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The Paper of Record for Greenwich Village, East Village, Lower East Side, Soho, Union Square, Chinatown and Noho, Since 1933

August 30, 2018 • $1.00 Volume 88 • Number 34

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The e Paper of Re Record ecc o e orr d for f o r Greenwich fo G r ee Gr e e nw n w iicc h Village, Vii llll ag V a g e, e , East E as a s t Village, V i llll a Vi ag ge e,, Lower L ow owe err East E as a s t Side, ast Si Si Soho, Union Square, Chinatown So o ho ho o,, Unio U Un n io ion S Sq qu ua a rre e, C Ch h in ina att own o w n and ow an a n d Noho, N o ho, No h o , Since ho Sin Si ncce c e 1933 19 1 9 33 33

August 30, 2018 • $1.00 Volume 88 • Number 34

Petition and politicians ask hedge fund waive $250K fee for evictees BY SYDNEY PEREIR A

A

fter Madison Realty Capital evicted an East Village family, the company was readying to use a clause in the family’s former lease to make them pay Madison Realty $250,000 in legal fees. But last Thursday, just before dozens of activists rallied, word

got out that the company is now considering waiving the fees. Despite the news — and since there is still no official written word on the possibility — activists marched from the Shake Shack in Madison Square Park to outside the Flatiron District home of Joshua Zegen, the manMADISON continued on p. 5

De Blasio: Old P.S. 64 owner ‘exceedingly ‘uncooperative’ on sale BY SYDNEY PEREIR A

M

ayor Bill de Blasio is frustrated with the owner of the old P.S. 64, which has sat empty for more than two decades, he said at a recent media roundtable at Brooklyn Borough Hall. The mayor sat down with Brooklyn media outlets, in-

cluding The Villager’s sister newspaper the Brooklyn Paper, as a part of “City Hall in Your Borough” last Thursday. Though the focus was on Brooklyn issues, de Blasio answered a question by Lincoln Anderson, The Villager’s editor, about the former school MAYOR continued on p. 7

PHOTO BY BOB KRASNER

In the defiant spirit of the garden’s four lions, the community is roaring for Elizabeth St. Garden to be saved intact. See The Villager’s special section, Pages 11 to 26.

Pot-smoking arrests to stop — or will they? BY SYDNEY PEREIR A

S

moking weed in public technically won’t get you arrested starting this Sat., Sept. 1 — but the mayor has laid out exceptions to the new rule that even the Manhattan district attorney is questioning. Mayor Bill de Blasio’s new

Freed, weeds and rakes..........p. 4

directive starting Sept. 1 would direct the New York Police Department to issue summonses — rather than make arrests — for smoking pot in public. The policy will begin a month after Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance’s policy was implemented on Aug. 1. The Manhattan D.A. will

no longer prosecute people for marijuana possession, except for those selling marijuana or if the person poses a “significant threat to public safety.” But the mayor’s policy includes exceptions that are much more significant — and some are questioning whether POT continued on p. 6

Pint-sized pyros torch trucks on L.E.S. .............p. 2 District leader: Why I’m backing Cynthia ...........p. 3 www.TheVillager.com


scene. Bruce James, 23, was arrested for felony reckless endangerment shortly after the incident.

POLICE B L O T T E R

Tricky takeout

Pint-sized pyros According to police, on Sat., Aug. 25, around 3:40 p.m., two boys gained entry into 132 Madison St., by the Manhattan Bridge ramp, by sliding under a fence. Once inside, they reportedly used an accelerant to set three trucks and a backhoe tractor on fire. The blaze “caused substantial damage to the vehicles,” police said. The perps fled the scene in an unknown direction. The first suspect is black, last seen wearing a white T-shirt, black-and-white shorts and black sneakers. He was pushing a black wheelchair with a small black dog seated on it. The second individual is black, last seen wearing blue jeans, dark-colored sneakers and no shirt. He carried a long stick in each hand, using them like walking sticks. Anyone with information is asked to call the Police Department’s Crime Stoppers Hotline, at 800-577-TIPS, or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782). Tips can also be submitted by logging onto the Crime Stoppers Web site, www.nypdcrimestoppers.com, or by texting them to 274637 (CRIMES) and then entering TIP577. All tips are confidential.

Soho burglaries Soho has been seeing a spate of robberies, with the suspect or suspects entering from fire escapes through open and unsecured windows, and stealing cameras, computers and other pricey electronics — all easily carried off. Police have plastered notices around the community, on poles and on residences’ doors.

LABOR +++ DAY

According to police, the contents of a woman’s purse were stolen from inside of Junzi Kitchen, a Chinese restaurant at 170 Bleecker St. at Sullivan St., around 1:50 p.m. Tues., Aug. 7. The woman, 33, who is also the restaurant’s owner, reportedly placed her bag a few feet away from her on the floor and left it unattended for about 15 minutes. Upon retrieving it, the woman discovered that many of her personal belongings, including a MacBook Pro, a Burberry wallet, multiple credit cards and $200 in cash, were missing from the bag. An examination of the store’s video surveillance showed an unknown female perpetrator taking the victim’s property and leaving the location. Two weeks later, on Tues., Aug. 21, after having used the victim’s personal information, Mary Pidhirny, 31, was arrested by detectives for felony grand larceny. IMAGE COURTESY N.Y.P.D.

This puppy-toting pair allegedly torched some trucks and a tractor by the Manhattan Bridge, according to cops.

Local resident Richard Blodgett said there has an uptick of burglaries, including 10 burglaries in the First Precinct, which covers the area south of W. Houston St., in the four weeks ending Aug. 19, up from four a year earlier. Several of the burglaries have been on King St., where the burglar climbed up a fire escape to enter an apartment through an unlocked window. Another was near Prince and Sullivan Sts., through an unlocked window with an air-conditioning unit in it. The best protection, police stress, is to ensure your doors and windows are locked and air conditioners are properly secured in windows.

