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The Pa P Paper a pe p er e r off Record R ecc or o d for f o r Greenwich fo G r ee Gr eenw e nw nwic ich ic h Village, V lll a Vi ag g e, East ge, E ast a s t Village, as V ll Vi llag age, ag e,, Lower e L ow w er e East E as a s t Side, ast Sd Si Soho, Union Square, Chinatown S o ho Soho So h , Un U ion io n Sq Squa uare ua re,, Ch re h in n att ow o n and an d Noho, No Noho oh ho o , Since Sin Si ncc e 1933 19 3 19 193 33 3

July 12, 2018 • $1.00 Volume 88 • Number 27

Homeward bound! Bowery tenants ready for end-of-Aug. return BY SYDNEY PEREIR A

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ast Friday, the 85 Bowery tenants and their landlord, Joseph Betesh, signed a legal agreement setting the tenants’ return date at Aug. 31. “Tragedy after tragedy occurred to our families who reside at 83-85 Bowery,” Assem-

blymember Yuh-Line Niou said in a statement. “The beginning — almost exactly six months ago — was an unforgettable night all of us.” The settlement between Bestesh and the tenants includes the landlord’s commitment to uphold units’ rent staTENANTS continued on p. 2

Clinton’s the problem, L.E.S. locals tell D.O.T. about bridge-traffic hell BY SYDNEY PEREIR A

T

he city Department of Transportation has finally detailed its shortand long-term solutions for congestion problems at Grand and Clinton Sts. The long-term fixes, however — offered at the June 28 Community Board 3 Transportation on Committee

meeting — are far from final. D.O.T. announced further investigations are necessary to determine which long-term plan for the Williamsburg Bridge traffic is viable. “I don’t have a lot of definitive answers, but I have a lot more data than I had last time,” TRAFFIC continue continued on p. 4

PHOTO BY MILO HESS

Enjoying a refreshing shpritz from the Washington Square Fountain while sheltering under an umbrella is a tried-and-true way to stay cool amid the heat.

A wheel mess: C.B. 2 says widen park path BY LINCOLN ANDERSON

I

t was 6 p.m. last Sunday, and a little boy on his kick scooter was coming through a dangerous “S” curve on the Hudson River bikeway at W. 14th St. He and his dad were in a temporary pedestrian lane that has been marked out on the bike path’s

Seniors fight to save center..... p. 3

western edge — but the turn made the tot suddenly topple off of his scooter, and he fell right smack into the bike lane. The boy’s worried father anxiously reached out to grab his little son’s hand and yank him to safety, right before a lycraclad cyclist came zipping by on a high-tech bike, swerving slightly to barely miss the still-

staggering tyke. It easily could have been an awful accident. This is, at the moment, one of the most chaotic spots on the busiest bikeway in America. The “S” curve is a result of construction on Barry Diller’s Pier55 project to the south, which is creating an extraPATH continued on p. 5

Sparring over fate of Elizabeth St. Garden........p. 8 2 leaders lost: M. Bockman, R. Spadafora.......p. 10 www.TheVillager.com


Bowery tenants ready for end-of-August return TENANTS continued from p. 1

bilization, and Niou said they should be receiving renewal leases soon. If repairs aren’t completed by the end of August, Betesh will pay tenants $150 per day per apartment. If there are delays extending to Sept. 16, the payment per day increases to $250, and if the delay could have been prevented, those sums double, according to court records. The tenants will also receive $25,000 per apartment and a lump sum of $200,000 split between the apartments for their belongings that were discovered in the garbage back in April. The Department of Buildings will give the final O.K. before tenants can return. “This agreement represents a positive outcome for the families of 83-85 Bowery, the building owners and the Chinatown community,” the 83-85 Bowery Tenants Association and Betesh’s Bowery 8385 LLC said in a joint statement Friday. “As has been our shared goal from the beginning of this process, 85 Bowery will now be a safe, affordable, quality building for generations to come.” All permits for construction are in place and work should be finished by the Aug. 31 return date, the statement said, adding that “the tenants and the owner look forward to putting this unfortunate situation behind them and are glad that they were able to reach an agreement.” Niou recounted the cold winter night when the tenants were locked out of their homes without explanation. Even Niou’s office couldn’t obtain clear answers then, she added. Then, after a vacate order was issued, lengthy construction to rebuild the deteriorated and dangerous stairway was delayed after asbestos was found. Asbestos abatement and further construction led to more delays. Meanwhile, tenants at 85 Bowery had to leave behind their belongings and find shelter. Betesh eventually paid for rooms at a hotel in Brooklyn and later at the Wyndham Garden Chinatown, where tenants are currently housed until their return home.

Residents of 85 Bower y celebrated the news of their signed agreement with their landlord last week.

“Since the beginning of this nightmare,” Niou said, “we’ve stood with the tenants and we will continue to stand with them making sure that all of these agreements are met.” The Bowery tenants have fought for months to return back to their homes, and prior to that, had been in litigation with their landlord over other issues. The tenants and organizers became frustrated with D.O.B., as well, though a department spokesperson has said previously construction workers are on site six days a week and that the agency has been committed to holding Betesh accountable. The tenants organized a hunger strike in February outside of the offices of the Department of Housing Preser-

SHERIFF’S SALE BY VIRTUE OF AN EXECUTION ISSUED OUT OF THE SUPREME COURT, NEW YORK COUNTY, in favor of THE CITY OF NEW YORK, and against ERROL RAINESS, to me directed and delivered, I WILL SELL AT PUBLIC AUCTION, by Dennis Alestra DCA# 0840217., auctioneer, as the law directs, FOR CASH ONLY, on the 12TH day of SEPTEMBER, 2018, at 11 O’CLOCK IN THE FORENOON, at: NEW YORK COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE, 66 JOHN STREET, 13TH FLOOR, NEW YORK, NY 10038 in the county of NEW YORK all the right, title and interest which ERROL RAINESS, the judgment debtor(s), had on the 31 ST day of OCTOBER, 2015, or at anytime thereafter, of, in and to the following properties: 212 7TH AVENUE, NEW YORK, NY 10011 BLOCK: 772 LOT: 44 ALL that certain plot, piece or parcel of land, with the buildings and improvements thereon erected, situate, lying and being in the County of New York, City and State of New York, bounded and described as follows: BEGNINING at a point of the intersection of the Northerly Side of 22nd Street, with the Westerly Side of Seventh Avenue RUNNING THENCE westerly along the Northerly side of 22nd Street, 17 Feet 3-1/2 inches; THENCE northerly parallel with said Seventh Avenue, and part of the distance through a Party Wall, 49 feet 5 inches; THENCE easterly parallel with said 22nd Street 17 feet 3-1/2 inches to said Westerly side of Seventh Avenue; and THENCE southerly along the westerly side of Seventh Avenue, 49 feet 5 inches to the point or place of BEGINNING FOR INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY: 212 7th Avenue, New York, NY a/k/a Block 772 Lot 44 on the New York County Tax Map. For conveyancing only: TOGETHER with all the right, title and interest of the party of the first part, of in and to the land lying in the street in front of an adjoining said premises. JOSEPH FUCITO Sheriff of the City of New York

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July 12, 2018

vation and Development and a second one at the end of May in front of City Hall. The hope for the latter was that the mayor would enforce a return date for the tenants. One of the mayor’s only public comments on the matter was on “The Brian Lehrer Show” on WNYC in mid-April, calling it a “thorny case” and saying he didn’t know “why it took so long for this to be acted on.” Organizers from around the city have rallied alongside the 85 Bowery tenants, including Youth Against Displacement, the Democratic Socialists of America and the Coalition to Protect Chinatown & the Lower East Side. Community organizers Shirley Ng, Corky Lee and Don Lee raised an extra few thousand dollars for the tenants as well, according to Ng’s LinkedIn post. “It’s been a great couple of days for the tenants,” said Caitlin Kelmar, a spokesperson for the tenants. “They’re so relieved and excited that this is really finally almost over and that the next step is just them going home, and there’s no more obstacles in their way.” The Coalition to Protect Chinatown & the Lower East Side said in a statement, “This is an astounding accomplishment for all the tenants and supporters involved, and it has become an example for tens of thousands of working families across New York City who are facing displacement.” Coalition members, however, say they are still “furious” over the extensive ef-

forts required to protect the tenants, when they could have been protected under the Chinatown Working Group rezoning plan — a plan community activists worked on at regular meetings over several years going as far back as 2009. The city has refused to adopt the rezoning plan. “We say to Mayor de Blasio: Not one more eviction!” the coalition added in a statement. “Not one more family displaced. Pass the full Chinatown Working Group rezoning plan, now!” Assemblymember Niou kept her focus looking forward, noting the widespread problem of tenant displacement. She stressed the need for better state laws to protect tenants across the city from displacement and increase affordable housing. “Safe and affordable housing,” she said, “is a right which is clearly not reflected in the current state of housing in New York.” Shuo Jin, a leader of the 85 Bowery tenants, thanked everyone who helped play a part in ensuring the tenants’ return. “We are so happy to have reached this agreement,” he said. “We want to thank the whole community for their support, and the elected officials, media and organizations. Every action, including the hunger strikes, our marches and our rallies, you have been there and we couldn’t have done it without your support.” TheVillager.com


Signs of the times: Seniors protested at Cit y Hall over their Village center’s rumored closing.

Seniors fight to retain beloved Barrow center BY LINCOLN ANDERSON

S

enior members of the Greenwich House day program on Barrow St. are panicking over the recent news that the organization may move them to one of its other Village centers — at Our Lady of Pompeii Church, at Carmine and Bleecker Sts. They love their center at 27 Barrow St.; they get hot meals cooked by the cafeteria staff and there are rooms with walls, so they can have separate classes and workshops that don’t intrude on each other, as opposed to the church’s open basement. However, the Greenwich House administration says it has to make some tough budget choices due to New York State managed-care programs that are coming into effect. Basically, the administration says, they can’t afford to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to rent office space, and so are considering

moving their offices to Barrow St., into the space where the seniors are now. As Roy Leavitt, the organization’s executive director for the past 19 years, put it, their main goal is to avoid cutting programs. Leavitt told The Villager that their board of directors has not voted on the matter yet, and that — despite rumors that the Greenwich House Barrow St. program will be moving at the end of this month — that’s not going to happen, and won’t even happen by the end of August. “On something of this magnitude, our board has to vote,” he noted. Between its four senior centers — including the ones on Washington Square North and in Independence Plaza, in Tribeca, Greenwich House serves more than 300 local seniors. Council Speaker Corey Johnson rallied with the seniors Tuesday on the City Hall steps, and vowed he will try to his best to help them stay at Barrow St.

