right or wrong — I’m not picking sides. As Douglas Durst said, “I’m not really against your project but the process was bad by H.R.P.T., and we don’t approve of the way they do things.” V: Also, the feeling was the design process for Pier55 wasn’t out in the open. B.D.: The original criticism was that it was a “secret process.” It’s absurd to call it a secret process. We made plans. We didn’t push any buttons. We didn’t start drilling holes — or cutting steel, as they say. We developed our ideas to the point where we could present them. When we were ready, we presented them. And we went through a process, with Community Board 2, with various other constituencies. We presented our plans, we took feedback. We made changes to those plans, and then we proceeded, because “they then approved it,” close quote. I think the plaintiffs, so to speak, said that the process of development — we should have been, quote, “open development”; meaning, we should have shared our development process. I design process, and for me, I’m very happy, once coming up with an idea, to absolutely give it air and let people critique it. But I fully believe that you do not interrupt the process of conceptualizing that idea. Because it’s like saying to somebody, “Here’s the first act of a three-act play. Do you like the way it’s going?”... So, anyway...people can disagree. V: What about the fact that this area is so incredibly busy now? You’ve got Chelsea Market. You’ve got the High Line — which you and your wife, Diane von Furstenberg... B.D.: Yes, yes we did... V: ...funded. B.D.: ...a big part of it. V: The High Line, the bike path, they’re both so heavily used by people. And the Meatpacking District is there, too. One concern of people is that this new Pier55 is going to be such a destination and bring so much additional foot traffic to the neighborhood. Is it all becoming too much at a certain point? B.D.: I don’t know. Our surveys on this, and we did a lot of that work — in density and things like that — did not tell us that there would be, quote, “a problem,” close quote. The biggest thing we found is that there is less park space in this area than there is almost any-
May 24, 2018
place in the city. So, we felt that this was underserved, in that respect. I can’t say much about density, other than, while it will bring additional traffic, to some degree, all of the people who analyzed this did not see that as a problem. V: How about sound? There are some concerns about sound carrying from the pier’s performances. B.D.: We did extensive sound tests. I participated in them. It was great fun. One of our big consultants has a sound room Downtown where they simulate sounds from the tests that they take in the [project location]. So we did lots of testing. We found, actually, surprisingly, that the levels of ambient sound, etc., were not elevated — except at really close quarters. When you got further out, there was very little sound reverb past, let’s say, the West Side Highway. The West Side Highway, in a way, is a sound barrier. So, we did not find it to be a problem. V: Do you live in the neighborhood? B.D.: I live partly on 14th and Washington, and partly Uptown. V: So, can you live in the Meatpacking District — which has a manufacturing zoning — because of that archaic rule for “tender’s quarters”? B.D.: We own the building. It’s not zoned for residence, but you can have a single-family occupancy, so to speak. V: On Pier55, you’re the head of the board. What do you see your involvement being with this project on a dayto-day or regular basis? B.D.: Extensive. I’m engaged. I’ll be engaged in all of it. V: You’ve got this huge company, too, obviously, which is your business. Yet, you’re going to put a lot of time into Pier55? B.D.: I certainly intend to. V: What about Diane von Furstenberg’s involvement? B.D.: She’ll be involved...to a degree. My wife and children will be involved to some degree, because they’re on the board of the parent foundation [the Diller-von Furstenberg Foundation, which is funding the Pier55 project], so it’s appropriate that they do so. But in the family, this is deemed to be my primary responsibility. V: To switch back to the High Line, some people go as far as to say that it’s too successful, it’s changed Chelsea, it’s spurred too much development — overdevelopment — gentrification. What’s your take? B.D.: Like everything, I think it overwhelmingly has it’s upside, but it has it downsides, it has consequences. This area, when we moved here, we scoped this out in 2001 — 2002 is when we started construction [on his IAC Building] — nothing had been developed around here. Literally, this 30-, 40-block
area, West Village, Chelsea area. Basically, all the landlords had sat on their land with no improvements...wisely. Even though they wanted to tear down the High Line. They opposed the existing railroad tracks because they thought they impeded development. The High Line was the beginning of that transformation. And it has brought, on the positive side, just wander around, look at it. — everything — it is very positive. On the downside, it has brought a lot more people. It has raised prices, certainly, because people make investments in buildings and things like that. You know, those are the consequences of development. That’s just a factual report. ... Another thing, it has been very little acknowledged how wonderful H.R.P.T. has developed the West Side, that strip. I use it. I bike along it. It’s wonderful, a wonderful amenity. V: Similar to the High Line effect, I think it’s commonly accepted that the Hudson River Park coming in also helped spur the construction of the first two Richard Meier buildings at Perry St. — which were completed in 2002 — and the wave of development, in general, that followed along the Lower West Side waterfront, leading to its being called the New Gold Coast. B.D.: Maybe that was the first... . But H.R.P.T. from Battery Park all the way up to the bridge, is just a fantastic resource for a city. I’m a big fan. [Although the bikeway extends up to the George Washington Bridge, the Hudson River Park only extends up to W. 59th St.] V: What about some environmentalists — and also Assemblymember Deborah Glick — who warn about the dangers of building on the water in this era of climate change, rising waters and superstorms. What do you feel about all this? B.D.: We’re 15 feet above the floodplain. Of course, I wouldn’t do it if... . One of the first things my wife said when were starting this was, “You can’t do that! It’ll be underwater in a few years.” From the very beginning, one of our issues, of course, was to be sure that, under a 1,000-year event — I mean, an existential event, nobody could do anything about — but through normal projections, it should be fine. We should be O.K.... No, we really reject that as a concern. V: We started off the interview with the idea of an island. I think maybe Frank Gehry actually wanted to build something that actually looked like this building on Pier 40, at one point. What is the fascination with an island and being on the water? B.D.: Well, one of the reasons we’re here [in the IAC building on 11th Ave.] is because I couldn’t get further.
[He pokes his thumb out the window behind him toward the river.] I really wanted a pier. We couldn’t find one. Timing wasn’t right. Google ended up being able to take Pier 57. I love water, so anything on water I’m up for. And if you’ve seen the plans for Pier55, the ability to be out 200 feet on the water, and really feeling it, is a pleasurable experience. That’s why. V: Some people say Google shouldn’t be allowed to develop office space on Pier 57, that there will be less public space, as a result. B.D.: Well, what’s better? You could have torn down Pier 57 and made something for the public. However, Pier 57 has been sitting there for years, abandoned. It was used terribly. There were rats, I remember going to events there. There’s a lot of public space on that pier that Google is going to do. V: Offices weren’t allowed in the Hudson River Park’s original founding legislation. B.D.: You could object to that. That’s a rational objection. But given the investment they’re going to make. No one could use it before. Now Google will use a big part of it, and the public will use a big part of it. V: Google’s going to bring in $1 million more per year than the Anthony Bourdain food hall — which for some reason didn’t work — that was being planned there. B.D.: It was not financeable. I just know they’d been planning it for years, and couldn’t pull it off. V: Do you have a sense about potential acts that will perform at Pier55? Can you talk about any programming yet? B.D.: Too early. We’re going to deal with all the disciplines. It’s not going to be a place where, so to speak, a touring act will have it on its itinerary. More than anything, we’ll commission work — in all the arts. Everything: dance, theater, spoken theater, musical theater, concerts, etc., everything. V: From bigger names to lesserknown people? B.D.: Everything. V: A lot of people in the community are very excited about Pier55 engaging with local schools. B.D.: We’re going to do an awful lot with schools. Certainly, our primary resource and rationale is this Lower West Side community — and other parts of New York wanting to partake that are more landlocked, so to say. But we want to do everything we can for the local community. V: And a lot of local Downtown artists are, no doubt, chomping at the bit to get up on stage and do their thing out on the pier. B.D.: We’re going to do a lot of that.
HUDSON RIVER PARK @ 20
PHOTO BY BOB KRASNER
A worker on the Pier55 project walks under the steel arch, the only remnant of the former head house of Pier 54, the pier where the S.S. Carpathia brought the Titanic’s sur vivors. The historic Pier 54 was demolished by the Hudson River Park Trust and is being replaced by the new and st ylish Pier55.