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August 30, 2018

Knocked onto track Police said that around 7 a.m. on Wed., Aug. 21, a man waiting for a northbound A train at the W. Fourth St. station fell into the tracks while trying to stop a physical fight between a man and woman. According to a report, the victim, 58, noticed the two fighting as he was standing on the platform. When he intervened, the man punched and kicked him, causing the victim to lose his balance and topple onto the train tracks. Although the victim suffered facial pain and bruising to his left knee, he was able to climb from the tracks and refused medical attention on

Taxi takeoff On Fri., Aug. 17, around 11:55 p.m., a 24-year-old woman got into an altercation with a male cab driver while being dropped off at the southeast corner of W. Third St. and Sullivan St., police said. According to the report, the woman was exiting the cab when the driver stated, “Pay your fare.” He pushed the woman, causing her to drop her belongings, including credit cards. The man then picked up her property and fled north up Sullivan St. in his vehicle. The victim, who had no visible injuries, called 911. Three days later, Khalid Javed, 49, was arrested by detectives for felony robbery.

Video nabs violator According to police, a woman, 33, was sitting at the bar of Dos Caminos, at 675 Hudson St. at W. 14th St., on Sat., July 14, around 9:20 p.m., when an unknown person removed her handbag from her chair. The perpetrator fled in an unknown direction with the bag, which contained credit cards, $200 in cash, a MetroCard, New York State ID and other personal belongings. Video surveillance of the theft, retrieved by Sixth Precinct Neighborhood Coordinating Officers, helped identify the suspect as Robin Rice, 57. More than a month later, detectives found and arrested her for felony grand larceny. However, the $650 worth of stolen property was not recovered.

Negatively W. 4th Police said a burglar entered through an unlocked window into a residential apartment near W. Fourth St. and Sixth Ave. on Sat., July 28, just after midnight, and removed an undetermined amount of cash. The suspect, who was caught on video, is described as white or Hispanic, around age 40, 5-feet-10-inches tall, weighing 200 pounds, and last seen wearing a gray hat, black jeans and gray sneakers. Anyone with information is asked to contact Crime Stoppers.

Lucy Stone, Lincoln Anderson and Tequila Minsky TheVillager.com


Why I am backing Nixon and Williams on Sept. 13

TALKING POINT BY ARTHUR Z. SCHWARTZ

O

n Thurs., Sept. 13 (make sure not to forget that our state leaders, ever anxious to depress voter turnout moved this election to a Thursday), we face an incredibly important primary election in New York State. While Trump neophytes are winning Republican primaries, progressive Democrats are winning races all over in states where the polls had them far behind. Georgia, Florida and Arizona all elected underdog candidates from the Democratic Party’s progressive wing to take on Trump Republicans. The same can happen here. And our community, which gave Zephyr Teachout 65 percent of its vote in 2014 against Andrew Cuomo, can make a difference, maybe enough of one to put a new breed of leaders into power in Albany. Andrew Cuomo is, in so many ways, the Democratic mirror image of Donald Trump. Cuomo hates anyone who challenges him. Actually, unlike Trump, he doesn’t like crowds of people, except at events staged very occasionally by the building trades unions. In April, three groups of progressive activists who mainly organize poor people of color around housing, schools and environmental justice, decided to support the candidacy of Cynthia Nixon for governor. These groups, Citizen Action, NY Communities for Change, and Make the Road, all received considerable support from unions. Cuomo told the unions: “If you give money to these groups, you can lose my phone number.” Millions of dollars in funding dried up. And like Trump, Cuomo surrounds himself with “yes men” who have no problem opening up the avenues of government to people with money. And then, many open their own pockets as well, like Cuomo’s former top aide Joe Percoco. Yes, Cuomo, with enormous pressure from the left, pushed through an increase to the minimum wage to $15 per hour. And after he lost Upstate to Teachout in the election for governor, he banned fracking. But under his watch, the subways have fallen apart, public schools are grossly underfunded, gas pipelines are being built across the state, women’s right to choose has not been codified, our election system is broken (New York has the 49th-lowest turnout in the U.S.), the state lacks serious ethics legislation, housing laws continue to be eviscerated, and truly affordable housTheVillager.com

Ar thur Nixon.

Schwar tz

with

C ynthia

ing is not funded. No one I know of would smile and be enthusiastic and tell you: “I love Andrew Cuomo!” And no one would tell you that our state stands as a shining beacon against what Trump is doing in Washington. Cynthia Nixon may be an actress. So are lots of our neighbors. But she is an actress who sent three kids through public school, lives in a not-fancy loft building on Bleecker St., who has campaigned relentlessly for 10 years for better school funding, who has been a leader in the Screen Actors Guild. And unlike Cuomo, she has been enthusiastically embraced by Bernie Sanders’s group, Our Revolution, and by the progressive young candidates fighting to oust Democrats who caucused with Republicans these past eight years, and by the Queens / Bronx socialist firebrand Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Her running mate, City Councilmember Jumaane Williams, who won his last election with 99 percent of the vote, is a former tenants-rights leader who has served nine years on the City Council, and who puts his body where his mouth is. Jumaane led the fight against Mayor Bloomberg’s “stop and frisk” policy, and then organized in his Brooklyn district to stop gun violence. He was a founder of the Council’s Progressive Caucus, which fought for better schools, open government and expanded healthcare. He has promised that, if elected, he will be an independent corruption fighter in Albany. I have never been so impressed with the scope of one candidate’s grasp of issues, and his ease among fellow New Yorkers. So, on Thurs., Sept. 13, I am voting for Cynthia Nixon and Jumaane Williams. I urge my fellow Villagers to do the same. Schwartz is the Village’s Democratic district co-leader. He is also election counsel to Cynthia Nixon’s and Jumaane Williams’s campaigns. August 30, 2018