PHOTOS BY TEQUILA MINSKY

Council Speaker Corey Johnson greeted the seniors at their Cit y Hall protest on Tuesday. TheVillager.com

July 12, 2018

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The Villager (USPS 578930) ISSN 0042-6202 Copyright © 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 - © 2018 NYC Community Media LLC. PUBLISHER’S LIABILITY FOR ERROR

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July 12, 2018

TRAFFIC continued from p. 1

Sean Quinn, the agency’s senior director of bicycle and pedestrian programs, told the meeting. Around 71 percent of southbound traffic coming from the F.D.R. Drive heading toward Delancey St. bound for the Williamsburg Bridge takes Grand St. onto Clinton St. That totals around 600 cars per hour during peak hours, according to D.O.T. The notorious intersection at Grand and Clinton has been a target of community activists for several years. “The bottleneck that’s happening at Grand and Clinton didn’t exist before because Clinton St. wasn’t an access point to the bridge,” said Jeremy Sherber, president of the Grand Street Democrats political club. “What we’re trying to convince the D.O.T. of is that Clinton St. is not an appropriate approach to the bridge.” Back in 2012, D.O.T. banned left turns from Essex St. onto Delancey — which was previously the most dangerous intersection in the city — and implemented traffic changes that made Clinton St. a primary route to the Williamsburg Bridge. The changes had unintended consequences, sparking congestion at Grand and Clinton that plagues residents today. “It’s just not the place that cars should be getting to the bridge,” Sherber stressed. The department has already made small, short-term changes, mostly involving better signage. It has modified signal timing and installed signage to get southbound drivers on the F.D.R. to take the E. Houston St. exit instead of the Grand St. exit. Signs along Grand St. also encourage drivers instead to take Norfolk St. — further to the west — to get to Delancey and, ultimately, the bridge. Yet, despite those changes, travel time from the F.D.R. to the Williamsburg Bridge is still quickest by Grand St. compared to both the E. Houston and South St. highway exits. Mapping programs, such as Google Maps and Waze, still direct drivers to take Grand St. since it’s the quickest, taking around 5 to 10 minutes to reach the bridge, depending on the time of day. The South St. exit takes 6 to 11 minutes, and the E. Houston St. exit takes 10 to 12 minutes. Long-term traffic mitigation measures won’t be decided until further analyses are completed at the end of August and into the fall. The department plans to investigate Norfolk St. as the primary route to the bridge, a protected left-turn lane at Essex and Delancey Sts., redesigning the F.D.R. exit ramp to be able to queue more cars, and review Broome St. traffic. The department is also studying more left-turn bans onto Clinton St. during evening peak hours. Other long-term solutions require a higher-level analysis, such as making Clinton St. one-way and southbound between Grand St. and East Broadway, and using Suffolk St. as another access point to the bridge.

PHOTO BY SYDNEY PEREIRA

Car traffic streaming off the Williamsburg Bridge.

One previous community request that the department is investigating is using the Delancey St. South Service Road as an access point for the bridge from the F.D.R. But that would require more stakeholder input than other traffic fi xes — plus, a Uturn onto the bridge would be challenging, the department says. “The theme of tonight is [that], little by little we’re trying to whittle the number of people using Clinton St. to get to the bridge,” Quinn said. “It’s always going to be the main access point, but we’re trying to figure out ways to peel off 100 vehicles here, 100 vehicles there to free up and make it flow a little more easily.” Future short-term fi xes in the works include removing the word “ALT” from signs leading drivers to Williamsburg Bridge via the F.D.R.’s E. Houston St. exit, installing a protected left-turn phase from Essex St. onto Broome St., adding a traffic guard at Clinton St. and East Broadway, and installing a quick curb (vertical, flexible poles) to separate through and left-turn lanes on Grand St. approaching Clinton. Community members raised traffic concerns beyond the intersection at Grand and Clinton at the meeting — though they all point back to gridlock from cars headed toward the Williamsburg Bridge. Take, for instance, the intersection at East Broadway and Clinton St. Lisa Shapanka Arbisser, another member of the Grand Street Democrats, walks along East Broadway at that intersection nearly every day, taking her two young children, ages 3 and 7, to the Educational Alliance, the Seward Park Library and Seward Park. It may be less congested than Grand and Clinton, but it’s still dangerous, she said. “It’s not just unpleasant — it’s really unsafe,” she said. Friday and Saturday evenings, Arbisser has noticed, are particularly bad — with traffic along East Broadway backing up all the way from Clinton to Pitt St.

“There’s generally a ridiculous amount of traffic on Friday afternoon and Saturday evenings,” she said. Several people at the meeting noted that Clinton St. is so congested that cars speed into the bike lanes. Aaron Fineman, assistant secretary of the Seward Park Cooperative board, said a car once almost hit him and his son, who was riding with him. D.O.T.’s Quinn said Jersey barriers could be an appropriate fix in that instance. The co-op’s board, which represents residents in more than 1,600 apartments, is preparing recommendations for D.O.T., as well. “Members of the board, as well as the larger community, have been on the front lines of the Williamsburg Bridge-approach traffic issue for several years now,” Darcey Gerstein, the board’s president, said by email. Gerstein said the traffic fixes currently in place have alleviated some problems, but stressed that Clinton St. as a pathway to the bridge simply is not viable. Emergency vehicles are also having difficulty accessing people’s buildings on Grand St., according to Sandra Strother, the president of the Grand Street Guild Residents Association. She has personally witnessed the difficulty emergency vehicles have in pulling over to get to the residential buildings at 460 and 410 Grand St. “If an emergency vehicle comes, it has to wait an inordinate amount of time in order to gain access to the entrance doors of 460 Grand or 410 Grand,” Strother said. An ambulance coming from the wrong direction on the other side of the street has to “bully” its way through traffic to get to the entrance, she said. Strother doesn’t know of any deaths to date because of the issue, but she remains cautious. “I’m just saying there’s always a possibility of it happening with things as they are,” she said. Looming in the background of any local traffic solutions going forward is ongoing TRAFFIC continued on p. 6 TheVillager.com


A wheel mess: C.B. 2 says widen park bike path PATH continued from p. 1

wide esplanade by the river and, thus, bumping the bike path out to the east. (It wasn’t immediately clear if there would be a permanent bend in the pathway here.) Meanwhile, just to the north, construction on Pier 57 — where Google will be the anchor tenant — has taken away the shoulders from the bike path; in addition, poorly thought-out dark construction netting that has been installed on both sides of the bike path around Pier 57 is obscuring path users’ views as they hit this “S� curve, making it exponentially more dangerous for everyone. Removing the dark netting is a no-brainer that would immediately make this spot far safer by opening up clear sight lines. In addition, the crosswalk across the West Side Highway at W. 14th St. that additionally feeds into this “S� curve hot spot was recently closed, which is helping reduce the mayhem — but only a bit, since not everyone is respecting the crosswalk closure. While pedestrians and joggers using the bike path have always been a problem, they are being forced to do so now because of the construction at Pier 57 and Pier55, which has temporarily taken away the dedicated pedestrian walkway. As a result, along this multi-block strip, a few feet on the western edge of the bikeway — marked with “WALK� stencils — has been used to create a pedestrian lane. Although this frenzied stretch of the bike path is particularly bad, park and cycling advocates say the Hudson River bikeway, in general, is bursting at the seams — and bursting with multiple problems. In addition to pedestrians and joggers, there is now a new breed of users further clogging up the path — namely, electric-powered ones — including electric bikes, skateboards and monowheels. However, the most urgent issue affecting the path is to make it safe against terrorism. Last Halloween, an ISIS-inspired terrorist drove a rental truck onto the bikeway at Pier 40 at W. Houston St. and then gunned his vehicle south, killing eight people, most of them tourists riding bikes. In response, temporary safety barriers were installed up and down the path last November. As of this week, the state Department of Transportation has started installing new permanent safety bollards. Some of the new-model barriers had already been put in at W. 40th St. as of earlier this week. The gap between the new bollards is 48 inches — slightly smaller than the width of the smallest passenger car, which is made in Italy. This is 1 foot tighter than the gap — 60 inches — that existed between the temporary bikeway safety barriers. (Though the TheVillager.com

PHOTO BY LINCOLN ANDERSON

C yclists, joggers, pedestrian tourists and small kids all mix chaotically at the treacherous “S� cur ve at 14th St. on the Hudson River bike path. Construction fencing obscures visibility at the point, which is right bet ween the busy construction zones for Pier55 a.k.a. “Diller Island� and Pier 57, where Google will be the anchor tenant.

gap in some of the temporary barriers does seem tighter than 5 feet.) The new bollards — which are shiny silver metal, topped by bands of yellow — will be installed during the nighttime after 10 p.m. over the next month and a half between W. 59th and Chambers Sts. — which parallels the length of the Hudson River Park — and continuing on all the way down to Battery Place at the bottom of Manhattan. Workers will flag cyclists around the construction areas.