Stayin’ alive at Pier55 a.k.a. ‘Diller Island’
he Pier55 project is back underway after Governor Cuomo intervened last year and got The City Club of New York to drop its legal challenge, in return for the governor’s promise to complete the park’s construction in his next term, if re-elected. This Tuesday, a massive W526 crane arrived at the site of the planned Pier55 public park and performing-arts space, which is planned to open in Hudson River Park, off of W. 14th St., in 2020. The crane — seen in the background, above — will be used for pile-driving and installation of the project’s signature concrete “pots” that will sit atop the traditional piles and hold up the landscaped park’s deck. The pile-driving will start in June and continue until wrapping up in October, when the seasonal construction moratorium begins, and will then resume next May. Pile-driving is expected to be complete by fall 2019. The pot installation is expected to be complete by March 2020. Construction is already underway on the two access bridges that will lead out to the park from the “upland,” or shore-based part, of the park. TheVillager.com
COURTESY PIER55 INC.
A design rendering for Pier55, at W. 14th St., shows how the piles would be topped by organic-shapedlooking “pots.” Star ting next month, a lot of pounding and positioning with an enormous crane will be going on to install the piles, and then the pots will be attached to the top of the piles. Construction has already been ongoing on two bridges to connect the island pier to the land-based par t of Hudson River Park. May 24, 2018
HUDSON RIVER PARK @ 20
Downtown’s sports pier caught in squeeze play BY SYDNEY PEREIR A
hirteen years ago, tens of thousands of square feet of artificialgrass turf was rolled out inside the courtyard of Pier 40. Downtown families rapidly transformed the new playing field into a Village fixture for children’s sports. The courtyard field followed a smaller rooftop field that had been installed around five years earlier. In 2018 — 20 years after the creation the Hudson River Park — the kids who grew up playing sports on Pier 40’s fields are now nearing adulthood, on the way to college, and even coaching the next generation of young athletes. One of those teens is Katharine Fox, a 17-year-old rising high school senior, who fell in love with soccer on Pier 40. She played nearly two hours daily with Gotham Girls Football Club, and later the Downtown United Soccer Club. The pier became integral to her family’s weekends together. Her dad, Paul Fox, a board member of the Downtown United Soccer Club who coached her soccer and softball teams, recalls Saturday mornings meandering through the Village to the mammoth W. Houston St. pier with two kids in tow. “It’s a great way to share the neighborhood with your children,” he said. Without the pier — just a scooter ride away from the Foxes’ Village home — Katharine doubts that she would have been as involved with sports throughout her childhood. “It probably would have been a hard pass,” Fox said of the possibility of traveling daily as a 7-year-old to Randalls Island, Roosevelt Island or beyond. “In the city, it’s so hard to find space — ridiculously hard.” “It allowed me to become the athletic person that I’ve become now,” she said of the park’s “family sports pier.” But looming over local youths’ ongoing enjoyment of Pier 40 is the challenge the Hudson River Park Trust faces in keeping the aging structure afloat. The pier’s corroded pilings — the steel columns upon which the pier sits — have long been in desperate need of repair. In late April, repairs began on the pier’s pilings using $100 million that the Hudson River Park Trust received last year for selling 200,000 square feet of air rights from the pier to the St. John’s Partners development project across the West Side Highway. The pilings’ repairs are expected to cost $104 million, according to Madelyn Wils, the Trust’s president and C.E.O. The repairs needed at Pier 40 go far beyond the pilings, though. In recent years, the Trust has completely redone or replaced the entire sprinkler system and fire alarms, plus added a new firesuppression system, along with new
May 24, 2018
PHOTO COURTESY OF DUSC
Downtown United Soccer Club players hone their skills and teamwork on Pier 40’s FieldTur f ar tificial-grass playing field in the pier’s huge cour t yard. The capacious pier is in sore need of repairs, p , but work has star ted to fix up its corroded steel suppor t piles.
PHOTO BY HOWARD BARASH
The Diamonds took the field with all the other teams at Pier 40 at Greenwich Village Little League’s Opening Day ceremonies on April 12.
lighting in the garage — just to name a few. Bricks are sliding off the north side of the pier-shed building, which also needs to be repaired, according to the Trust. “I’m talking millions and millions and millions of dollars,” Wils said. “This is just current work.” Under the Hudson River Park Act of 1998, the park is expected, “to the extent practicable,” to generate its own revenue and be self-sustaining, paying for its own maintenance and operations. This year, though, the government took a larger role in funding the park’s completion — Governor Andrew Cuomo allocated $50 million for it, so long as the city matches it. Pier 40 generates around 25 percent of the 4-mile-long riverfront park’s operating funds. But that doesn’t include how much is spent on Pier 40 each year. In the past six years, the pier’s maintenance has cost around $40 million, Crain’s reported. “It brings us income,” Wils said of Pier 40, “but we end up spending a lot of money on continually fixing the pier.” The long-term revenue problem of
Pier 40, Wils believes, could be solved through the development of office space on the pier. “It’s the least impactful of all commercial uses,” she explained. The original Park Act doesn’t allow that type of use at Pier 40. “We need a legislative change,” Wils said. But some leaders of Downtown sports leagues fear that development plans for the 14-acre pier could wind up meaning less field space for future generations of young players — at least in the short run, if not longer. “If Pier 40 were to close [for its redevelopment], it would be a disaster,” Isaac-Daniel Astrachan, another DUSC board member, said. “What probably would happen is, we would have to either shut down our operations or reduce the players.” Last year, a Community Board 2 working group tasked with evaluating the future of the pier, recommended that any legislation change to allow currently unpermitted commercial uses — such as office space — must “be balanced by changes that maximize public open space and assure public control of
the park.” “Commercial offices may be reasonable if their high value reduces the total floor area of a project, but other commercial uses that enhance the park and support important community needs should also be included as part of any redevelopment,” the Board 2 working group concluded their November 2017 report. Those uses should include parkand community-enhancing uses, like small restaurants, performances venues, commercial recreation or arts uses, such as rehearsal space, galleries and artisanal manufacturing, the working group said. Before any legislative change in Albany, though, there will be ongoing discussions about the pier’s future at C.B. 2. And even if the Trust, community residents, the youth leagues and other stakeholders agree on a development plan, the pier would likely need to be closed, at least partially. “If a generation of kids loses fields, it’s a disaster,” Astrachan said. Meanwhile, kids spend their weekends dribbling soccer balls up and down Pier 40’s fields, Little Leaguers are learning how to throw their first baseball, and Stuyvesant High School students are practicing football, among the pier’s many athletic uses at any given time. Even though there are acres of field space, every sport, league and age group is vying for a spot. “It has become apparent that field space is one of the most challenging things we have to deal with as a club,” DUSC’s Astrachan said, likening the lack of field space to school overcrowding in the city. In fact, each season, some kids have to be turned away after tryouts because of insufficient playing-field space, according to Astrachan. And as more families move Downtown, field space becomes an even bigger issue. For all of Pier 40’s challenges and uncertain future, however, parents still say it’s the best sports space for their kids. Greenwich Village Little Leaguers even have the added benefit of indoor space on the pier — including batting cages — for year-round practice time. “I don’t know of any other facilities that have this space,” Courtney Ozer, a Hell’s Kitchen parent whose 10-yearold daughter, Oakley, has been playing baseball and softball for five seasons. Most of the time, the girls teams have to play at Chelsea Waterside Park, at 23rd St. and 11th Ave. Ozer noted. Pier 40 is a better facility for her daughter, though. Practicing year-round with the indoor space helps her daughter be more competitive and keep her skills up. “Already, it’s hard because we live in the city,” Ozer said. But with Pier 40, she added, “I always marvel how it feels like we are in the suburbs.”
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May 24, 2018
HUDSON RIVER PARK @ 20
PHOTOS BY LINCOLN ANDERSON
At the Friends of Hudson River Park’s gala in October 2016, among the high-powered stars walking the “green carpet,” were Matthew Broderick and Sarah Jessica Parker. Others included Mar tha Stewar t and Padma Lakshmi.
“Maybe it’s craz y?” Can this park ever be finished? Madelyn Wils, the Hudson River Park Trust’s C.E.O., posed with the singer CeeLo on the “green carpet” at the Friends’ gala in 2016.