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August 30, 2018

HOW SWEEP IT WAS: Sent to us by Jeannine Kiely, president of Friends of Elizabeth St. Garden, is this photo from the 1980s of former City Councilmember Kathryn Freed, with Richard Caggiano, left, and another neighbor cleaning up the desolate vacant lot that would one day bloom into the beautiful garden. Freed, who is now a judge, was the Lower Manhattan councilmember from 1992 to 2001. The photo has been making the rounds of local activists. “She was probably a tenant lawyer back then and getting active in D.I.D.,” said Sean Sweeney, a longtime leader of Downtown Independent Democrats who used to be Freed’s boyfriend. “Right around then was when she first became a district leader.” The two haven’t gone out together in 20 years, but he still has feelings for her. “I recently saw her at an event, and I was surprised — I got jealous,” he said. Freed didn’t return a request for comment. It’s not that surprising since judges aren’t supposed to comment on issues that are before the city. SOMETHING FISHY: “I think I found the striped bass.” That was how Arthur Schwartz began an e-mail to The Villager this week about a new — potentially major — angle he recently found in the community’s lawsuit against the L subway shutdown plan. Basically, Schwartz, who is the attorney on the suit, said the city Department of Transportation has been “hiding” something important about its Supplemental Environmental Assessment for the mitigation plan for the shutdown. A document presented at the Aug. 6 public hearing on the S.E.A. showed three alternatives for 14th St. during the planned 15-month L shutdown: a “do nothing” alternative, and two versions of a “Busway” — a shorter option and a full Busway. “All of their data came from a mumbo-jumbo study done by a company called Ainsum,” Schwartz noted, “which did their study by ‘modeling’ rather than counting vehicles. Hidden deep in that study, on Page 41, was a fourth option: ‘SBS only,’ which is pretty much what we have been advocating for, i.e., Select Bus Service like 23rd St. Lo and behold, the SBS-only option shows faster times on all the cross streets AND, amazingly, across 14th St. Clearly, they intentionally left this information out of the S.E.A., which may be why the Ainsum report is not an appendix.” This dishonesty, hiding of numbers, is akin to fudging numbers on striped bass,” Schwartz said, referring to the legal nail in the coffi n that

Former Councilmember Kathr yn Freed, center, in the 1980s at a cleanup of the lot that would eventually become the Elizabeth St. Garden.

ultimately killed the hated Westway $2 billion sunken highway tunnel-and-landfill project in 1985. In short, as Schwartz said, “Their cover-up could cause them a big problem.” D.O.T.’s plan calls for extending the major crosstown boulevard’s pedestrian space into the current parking lanes, and banning cars from the street for much of the day. “The sidewalk-widening and the ban on traffic turns out to be totally unnecessary, even with their mumbojumbo modeling study,” Schwartz said. “I intend to go back into State Court in early September.”

THURSDAY IS VOTING DAY: As Schwartz, who is also the Village’s Democratic district co-leader, mentions in his column this week on his supporting Cynthia Nixon and Jumaane Williams for election, this year’s primary election will not be on a Tuesday, as usual, but on Thurs., Sept. 13. Earlier this year, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a bill pushing the primary back two days, with the change being for this year only. The thinking is that more voters will be able to turn out at the polls on that Thursday versus Sept. 11, which is the last day of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, plus the 17th anniversary of the 9/11 attack. IT’S STILL ON, DON: President Donald Trump has called off his big military parade on Veterans Day, at least for this year. He’s probably just too busy fighting Google and the latest whipping boy du jour. But East Village activist-in-exile (priced out and living in North Carolina) John Penley said he and his group — Veterans and Friends Against War and Nuclear Weapons and V.A. Campout and BBQ D.C. — plan to carry on with their protest plans in Washington. “We have no doubt that the rapidly growing number of requests for protest permits in D.C., and the intel they have on the possible number

of protests and people planning to protest Trump’s military parade, caused the president and the Pentagon to first announce that the parade’s cost was going to be massively higher, and then later announce that the date of the parade had been changed to next year,” said Penley, who is a Vietnam War-era veteran. “Well, as far as I know, at this point nobody is canceling their Veterans Day weekend protests and we definitely are not. Besides we already made our banner and have more on order.”

OPENING UP: Who the heck is William Thomas? you may be asking of the guy who wrote the scathing talking point in this week’s issue attacking Andrew Berman and the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation. In his piece, Thomas blasts Berman & Co.’s failed effort to get Councilmember Carlina Rivera and the city to put extensive neighborhood protections in place as part of the zoning approval for the planned Tech Hub on E. 14th St. We talked a bit on the phone with Thomas, and he tells us he is 25, a recent graduate of Wesleyan University — which, coincidentally, is Berman’s alma mater, too — and has lived in the East Village for three years, which is how long he has lived in New York City. A Westchester native, he also attended Regis, the all-scholarship elite Upper East Side high school. He works in marketing and shares his East Village market-rate pad with two roommates who sleep in a bunk bed. His group, Open New York, a “pro-housing organization,” is part of the national YIMBY — Yes in My Backyard — movement, he said, and has 100 members, 30 of whom attend their monthly meetings. He’s a board member. The core belief of the YIMBYs, according to Thomas? “The fact that we think the housing shortage is being driven by overly strict zoning.” The group is only about one year old. His company mainly works in financial services, not real estate, he told us. TheVillager.com