‘The widening should be the main battle.’ Steve Vaccaro

or misjudge this move it obviously could lead to accidents. Meanwhile, Community Board 2, which includes the section of the Hudson River bike path from Canal St. to 14th St., last month passed an advisory resolution calling on state D.O.T. to do

an “infrastructure and traffic behavior� study of the bikeway. The resolution notes that the American Association of State and Highway Officials’ Greenbook cites 5 feet as a desirable width on “shared-use paths.� The community board is also urging D.O.T. to look at widening the path, and also is urging that there be enforcement against illegal electric-powered vehicles and dangerous cyclist behavior, in general, such as speeding, and that a speed limit be set for the bike path and enforced. In general, there needs to be greater enforcement on the path, C.B. 2 said. The board asked that no bollards be installed with the 48-inch gaps until after the requested study — but, obviously, D.O.T. is moving ahead with doing it. The C.B. 2 resolution also asks that the Trust provide accident data for the bike path. The board’s resolution was sent as a letter to Paul Karas, commissioner of state D.O.T. A request for comment for this article from D.O.T. was not responded to by press time. The new safety bollards, specifically, are also an issue for the Hudson River Park Trust, the state-city authority that operates and is building the 4-mile long PATH continued on p. 6

          

        

        

              Cyclists passing through the new barriers at 40th St. didn’t seem to be having any problem with them. But only one cyclist per lane can go through them at a time, making passing impossible at that point — though some faster-moving cyclists were choosing to swerve into the opposite-direction lane if they didn’t want to wait. If cyclists mistime

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July 12, 2018

5


A wheel mess: C.B. 2 says widen park bike path PATH continued from p. 5

waterfront park. In short, the Trust’s current electric- and gas-powered maintenance vehicles cannot fit through the narrower 4-foot-wide gaps between the new bollards. As a result, more staff will be seen on two wheels, plus the park’s vehicles might not all be based at one central garage anymore. “Because of new security measures,” a Trust spokesperson said, “more Trust staff and summer employees will be on bicycles, if vehicles are not needed for transporting goods. We are studying areas to store park vehicles in areas other than Pier 40 [at W. Houston St.], but nothing has been decided.” In general, the Trust referred questions about the bike path to state D.O.T. Hudson River Park Friends, the Trust’s private fundraising arm, reportedly circulated a petition in Albany opposing the new bollards and also calling attention to the bike path’s congestion problem. The Trust does not own the bikeway, which was built and is still owned by state D.O.T. However, the Trust does maintain the bikeway (which is not actually part of the park) for the state and city. In fact, the Trust is currently the subject of multiple lawsuits seeking a total of $300 million in damages from last year’s Halloween attack. Last November, the New York Post reported that the parents of one of that attack’s victims, Darren Drake, 32, in filing notice of their intent to sue, blasted city officials as “grossly negligent [for] failing to remedy the known occurrence of frequent motor vehicles entering the path.” At that time, the Drakes’ attorney charged, “This tragedy was 100 percent preventable.” They planned to sue the state, as well. The Post also reported back then that data obtained by the group NYC Park Advocates showed that 50 motorists

PHOTO BY LINCOLN ANDERSON

C yclists navigate the newly installed securit y bollards on the bike path at W. 40th St. Though not as lengthy or bulk y as the temporar y Jersey barriers and large concrete blocks that were placed on the path last year, the space bet ween the new bollards is only 4 feet. The c yclist on the right, above, made a passing move into the opposite-direction lane because he was moving faster than the other c yclist and the bollards require the bikers to pass through single-file.

were ticketed for driving on the bike path — and one was arrested on the bike path for driving while drunk — between January and October of 2017. In the most horrific incident, nearly a dozen years ago, in December 2006, Eric Ng, 22, was killed while cycling by Pier 40 by a drunk East Village man who was driving his car down the bike path after leaving a party at Chelsea Piers. The Trust declined comment on the litigation, and also on whether it keeps data on accidents on the bike path. Dan Miller, the first vice chairperson of C.B. 2, is also currently the chairperson of the Hudson River Park Advisory Council, and helped spearhead the community board’s resolution calling for a state D.O.T. study of the bikeway. “The bike path was created for members of our community — families, children, commuters, the elderly — to

Clinton is the problem TRAFFIC continued from p. 4

construction at Essex Crossing, as well as the Delancey St. bicycle network project and the expected L train shutdown. The city plans to shut down the Manhattan stretch of the L train for 15 months starting in April 2019. The city plans to implement highoccupancy-vehicle (HOV-3) lanes on the bridge during the L train shutdown from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m., seven days a week. A D.O.T. spokesperson said it’s expected that the HOV-3 lanes would reduce traffic on streets near the bridge while the L train’s East River tunnel is being repaired. The Police Department will enforce

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July 12, 2018

the HOV-3 regulation. During the C.B. 3 Traffic Committee meeting, some community members asked whether the HOV-3 lanes could be permanent. Others were curious how implementation would take place, wondering where cars without at least three passengers would be directed instead. “I think there’s a lot of anxiety about the L train shutdown,” Arbisser said. “I’m curious to see, and I’m optimistic. I actually hope that whatever they have to decide to do about the L train shutdown that, perhaps going forward, will help with some of the longer-term traffic issues we’re dealing with.”

enjoy,” Miller said. “It is being hijacked by electric motorized vehicles, bike racing teams and deliverymen, making it no longer a viable option for many members of our community. The permanent installation of bollards, designed by members of the Department of Homeland Security, place emphasis on anti-terror mechanisms which are in direct conflict to the enjoyment of the bikeway experience. Rather than rush to put a visual band-aid on the bikeway with harmful 48-inch bollards, a study should be conducted to design appropriate methods to increase safety on the bikeway, rather than make it untenable for most users of the park.” Steve Vaccaro, a cyclist activist and attorney focusing on lawsuits involving cyclist injuries and fatalities, said he agrees with C.B. 2 that the Hudson Park bikeway should be widened. “I think the bike path is coming under pressure from all the factors the community board mentioned — and also from increased popularity,” he said. “It’s wildly popular. It should be widened, absolutely. The widening really should be the main battle here.” Like C.B. 2, Vaccaro said what he called “the heterogeneous traffic” on the bike path is a big part of the problem. Basically, joggers and pedestrians should be using the esplanade next to the water — not the bike path, he stressed. The attorney bicycle-commutes each day from the Upper East Side to Lower Manhattan, using the Hudson River bikeway. “I find myself constantly in conflict with pedestrians, runners,” he said of the West Side bikeway. “What frustrates me is that there is zero enforcement in keeping runners off the bike path.” Enforcement should be done by Park Enforcement Patrol, or PEP, officers

or “anyone” from law enforcement, he said. Vaccaro said he’s even had instances where he’ll confront a runner and he or she will point to a faded rollerblader stencil on the bike path — though the attorney will point out that the figure has circles on its feet to indicate wheels. “People know that they’re not supposed to be there,” he said. At the same time, he acknowledged, “At night, they say that the esplanade is too desolate for women — I’m not insensitive to those concerns.” (A woman who was queried while jogging on the outside edge of the bike path a few weeks ago said she prefers it to the esplanade. “There are too many tourists. It slows me down,” Kat, 30, originally from Belarus, now living “Downtown,” complained of the esplanade.) Yet, Vaccaro said, it’s incredibly frustrating to him and fellow cycling activists that it was bikers who fought hard to achieve these car-free spaces, which are now also being exploited by walkers, joggers, e-skateboarders and all the rest. “The runners are what they call in political science, ‘free riders,’” he noted. Why doesn’t the well-funded New York Road Runners club lobby for its own jogging space? he asked. Also irking him, he noted that most joggers run with earphones in both ears. (Cyclists, on the other hand, can be slapped with a $50 ticket if they have earphones in both ears, though are allowed to ride with one earphone in one ear.) “They never hear my bell,” Vaccaro said in exasperation of joggers. “I ring my bell, I call out, I say, ‘Have you tried using the esplanade? It’s over there.’ They say, ‘F--- you.’” Miller of C.B. 2 also feels strongly that joggers should use the esplanade — as they are supposed to do. “I agree 100 percent,” he said. “Keep the joggers, who often run side by side, off the bike path! It’s dangerous for everyone.” Vaccaro also dislikes how electric skateboarders tend to ride right in the middle of the lanes. “They don’t keep right,” he said. “They assume they’re faster — but they’re not.” Meanwhile, electric monowheels are proliferating now, too, and the latest models are hitting speeds of 25 miles per hour, he noted. And it’s anticipated that the number of such electrically powered mini-vehicles will only keep growing. And Transportation Alternatives continues to push for the legalization of electric bikes. But Vaccaro is less miffed at electric bike riders, who he feels at least make eye contact and “communicate.” As for the dangerous “S” curve on PATH continued on p. 11 TheVillager.com


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July 12, 2018

7


Garden vs. housing: Sides make case for space BY LINCOLN ANDERSON

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ore than 200 people turned out on Mon., June 25, for a presentation of a housing plan slated for the Elizabeth St. Garden in Little Italy. But most in the room didn’t attend to learn more about the project — since they were already dead set against it. Instead they came to voice their vehement opposition to it. And they also came to warn of lawsuits, if the city persists in moving ahead with the unpopular plan. It was the inaugural meeting of Community Board 2’s new Elizabeth St. Garden Working Group, chaired by David Gruber, a former chairperson of C.B. 2. Last December, the city unveiled a plan to build 121 units of senior affordable housing on two-thirds of the garden, which runs between Elizabeth and Mott Sts. midblock between Spring and Prince Sts. Called Haven Green, the housing project would preserve only 7,600 square feet of the current 20,000-square-foot green oasis, which is festooned with monuments and architectural ornaments. In addition, under the city’s plan — in a move that is both puzzling and upsetting to many of the project’s opponents — Habitat for Humanity would get 11,000 square feet of office space in the new construction. The development would have 4,000 square feet of commercial space, and SAGE, an organization serving gay seniors, would also have office space in the new building. The development group picked for the project is a consortium of Pennrose Properties, Habitat for Humanity NYC and RiseBoro, a nonprofit formerly known as the Ridgewood Bushwick Senior Citizens Council. At the C.B. 2 meeting, a team of architects presented the project, including one who assured that the community would have input into designing the remaining open space if the housing project is indeed built there. Two officials from the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development were also on hand, as was a top official from Habitat NYC, as it is known. Although there were a couple of contingents of Haven Green supporters in the audience, they were outnumbered by a far larger number of local residents who live near the garden and are furiously fighting to save it. Although the meeting didn’t devolve into the “Jerry Springer Show,” people’s frustration was clear — and, at times, they hooted and jeered in disgust at the team of presenters and city officials. At one point, Matthew Melody, of Curtis + Ginsburg Architects, describing a corridor underneath the planned building that would lead from Elizabeth St. to the reduced amount of green space, said this alleyway of sorts would

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July 12, 2018

PHOTO BY LINCOLN ANDERSON

Max Schoenstein, 11, who lives near the Elizabeth St. Garden, testified about its impor tance to the community.

actually be a garden. “The space is really thought of as a covered garden area,” he said, adding, “People can go there when it’s snowing or raining.” As an image of the proposed building’s Elizabeth St. side was shown — featuring the corridor — it was greeted by boos.

‘Make my day! We’ll see you in court.’ Norman Siegel

Grayson Jordan, a passive-house consultant with the Lower East Sidebased Paul A. Castrucci Architect firm, said that, under the plan, a final design for the leftover garden space — which would involve community input — would be ready by October. After the project’s presenters were done, Jeannine Kiely and Emily Hellstrom, leaders of Friends of Elizabeth St. Garden, teamed up on a scathing rebuttal, basically calling Haven Green a cynical ruse.