Friends bring in funding, and also the public
port. It’s easy for people to say, ‘I pay my taxes, so it should be covered by that.’ “That, unfortunately, doesn’t get anything done,” Lawin not. The playground at Chelsea Waterside Park — a major effort funded by the Friends — was another example of con-
necting park to neighborhood. “We were able to really explain to folks the current state of playgrounds and what the vision was for repairing and upgrading that facility,” Lawin said. “That was kind of a textbook case of ‘give where you live.’ ”
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CONEY ISLAND ODYSSEY
RED HOOK RIDE
P ew Y
GOVERNOR’S ISLAND LANDING
FREEDOM TOWER TRIP
e r Pa r k
PIER 84 BOATHOUSE N
HU D SO
MKC @ PIER 84
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BE GI ZO NNE NE R
he nonprofit fundraising arm of the Hudson River Park Trust began in 1996 as an independent watchdog group known as the Hudson River Park Alliance. In 1998, that group morphed into the Friends of Hudson River Park. In the past two decades, the group has transformed into a multimillion-dollar fundraising venture and recently was redubbed the Hudson River Park Friends. The Friends raked in some $8 million in Fiscal Year 2017, much of which was raised through its annual gala where a table of 10 guests can run from $25,000 to $50,000. Despite the millions the Friends has brought in over the years, it’s still only a sliver of what the Trust — the state-city authority that operates and is building the park — needs to finish construction of the waterfront park. But the Friends also functions as a way to engage the neighborhood with the goal of reaching the park’s eventual completion. “In addition to the money that Friends raises, there’s also a public engagement component,” Connie Fishman, the group’s executive director, said. “People become ‘Park Friends.’ We have a program that they become members of and they get involved. They volunteer.” Community engagement and advocacy by residents is part of what keeps the park going, which Fishman said became readily apparent after Hurricane Sandy destroyed the playground at Tribeca’s Pier 25. The following spring after the hurricane, the playground was reopened with much fanfare. But there have been ebbs and flows of the organization’s fundraising efforts. For example, the Friends raised nearly
$3 million more in Fiscal Year 2017 than the year before. Plus, when a local councilmember whose district includes the park is the speaker of the City Council, the Friends typically sees more government funding, Fishman said. Based on precedent, the Friends hopes to see more government contributions with Councilmember Corey Johnson as the new speaker. (His predecessor in representing District 3, as well as serving as speaker, was Christine Quinn.) Though not government funding, but possibly impacted by current government policy, individual private donations could be affected by President Donald Trump’s recent tax overhaul passed late last year. This could particularly impact people who donate to charities primarily for tax deductions. “Nobody really knows what the effect is going to be, so we’re trying to be fairly conservative,” Fishman noted. How Trump’s tax plan affects the Friends’ fundraising likely won’t be seen until December, when many people scramble to donate to nonprofit groups, the executive director said. Besides the Friends’ fundraising efforts — which focus on initiatives like public programming, public events, playgrounds and landscaping — the park is financed through myriad sources, from public and private funds to revenue generation from specific piers. “It’s a unique situation relative to other parks in New York City,” Scott Lawin, vice chairperson of the Friends’ board of directors, said of the park’s public-private partnership model. “The main thing that we’re constantly focused on is just getting the message out about the needs of the park and making people aware that the park does need their sup-
RI CIR MA VE CU NH R MN AT AV TA IGA N TIO N
BY SYDNEY PEREIR A
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ALPINE ADVENTURE May 24, 2018
HUDSON RIVER PARK @ 20
From wild waterfront and splintered piers to BY MICHELE HERMAN
ay 1985: My husband and I are young and unmarried; upper Upper West Siders by address, budget and general affiliation — and we’re going to move in together. We’ve come to the Village because in the middle of our long, demoralizing apartment hunt a realtor has called out of the blue to ask if we’d like to see a little place on Jane St. Jane St.?! we say. Who wouldn’t? The apartment is in a recently converted warehouse a half block from the Hudson. The building has no lobby, the apartment is taller than it is wide, but it’s clean and has a little charm. On one side of the place is the derelict High Line; the three-block section between Gansevoort and Bethune Sts. was removed a few years later, despite our attempts to save it. On the other is the derelict waterfront, with a smokehouse and an abandoned building, soon to burn to the ground; we later watched transvestite prostitutes squatting there escape. A building-supply company and an S.R.O. hotel are across the street. We shake the realtor’s hand and wander over to the river as the sun begins to set. It’s out by the mighty Hudson that we feel the entire orientation of our lives shift. This is ’85, four years after the demolition of the elevated Miller Highway and just four months before its proposed replacement, Westway, the sunken-highway-riverfront-development project, is abandoned. In other words, there’s not much there but river. There is no raised planted median in the middle of West St., so it’s easy to see across to Jersey, where there’s no skyline to speak of. There are no trees and thus no shade. There’s no greenery, unless you count three small trees in concrete pots way down around Christopher St. We wait for an opening in the traffic and cross West St. and its service lanes and the wide paved no-man’s land beside the river. Then we hike out to the end of the derelict pier that seems to go halfway to Hoboken. It’s surfaced with huge wooden planks, some sections laid straight, some diagonally, as if one shift of workers ignored what the previous shift had done. The planks are shrunken, shredded, worm-eaten, warped, sun-bleached, fire-charred, with whole sections missing or pried loose to reveal a lower layer of planks laid in the opposite direction. The pier is a thousand splinters and accidents waiting to happen. There is no barrier of any kind around the periphery. We don’t care. We feel as if we’re on a ship. A cool breeze blows. We look back at the city. The pier’s planks and
May 24, 2018
PHOTO BY JONATHAN KUHN
The scene during Liber t y Weekend in 1986, viewed from the writer’s Jane St. rooftop, above. At left is the old Superior Ink printing company with its towering smokestack. Where the “upland” par t of Hudson River Park is today was just a long asphalt strip more than 30 years ago. The then-decrepit piers were fenced off for safet y reasons for the event, which commemorated the centennial of the Statue of Liber ty, and featured a parade of tall ships.
PHOTO BY TOM FOX
Relaxedly straddling a concrete Jersey barrier, a Husk y hung out by Pier 45 (the Christopher St. Pier) circa 1988. The West Side water front had really “gone to the dogs” after it ceased to be a working waterfront before its eventual transformation into Hudson River Park. Yet, many loved the area’s free and funk y feeling back then.