Petition, pols ask hedge fund to waive $250K fee MADISON continued from p. 1

aging principal of Madison Realty. “This story is not, unfortunately, unique,” Assemblymember Harvey Epstein told the rally. “This issue will not go away,” he said. “How many families are going to have to struggle? How many families are going to have to suffer? Just like this family, it is our job [to come] together to say, ‘No more.’ ” The Smith-Stone family was locked in legal battles with their landlord for three years over whether their apartment was rent-stabilized. In late 2016, a judge ruled the unit was “decontrolled” when the Smith-Stones first moved in and the rent was raised from $1836.20 to more than $2,000 — past the threshold that existed at that time to remove the unit from the rent-stabilization program. Earlier this summer, the family was evicted. Activists say the $250,000 in legal fees demanded by Madison Realty from the lengthy court challenge would likely send the family into bankruptcy. Craig Smith and Elise Stone had lived in the building, 233 E. Fifth St., since 2003, raising a family while founding the nonprofit Phoenix Theatre Ensemble. At last Thursday’s rally, activists presented Zegen with a “Predators’ Clearinghouse Sweepstakes” award for $250,000, in hopes he would waive the fees. In street theater evocative of the family’s involvement in the Village’s drama community, an activist in a mask with Zegen’s face accepted the check. They also tried to deliver a gift bag to Zegen with a mock check of $250,000, a DVD about philanthropist Julius Rosenwald and an Abraham Lincoln quote: “You must remember that some things legally right are not morally right.” But the doormen at 10 Madison Square West blocked the delivery attempt. Madison Realty declined to comment. “We wanted to win this for us and for New York City tenants. But after three stressful years of litigation, the courts missed an opportunity to protect tenants and advance affordable housing,” Craig Smith, the family’s father, said in a written statement. “At the very least, they could have turned a seriously flawed statute back to the legislature and tell them to ‘fix it.’ Instead, the justices in Albany gifted the New York City real estate lobby, turning our home over to a multibillion-dollar hedge fund that now wants us to pay their legal bills.” Smith said his family misses the community — their church, grocer, school, merchants, friends and artists. “We raised our kids here — a family, an unusual East Village commodity these days,” Smith said. The Smith-Stone family’s downstairs neighbor for 15 years, Jim Markowich, echoed concerns about the larger struggle by tenants citywide. “They were fighting not just for themselves,” Markowich said. They were TheVillager.com

PHOTO BY SYDNEY PEREIRA

At last Thursday’s rally, an activist wearing a mask of Madison Realt y’s Joshua Zegen was given a gift bag and a “Predators’ Clearinghouse Sweepstakes” award for $250,000, in hopes that Madison would waive the legal fees that the evicted Smith-Stone family is obligated to pay under their former lease.

fighting because their case could have helped other deregulated apartments to be restored to the program, he said. “They fought that battle courageously, even though they didn’t have money,” he said. Recent legislation passed in the City Council and a package of legislation passed in the Assembly is intended to combat landlords trying to push out rentregulated tenants, a practice often seen in “hot neighborhoods” like the East Village and Lower East Side. “This story is about greed and corruption,” Assemblymember Epstein told the activists. “This story is about how Albany has failed our city.” Landlords, financed by loans, appear to be buying up buildings based on how much they anticipate they could profit if all the units went market rate. State Senator Brad Hoylman and Epstein penned legislation in June directing the state Department of Financial Services to study the matter in hopes of revealing how financial institutions give out loans for commercial and residential buildings. The bill has not been passed by either the Assembly or Senate. Hoylman told The Villager in June that the legislation is “urgently needed” and lawmakers “need the data on this issue in order to try to address the problem.” Last Tuesday, Hoylman wrote to Zegen requesting Madison Realty waive the evicted East Village family’s legal fees. The Smith-Stones are “longtime neighborhood artists for whom these fees will most certainly result in bankruptcy,” Hoylman wrote. “As a gesture of corporate citizenship and goodwill to the East Village neighborhood, I urge you to intervene and ensure that these fees will be waived by 233 E. 5th St., LLC to protect this highly regarded family from financial ruin.” Councilmember Carlina Rivera spoke on the phone with Madison executives

last Tuesday, urging the company waive the fees against the Smith-Stone family. “I stand with my colleagues and neighbors in calling on Madison Realty Capital to revoke its petition for payment,” Rivera said in a written statement. “Families already feel powerless in fighting against big-moneyed real estate corporations. They shouldn’t be intimidated with po-

tential six-figure fines for pursuing fair legal action to protect their homes.” A group called Tenants Taking Control, or T.T.C., created a petition earlier this month for neighbors to sign, requesting in a letter to Zegen that Madison Realty pay its own legal fees. The Smith-Stones began their fight to stay in their apartment with former landlord Raphael Toledano. In early 2017, Madison Realty foreclosed on Toledano on more than a dozen properties. At the time, a source familiar with New York real estate told The Villager the foreclosure was no surprise since Madison Realty operates on a “loan-toown” business model. A fellow former Toledano tenant at a Chelsea building now owned by Madison Realty recalled 10 days without heat and hot water this past spring because there was nobody to pay the bills. Alison Frauenglass, who was born in her W. 16th home, added that her building superintendent wasn’t paid for six months. “I think one of the scariest things when you’re a tenant in a rent-regulated building that’s been bought by somebody is the anxiety of the unknown,” said Frauenglass, decked out in a floor-length, sparkling dress for the mock sweepstakes activists performed. But organizing with other former Toledano tenants — like they did last Thursday — makes that anxiety fade, she said.