“We are here to talk about the facts. This development will destroy the garden,” Kiely said, sparking applause. “This [plan] is not a compromise. A giant building will reduce the size of the garden by 70 percent. The hallway or breezeway [leading to the green space] is a retail tenant amenity. The rooftop green space is not open to the community. The developers are inflating their amount of open space by 30 percent. The lawn is not sustainable due to shadows of the adjacent building.” Under the plan, the remaining open space would be privately owned by Habitat NYC and Pennrose. Hellstrom pleaded, in frustration, “Why? Why? Why are we here? We are all asking, Why?” She said the city should do what Community Board 2 has been urging, and build Haven Green on an alternative site — namely the city-owned lot at Hudson and Clarkson Sts., where, advocates contend, five times as many affordable housing units could be built. Meanwhile, she noted, Little Italy and Soho have only 3 square feet of open space per person — “the size of a subway seat.” “Put the building on Hudson St. and we will be allowing five times as many seniors to age in place,” Hellstrom stated, emphatically. “If this [project] moves forward,” she warned, “we will launch our lawsuit against the city — and we will win. We already have our haven, we already have our green — the soul of our neighborhood, Elizabeth St. Garden.” Hellstrom’s rousing remarks brought down the house, as garden supporters cheered wildly and waved their signs. Friends of Elizabeth St. Garden, along with Elizabeth St. Garden — another group that currently operates

the green space — recently pledged to “coordinate legal strategies” in suing the city to defeat the plan. Each group has retained its own well-known, highpowered attorney: E.S.G.’s is Norman Siegel and F.E.S.G.’s is Michael Gruen. “Our community is very tired because we have been speaking out for five years,” said Joseph Reiver, a leader of E.S.G. “Listen to the community. We don’t want the development on this space. Use the alternative space.” In an end-around Community Board 2, the Bloomberg administration and City Councilmember Margaret Chin stealthily earmarked the Elizabeth St. site for housing without first informing C.B. 2. This stands in stark contrast to the painstaking, years-long consensusbuilding process that occurred at the East Side’s C.B. 3 for the Seward Park Urban Renewal Area, or SPURA, redevelopment project. Because Chin felt she had failed by not getting 100 percent of SPURA’s residential units to be affordable, the Elizabeth St. site was quietly included as an add-on of sorts to SPURA — even though it was in another community board and there had been no public consultation about it. The de Blasio administration, in turn, O.K.’d the housing plan for the garden site. At the June 25 meeting, attorney Siegel took exception to architect Melody having stated that no environmental impact statement, or E.I.S., would be needed for the Haven Green project. He said the required environment assessment statement, or E.A.S., could well lead to a more-rigorous and lengthy E.I.S. “That’s just not true,” Siegel said of Melody’s statement. “The E.A.S. is supposed to tell us whether or not an E.I.S. is required.” Furthermore, Siegel said, because the garden is located within the Little Italy Historic District, Haven Green would be considered a “Type 1 project,” thus triggering a more rigorous environmental review. Siegel explained that, in his view, an E.I.S. should be done to analyze myriad conditions that Haven Green would likely exacerbate, such as air quality, traffic levels, noise, flooding, drainage and storm-water runoff. Basically, the garden is needed because of its positive environmental effects, he said. “Seventy-two percent of the city is concrete,” Siegel explained. “Grass and earth absorb water. This is a growing issue. You want to take that 20,000 square feet and reduce it down to 8,000? No way. You gonna go through with this?” Siegel warned. “Make my day! We’ll see you in court.” Garden supporters cheered and broke into a chant of “Nor-man! Norman! Nor-man!” After the meeting, Siegel told The GARDEN continued on p. 22 TheVillager.com


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July 12, 2018

9


Miriam Bockman, 86, Manhattan County leader

OBITUARY BY GABE HERMAN

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iriam Bockman, a former Village district leader, member of the Village Independent Democrats, and the only woman to serve as Democratic leader of New York County, died June 25 in her home in Manhattan. She was 86. The cause of death was complications from cancer, according to The New York Times. Bockman was part of the Reform movement among Democrats and was a longtime ally of Ed Koch, both of whom got their political starts in the Village Independent Democrats. She became a Village district leader in 1969, with her co-leader John LoCicero, a close ally to Koch who would be his campaign manager. Bockman became county leader in 1977, the same year Koch was first elected mayor. A major political issue for Bockman was judicial reform, according to Tony Hoffmann, who was V.I.D. president from 1978 to ’79. She wanted judges to be picked through a panel system, and wanted to move away from the old Tammany Hall era of backroom deals. Former colleagues remembered Bockman as a smart and friendly person to work with and be around. “She was very bright, articulate,” recalled Carol Greitzer, an early V.I.D. member who preceded Bockman as Village district leader before going on to the City Council. “What I remember about working with her was that she was very knowledgeable, very smart and easy to work with,” said Hoffmann. “I really liked her.” Hoffmann noted that he and Bockman were able to work together even when he stopped supporting Koch after he became mayor. “We split over many of his policies, which I and many others considered racially tinged,” Hoffmann said. “So I and a number of other V.I.D. members split from him, and she stayed with him because of her history that she had with him. And even though we differed strongly on that issue, on the Koch issue, I was able to work with her.” “She was a very nice woman,” recalled George Arzt, who was a New York Post reporter from 1968 to ’87, and became Koch’s press secretary in 1987. He now runs a political consulting firm which he founded in 1992. “She wasn’t a shouter or someone who lost her temper. She tried to rule by intellect among the Democrats. It didn’t work out well.” Bockman resigned as county leader in 1981 after four years due to rivalries and infighting among Democrats, who were largely split among Reformers and mainstream members. Although the last remnants of the Tammany Hall political machine had been kicked out during the ’70s and Koch’s political ascendancy, there were still “a lot of Tammany types,” said Arzt, to go along with the new Reform movement. “It was very difficult to herd them all together,” Arzt said, a problem which he noted continues locally to this day. Bockman told the Times when she became county leader in 1977 that, “One of the great challenges of the county leadership is to show that the community of interests we share are much greater than the things that separate us.” “Even the Reformers were fighting among themselves,” Arzt said. “It was a difficult task. More than difficult, Herculean.” Arzt said that one of the final tipping points for Bock-

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July 12, 2018

VILLAGER FILE PHOTO

Miriam Bockman in a photo that ran in The Villager in July 1971 when she was a Democratic district leader.

COURTESY CAROL GREITZER

Political allies — from Greenwich Village to City Hall — from left, Miriam Bockman, Ed Koch, John LoCicero and Carol Greitzer.

man before resigning was being unable to stop an antiKoch resolution in the V.I.D. When the club split over Koch, a breakaway faction formed the Village Reform Democratic Club, or V.R.D.C. In the early years after the split, the rivalry between the two clubs was fierce. Bockman is the only woman to lead a county Democratic organization in any of the five boroughs. Arzt said that “she always remained close to John LoCicero and to Ed Koch.” Koch appointed her in 1986 as a salaried commissioner at the Board of Standards and Appeals, which deals with such local matters as zoning issues. “It is disappointing that there hasn’t been another woman,” said Hoffmann. “But I think one of the legacies was that Miriam showed that it can be done, that a woman can be county leader.” Hoffmann said another of her legacies was “her advocacy for the Reform movement. … And she was a nice person,” he added. “You don’t have to be a nasty

person to rise within the party.” Miriam Bockman was involved in local Village politics before becoming district leader in 1969, recalled Greitzer, on such issues as keeping Washington Square Park closed to traffic and preserving the Jefferson Market Courthouse as a library. “There were a lot of big community issues and Miriam participated in many of those,” Greitzer said. “We were fighting.” Bockman was born Miriam Levine, on Oct. 25, 1931, in Corona, Queens. Her father was a postal worker, and her parents helped to found a local chapter of the Young Men’s and Young Women’s Hebrew Association. She graduated from Hunter College. She met her husband, Eugene Bockman, in V.I.D. He was a World War II veteran and city archivist who would become commissioner of the Department of Records and Information Services, according to the Times. He died in 1999. Miriam and Eugene moved in their later years from the Village to Battery Park City because of Eugene’s worsening health and the need for a home with wheelchair access, according to Greitzer. “We all were friendly socially as well as politically,” Greitzer said of Miriam and Gene. Miriam was awakened on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, by the crash of one of the planes into the World Trade Center, and was evacuated by boat to New Jersey, where she stayed with her brother, who lived there, Greitzer said. “We didn’t know where she was for sometime, it was a very chaotic time for her,” Greitzer recalled. “A lot of us were concerned about her.” Bockman turned out to be all right and was eventually able to get back into a city apartment. Bockman was recently a member of an unofficial local Village group of political veterans called the V.I.D. Elder Statespeople, noted Greitzer, who remains a member of the group. Greitzer said the group, which also includes LoCicero, meets weekly for lunch to discuss politics, both local and national. “This has been going on for a while, continuing our interest in politics,” Greitzer said. “We get involved locally, some of us are still active in politics.” Koch similarly had his famed “Koch Klatch,” a group of Koch administration veterans and others who met biweekly to talk politics over lunch. Miriam Bockman is survived by a sister and several stepchildren, along with nieces and nephews, according to Greitzer. Before becoming county leader, Bockman was an advertising vice president at The Villager. Greitzer said Bockman definitely has a political legacy in being the only Democratic woman to lead New York County. “New York State does not have women in proportionate numbers the way some other states do,” she noted. “You would think New York would be kind of out in front that way. So I think any woman who has achieved a position of power in New York is setting a precedent, at least. I don’t say they’re going to go down in history for ever and ever, but they certainly stand out because there’s not so many of them.” The former longtime councilmember said she was hopeful that there would be more women in political power. “I think there will be now because women have certainly emerged all over the place,” she said, noting, “When I was elected to the City Council, which was in 1969, there were no women elected officials in all of Manhattan. As soon as I got elected, the next time around, several other women ran and got elected, so it maybe takes somebody to set a precedent.” TheVillager.com