low-rise buildings along West St. are bathed in golden twilight. The ragged edge of the Village looks breathtakingly beautiful. We are so astonished to be living on Jane St. that we set out to get involved, and what a first-rate education in activism, city government and preservation we receive. We join Save the Village, a new incarnation of Jane Jacobs’s pioneering preservation group, started by Pearl Broder. We meet the cast of local characters, including the late, great Verna Small, Bob Oliver, Ben Green and Leslie Lowe, to name just a few. We learn to speak ULURP, M.O.U., R.F.P., E.I.S., SEQRA. After a few years, Save the Village
and a bunch of other neighborhood groups join forces to become the Federation to Preserve the Greenwich Village Waterfront & Great Port (Great Port being an old name for the waterfront). We plan fundraisers, put out newsletters and brochures, stuff thousands of envelopes, attend countless meetings. All this volunteer energy is aimed at a perfectly sensible plan: a modest, green, self-sustaining waterfront park paid for with available funds left over when Westway died; no shadowy quasi-governmental city-state agency in charge; no non-water-dependent uses; no decade of waiting; no development “nodes” (a small word to denote some large tracts of land, most notably, Pier
40) to pay for it all. One of the tasks I’m most proud of is the hot June day in 1988 when we organized a tiny band of volunteers in the insane, impossible task of cleaning up the entire length of the Village waterfront in preparation for a big festival the Federation was running the following day. It clearly hadn’t been cleaned in years. Papers and candy wrappers had collected in every crevice. We worked from morning to sundown. I remember that, after a certain point, the sweat inside my gloves seemed more objectionable than bare hands; I was terrified of lifting a piece of yellowed newspaper and uncovering a rat family. I spent so many hours bent over that I split my ’80s jeans, the ones with the little zippers at the ankles. Now, as I think back over the enormous changes we have witnessed in our 33 years in the West Village, it takes some effort to call back into view that wild waterfront that was nothing but potential. Back then, you could do things out there with impunity. Some of these WATERFRONT continued on p. 27 TheVillager.com
HUDSON RIVER PARK @ 20
fancy park of today, we’ve come a long way WATERFRONT continued from p. 26
activities were benign, if not always Grated, like the guy in short shorts who used to practice his baton twirling, and the sun worshippers out on the splintered piers in their leathery birthday suits. Some activities were semi-sanctioned, like the guy who sold Christmas trees from a truck, who used our super’s bathroom for years. And some parkedcar activities I don’t even want to know about, because I imagine they mirrored the things the Sopranos did in the dark on their side of the river. In 1986, fearing lawsuits, the city or state fenced off the piers to keep the Liberty Weekend crowds safe from the conditions caused by the city and state’s own neglect. In 1993 when the fences proved insufficient, the Hudson River Park Conservancy, the new entity in charge, chopped off the first 30 feet of the old piers, causing a huge outcry from those who wanted to save them. Meanwhile, my husband and two sons had the outlaw spirit. The boys learned to ride bikes on the concrete surface of Pier 54, up at W. 13th St. This was not allowed, but no one ever stopped them. They trespassed on the old fireboat pier at Gansevoort Peninsula and got invited in for a tour by the firefighters; they liked the sign on the bathroom door that said, “Beware: Toxic Gas.” When Hudson River Park, whose new Greenwich Village section opened in 2003, was being created, a staging area on the inland side near Jane St. filled up with a massive mound of building materials. Over many weeks, the boys built themselves a Belgian-block house with a plywood roof. My husband, the art historian, built a two-room cinderblock conceptual piece. They even brought out table settings. Six months went by and no one knocked their creations down, though the table settings did occasionally get rearranged. For a long time, there was a block-long depression in the paving on the outboard side. When this became a semi-permanent puddle and froze one winter, the intrepid trio mounded up snow at one end to create a hill and slid across in milk crates. Not all our family activity was subversive. I remember a joyous spring when all it took was a last-minute phone call to reserve the magical space way out at the southern end of Pier 40 for a bunch of us P.S. 3 parents. The park supplied a roof, a grill, picnic tables, tetherball and basketball hoop, and we brought food. We also spent a lot of happy hours down at the old Pier 25, at North Moore St., where there was a shack that served cheap burgers and blasted great music, and we were allowed to play mini golf to our heart’s content, and then cool off in TheVillager.com
PHOTO BY JONATHAN KUHN
Looking nor theast from the Bank St. Pier in 1985-’86, above.
PHOTO BY MICHELE HERMAN
PHOTO BY JIM MAY
The view along the bulkhead — the Manhattan seawall — looking south from Christopher St., with the World Trade Center in the distance, in 1979-’80.
the sprinklers. One of the lessons you learn when you try to fight City Hall, not to mention the governor’s office, is that it’s just as hard as they say it is. I love having Hudson River Park and I use it hard, particularly the bike path. But the park we got is pretty much the opposite of the one we fought for: After 15 years we ended up with a fancy park in need of complex maintenance. It’s run by a quasi-governmental city-state trust, with nodes of development, non-waterdependent uses, and even paid advertising in the form of banners. To pay for it, there’s a ton of high-rise development
still to come — across the highway from the park — through a complicated process of air-rights sales. Harold, of the children’s book “Harold and the Purple Crayon,” always knew he was home when he saw the moon outside his bedroom window. I know I’m home when I see the Hudson River just ahead. Just as it did before the Europeans arrived, the mighty river — because it’s a tidal estuary — still flows both ways. When the wind blows just the right way, I breathe in deep the salt tang of the sea. I watch the river cycle through its many moods, just like us; sometimes it sparkles, sometimes it just
Buttons recall the water front battles of the past by the Federation to Preser ve the Greenwich Village Wafer front and Great Por t. “The barge” refers to the Bibby Venture, a prison barge with nearly 400 beds that the cit y, in 1989, planned to keep ber thed at Pier 40, at W. Houston St. The communit y ultimately defeated that idea.
lies there, as if it couldn’t be bothered; sometimes it gets all whipped into a frenzy. In 2012 it memorably overflowed its banks, ruining a lot of buildings and some lives; and though we aren’t praying people, we pray it will not do this again. As I look back, it seems nearly inconceivable that no one stopped us in 1985 when we walked to the end of that old broken-down Jane St. pier. We could have sued! But we didn’t. Instead, we became lifelong Villagers. May 24, 2018
HUDSON RIVER PARK @ 20
COPYRIGHT 1981 RUTH ORKIN
“Boy Jumping into Hudson River, NYC, 1948,” by Ruth Orkin
Keeping cool on the West Side, 1940s style
ong before the Hudson River bikeway was created and became a favorite way for people to catch a breeze, there was another, more direct way to cool off and have fun: taking a plunge right off a pier into the river.
May 24, 2018
HUDSON RIVER PARK @ 20
Fish, forests and ﬁelds coming to Tribeca pier BY SYDNEY PEREIR A
ier 26 is getting a makeover. After years of planning, Hudson River Park designers have managed to squeeze just about all of the community’s demands into one 97,000-squarefoot space. The pier, at North Moore St. in Tribeca, on which construction is expected to begin in late summer, will feature extensive deck space and seating. The design emphasizes ecological education. A building on its south side will host two K-through-8 classrooms, three college classrooms and a technology exhibit. The goal? A museum-quality-type facility with an estuarium, and a space for the community to connect with the might river’s marine habitat. “This is New York City,” said Madelyn Wils, the president and C.E.O. of the Hudson River Park Trust. “There’s a lot of need and little space to fulfill the need. So we put the designers to work and tried to fit as many of those requests onto one pier.” Next to the estuarium building, the park plans to construct a kids’ science playground, featuring giant interactive sculptures of two varieties of sturgeon
COURTESY OLIN STUDIO
Pier 26 will feature an estuarium with real fish, plus a science playground with giant fish to play in and slide on.
— an Atlantic and a short-nosed —two endangered fish species native to New York. On the pier, a pathway will cut through a forested and lawn area before leading to two kid-sized playing fields with a lounge area on the south side. The soccer fields will feature a
shock-absorbing plastic grid system, developed by a company called Sport Court. A second lounge deck with tiered seating will lead into a walkway surrounded by a constructed marsh area. The idea of the pier’s design is to attract wildlife that once frequented the city’s marshy shores — herons,
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ducks, geese, cormorants, perhaps an occasional egret, oysters, mussels and some 70 types of fish native to the river. The pier’s forested section will feature plants and trees native to the region. “This whole forest-walk idea was to have trees that were indigenous to this area and to give people a sense that they were walking through something otherworldly that wasn’t Manhattan,” Wils said. “I think this design captures that.” The renovations will cost $30 million, funded equally between New York City, the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation and CitiGroup. For the estuarium, to be sited on shore at the foot of the pier, the park has raised $10 million and plans to raise more money prior to its construction. Marine work on the pier is expected to start this summer. Landscaping will begin in the fall, with construction slated to finish by 2020. “We’re very, very excited about breaking ground — or breaking water — in late summer on Pier 26,” Wils said. “I think it’s not only going to be a really beautiful and interesting pier, but I think it will be extraordinarily popular.”