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Visit NYC.gov/knowyourzone or call 311 to find out what to do to prepare for hurricanes in NYC #knowyourzone

August 30, 2018

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Pot-smoking arrests to stop — or will they? POT continued from p. 1

its intended goal to reduce racial bias is even posssible due to those so-called “carve-outs.” Under de Blasio’s directive, police officers would be able to arrest people for pot possession or smoking if they are on probation or parole, havee ve existing criminal warrants, don’t have an ID, have heir a recent documented history of violence, or their smoking poses a public safety risk, including while driving. The city expects marijuana arrests to drop by 10,000 per year under the policy. The Manhattan D.A.’s office estimates marijuana possession prosecutions, in this borough alone, will plummet from 5,000 to 200 per year. “Technically, what the mayor and the D.A. have done can be looked at as some form of decriminalization,” said Chris Alexander, the Drug Policy Alliance’s policy coordinator. But, he added, “If they’re really trying to decriminalize, [they should] remove criminal penalties altogether.” The D.A.’s “shift is a little bit more significant and a little bit more sweeping and probably is going to be more impactful,” Alexander added. Mayor de Blasio’s exceptions for the Police Department would continue to allow officers to stop and run a background check on someone smoking weed. If that person doesn’t have an ID, they would be arrested. Plus, marijuana possession arrests already disproportionately impact young people in their teens and twenties. Young people, said Alexander, are less likely to even know if they have a warrant in the first place. “We just know that when you leave people out like this, the people who end up getting hurt the most are people that are black and Latino from low-income communities, are homeless, are noncitizens — the list goes on,” he said. Marijuana, in short, becomes a “tool” to be used by law enforcement officers, he said. The Manhattan D.A.’s Office argues the policy won’t even address the racial bias in marijuana arrests, which disproportionately impacts black and Latino people. Though Vance’s communications director Danny Frost said de Blasio’s policy is a “welcome step” toward reducing unnecessary pot arrests, the city’s new stance likely won’t solve racial bias in policing. “The mayor’s policy, while laudably reducing the number of arrests for marijuana, is not likely to alleviate racial disparities,” Frost said in a statement. “Rather, by excluding from its benefit racially disparate populations, such as New Yorkers with prior arrests, people on probation and parolees working to reenter their communities, this policy could have the unintended consequence of further solidifying the racial inequities in marijuana enforcement.” Rebecca Kavanagh, senior staff attorney at the Legal Aid Society, added that giving police officers discretion creates further problems. “The police officer uses his or her discretion and can decide on the basis of nothing to make an arrest,” she argued. “Whenever you have an exception, whenever someone has discretion, you’re going to have racism in the application of that discretion.” When a person is on probation, it means their crime resulted in a non-jail sentence since it was a nonviolent, minor crime. Those on parole have already served their jail time and been released, but must follow certain conditions, such as not violating the law again. “Why should they face an additional penalty [versus] someone who’s not on parole or probation?” Kavanagh said. “It’s really going to be the same people who are

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PHOTO BY MILO HESS

A woman publicly puffed on a big blunt in Union Square at the Cannabis Parade and Rally in May. A s of Sept. 1, police will stop making arrests for smoking pot in public and can issue tickets instead — but there are a lot of mayorsanctioned loopholes, such as not having ID, that will allow cops to still make an arrest. A summons for public pot smoking usually runs $100, but the fine amount is at the discretion of the judge, who can take past offenses into account.

coming through the system now,” she said of de Blasio’s policy change. She noted that police can still stop someone for smoking pot in order to determine whether or not he or she falls into one of the exceptions.

Marijuana will be a ‘tool’ used by police, critics say.

“You can’t determine any of those things without stopping people,” said Kavanagh, who practices in Brooklyn. Put simply, she said, “So if someone does have marijuana, you can be stopped.” And “who are they going to stop?” she added, “they are going to stop black and brown people.” According to a report last summer by the Drug Policy Alliance, about 86 percent of marijuana arrests in New York City between 2014 and 2016 were of black and Latino persons, even though blacks and Latinos together comprise roughly 51 percent of the city’s total population. A report released by the Police Reform Organizing Project this year found that 93 percent of marijuana possession arrests during the first six months of 2018

were of people of color, the New York Post reported in late July. “The numbers just document in an undeniable way that the practice is racist,” said Bob Gangi, who heads PROP. The highest rates of marijuana possession arrests in Downtown Manhattan neighborhoods are in the Seventh and Fifth Precincts, including the Lower East Side, the Two Bridges area, Little Italy and Chinatown, according to D.P.A.’s analysis of the Division of Criminal Justice Service’s 2016 statistics. Around 500 out of every 100,000 people — or about one of out every 200 people — are arrested for pot possession in those neighborhoods, according to the report. In the Seventh Precinct, 52 percent of pot arrests are of black and Latino people while those groups make up just 40 percent of the overall population. In the Fifth Precinct, 66 percent of pot arrests are of black and Latino people, although those groups make up just 16 percent of the precinct’s population. The racial disparity is far greater in the West Village’s Sixth Precinct, where 69 percent of arrests are of black and Latino individuals, while just 8 percent of the precinct’s population is black or Latino. The East Village’s Ninth Precinct is 31 percent black or Latino, but 82 percent of marijuana possession arrests there are of black or Latino persons. The argument that perhaps marijuana arrest rates are higher where marijuana complaints are higher is bunk, according to a New York Times analysis published this May. For instance, western Harlem, which has twice the number of black residents as the Upper West Side, also had double the marijuana arrests. But 311 and 911 complaints about pot were the same in both neighborhoods. Mayoral and police department spokespersons referred The Villager to de Blasio’s June statement announcing the policy change. “Nobody’s destiny should hinge on a minor nonviolent offense,” de Blasio said in a statement. When reporters questioned him at the June press conference about how his policy would not address racial disparity, he emphasized that it would reduce arrests over all. Tracie Keesee, the Police Department’s deputy commissioner of equity and inclusion, said the issue of disparities in arrests still needs to be addressed. “When we talk about the broader historical context around disparities, that’s one of the spaces we have carved out that we have to continue to look at,” Keesee said. “So, part of the policy thinking around the summons piece will reduce the overall arrest numbers. But this issue of disparities is a larger, complex one that we have to grapple with still.” The Drug Policy Alliance argues that marijuana should be fully legalized, but that, in the meantime, de Blasio could direct the Police Department to issue no tickets, no arrests and no fines. “People look at that as a hard request,” Alexander said. “But if you’ve lived in this city, there are things that white people can do that black people cannot. For many, marijuana has already been legal.” Gangi of PROP said that although legalization is the goal, fully decriminalizing recreational marijuana use could be implemented immediately by the mayor. “[De Blasio] has the power to do that, but he’s obviously not willing to do that,” said Gangi, who also ran against de Blasio in last year’s Democratic mayoral primary. “Which means — particularly with the conditions he’s laid out — cops will continue to arrest people for marijuana. “You could end the racial bias literally tomorrow — actually, this afternoon,” he added. TheVillager.com