Ron Spadafora, 63, led 9/11 rescue / recovery

OBITUARY BY TEQUIL A MINSK Y

N

o. 62 Greene St. in Soho is decked with the ceremonial bunting and other memorial displays paying homage to one of the bravest of the Fire Department of New York, Assistant Chief Ronald Spadafora, who died Sat., June 23, at age 63. Spadafora was a 40-year Fire Department veteran. As N.Y.F.D. chief of safety, he oversaw rescue and recovery efforts at the World Trade Center site after the Sept. 11, 2001, attack. In December 2015, Spadafora, who was exposed to the toxins at “The Pit” at Ground Zero, got blood cancer: He was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia. He is the 178th member of the Fire Department —and its highest-ranking member— to die of a World Trade-related 9/11 illness. Spadafora was being treated at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore when he died; an escorted procession returned his body to New York. Frank E. Campbell Funeral Chapel held the wake; his fi refighter “bunker gear” jacket and pants were positioned near his body. Following a morning Mass at St. Thomas Church, at E. 53rd St. and Fifth Ave., on Fri., June 29, a police escort preceded the funeral procession — a fi re engine carrying his remains on top in an aluminum Stokes basket (no casket) wrapped in an American flag — so placed “like his brothers killed on Sept. 11,” his domestic partner, Rhonda Roland-Shearer, said. “Seeing his body wrapped in the flag allows people to experience what we witnessed from Ground Zero,” she said. Roland-Shearer met the assistant chief — who was referred to by most as “chief” — as a very involved and committed volunteer during the 9/11 recovery. The funeral procession drove past their Greene St. home, his two beloved dogs, Samson and Skye, waiting outside on its way to the cemetery. The assistant chief grew up in Ozone Park. A track star at Bishop Loughlin Memorial High School in Brooklyn, he earned a B.A. at John Jay College in fi re science, later earning a second B.A. at Queens College, and an M.S. in criminal justice at Long Island University. He returned to John Jay as an adjunct lecturer in fi re science, as well as teaching in the emergency-and-disaster-management program at Metropolitan College of New York, in Lower Manhattan. He wrote for the Fire Department’s training publication; in a recent article, he urged fi refighters to wear their bunker gear, and to recognize exposure to toxins, to wash and shower. The assistant chief’s brother, Frederick, lives on Long Island and noted his sibling’s commitment and how he could have retired years ago. F.D.N.Y. Commissioner Daniel Nigro said of Spadafora in a statement, “In his extraordinary career, he fought fi res in all five boroughs, improved training for every F.D.N.Y. member, and as the chief of fi re prevention for the last eight years, Ron’s dedication and leadership led to greater safety and protection for millions of New Yorkers.” “He was the nicest of guys,” said Steve Prescod, a local home maintenance fellow who has known Spadafora for more than 10 years. Prescod visited him in the hospital and waited for hours for the procession to pass on Spring St. “He introduced me to the owner of two restauTheVillager.com

Ronald Spadafora was the New York Fire Depar tment’s chief of fire prevention.

PHOTO BY TEQUILA MINSKY

Bunting, a banner and bouquets festooned the outside of Ronald Spadafora’s Greene St. home. He was a Soho resident for the last 14 years.

rants that I’ve done work for,” Prescod said. Those local business owners echoed Prescod’s heartfelt sentiments. “I knew the chief for 27 years, even before he moved to the neighborhood,” said Paolo Alavian, owner of Altesi restaurant, which has been at Spring and Sullivan Sts. for 24 years. “I saw the chief every morning walking his two dogs or relaxing on the park bench [on the Spring St. side of Vesuvio Playground],” he said. “After 9/11, he was always concerned about the health of the business.” Inside the restaurant, Alavian pointed to a table near the wall in the front room: “That was his table,” he said. “He came twice a week before he got sick.” Alavian said you would never meet a more peaceful man. “I once told him, ‘You must have the patience of a saint,’” he recalled. Alavian spoke with the assistant chief just three weeks before he died regarding a fi re-safety code detail, not realizing how sick he was. “He was very loyal,” he said. “There are not easy words to describe him.” Spadafora and Roland-Shearer were also regulars at Bistro Les Amis, at Thompson and Spring Sts. “This is a good man. He loved working to make people and the city safe,” said the restaurant’s owner, Roy Ibrahim, of a man he emphasized was humble — so humble, he always spoke in a low, quiet voice. “He ate here at least twice a month, sometimes more,” Ibrahim said, recalling countless times he would sit with Spadafora just socializing, talking about his kids and life, in general. Ibrahim depicted him as having a confident presence, “bigger than life,” yet while being low-key. Ibrahim attended the funeral Mass and recalled the assistant chief’s doctor’s remarks, describing how Spadafora would listen to the latest diagnosis and would bluntly say, “What can we do?” “He was very straightforward,” the restaurateur said. Amy Tan, the author of “The Joy Luck Club,” was a friend and neighbor of Spadafora, and reportedly also spoke at his funeral service. In addition to his brother, Frederick, Spadafora is survived by his son, Brian, his longtime domestic partner, artist and author Rhonda Roland-Shearer, and siblings, Nicholas Spadafora of Manhattan, Sharon Dionisio of West Islip, L.I., and Robert Spadafora of California.

C.B. 2: Widen park bike path PATH continued from p. 6

the Hudson Park bikeway at W. 14th St., he said, “Oh, my God. That has gone through several iterations and the current one is terrible.” (Basically a half dozen or more small orange “Detour” signs were recently plastered all over the construction fence there.) “It’s a disaster,” Vaccaro said of that spot. “I’d be surprised if there haven’t been significant accidents.” At the end of the day, Vaccaro’s recommendation is to increase the path’s total width to 18 feet, which would include two 6-foot-wide bike lanes flanked by two 3-foot-wide pedestrian / jogging lanes.

A polling of cyclists using the path over several visits found that most felt a broader pathway definitely would be better. “They should widen it,” said one of them, Alex, 29, from the Upper West Side. At the same time, she noted, as a native New Yorker, she just always anticipates there will be a certain amount of chaos and knows it’s up to her to fend for herself. Sometimes she also jogs on the Hudson River bike path. Whatever mode she’s in at any given moment, that’s her mindset. “When I’m jogging, joggers rule. When I’m biking, bikers rule,” she shrugged, with a smile. “It’s got the New York attitude,” she said of the bike path. “I just focus on where I want to get to — that’s it.” July 12, 2018

11


LETTERS TO THE EDITOR It’s the operating funds

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To The Editor: Re “Future of Pier 40” (editorial, June 28): Thank you for your editorial about Pier 40. It is indeed time, as you write, “to start thinking, once again, about this critical pier’s future.” Since you wrote about the finances of Hudson River Park, I just wanted to clarify the distinction between capital and operating funds in the park. The $100 million from the sale of development rights to the St. Johns Terminal project will be used exclusively for the capital expense of repairing the piles at Pier 40. The $50 million from the city and $50 million from the state are also capital grants to be used for building out new sections of the park, and that’s what the vast majority of income from the sale of park air rights to Block 675 in Chelsea will do, too. The difficult question of how best to develop Pier 40 is a matter of covering operating expenses: Once the park is built, it’s going to need a projected $48 million a year to run it — to take out the trash, provide security, keep the lights on and water the plants — as well as to pay for capital maintenance, like replacing playground equipment and repairing bulkheads and piers. Pier 40 contributes 25 percent of the park’s operating budget, and the Hudson River Park Trust needs the W. Houston St. pier to continue to do so, since there are only a few places in the park where the Trust is allowed to make its operating income. The park has to generate its own money. Yes, the Hudson River Park Act says that the park will support itself “to the extent practicable.” But, in fact, during its 20-year history, the park has never received revenue from the city and the state for operating and maintenance expenses. It seems crazy, given the park’s huge contribution to economic development and to quality of life — and we should all be fighting for government to do more. Still, it’s unlikely that the city and state will start coughing up that kind of cash annually, especially with the level of deferred maintenance that most city and state parks have incurred during the past 20 years. It’s wonderful that our elected officials see the benefit in completing Hudson River Park. Those capital appropriations are critical to building more playgrounds and gardens. But once we have the chance to enjoy these, we still need solutions for maintaining them. We’ve had

IRA BLUTREICH

a long public process, with more community input to come. The time to rebuild Pier 40 is now. Susanna Aaron Aaron is secretary, Hudson River Park Friends board of directors

C’mon, Gjonaj, don’t lie To The Editor: Re “Gjonaj rallies for small business, but is vague on S.B.J.S.A.” (news article, July 5): The narrative that this is a “collection of issues” does not pass muster. It’s about affordable rent and the right to renew one’s lease, so affordable rent can continue and small businesses can stay in their spaces. It’s not rocket science. Zoning for formula retail, lessening the red tape, etc., are helpful, but affordable rent is everything and should be the priority — which is what the Small Business Jobs Survival Act does. This is something that Mr. Gjonaj does understand and is consciously working against, so he can do the bidding of his luxury developer friends. Gjonaj himself is a landlord and doesn’t seem to understand that taking money from the real estate lobby is a bad thing. I had a quick conversation with the councilman after the June 28 rally. It’s not enough, Mr. Gjonaj, that you “came from poverty” and that all journalists “are haters” when they report your ties to your real estate buddies. If you take Real Estate Board of New York money, meet with REBNY lobbyists and then create impotent legislation that doesn’t truly solve the citywide crisis of dying small businesses — but ultimately keeps REBNY profits high — you are going to get what you deserve: getting voted out of office. If it can happen to Joe Crowley, it can happen to you. And you will have no one to blame but yourself. Marni Halasa E-mail letters, not longer than 250 words in length, to news@thevillager.com or fax to 212-229-2790 or mail to The Villager, Letters to the Editor, 1 MetroTech North, 10th floor, Brooklyn, NY 11201. Please include phone number for confirmation purposes. The Villager reserves the right to edit letters for space, grammar, clarity and libel. Anonymous letters will not be published.