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May 24, 2018
HUDSON RIVER PARK @ 20
We got the ball rolling and kick-started it all; BY ARTHUR Z. SCHWARTZ
t may not be apparent now with Hudson River Park Friends holding its 20th anniversary fundraiser with a minimum price of $2,000 per ticket, and a Friends board made up almost entirely of very wealthy people — bankers, developers, commercial lawyers — that Hudson River Park had a very humble birth. It was born of volunteer parent activists, who brought nothing to the park but vision and determination, and a “we shall overcome” attitude. Seems hard to imagine now, but the concept of building a Hudson River Park had far more opponents than proponents in the early 1990s. The park was an idea that grew out of the failed Westway plan, a $2 billion federally funded project that would have buried a highway under what is now West St., and built a park on top. Having a new highway built on the west side of the Village and Chelsea was highly unpopular. An environmental lawyer named Al Butzel brought a lawsuit under the federal National Environmental Policy Act, or NEPA, which succeeded in blocking the project because its environmental impact statement, or E.I.S., had some fudged numbers about striped bass. Various plans were proposed that involved renovating the collapsing wooden piers and building a waterfront park. But these were opposed by Village activists who claimed that if built, the park would look like Battery Park City, with high-rise condos blocking the community from the waterfront. Most of the same
District Leader Arthur Schwartz was a leader in the struggle to get playing fields on Pier 40.
environmental groups that had defeated Westway wanted a park, because they saw that the benefits are public interaction with the river, and because a park could be a vehicle to provide estuarial protection. Butzel organized the Hudson River Park Alliance to push for legislation to create a park. He found support from Richard Gottfried, the Chelsea-Hells Kitchen assemblymember, and Franz Leichter, the Upper West Side state senator. Together they worked with Butzel to draft the Hudson River Park Act. But Deborah Glick, the Greenwich VillageSoho assemblymember, was a steadfast opponent and leading naysayer. So, when the bill was introduced in 1997, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver wouldn’t allow it onto the floor. Glick was a key ally of the now-convicted Assembly speaker right up to his demise. Community Board 2 wasn’t much better. C.B. 2 was staunchly anti-park, so much so that when the Hudson River bike path was proposed in 1995, the board voted “No” by a margin of 42 to 1. I was the only vote in favor. Kids playing Little League baseball and youth soccer in the Village-Soho area had very little playing space. The only non-blacktop field was at J.J. Walker Park,
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and that was solid clay, with hills and holes, and susceptible to being a mud bath when it rained. I was on C.B. 2 and the Greenwich Village Little League board when I was elected Democratic district leader in 1995. Tobi Bergman, president of G.V.L.L., and Jeff Lydon, president of the Downtown United Soccer Club, and Mike Mirisola, a Bleecker St. merchant and Little League father, came to me shortly afterward in the spring of 1996 with a proposal to use the Pier 40 courtyard as a field. Both leagues pledged to raise $250,000 to build a field. They asked if we could set up a meeting with Governor Pataki (the pier was under state control). So, on a day in late spring, we went to the governor’s office in Albany, and met with a staff lawyer named Rob Balachandran (who would later become president of the Hudson River Park Trust). Rob loved our proposal, and without even checking said, “O.K., it’s yours if you can raise the funds.” The Pier Park and Playground Association a.k.a. P3 was created to help raise the funds. We did not dare tell C.B. 2, or else they and Deborah Glick would try to undercut us. But in the fall of 1996 we got word that the state, through a new entity called the Hudson River Park Conservancy, had leased Pier 40 out to a parking lot operator — the entire pier — for $4 million per year for four years. The whole pier. The lease was to take effect on a Wednesday. That Monday a group of parents and kids went to the governor’s office at Third Ave. and 41st St., and kicked a soccer ball around the lobby, while we demanded to meet with Governor Pataki. Didn’t work. So the parent leaders looked at me and said, “You are a lawyer. Don’t we have a contract? Can’t you get an injunction?” I agreed to try. We had 36 hours. I filed suit the next evening, at around 5 p.m., called the attorney general’s office, sent over a set of papers, and proceeded to set up a night session with the judge on duty, Alice Schlesinger. She saw us at 8 p.m. in her kitchen in the Gramercy Park area. We argued our “breach of contract” case for two hours. We said that once the lease commenced, we would never get a chance to effectuate our plan. The judge agreed and issued a T.R.O. (temporary restraining order). The next day, I got a call from Al Butzel, asking about the case, and then asking if I had considered a claim under SEQRA, the State Environmental Quality Review Act. I said I didn’t even know what SEQRA was. So, Al came down to my office, and did a quick tutorial, and together we amended the lawsuit. An amazing litigator had joined our team, which now also included Tribeca civil-rights lawyer Dan Alterman. Months of litigation followed, now in front of Justice Jane Solomon. Turned out (as Al had guessed) the Hudson River Park Conservancy had never even done an environmental assessment (E.A.), a key requirement of SEQRA. In the summer of 1997, Judge Solomon warned the Park Conservancy that she was likely to throw out altogether the $14 million contract for the pier’s master lease. Soon afterward, we got a call. It was from James Ortenzio, the Conservancy’s president and chairperson of the New York Republican Party. The governor wanted to make a deal. Through the fall we met numerous times at the governor’s office, and hammered out a deal, which included the leaseholders — Meir Cohen and Ben Korman. We would get a field on the roof, and an indoor field. P3 would get an indoor batting and practice area, and funding to run programs, and, the biggest part — the SCHWARTZ continued on p. 31 TheVillager.com
HUDSON RIVER PARK @ 20
How Pr. 40 ﬁght brought us Hudson River Park SCHWARTZ continued from p. 30
state would foot the bill, a cost of more than $2 million. The governor and I announced the plan to a huge press event on Pier 40 on a cold day on Dec., 23, 1997. He remarked that I was the most cooperative Democrat he had worked with all year. The Times reported it like this: “Proponents of the athletic sites, to be used mainly by children on Manhattan’s West Side, had long envisioned the Pier 40 venture to be an important first step in the revitalization of the riverfront. But they had been at odds with the state, which owns the pier and had planned to continue using it entirely as a parking garage for the next four years. “ ‘This is a small step, but it sets an important precedent,’ said Arthur Schwartz, a Manhattan lawyer who represented a coalition of parents’ groups, environmentalists and Greenwich Village advocates who had sued to block the state’s plan for parking, and to secure part of the pier for recreation. “ ‘This is the first time that a commercial space on the waterfront is being converted to parkland,’ Mr. Schwartz said, ‘and once it begins drawing people out there, they are not going to be inclined to give it up.’ ” Parents were ecstatic. We were going to get a new waterfront field, in time
for the 1998 youth soccer season. Tobi and I became active participants in Al Butzel’s Hudson River Park Alliance, actually incorporating a group called Friends of Hudson River Park. In June 1998, the Gottfried-Leichter Bill once again made it through committee in Albany. We had a new C.B. 2 chairperson, who was not anti-park, Alan Gerson (later to be elected to the City Council). Alan knew that there was a growing constituency for a park, and he asked Speaker Silver to allow the bill to go for a vote if it was approved by C.B. 2. Silver agreed. There followed one of the wildest C.B. 2 meetings ever: 500 people in the old St. Vincent’s 11th-floor auditorium, hundreds of them kids in their baseball and soccer uniforms. Speaker after speaker implored C.B. 2 to support the bill. An anti-park person called the Fire Department, which made some people leave the room. But we got to vote. By a 10-vote margin the resolution to support the legislation passed. Gerson called up Silver on my cell phone, and told him the C.B. 2 vote. It was the last night of the legislative session, and somewhere around midnight, the bill passed the Assembly and then the Senate. Deborah Glick voted “No.” In September, Governor Pataki signed the bill, and made a funding deal with Mayor Rudy Giuliani (whose rep-
resentatives on the Conservancy board had voted against the Little League Pier 40 deal.) The next day, Governor Pataki kicked out the first soccer ball at the ribboncutting on the rooftop field. Hundreds of kids and parents trekked up to the roof of Pier 40 for soccer games and then Little League games. A park constituency was born. The Hudson River Park Alliance folded its tent. We in the Village handed over our organizational incorporation to Butzel, and Friends of Hudson River Park was born. Nothing thereafter was linear. Because federal money was involved, at Glick’s urging, Congressmember Jerry Nadler demanded that a federal E.I.S. be done for the park. That slowed the park down two years. Construction of the Village segment, the park’s first section to be built, began in early 2001. By spring 2003, it had opened. Under the act, parking uses in the Pier 40 courtyard had to end by 2003. When no new plan for Pier 40 was agreed on, we filed suit again. This time, the Trust folded without litigation. Artificial-turf fields were built in the Pier 40 courtyard, making it one of the largest athletic facilities in New York City outside of a major park, like Central Park. Activist participation in the Friends board peaked around 2006, when Gov-
ernor Eliot Spitzer appointed Emperor Michael Bloomberg’s multimillionaire consort, Diana Taylor, as president of the Hudson River Park Trust’s board. Friends had sued to get the Department of Sanitation off the Gansevoort Peninsula, to get a restaurant off the 23rd St. park space, and to stop helicopter tours. But Taylor wanted the activists off the Friends board; if that plan was refused, she threatened to start her own 501(c) (3) nonprofit. The purge began, and Friends became a place for wealthy people to act like they are helping grow a park. The park remains an amazing place, even though it is not completed. Pier 40 is a mecca. But in the 20th anniversary celebration, one would think that Friends, and the Park Trust, were conceived by some wealthy benefactors, and that what exists at Pier 40 today was part of the park plan. Just ain’t so. Schwartz is male Democratic district leader for Greenwich Village; president, Advocates for Justice, a public-interest legal foundation; former chairperson, C.B. 2 Waterfront and Parks Committee, for most of the period between 1998 and 2014; and former board member, Friends of Hudson River Park, from 1999 to 2009.