Mayor: Singer being ‘exceedingly uncooperative’ MAYOR continued from p. 1

building on E. Ninth St. When he was running for re-election last November, the mayor announced at a crowded Lower East Side town hall that the city was “interested in reacquiring” 605 E. Ninth St. Yet, since then, there has been little movement on the issue, and local Councilmember Carlina Rivera recently said she has heard no follow-up from the mayor about it. At last week’s media roundtable, de Blasio said Gregg Singer, who owns the old P.S. 64, “has been exceedingly uncooperative.” “We’ve tried to have a productive conversation about purchase,” he said. “We’ve gotten nowhere so far. We’re not giving up. We’re working very closely with the councilmember, Carlina Rivera. I’m very frustrated with that owner.” Eminent domain, though it may not be an immediate option, is “certainly something I want to know more about, but I had hoped the best solution here would be a direct purchase,” de Blasio explained. “That’s not off the table. It’s just we’re just not getting any cooperation so far.” The group of reporters and editors were only allowed to ask one question each. De Blasio also spoke on the planned L train shutdown. A reporter asked what the city could do to help Williamsburg and Bushwick businesses during the subway hiatus. The mayor said the shutdown would not stop people from going to those areas since there would be more buses, cycling and ferries. “People are still going to be moving through the same area, and you’re talking about 15 months — not limitless periods of time,” de Blasio said.

PHOTO BY LINCOLN ANDERSON

Mayor de Blasio speaking to repor ters and editors at a media roundtable at Brooklyn Borough Hall last week.

He said the city is looking at ways to support businesses, but stressed that a 15-month subway shutdown is something businesses can persevere through.

“Generally, street changes are not the core of this plan,” he said, “so that should limit the effect on small business.” He did acknowledge, however, that 14th St. in Manhattan and Grand St. in Brooklyn would see changes during the plan. When discussing the Bronx-Queens Expressway, the mayor contrasted it with the subway plan, saying the “L train shutdown is taking a piece of mass transit offline for a very limited leg of its run.” Under the plan, the L would be shut down between Bedford and Eighth Aves., the portion linking Manhattan and Brooklyn. Much of the L will also shut down on 15 weekends ahead of the official scheduled closure date in April. The Villager also asked de Blasio about the ongoing U.S. Army Corps of Engineers study of five alternatives to protect 2,000 miles of shoreline in New York and New Jersey from storm-surge flooding. The mayor said he met with the Corps in January, and they discussed beach erosion in the Rockaways. “Our team is constantly in touch with them in our Washington office and our resiliency team here,” de Blasio said. He emphasized this is about addressing the longterm solution to protect the city’s shorelines, and that “any kind of barrier approach is a long process.” One alternative is a 5-mile barrier connecting Breezy Point to Sandy Hook. The Corps will narrow down the five alternatives to two by this fall. “I don’t want people sort of having a panacea feeling that there’s an easy answer around the corner,” de Blasio said, “but we are trying to sort it out with the Army Corps, and I think they are focused, obviously understanding that this is one of the populous areas they have to deal with.”

THE HISTORIC

MESERITZ SYNAGOGUE invites you to the upcoming

High Holiday season Services will be led by renowned Lower East Side cantor Mendel Kaplan and Rabbi Kalman Nochlin. Please help us plan appropriately by contacting us before September 9th. Donations are welcome. Rosh Hashona is celebrated on the evening of September 9th. Services on September 10th & 11th start at 8:30am Yom Kippur (Kol Nidre) services begin on the evening of September 18th at 7:15pm Yom Kippur services on September 19th start at 8:30am

Wishing you a Happy and Healthy New Year.

415 E. 6th Street 212-505-5264 thenewmeseritz@gmail.com Look for us on Facebook at Meseritz Synagogue

TheVillager.com

August 30, 2018

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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR Suspicious loss of Lüchow’s

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Call 718-260-2516 or e-mail pbeatrice@cnglocal.com

To The Editor: Lost in the current controversy over the proposed Tech Hub on the south side of E. 14th St. near Union Square is the background battle to landmark the famous Lüchow’s restaurant that was on that site. In the early 1980s the Union Square Community Coalition (U.S.C.C.), along with many others, proposed that Lüchow’s be designated as part of an effort to protect significant properties within a three-block radius of Union Square. To a great extent, we have succeeded — with two historic districts (Ladies’ Mile and E. 17th St. / Irving Place) and 14 individual landmarks gaining the protection of New York City’s Landmarks Law. But the Landmarks Preservation Commission mysteriously declined to act in the case of Lüchow’s, in spite of its distinctions — historically, architecturally, culturally and socially. In the end, Lüchow’s was consumed by a suspicious fire and demolished. Had it been landmarked, and thus protected, the site would not available — for a Tech Hub or anything else. Jack Taylor Taylor is chairperson, Historic Preservation Committee, Union Square Community Coalition

You did David right To The Editor: Re “David McReynolds, pacifist and socialist leader, is dead at 88” (obituary, Aug. 23): A very fine obituary, reflecting David’s true nature and character and many significant facts about his life. One little correction: His surviving brother — that’s me — lives in Santa Rosa, California, not Los Angeles. Martin McReynolds

I’m outta here!

We cover “The Cube”!

To The Editor: Re “On the S.B.J.S.A., this time, let’s get it right” (talking point, by Sharon Woolums, Aug. 9): New York City is done. It has been for a long time now. The politicians and people responsible for the collapse of the mom-and-pop-type businesses don’t give a rat’s ass about the everyday average person. They have sold their souls for blood money to all these whores in the real estate business.