The work ethic of our polticians. 12

July 12, 2018

TheVillager.com


Saving the memory of old New York on E. 9th NOTEBOOK BY K ATE WALTER

A

s I walked into Cobblestones, a vintage shop in the East Village, I heard swing music, the kind my dad played in a band in the 1940s. Ceiling fans were spinning above the long, narrow space packed with purses, shoes, hats, dresses, blouses. The owner, Delanee Koppersmith, sat at a cluttered desk with a rotary dial phone. The store had no cash register. I’d been sad as I cleaned out my childhood home in Paterson, New Jersey, after my widowed mother died. My deceased parents never threw anything out and now we were selling the house. But I felt rejuvenated when Koppersmith, 59, loved my mother’s scarves and gushed over my father’s ties — wide, skinny, silk, hand-painted. She said some were rare. My dad was a sharp dresser and always wore a tie to work. I brought her dozens. As the vintage dealer went through my stash, she pulled out a gorgeous blue number and said, “It’s so beautiful. You should keep this for yourself and wear it.” So I kept it. She put the ties on display selling for $28 to $36. I even brought in my own stuff. The white fur stole I wore to the junior prom landed up in the shop window. I also gave her a plaid spring coat, very Jackie Kennedy. When Koppersmith checked out the pockets, she handed me a pair of rosary beads. One day, while I was in the store, a young woman bought my mother’s pretty blue scarf for $12. Koppersmith winked at me. I felt this sale was a sign from my mother, who’d passed away last year. Mom was saying hello, no doubt pleased someone appreciated her stylishness. Each time I left with an itemized receipt with an estimate of what the store would charge for each item. I’d get half when it sold. I had no idea how Koppersmith could keep track of who gave her what. There was always a pile of new acquisitions on the floor. But I knew she did a good job remembering. My fashionable ex-girlfriend used to bring in items she found at yard sales Upstate. That was how I first met the owner. I called her when going through my parents’ clothes. I started babbling about the great stuff. Koppersmith offered condolences. As I started swinging by, I learned her routine for running a small business that had survived for decades. The store was open six days a week from 1 until 8. I figured she was able to relax at home in the mornings. But Koppersmith told me she got up at 6 every day and was in the shop by 9 dusting, straightening, arranging. She mentioned taking things home to clean and press. TheVillager.com

The white stole the writer wore to her prom on display at Cobblestones.

“Did you ever consider getting an intern?” I asked. “Like a student from FIT?” “Many people have volunteered to help,” she said. “But it’s better for me to be in charge.” Tall and thin, with big, dark hair, Koppersmith often wore tuxedo pants, a ruffled blouse and jaunty neckerchief. She grew up on the Lower East Side and has owned Cobblestones on E. Ninth St. for 37 years. She moved to her current location, between First and Second Aves., in 1989. She called the block “the Madison Avenue of the East Village.” In its heyday, there were more than 30 venues, “interesting stores with character,” she noted. I was impressed her shop had lasted so long. “Lots of things explain my success,” she said. “I have a good variety and I’ve always kept my hours. I’ve worked hard and I’ve been lucky. I love the clothes I sell. My favorite periods are the ’30s and ’40s. The graphic designs were so beautiful then. Just look at the boxes. It was a calmer, simpler time when family meant everything and life was valued.” I asked how she’d come by her affinity for the past. “I definitely think I lived in the ’40s,” she said. “I died young and I returned. Now I’m collecting the belongings I had back then. “People come in for costumes for

plays,” she said. “Designers of shoes and textiles come in for inspiration. The neighborhood used to have more musicians and artists when the rents were cheap. Now they are in Brooklyn. Business is not what it used to be. Internet sales have really hurt, as well as the buyand-trade outlets.” While I emptied out drawers and closets in my parents’ house, making many trips into Cobblestones, I got an idea of what sold. I showed her iPhone photographs of bags and blouses and dresses, and I’d only retrieve what the shopkeeper wanted. She rejected some of Mom’s clothes as “too mature” for her young customers. Since it was spring, she didn’t need winter apparel. But she advised which cold-weather items to hold for her — a fur wrap, a muffler. As I dropped off items weekly, it was as if my parents came back to life through their clothes and accessories. “Your father was really thin,” Koppersmith commented, as she tried on the black tuxedo jacket he wore as a sax player in a swing band. “Someone will buy this for a play.” “Yes, he was thin and tall,” I said, showing her a photo of my father wearing it. “Oh, my God, he was so handsome,” she remarked. “What color eyes did he have?” “Blue,” I said. (Mine are brown like

my mother’s.) When I brought in two pairs of Mom’s shoes, Koppersmith said, “What a tiny foot.” I told her my mother was only 5 feet tall, very petite, and weighed 90 to 100 pounds most of her life. I never realized her foot was that small. One was a pair of pointy-toed mesh high heels that my mother dyed gold to wear to a formal dinner; the other was a gorgeous pair of black-velvet flats with colorful sequins. “Well, that’s interesting,” she said. “Your mom was short and your dad was tall. I bet the tall women were really jealous that she landed a tall guy when a short woman like her could’ve ended up with a short guy.” I never viewed my parents’ height status that way. It seemed the shopkeeper was thinking the way people thought back in the 1940s when my folks married. This woman was totally into the past. As I uncovered stacks of Broadway Playbills when I cleaned out the house, I liked the idea of an actor sporting my father’s tux on stage. Koppersmith has an upbeat personality, greeting each customer who walks into the shop. “Hello, young lady,” she’ll say. “How is your afternoon going? Let me know if I can help you with anything.” What got this woman interested in this quirky occupation? I asked, as she rummaged through a bag of goodies I’d brought in for her appraisal. “I didn’t go to college,” Koppersmith said. “I worked for a designer and then briefly moved to Arizona. When I came back I was 21 and thought, What am I going to do with my life? By then, things started gentrifying in the East Village. My mother always talked about having a vintage store but she had a job with benefits, so it was up to me. When I initially opened in 1981, my rent was $450 a month. I painted the walls, put up shelves. In the first store, I had more glassware and jewelry and less clothing.” I recalled her first place since I had moved from New Jersey to the East Village in 1975 and lived in the neighborhood for two decades. As a witness to the gentrification, I was curious if her clientele had changed. “My customers are mainly young women, students and locals,” Koppersmith said. “I also get a lot of tourists, especially in the summer. I can sit in my chair and go around the world. “Another thing I love about running this business,” she added, “is that I take things on consignment from senior citizens. They are thrilled that their possessions have another life and the income helps them. Through my store, I’m saving the memory of old New York.” Walter is the author of the memoir “Looking for a Kiss: A Chronicle of Downtown Heartbreak and Healing” July 12, 2018

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POLICE B L O T T E R Insta death An Instagram daredevil fell to his death from a West Village building on Thurs., July 5, police said. Cops who responded around 8 a.m. to a 911 call of a man not breathing at 160 Waverly Place, near Grove St., found Jackson Coe, 25, on the ground in the six-story building’s backyard, unconscious and unresponsive. EMS medics pronounced him dead at the scene. An investigation is ongoing. According to the New York Post, Coe had been drinking beforehand with a friend and there was a beer can next to him. Coe, who lived in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, enjoyed taking photos while perched on tall buildings, with his feet in the frame hanging over the edge. According to the Post, he’s the third Instagramtype daredevil / “rooftopper” to die in New York City in the last three-and-a-half years.

Attacks 3 women A drunken homeless man viciously attacked three young women in the East Village Saturday night. According to news reports, around 11:15 p.m. Carlos Munez, 23, first followed a 20-year-old N.Y.U. theater student on his bike as she

was walking on Third Ave. at E. 15th St. on her way to a party. The woman told the Daily News he was trying to talk to her, then cut her off with his bike. After she told the guy, “Stay the f--- away from me,” he tackled her from behind, pulled her down by her neck, and repeatedly punched her in the head until someone pulled him off her, and he fled. The victim said luckily she didn’t suffer a concussion. Around midnight, Munez next reportedly used a bike lock to hit a 19-year-old woman in the back of the neck, then, moments later, near 14th St. and Second Ave., hit a second woman, 20, with the lock, knocking out one of her teeth and cutting her lip, according to reports. Munez was arrested nearby.

Got ’em all Around 10 p.m. on Tues., Jan., 23, a man was walking southbound on West St. from Horatio St., when he was approached and robbed by a group of young men in their late teens or early 20s, police said. According to the victim, 55, one of the young toughs, wearing a red jacket and a mask, showed a gun in his jacket pocket and said, “Take out your wallet, and don’t make it look so obvious.” The victim was not injured. The group fled north and after a canvass was con-

ducted by police, three of them were caught that day and arrested for felony robbery — two 18-year-olds and one 19. Another man, age 20, was arrested April 5, and another, age 19, on April 11. A final arrest was made July 6 of a 20-yearold man. The stolen property included a credit card, ID cards and a Best Buy gift card.

Pitch pipe Just before midnight on Tues., July 3, during a soccer game at Chelsea Waterside Park, at 11th Ave. and 23 St., an argument broke out between two men and turned physical, police said. One man, 35, was hit in the arms and back of the head with a metal pipe, and the attacker then fled in an unknown direction. The victim was taken to the hospital, and while there, was able to positively identify the attacker, who was also at the hospital receiving medical attention. The assailant, a 30-year-old who had not previously known the victim, was arrested for felony assault.

Surprise visit At 5:30 p.m. on Tues., June 5, two men, both 23, were in their apartment at 110 W. 14th St., near Sixth Ave., when one of

them went into his bedroom and found an unknown man there, according to police. The stranger said he had entered the building next door at 108 W. 14th St. because he was running away from someone trying to steal his gold chain from around his neck. The stranger showed his New York State ID and said his name was James, that he lived on W. 14th St., and that he worked in a club. “James” then left the apartment and the resident called 311 to report the incident. The building owner provided video, and Dashawun Wright, 28, was arrested July 3 for attempted felony burglary.

Saucy swipe Just after 9 a.m. on Fri., June 29, $420 in cash was stolen from a safe in the manager’s office at Sotto 13, an Italian restaurant at 140 W. 13th St., while the business was closed, police said. The robber fled in an unknown direction, and the incident was reported the following day. Camera footage was available. Natalie Codispoti, 30, an employee of the place, was arrested July 3 for felony burglary. None of the stolen money was recovered.

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Photo by Judy L. Richheimer

Lars Larsson (left) and Robert Chisholm work with their archivist and restoration expert, Fatan Kanaan. Chisholm Larsson Gallery has over 50,000 original vintage posters, not including duplicates.