PHOTO BY SYDNEY PEREIRA
Pier 40, the 14-acre former shipping pier at W. Houston St., has become a sacred cow for Downtown families ever since its gigantic courtyard was transformed into playing-field space about 15 years ago. But getting to that point required a small group of activists and attorneys to play hardball with the state in order to keep the courtyard from continuing to be used for bus and truck parking. TheVillager.com
May 24, 2018
HAPPY 20TH ANNIVERSARY
Chelsea Piers congratulates Hudson River Park on its 20th Anniversary. We are proud to be a part of the park and the community. Hereâ€™s to another 20 years! 32
May 24, 2018
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PHOTO BY LESLEY SUSSMAN
Councilmember Carlina Rivera called it â€œdisgraceful and shamefulâ€? that 75 percent of the cit yâ€™s subway stations lack. A ssemblymember Har vey Epstein, standing behind her, accused the M.T. A . of â€œpoor planningâ€? for not including adding elevators as par t of its L shutdown plan.
Slam â€˜Lâ€™-ack of access ACCESS continued from p. 1
be shut down beginning in April 2019 for 15 months in order to repair damage from Hurricane Sandy to the lineâ€™s Canarsie Tunnel under the East River. The L line serves an estimated 275,000 riders daily and is one of the busiest lines in the Metropolitan Transportation Authorityâ€™s subway system. Although all the L stations that would be affected by the shutdown are being upgraded as part of the project, at least five of these stations would not have handicapped elevator access and thus many not comply with the federal Americans With Disabilities Act. Two of these stations are along 14th St. at Third and Sixth Aves. The A.D.A. is a civil-rights law passed in 1990 that prohibits discrimination based on physical disability. The politicians and transit advocates at last Thursdayâ€™s rally demanded that the A.D.A. regulations be enforced immediately. New Assemblymember Harvey Epstein and state Senator Brad Hoylman opened the press conference by encouraging attendees to chant, â€œLet us ride!â€? â€œWhereâ€™s the plan?â€? and â€œStranded by Cuomo!â€? Epstein then went on to tell the streetcorner crowd of about 20 people that while there was a pressing need to make all the cityâ€™s 472 subway stations accessible to all New Yorkers, this re-construction project was the perfect time to bring the 14th St. stops up to par. â€œThis is an opportunity to modernize some of the most heavily used subway stationsâ€? and get them into compliance with the A.D.A., he said. â€œThis press conference is an attempt to bring the cityâ€™s attention to the issue of inaccessibility in our transit system,â€? Epstein said. â€œMillions of people have physical disabilities or have babies in strollers or are senior citizens with physical impairments and they all need access to our transportation systems, like everyone else.â€? â€œThis is an example of poor planning by the city,â€? he accused. â€œThe M.T.A. is sayTheVillager.com
ing, â€˜Hey, weâ€™re going to close this subway down for a year and a half, and when we reopen it, itâ€™s not going to be accessible.â€™ More importantly, this is a moral issue for our city,â€? he stressed. Hoylman attended the press conference with his daughter, Lucy, who was in a stroller. â€œThere are so many New Yorkers who need access to subway transportation â€” from seniors to the disabled â€” and theyâ€™re being locked out,â€? he declared. â€œLess than a quarter of our subway stations are accessible,â€? he added. â€œLess than a quarter have elevators. The M.T.A. needs to do better. There are many [subway station] elevators not working throughout the city and they all need to be repaired. â€œWeâ€™re here today to tell the M.T.A. that they need to do better. We need elevators here on Third Ave. and also in my district on Sixth Ave.,â€? Hoylman said. â€œWhat theyâ€™re doing is spending millions on sprucing up subway stations. Thatâ€™s like spending money to put down carpets in your house when you donâ€™t have a roof.â€?
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District 2 City Councilmember Carlina Rivera, also spoke at the press conference. â€œItâ€™s disgraceful and shameful that for more than a decade an entire community has been overlooked,â€? she said. Echoing Hoylman, she said, â€œWe have less than 25 percent of subway stations handicapped accessible. â€œWeâ€™re here to demand in writing from the M.T.A. and from all of their partner agencies that they will take advantage of this unique opportunity to install elevators at L stops at Third and Sixth Aves.,â€? Rivera said. â€œThe First Ave. [L subway] stop is getting brand new elevators. Why are we being overlooked? A public transportation system is no good when it is not accessible to 100 percent of the entire public.â€? Also attending the press conference were members of various activist groups, ACCESS continued on p. 43 May 24, 2018
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR Protect our community
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To The Editor: As anyone who has walked down University Place knows, Bowlmor Lanes, a neighborhood garage, several small independent businesses, and Stromboli’s pizza are gone. In their place stands one of the tallest towers in the Village, a condominium apparently designed to look like a penitentiary. There’s no affordable housing planned for it, nor is it likely that the retailers who eventually rent space in it will be any different from the shops one now finds in every airport. Many more towers are planned for the BroadwayUniversity Place corridor between 14th St. and Astor Place. One reason is the area lacks zoning or landmark protections, unlike most of the rest of Greenwich Village. There are no height restrictions in this area. Developers can make money by demolishing almost any building and replacing it with a tall tower topped by a penthouse condo that can be sold to the limited-liability corporation of an unidentified nonresident, who almost certainly won’t live there. Or the razed site can become a large hotel or tech office building of the sort that are also proliferating in the area. There’s only one way to slow this destruction of our neighborhood. We need the sensible zoning changes and landmark protections proposed by the Greenwich Village Society of Historic Preservation. And we are only going to get them if City Councilmember Carlina Rivera honors her campaign promise and tells the mayor that the only way she’ll support his proposed 14th St. “Tech Hub” is if these necessary protections are provided to the adjacent streets that it would impact. Eric Rayman
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The financial issues between the 37 Avenue B Housing Development Fund Corporation and the Lower East Side People’s Federal Credit Union have finally been resolved after a long negotiation process. Both sides are satisfied with the resolution and the H.D.F.C. is moving ahead with needed renovations. Part of the settlement is that there will be no further media attention, but I want to thank The Villager for its support, both personally and on behalf of the tenants. Without you we could not have resolved this difficult
issue. The Villager, to me, is the epitome of what a local newspaper is all about. Frank Macken Macken is community representative, 37 Avenue B H.D.F.C. board
Silver betrayed tenants To The Editor: Re “Silver twice tarnished as jury convicts him following speedy trial” (news article, May 17): What former Assembly Speaker Silver did to tenants by weakening rent-regulation laws still injures our community to this day. There should be a separate trial just to spell out in detail how the loss of rent-regulated apartments helped increase homelessness and general misery and undermined what used to be a real community of Greenwich Village neighbors who care for each other. I have no sympathy regarding Silver’s current age. He enjoyed his power and did not do us well as he made money. Now he should pay. Barbara Ruether
De Blasio wants 14th St. To The Editor: The L shutdown plan is a Trojan horse. De Blasio has wanted this 14th St. plan since 2016. They are using a crisis situation to sidestep an environmental impact process and divert traffic onto narrow, historic residential streets that are sitting on ancient infrastructure in perpetuity. That’s the sleight of hand here and the real issue, which the press has failed to comment on. On top of which they have used questionable data from 2005 that doesn’t even include Uber, Lyft and the like, which only came into being in 2009. But even so, the city’s Department of Transportation predicts a 50 percent increase in traffic to those side streets. And they have failed completely in their assessment of where the traffic would actually go. For example, W. 20th St. is now the only through street after Houston St. That street is already completely backed up with traffic, plus sits above a 150-year-old steam pipe that goes from Seventh Ave. to the East River and has exploded and LETTERS continued on p. 43
May 24, 2018
PHOTOS BY BOB KRASNER
A dad and his daughter got inspired to show off some moves in Tompkins Square Park amid all the dancing festivities.