After living here for 52 years, I’m leaving for good when my lease expires on Jan. 15. This is no longer the New York City that I want to be a part of. Good luck, you’re gonna need it. Cheryl Coleman

A kick in the teeth To The Editor: Re “On the S.B.J.S.A., this time, let’s get it right” (talking point, by Sharon Woolums, Aug. 9): The fact that the elected officials remain silent on Ms. Woolums’s questions regarding the Small Business Jobs Survival Act is a like a sucker punch in the gut to the reporter and extremely disrespectful to The Villager and its editor, Lincoln Anderson. But more important, it’s a kick in the teeth to every small business in New York City — many that are immigrant owned — because it shows that these politicians could care less about this devastating crisis, nor do they care about jobs lost to New Yorkers when small businesses die. Every month, 1,200 businesses in the city close, with 8,000 jobs lost to New Yorkers — an economic disaster — and these councilmembers can’t even be bothered to respond? Plain and simple, they are whores to the real estate lobby — and there is really no other way to say it. We need to pressure each and every councilmember, including our REBNY rent boy mayor, who sucks on the teat of lobbyists — and public humiliation might just be the first place to begin. Marni Halasa

Jams with Jism on song To The Editor: Re “‘Whose park? Our park!’ Rebel spirit rocks on at riots 30th anniversary” (picture story, Aug. 9): Thank you so much for the pics and mention. Jism is not in my band. He sings a song, “Ballroom Blitz,” with me. He is, however, my bro! Scott Newman a.k.a. Scotty Skitzo 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.

EVAN FORSCH

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August 30, 2018

TheVillager.com


Inclusive growth, not political horse-trading TALKING POINT BY WILLIAM THOMAS

T

wo weeks ago, the City Council took a particularly tough vote to replace the shuttered P.C. Richard & Son on E. 14th St. with the Union Square Tech Hub, a space for nonprofits and start-up businesses to train working-class New Yorkers for jobs in the technology sector. It was a tough vote not because anyone on the Council is opposed to helping prepare New Yorkers for better-paying jobs, but because lobbyists representing wealthy nearby residents attempted to hijack the proceedings, and almost succeeded. The Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation — which bills itself as a kind of spiritual successor to Jane Jacobs, despite having nearly $2 million in the bank and a clear interest in “enhancing property values in our city” — saw the Tech Hub as an opportunity for a backroom deal. Knowing that the Hub was a high priority of city government, G.V.S.H.P. demanded that the local councilmember, Carlina Rivera, and the Council only approve the Hub if the mayor also agreed to downzone a wealthy portion of the neighborhood unrelated to the project. Thankfully, the Council didn’t succumb to this kind of pressure and let the Hub vote proceed on the merits. (The project was approved unanimously.) This has triggered something of a hysterical reaction from Andrew Berman, executive director of G.V.S.H.P. and its registered lobbyist. Berman published a talking point here last Thursday (“No spin, just facts: Rivera’s ‘Tech Hub’ flop”) claiming to counter “misinformation promulgated about the Council vote” with “some cold hard facts” and calling Councilmember Rivera a sellout for not going along with his scheme. It’s understandable he would be upset — it’s a lobbyist’s job to spin for their clients, after all. Nonetheless, as a board member of Open New York, a pro-housing, all-volunteer advocacy group, I took issue with the gross mischaracterization that Berman’s efforts had anything to do with promoting affordable housing, and felt compelled to respond. So, courtesy of Open New York, I would like to offer a few “cold hard facts” of my own: Was it irresponsible to risk the Tech Hub for an unrelated downzoning? Yes. Clearly, G.V.S.H.P. doesn’t care about risking 1,400 middle-class jobs and would rather leave a storefront empty for years if it helped further its narrow agenda. If Councilmember Rivera had voted against the Hub, the mayor could have decided to build something else that would provide fewer benefits — after all, the city can already lease or sell the site for any use so long as it complies with current zoning. The City Planning Commission, the local community board and now the City Council all considered whether the benefits of the Tech Hub would be weakened by the negative consequences of a downzoning — consequences that you will never hear G.V.S.H.P. admit to — and decided the Hub should move forward without them. Negative consequences? I thought these zoning changes were common-sense. No, they were selfish. If these changes were so “common-sense” — if the case for them was so obvious it didn’t need to be explained — G.V.S.H.P. wouldn’t have needed to hold the Tech Hub hostage in the first place. The society went that route politically because it knew a downzoning would actively harm the surrounding neighborhoods. TheVillager.com

A design rendering of the entr y way of the planned Tech Hub on E. 14th St. bet ween Third and Four th Aves. The project has nothing to do with other construction projects south of Union Square, the writer says.

Circling the wagons for property values.

The affluent people who would otherwise seek to live in Greenwich Village condos wouldn’t just disappear if the downzoning went through. Instead, they would look elsewhere, spreading out into Alphabet City and the Lower East Side, driving up rents and causing displacement, while keeping the Village a

rarefied preserve for the fortunate few living there now. The only people who benefit from something like this are longtime homeowners who have profited off Greenwich Village’s property boom — and it is their interests, not “neighborhood character,” “sustainable affordability” or even historic preservation, in which G.V.S.H.P. is truly invested. But won’t building the Tech Hub without zoning changes endanger Greenwich Village? Of course not. The Tech Hub has nothing to do with other construction projects south of Union Square. G.V.S.H.P. was pushing this downzoning well before the Tech Hub, and will continue to do so well after it’s fi nished. It is telling, however, that Berman and G.V.S.H.P. seem to view the landmarking process as a tool to prevent development regardless of historical significance. Weren’t locals asking for the zoning changes that GROWTH continued on p. 10 August 30, 2018