Chisholm Larsson: Poster boys for vintage posters Chelsea gallery praises the ‘people’s art’ BY JUDY L. RICHHEIMER Robert Chisholm, co-owner with husband, Lars Larsson, of the vintage poster gallery Chisholm Larsson (145 Eighth Ave., near W. 17th St.), shrugged off his own generosity. Two patrons wanted to buy postcards — Chisholm Larsson carries small and oversized cards, reproducing some of the gallery’s collection — but one had only a $100 bill, and the other no cash, just plastic. “Take the cards as our gift,” Chisholm said, “and pay it forward. Buy something for a stranger,” he instructed each. Then he noted to this reporter, “Sometimes it’s just more efficient to give away small things rather than take the time and trouble to ring TheVillager.com

up a sale.” Chisholm’s attempt to disguise altruism as practicality is undermined by the numerous ways in which the gallery serves the public: It invites browsers to take postcards from a pile clearly marked “Free Stuff.” During street fairs, tables are set up out front, offering more ambitious “free stuff,” such as art books and auction catalogues; and Chisholm Larsson lends posters to libraries and small museums that cannot afford acquisition. Those openhanded gestures mesh well with the primary product sold at Chisholm Larsson. “We’ve always considered posters a people’s art form,”

Chisholm declared. “You can imagine a turn of the century Paris, where these artworks — Toulouse-Lautrec, Mucha — would be on constant display, up on the street. They really have been a public, free art form.” And, in fact, as we toured the gallery, it was evident that some early posters were seemingly created to entice the eye rather than to advertise — the visuals so inapposite from the product being sold. There was a poster from 1986 showcasing a lovely lady surrounded by tea roses and wearing a gossamer gown, which barely promoted its sponsor, the Revere Rubber Company. Elsewhere, a 1920s poster pictured two beautifully rendered North African chil-

dren walking hand in hand, with the simple and discreet caption “LefèvreUtile” — a biscuit company. But the first poster that captured Chisholm’s imagination conveyed a straightforward message. It was a French advertisement from World War I featuring a young soldier, his arm thrust forward, urging us to buy war bonds. Other WW I posters proved equally compelling. “They were dramatic and colorful and heroic and just very artistic,” noted Chisholm, who entered his profession by degrees. In the 1960s he studied English at the University of Virginia and VINTAGE POSTER continued on p. 17 July 12, 2018

15


Photos by Marco Hartmann, via mummenschanz.com

Vignettes address human relationships, but often seem to be just as much about the natural world.

Fans of their tried-and-true silent routines will not be disappointed, but “you & me” also experiments with sound, in the form of musical instruments.

You & Me and Mummenschanz Invigorated troupe’s vignettes, old and new, captivate and amaze BY TRAV S.D. If you’re like many people in my social media feeds, you periodically retreat from the sturm und drang of world affairs in these troubled times to seek solace in the refuge of GIFs and videos capturing cute baby animals and the like. Right on schedule, a certain beloved mime troupe has returned to New York City from their native Switzerland to remind us that the theatre can serve a similar purpose. Mummenschanz are performing their current show, “you & me,” at John Jay College’s Gerald W. Lynch Theater through July 22. Since 1972, Mummenschanz has been delighting audiences from 1 to 100 with their revues of silent vignettes mixing elements of mime, mask, puppetry, and dance. Their name, the German word for “mummery,” is essentially a statement by the company that they are latter-day “mummers” — traveling troupes of multi-skilled performers who crisscrossed Europe during the Medieval era. But this quality of traditionalism is balanced with a modern visual sensibility; the company has always favored props, puppets, and costumes of bold bright colored synthetics and plastics, often

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July 12, 2018

molded in abstract shapes that anchor them in the space age. The company’s official nickname is “The Musicians of Silence.” The original troupe consisted of three performers who’d studied under famed mime instructor Jacques Lecoq: Bernie Schürch and Andres Bossard, both Swiss, and Floriana Frassetto, from Italy. Their success was rapid. Jim Henson was a fan, and featured the company both on “Sesame Street” and “The Muppet Show.” From 1977 through 1980 they enjoyed a successful run on Broadway. Since their founding 46 years ago, there have of course been some changes. Bossard died of AIDS-related complications in 1992. Schürch retired in 2012. Since 2016, Frassetto has led the company in its present incarnation. Their current production has toured throughout Europe and North America for over two years; this is its New York City premiere. The show is a mix of some of Mummenschanz’s popular numbers alongside new things they are trying out. Fans of their tried-and-true routines with giant hands and an enormous balloon will not be disappointed. But they

will also get to enjoy new experimentation with sound, in the form of musical instruments like the cymbal, viola, and violin. The company also experiments with a live video feed. But the bulk of “you & me” is populated with an imaginative realm of beings that suggest everything from clams to tubeworms to frogs to jellyfish to seahorses. Sometimes, personality is given to pure abstraction, simple movement by geometric shapes in space. The vignettes themselves often suggest traditional mimoplays about human relationships, but often seem to be just as much about the entire natural world, from microscopic single-celled organisms to the cosmic shifting of celestial bodies. Audiences are often vocally amused by the mischievous happenings onstage, yet the real pleasures of the show are aesthetic and contemplative just as much as they are comic. And there’s a universality to it: “you & me” would not be inaccessible to the “Teletubbies” crowd, but there’s a subtly profundity that ought to seduce any adult. Simple themes emerge — chaos vs. order, attraction vs. repulsion — that mimic the ebb and flow of the universe.

An egg is always more than an egg for those who can see beyond breakfast. It’s impressive to learn that at age 67, Frassetto is one of those tumbling, spinning, physical performers inside those crazy costumes. “When Bernie retired after 40 years with the company I was confronted with the question ‘What do I do?’ ” Frassetto said. “Do I close the door and burn the costumes? Or do I continue? I’m an artisan. I love to construct things. I love to travel. And my two friends and collaborators, choreographer Tina Kronis, and playwright Richard Alger helped me out, and we worked together. And our four new cast members have brought lots of energy and enthusiasm and their own dreams. It’s too early to say where we go next. But we enjoy being together. We enjoy laughing. And that’s important.” At the moment, it seems like the most important thing in the world. Through July 22 at Gerald W. Lynch Theater at John Jay College (524 W. 59th St., btw. 10th & 11th Aves). Tues.Sat. at 8pm, with Sat. & Sun. matinees at 3pm. For tickets ($29-$85), visit mummenschanz.com. TheVillager.com


VINTAGE POSTER continued from p. 15

hankered after an artistic life. Initially he wanted to be an artist, but realized, “I had a much better eye than the ability to create. I could see that what I did was not as good as I wanted or expected it to be.â€? After school, he worked in New York City for the Plaza Gallery, an auction house handling entire estates, â€œâ€Ś porcelain, furniture, paintings, prints, rugs; everything,â€? he remembered. When it was time to strike out on his own, Chisholm might have specialized in any of those objets, but chose posters — for pragmatic as well as aesthetic reasons. “They are easy to transport,â€? he said. “You can go Europe and come back with 100 posters under your arm.â€? Larsson too had a strong early interest in art, but pursued a career in banking. Born and reared in Sweden, he relocated to New York City to establish the first American branch for a major Swedish bank. Larsson met Chisholm 39 years ago in the Village, where they lived just minutes apart. “He was the boy next door,â€? Chisholm recalled. The couple wed in June of 2016. Chisholm today is in his late 60s and Larsson his early 70s; they are trim and energetic and appear far younger than their respective years. Larsson became a partner in the gallery in 1993. “It was quite a shift. I was in my early 50s, and it was time to do that change,â€? he said. Larsson adapted easily, according to his husband, who noted, “Lars had good instincts.â€? Several years prior, the gallery had settled at its present location, a site that formerly housed La Isla Shoes (throughout the ’70s, the gallery moved from the Upper West Side to the Village and, later, to Soho). “At that time, as you will remember, they couldn’t give retail spaces away on Eighth Avenue.â€? Chisholm recalled of their 1989 arrival in Chelsea. “The place had been on the market for nine months at $850 with no takers,â€? he marveled. In part, the property was chosen for its unusual two-sided window construction. Today, the windows display an everchanging array of posters drawn from the gallery’s stock. When Chisholm began dealing in the ’70s, Art Nouveau was in vogue. That trend continued into the ’90s, after Larsson came on board. “About 30 years back,â€? he recalled, “it was very easy to sell French things, especially in New York City. There was a big demand, whether it was for posters or furniture.â€? During that period, the couple went to Paris four or five times a year to acquire posters. Eventually Art Nouveau, with its riot of flowers and curlicues lost cachet, at least for many Chisholm Larsson cliTheVillager.com

ents. (But Fillmore West posters and other ’60s psychedelia, clearly inspired by that movement, remained hot sellers.) Collectors began to clamor for cleaner lines and for works of more recent vintage. In a statement guaranteed to depress any Gen X or Baby Boomer, Larsson observed: “Young people will come in and ask for something old. We think that means 1920s or 1930s. Oh, no, they mean 1980s or early 1990s.â€? But that potential buyer may have to wait: Works from the ’80s or ’90s are sometimes archived for 20 years. “Let them mature, let their time come,â€? Larsson asserted. One prominent collector, Angelina Lippert, curator for Poster House — which will be the city’s first poster museum when it opens on W. 23 St. (btw. Sixth & Seventh Aves.) in 2019 — extolled the breadth of the Chisholm Larsson collection. “Robert’s and Lars’ gallery occupies a unique space in the field,â€? Lippert wrote in an email. “Unlike so many poster dealers who focus only on one particular area (Art Nouveau, Art Deco), they showcase a diverse and seldom-seen array of posters from around the globe, from Polish film posters to American turn-of-the-century circus, 1960s protest to contemporary marvels‌ as such, [they] have a more accessible, interesting, and vibrant collection than pretty much anyone else in town.â€? They also, she added, “understand that you shouldn’t have to be a millionaire to buy great art‌â€? Prices for a rare poster at Chisholm Larsson can be as high as $10,000 — but the majority of their 50,000 posters (more, counting duplicates) range from $100 to $1,000. Household names (that is, if the household happens to enjoy old posters) represented at various times by Chisholm Larsson include Jules ChĂŠret, star of the Art Nouveau period; A.M. Cassandre, known for his monumental Deco stylings of ships and trains; Milton Glaser, an all-around design icon; and Shepard Fairey, whose HOPE poster arguably helped elect President Barack Obama. Often Chisholm Larsson carries works of well-known artists that diverge from our expectations. Currently on view, for example, a poster by ChĂŠret — known for cavorting, lovely young women — depicts an eye-catching, stylized battle scene. Chisholm’s and Larsson’s wide-ranging taste has paid off by attracting customers from around the world, and the partners have noticed certain national tendencies. According to Larsson, Australians like clean lines and “a little bit of fun,â€? with Chisholm adding, “and nothing earlier than the 1950s.â€? Danes, too, crave humor; and, Larsson notes, the Japanese

want posters that suggest the spare lines of an Audrey Hepburn silhouette. Sometime national tastes flip dramatically. “When the Soviet Union broke up in 1989, they were so tired of the propaganda posters that they grew up with, they just dumped them,� Chisholm recalled. The gallery bought hundreds. “People thought that we were crazy. Now we are selling them back to the Russians.� Serious collectors of posters tend to collect only in that medium. Larsson stated, “I think that you can compare them to people who collect stamps.� And they often collect according to category — aviation is popular — or a specific subject, such as a movie, buying advertisements of the same film as promoted in various countries. Larsson observes, “A lot of time the Italian posters are more sensual and fun. And the actors’ looks change.� Chisholm chimed in, saying, “We’ve seen Italian posters featuring Audrey Hepburn and all of a sudden she’s very zaftig.� Nearly every poster carried by Chisholm Larsson is original. However, when the real thing is impossible to acquire and the image irresistible, they might relax their standards. One example: a poster showing two wholesomelooking young women standing next to their Harleys, planning a road trip — in 1934. The original is impossible to find. They have equally dim hopes of ever acquiring an original for Fritz Lang’s “Metropolis.� Larsson observed, “A lot of people think that they have an original. You hardly can find that.� Chisholm added, “Not for love or money.� Artistry might soften a poster’s message, but at the end of the day, messaging defines the medium. So, do Chisholm and Larsson ever deal posters that they find offensive? “That happens sometimes. We have posters for George Wallace and of course we are not George Wallace fans, and never have been,� Chisholm noted. “But historically they are very interesting.