Turning the Main Stage into some serious â€œflex space.â€?
It rained on their parade, but they danced on BY BOB KR ASNER
ancers with umbrellas and drummers in ponchos filled the streets on Saturday for the 12th Annual Dance Parade. Unfazed by the rain, participants
and paradegoers danced through the downpour into Tompkins Square, where the DanceFest took over the entire park. The Main Stage presented everything from the Eye Catching Circus, from Taiwan, to The Legendary Iconic House of Ninja. from New York City,
while the Teaching Stage, Family Stage and the Social Stage reigned over both playgrounds. Brian Austin, the Dance Paradeâ€™s creative director, called the event â€œa huge success.â€? â€œWe had a solid team of individuals and participants who braved the
weather to celebrate dance, culture and unity through movement,â€? he said. Austin noted that the day was made possible with a crew that was 80 percent volunteers. â€œItâ€™s a labor of love,â€? he said, â€œthat pays off with many smiles and a feeling of accomplishment.â€?
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May 24, 2018
Bringing home the humanity — and inhumanity — of war Gallery exhibition further expands the Larry Burrows legacy
Image courtesy of Laurence Miller Gallery & The Larry Burrows Collection
An injured Marine tries to help a fellow soldier in “Reaching Out” (Mutter Ridge, Nui Cay Tri, October 5, 1966).
Image courtesy of Laurence Miller Gallery & The Larry Burrows Collection
“Operation Prairie” (Hill 484, October 1966), the cover photo of the book by Horst Faas, “Requiem: By the Photographers Who Died in Vietnam and Indochina.”
May 24, 2018
BY NORMAN BORDEN In the pantheon of outstanding war photographers, Larry Burrows easily ranks as one of its bravest. A native Londoner, he dropped out of school at age 16 and got a job in the darkroom of LIFE Magazine’s London bureau. After becoming a staff photographer for LIFE (covering conflicts in the Middle East and Africa, among other assignments), Burrows went to Vietnam in 1962 — and the rest is literally history. For the next nine years, until his death when the helicopter he was in with three fellow photojournalists was shot down over Laos in 1971, Burrows produced a series of searing, memorable longform photo essays. His work brought home the humanity and inhumanity of the Vietnam War and, for that matter, all wars, as no other photographer ever did. By pioneering the use of color film in war photography, his pictures had more impact and mood. He stayed with GIs on the front lines during firefights, hitched rides on helicopters going into combat, and could spend days trying to capture a single image as part of a photo essay. Rather than depending on a chance incident, he was willing to wait until the right moment. This wasn’t typical wartime photojournalism — but it brought him enormous respect from his peers and many honors, including two Robert Capa Gold Medal awards from the Overseas Press Club. Just last year, many of his photographs were used in Ken Burns’ documentary, “Vietnam.” The new exhibition at Laurence Miller Gallery, “Larry Burrows Revisited,” is the gallery’s fifth solo show of his work since 1985, and includes more than 50 color and black and white images that bookend his career. Among them are iconic Vietnam pictures such as “Reaching Out,” and nine images from his best-known series, “One Ride With Yankee Papa 13,” that LIFE published as a 14-page spread in 1965. Work from the 1950s includes news coverage and candid portraits of Brigitte Bardot, Louis Armstrong, C.P. Snow, and T.S. Eliot, along with a memorable image of Winston Churchill from a different point of view. In an interview at the gallery, Russell
Burrows, the photographer’s son and Director of The Larry Burrows Collection, explained that the new show features 11 digital color prints that were made from the original transparencies. “We printed some before in other formats,” he noted. “We used to do everything as dye transfers since the color in the original dyes had an intrinsic richness. But this is the first time we seriously did these as digital prints from the original transparencies — and the color holds up in the new prints.” Recalling how the dye transfers were made for the first Laurence Miller Gallery show in 1985 (10 years after the war ended), Burrows said, “The people who worked on these in the lab were very committed to getting the colors right. But while we were struggling to explain to them how red the mud should be, a couple of sales people from the lab — Vietnam veterans — walked by and said they could smell it. So we called them in and from the beginning, we had a set of prints we could go back to.” Burrows related how, in 1985, he didn’t want to take it upon himself to decide what the color should look like. “The whole idea was to try and match the original picture,” he said. “You find people who see a picture reproduced somewhere else and they say, ‘Why isn’t the picture like that?’ Well, it’s the reproduction that’s wrong.” He explained that his father’s photos have very much of a “Vietnam look,” with colors that are recognizable. Some pictures were shot with Kodachrome, but most were taken with extra High Speed Ektachrome. The other photographers working at the time only shot with black and white film. In one of the new digital prints, “Relief of the Khe Sanh” (1968), the impact of color and Burrows’ well-regarded compositional abilities are very evident. The red flag becomes a framing device, separating soldiers on the left with the artillery piece and helicopter in the background. An army jeep in the lower right completes the picture, with a cloud of yellow dust adding another element to the spectacle. Burrows’ talents raised conflict picBURROWS continued on p. 37 TheVillager.com
Image courtesy of Laurence Miller Gallery & The Larry Burrows Collection
“Ammunition airlift into besieged Khe Sanh” (April 1968) is a stunning tableau of men in war. BURROWS continued from p. 36
tures to the level of fine art. In fact, he was the only photographer allowed to take the doors off a fighter-bomber so he could lean out and take pictures. When other photojournalists asked why they didn’t get the same privilege, the Vietnamese authorities replied, “Mr. Burrows request was granted not because he is a photographer, but because he is an artist.” His editors and colleagues all agreed. Russell Burrows feels many pictures have a cinematic quality, as in a frame from a movie, noting, “There are people coming and going in them.” Perhaps the best example is Burrows’ iconic image entitled “Reaching Out” (1966). It shows an injured Marine, a bloody bandage around his head and supported by fellow Marines, gesturing as if trying to comfort his wounded comrade, who is lying in the mud, his hand grasping the remains of a tree. Other soldiers seem oblivious; it’s just another day of war, and the photographer fills the frame, edge to edge, with the story. However, when it was later discovered that friendly fire had caused the casualties, “Reaching Out” helped fuel antiwar sentiment. “This tableau,” Burrows’ son observed, “has been described as representing the American war in Vietnam.” In his heartfelt introduction to thebook TheVillager.com
“Larry Burrows: Vietnam,” David Halberstam’s wrote, “From the start, the best photos from Vietnam were his. He had a feel for the war and the people fighting it, for the special texture of it, and he understood as well that if you were going to be a photographer for a great photo magazine, this was the ultimate assignment, demanding the ultimate risk, for the two could not be separated, opportunity and risk.” As this exhibition demonstrates so vividly, Larry Burrows made the most of the opportunities and took enormous risks. With images including “Puff the Magic Dragon” (a machine gunner aboard a C-47 over the Mekong Delta), ARVN soldiers loading captured guerillas onto a boat, and Secretary of Defense McNamara at rallies in Saigon, his work is truly monumental, and a poignant reminder of a divisive time in US history. Today, when cable news and the Internet have become the main source of news for millions of people, this show can give a new generation a better appreciation of the permanency and power of a single news photograph. Through June 29 at Laurence Miller Gallery (521 W. 26th St., btw. 10th & 11th Aves.). Image courtesy of Laurence Miller Gallery & The Larry Burrows Collection Hours: Tues.–Fri., 10am–6pm and Sat., In “Prime Minister Winston Churchill, Biggin Hill RAF Station, 1954,” Churchill waits for 11am–6pm. Visit laurencemillergallery.com or Mendes-France, Prime Minister of France, to deplane. call 212-397-3930. May 24, 2018
Shakespeare’s last is another ﬁrst for EPIC Players ‘Tempest’ is the neuro-inclusive troupe’s latest BY SCOTT STIFFLER Having put their stamp on cabaret, musical theater and modern drama, the latest project from EPIC Players is a fi rst-class case of postage due, as the neuro-inclusive company (EPIC stands for “empower, perform, include and create”) adds that mandatory Shakespeare credit to their body of work. Founded in 2016, the young but prolific group is currently an “Anchor Partner” at Tribeca’s Flea Theater. Their 40+ members take part in theatrical productions, workshops and showcases, while also sharpening necessary skills such as on-camera acting and auditioning. Many are on the autism spectrum, working alongside those with Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, and vision or mobility impairment. Determined to present adaptations of stand-alone artistic merit, but also dedicated to creating work that draws upon their unique life experiences, Shakespeare’s final play is a fitting choice for their first excursion into his challenging realm. “There’s an ‘otherness’ about it that we wanted to explore,” noted artistic director Aubrie Therrien, of “The Tempest.” Therrien, who shares directing credit on this production with Travis Burbee and Meggan Dodd, explained why the work resonates with EPIC. “Our Prospero is played by a fellow living on the spectrum,” she said, of lead actor Anton Spivack, “and I think he really encompasses the character’s struggle. Prospero was excommunicated from his social hierarchy by his brother and his peers, and banished to this island where he created his own world, his own magic. Now his relatives are coming onto shore, and he has to decide if he wants to forgive them or not.” “I relate to his feeling of isolation and alienation, and his desire for vengeance,” said Spivack of Prospero. “There have been times in my life where I felt excluded, particularly when I was younger and had a hard time getting along with my classmates… There have been times when others made me want to get back at them,” he noted, but also cited Act 4, Scene 1 as his personal favorite — a telling nod to how the play’s notions of revenge and forgiveness intersect. “In the scene,” Spivack explained,
May 24, 2018
Photo by Ric Sechrest
Anton Spivack as Prospero in EPIC Players’ neuro-inclusive adaptation of “The Tempest.”