And history should never be obliterated.� A recent controversial poster from Switzerland called for banning mosques in that country; again, the gallery bought the poster, but deplored the message. The expansive tolerance practiced by Chisholm and Larsson does have its limits. “We bristle when people ask us, ‘What’s a good investment?’ We don’t want anyone to buy anything they don’t like but think is a good investment,� Chisholm professed. And the partners are chagrined by collectors who don’t protect their posters from UV light. Outside, after the interview, we admire the windows, which generally are curated according to holidays or current affairs. (From time to time, images of British royalty dominate.) Chisholm remarked, “A lot of the things in the windows are unique. The only example we’ve ever seen. So, we want to show them off before they disappear into someone’s home.� Chisholm described the installation on view in the southern window at the time of our visit, during Pride Month. “Almost every June,� he noted, “we adorn our windows with remembrances of gay culture.� This year’s lead was an advertisement for the 1970 movie “Ann and Eve,� with a lesbian character — a film critic who, unfortunately, is a murderer as well. Also prominent is the poster for the Italian release of “Boys in the Band,� with a title that translates into English as “Party for the Birthday of Dear Friend Harold.� Chisholm drew attention to a poster of Joe Dallesandro in “Flesh,� aka “Andy Warhol’s Flesh,� noting, “We couldn’t resist adding some eye candy.� Just prior to the gay-themed installation, the window focused on shoes. Why shoes? “Those posters are an homage to the former tenant, La Isla Shoes,� Chisholm explained. Chisholm Larsson Gallery is located at 145 Eighth Ave., near W. 17th St. Visit chisholm-poster.com or call 212-7411703. Facebook: facebook.com/chisholmlarsson. Twitter: @chisholmlarsson.

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Garden vs. housing: Sides make case for space GARDEN continued from p. 8

Villager, “If they don’t do an E.I.S., we’ll have to do our own E.I.S.” Susan Wittenberg, a C.B. 2 member and active garden supporter, noted that the LIRA (Little Italy Restoration Association) affordable housing complex, just south of the garden, could be coming out of the affordable Section 8 program soon — so why not work to save that housing as affordable rather than destroy the garden? An H.P.D. official answered that they are “doing outreach” to try to get LIRA’s owner “to come back to the table and extend affordability.” She added of the proposed Hudson St. alternative site for Haven Green, “We will share our analysis of 388 Hudson St. It’s not five times as much housing in our view. It’s not ‘either / or,’ it’s ‘and.’” The de Blasio administration has responded to the idea of the alternative site by saying that it simply offers another spot to build even more housing. At another point, the H.P.D. official said of the Elizabeth St. Garden location, “At this point, the project for this site has been in the pipeline since 2012, and is ready to move forward.” As for the affordability of Haven Green, she said it would last for at least 60 years, after which, “it’s not automatic that the units come out of afford-

PHOTO BY LINCOLN ANDERSON

Tino Delgado, an original SPUR A tenant, left, and attorney Norman Siegel spoke after the June 25 meeting. They are on opposite sides of the issue on the Elizabeth St. Garden.

ability.” Jennifer Romine, a LIRA resident who has polled the complex’s tenants, said 97 percent of them support keeping the adjacent garden as open community space. “In 1981, when Little Italy was a

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July 12, 2018

sleepy neighborhood,” she recalled, “the city agreed the open space would only be developed if it was a school, and that otherwise, 20,000 square feet — at minimum — would be kept, developed as recreational open space.” Romine charged the Haven Green tenants would, no doubt, get priority on using the remaining open space. “What should I tell the low-income residents who have been waiting 37 years for somewhere to sit?” she asked. But Steve Herrick, executive director of the East Village-based Cooper Square Committee, backed up the H.P.D. official. “We support affordable housing and we think it should be built on as many sites as possible,” he said. Knocking the alternative plan, he added, “There’s no way you can get 610 units of senior housing on that site [Hudson St.]” Supporters of the Haven Green plan noted that 60,000 people are currently living in city shelters. “Housing is a human right!” one called out at one point. Valerio Orselli, former executive director of the Cooper Square Mutual Housing Association, likened the situation to Adam Purple’s Garden of Eden on the Lower East Side, which was bulldozed by the city for low-income housing in the 1980s, and counseled garden advocates to back the city’s plan. “The garden is beautiful,” he said. “The only problem is, the canvas is too big. The head of the Garden of Eden, Adam Purple, refused to compromise and the garden was lost.” Orselli added that Sara D. Roosevelt Park is just “two blocks away” from the Elizabeth St. Garden. “It’s not a park,” a woman called out

in protest, “it’s for basketball.” William Thomas, a member of Open NY, accused, “I suspect some here might be more concerned with their property values than helping the homeless,” sparking offended shouts of “Nooo!” Ed Morris, a self-described philosopher, expressed scorn at Habitat for Humanity taking space in the project. “It should be Habitat for Inhumanity,” he spat. “This is where we hang out. This is our place,” he said, noting the garden is sorely needed because, “Our city is disgusting.” Similarly, Amanda Rodrigues said of Habitat for Humanity, “I’m so disappointed at the way you’re supporting a project that is dividing the community. You’re pitting the community against each other. No one who supports the garden is against affordable housing.” “NIMBY,” someone in the audience muttered as she spoke. Preservationist Kent Barwick, another leading member of F.E.S.G., is renowned for having worked with Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis to landmark Grand Central Terminal. “I am a little unclear,” Barwick said, “why Habitat for Humanity has 11,200 square feet of office space in this project.” Karen Haycox, C.E.O. of Habitat NYC, responded, “We are doing significant preservation work in the area. We are looking for a home; we believe it should be anchored in the community.” Tino Delgado, an original tenant of the SPURA site from when it was cleared for “urban renewal” decades ago, recently finally moved back there into a new affordable apartment. “We need affordable housing,” he told the meeting. “People are dying. You can’t have it all. Working people need something, too.” Also strongly advocating for Haven Green was Jim Fouratt, a gay senior activist from the West Village. “I’m 77,” he said. “I’ve lived in the Village since 1961. I’m under eviction. It’s what they do to all of us older artists.” However, Fouratt drew the ire of many in the audience — and a flurry of objections — when he chided what he called the “rich moms of Soho.” “You live in a townhouse,” he shot back. “I live in a rent-stabilized apartment. I want each of you to think about how you’re going to explain to your children your selfishness about having a garden without affordable housing.” Another issue is the Haven Green apartments will be somewhat small. As one woman, a senior artist, put it, “I want to live a lifestyle creating art — but I don’t want to live in 400 square feet.” Eric Diaz, a lifelong Lower East SidGARDEN continued on p. 23 TheVillager.com


as 200 pack Board 2 meeting on heated issue GARDEN continued from p. 22

er who said he works with 150 seniors and is also a gardener, advocated for the housing project because, he said, “A garden is only partial-year access. Senior housing is year-round.� Lora Tenenbaum, 70, noted she moved into Soho in 1973, and now she and her neighbors in her artists’ co-op are all aging in place. “Green space is very important,� she said. “You’re creating a Hobbesian choice, which is not necessary. It is an amazing space, and we did not have a place like this before. We have been able to create community.� Christopher Marte, who nearly upset Councilmember Chin in last year’s District 1 Democratic primary election, said local businesses — such as cafes and restaurants and McNally Jackson bookstore — really benefit from the beautiful garden’s presence and the foot traffic it brings. “A study should be done,� he said of the garden’s boost to the local economy. Georgette Fleischer, president of Friends of Petrosino Square, said she takes her new baby, Augusta May, to the garden so she can look at the sky. “She is so happy there,� she said. “This is not about affordable housing. This is about development. This is a land

grab. Please do not build this eight-story monstrosity on top of her little piece of paradise.� Allan Reiver, father of E.S.G.’s Joseph Reiver, has leased the Elizabeth St. lot from the city since 1991, and it was he who personally beautified it from a garbage-strewn space to a lush garden. Driving a forklift, he put its signature monuments into place. “Community Board 2 found out quite late that this might be destroyed,� the senior Reiver said of the garden. “Why would H.P.D. be afraid of an E.I.S.? Because it would show that green space is needed desperately. And if you don’t go for [an E.I.S.], we’ll go for it — through the courts, or on our own,� he warned, echoing attorney Siegel’s statement that E.S.G. might do its own E.I.S. for the project if the city refuses to do one. Speaking afterword, Gruber, chairperson of the Elizabeth St. Garden Working Group, said, “I want an E.I.S.� The project will come before the community board in November, and they’ll see what happens then, he noted. No matter what, though, it will go through the city’s Uniform Land Use Review Procedure, or ULURP, which can take around seven months, and which would involve a vote by the full City Council. Like others, Gruber was perplexed at Habit for Humanity taking so much office space in the hotly contested project.

“I think the Habitat people are taking a little bit of a hit on their halo,� he observed. Similarly, calling the move strange,

Allan Reiver pointed out that the 11,200 square feet of office space for Habitat could be used to create 28 affordable apartments of 400 square feet each.

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July 12, 2018

The Villager - July 12, 2018  

July 12, 2018