L to R: Melissa Jennifer Gonzalez (Sebastian), Yasha Kaminer (Gonzalo) and Dante Jayce (Antonio).
“Prospero blesses the union of Miranda and Ferdinand and makes the pageant appear, only to have it end. It’s a strong emotional shift, going from joyous to deep and contemplative, with one of Shakespeare’s all-time best monologues.” With its tongue-twisting language and layers of emotional complexity, Shakespeare has proven a daunting task to actors of every level of experience — but Therrien noted that in raising their bar to embrace the Bard, the adaptation created by her directing team is comprised largely of “cuts for time/length… and we shifted some minor dialogue around to accommodate the speech needs of our actors.” Audiences familiar with EPIC’s recent work (the Peanuts-themed musical “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” and play, “Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead”) will see a much different cast, Therrien said, noting that in addition to Spivack, those who play “Miranda, Ferdinand, Ariel and Caliban have not had lead roles with us in the past.” This production, she said, has EPIC’s largest cast so far: 20. Somewhat more modest numbers, and new faces, await their upcoming productions, with adaptations of “The Little Prince” and “Little Shop of Horrors” on the horizon. “We are a teaching company,” Therrien said, “so we want to teach actors they might not get the lead in every play.” As for what Spivack would like us to learn from observing the events on Prospero’s newly populated island, he told us, “I hope the audience sees what people with neurological disorders are capable of doing, that we can bring Shakespeare to life and get the audiences to identify with us — and our characters.” May 31–June 10. Thurs.–Sat. at 7pm and Sun. at 2pm. At The Flea Theater (20 Thomas St., btw. Broadway & Church). Runtime: 1 hour, 40 minutes w/10-minute intermission. For tickets, visit theflea.org ($25 general, $55 for reserved). Opening night tickets ($55) include admission to the reception, with food and open bar. More info about EPIC at epicplayersnyc.org. Social Media: facebook. com/epicplayersnyc, instagram.com/ epicplayersnyc, and twitter.com/epicplayersnyc. TheVillager.com
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Letters LETTERS continued from p. 34
killed people in the past. Susan Finley
Pot trumps prez To The Editor: Re “ ‘Sens and the City’; Free the weed!” (news article, May 24): Pot is an herb. Trump is a dope. Aron Kay a.k.a. The Yippie Pieman E-mail letters, not longer than 250 words in length, to news@ thevillager.com or fax to 212229-2790 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.
NOTICE OF SALE SUPREME COURT OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK — COUNTY OF KINGS —Pursuant to an Order of the Court of the State of New York, County of Kings, signed and dated on March 29, 2018, and entered on March 29, 2018 (the “Order”), in the action entitled SuHwa Chu, et. al. v. Lisa Lai, et. al. – Index No. 500668/2014 – I, the undersigned Referee, duly appointed in this action for such purpose, will sell at public auction to the highest bidder, at the Kings County Supreme Courthouse, 360 Adams Street, Brooklyn, NY 11201, Room 224, on June 21, 2018, at 2:30 p.m., the property described and directed to be sold in such Order, which is briefly described as all that certain plot, piece or parcel of land, with the buildings and improvements erected, situate, lying and being in the State of New York, County of New York, with address of: 80 Riverside Boulevard, Unit 5H, New York, New York 10069 (SBL # Block 1171, Lot 4060); (the “Premises”). Such Premises will be sold subject to the terms of the filed Order and the Terms of Sale. AARON D. MASLOW, ESQ. Referee. ALL INQUIRIES TO: Kishner Miller Himes, P.C. Attorneys for Plaintiffs, 420 Lexington Ave. Suite 300, New York, NY 10170, Attn: Ryan O. Miller, Esq., tel. no. 212-297-6268. Dated: Brooklyn, New York 5/23/2018
AARON D. MASLOW, ESQ. Referee
Terms of Sale (include): Ten percent (10.00%) of the purchase money of said Premises will be required to be paid by money order or certified check to the Referee at the time and place of sale, and for which the Referee’s receipt will be given. The residue of said purchase money will be required to be paid by money order or certified check to the Referee on the 30th day after sale when the Referee’s deed will be ready for delivery. TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE, with respect to the closing date as to the purchaser only. Purchaser shall pay all Transfer taxes for the Premises. Sale of the Premises shall be subject to the Condominium’s waiver of its right of first refusal. Upset Price for the Premises is set at $1,350,000.00. Vil: 05/24 – 06/07/2018
ACCESS continued from p. 33
including the Riders Alliance, the Straphangers Campaign and the 504 Democratic Club. The Regional Plan Association was also represented, and several local community board activists also attended. Sasha Blair-Goldensohn, a wheelchair-bound member of the Elevators for Everyone campaign, said the M.T.A. is guilty of dragging its feet for decades on this issue. “Subways are a civil right,” she proclaimed, “and for more than 30 years, the M.T.A. has violated the civil rights of handicapped people.” The M.T.A.’s shutdown proposal outlines enhancements that would be made at four stations along the L train’s Manhattan leg. The First and Third Aves. stations would be closed for the duration of the 15-month shutdown, while portions of the Union Square and Sixth Ave. stations would also be under construction to implement planned station improvements. However, as Rivera noted, only one station — First Ave. — is slated to become A.D.A. accessible, with the installation of new elevators. The Eighth Ave. station already TheVillager.com
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has an elevator, while Union Square has an elevator from the street level to the station’s mezzanine level — but only to some of the platforms within the station. A lawsuit filed by attorney Arthur Schwartz against the M.T.A. and three other agencies on behalf of Village and
Chelsea residents and disabled advocates charges that, under the A.D.A., all the stations in the shutdown zone must be made fully handicap accessible. The lawsuit also argues that the agencies have failed to do a legally required environmental impact statement, or E.I.S., for the shutdown plan.
Tree-mendous vote BUDGETING continued from p. 1
$200,000 for library technology improvements, and $350,000 for technology for schools. “The four projects that received the most votes were all district-wide
projects,” Johnson said afterward, “meaning every neighborhood stands to benefit. We’re going to find ways to fund some of the ballot items that didn’t win. Also, they can always be funded in the future.” May 24, 2018
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