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Inclusive growth, not political horse-trading GROWTH continued from p. 9

were left out of the deal? No. Few have met the fi nal deal with the venom of G.V.S.H.P. Community Board 3 voted in February to approve the Hub without any zoning conditions attached, and many neighborhood residents showed up to support the project (I was one of them.) This was a political mugging, and I’m glad it failed. But won’t the Tech Hub be wildly out of scale with the neighborhood? No. It will only be the third-tallest building on the block. Chill. But what about affordable housing? The G.V.S.H.P. plan was a smoke screen. This is where it gets ugly, and why Berman’s disingenuousness is so frustrating. Berman claims his group’s plan required “the addition or reinforcement of incentives for including or preserving affordable housing as part of any new development,” but then tacked on a bunch of new regulations that would ensure the affordable housing never got built. The proposal on G.V.S.H.P.’s Web site gives examples of recent developments that could have included optional affordable housing under its plan, then acknowledges right underneath this, that under its plan those buildings likely never

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would be built at all. It was a smoke screen. And the worst part is New York City has a law on the books passed two years ago to provide mandatory affordable housing in new buildings. If Berman really cared about keeping the Village a mixed-income neighborhood, he would be proposing new zoning changes to take advantage of that law. The Mandatory Inclusionary Housing a.k.a. M.I.H. amendment was added to the city’s zoning resolution in 2016. The idea is that a neighborhood could have its zoning changed to allow for more residential space on each lot — making more efficient use of New York City’s scarce and expensive buildable land — and then developers would be required to use the money they save to include a mix of rent-restricted apartments for people at different income levels on top of the market-rate ones. But the key is the M.I.H. law only applies when the permitted residential floor area goes up. The affordable housing has to actually go somewhere — after all, otherwise it only exists on paper. Berman’s plan was to use an incoherent mix of commercial floor-area reductions, height limits and bonuses that would give developers the option of adding affordable housing but nowhere to put it, knowing this would kill future projects and give him po-

litical cover to blame developers — all while his donors’ property values would continue to skyrocket. So should Councilmember Rivera be lambasted for selling her district short? No. Rivera clearly attempted to deliver a deal that satisfied all parties, but she and her colleagues were negotiating with a man — Berman — arguing in bad faith. I suspect most East Villagers and Lower East Siders would agree that she made the best call for the neighborhood. I love the East Village. It’s a oneof-a-kind mix of culture and history and people of different backgrounds. I’m glad it’s held on to so much of its energy and in-your-face personality, and I’m extremely thankful that it was never bulldozed for an expressway. But the neighborhood is turning from a preservationist’s dream into a renter’s nightmare. The zoning and landmarking tools inspired by ’60s-era fights are being abused by people who bought homes when they were cheap and now want to block anyone new from moving here — unless, of course, they pay up. The Village is an in-demand neighborhood, close to the best jobs, the best schools, the best transit and the best cultural institutions. It is also being strangled by a thicket of historic

districts and development restrictions that ensure nobody who isn’t rich can ever move here again. Instead, newcomers and young families are being pushed into the Lower East Side, or Brooklyn, or the Bronx, continuing a cascading cycle of displacement and gentrification that leaves our city worse off for everyone except rich neighborhood property owners and their lobbyists. We have to stop privileging the opinions of housing-secure millionaires and start asking how we can tear down the legal barriers to equitable and affordable growth; how we can build new housing for everyone alongside the historic buildings we care for; and how we can make room for the types of people who make the Village so eclectic and vibrant rather than pushing them out. If you agree, you should support projects like the Tech Hub and resist the temptation to say no to every new building that gets proposed. And maybe take a minute to call your councilmember and thank them for not selling out. You can reach Carlina Rivera at 212-677-1077. Thomas is an East Village resident and a board member, Open New York, an independent, pro-housing advocacy group. On Twitter, @OpenNYForAll

TheVillager.com


How a Garden CHANGED a Neighborhood A special Villager supplement Pages 11 to 26

BY LINCOLN ANDERSON

N

early three years ago, Chelsea residents, with the support of their always-responsive councilmember, Corey Johnson, succeeded in getting the city to commit to building a park on W. 20th St. between Sixth and Seventh Aves. Mayor de Blasio, however, had initially earmarked the site for affordable housing. But he relented in the face of a unified front of local residents and — very importantly — their councilmember. In the end, de Blasio brokered a deal under which 220 units of affordable housing would instead be built at an alternative site, on Eleventh Ave. between W. 40th and W. 41st Sts. The site for the longsought park was preserved, and construction on the park there began earlier this year. It was a win-win solution. Everyone was happy. Government worked the way it should, being responsive to New Yorkers. Sadly, a similar scenario has not played out the same way in Little Italy. Not at all. Whereas the Chelsea site was admittedly an eyesore, a grungy Depart-

TheVillager.com

ment of Sanitation lot, the Elizabeth St. Garden is already, right now, a truly wondrous and unique green space. No park needs to be constructed there since one already exists, and has been there for more than 25 years — it only needs to be preserved. The mayor could easily do it, too, since Community Board 2 has identified an alternative site, which like Elizabeth St., is located in C.B. 2, but could provide up to five times as much affordable housing. Instead, the mayor and Councilmember Margaret Chin refuse to budge from their position, and refuse to heed the pleas of the community. Such is the anger at Chin that an upstart politico, Christopher Marte, nearly beat her — a two-term incumbent — in the Democratic primary last year, losing by only 222 votes. Had not two other challengers run in the race, including one very suspect “spoiler,” Marte would have won. But not even nearly being unseated has caused Chin to change her position. Clearly, it UNITED continued on p. 12

August 30, 2018

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A united ďŹ ght to preserve a beloved green oasis UNITED continued from p. 11

will come down to a legal fight at this point. The garden’s two main groups recently agreed to “coordinate legal strategies� as they draw closer to unleashing their lawsuits against the de Blasio administration. Their attorneys are the highly respected Norman Siegel and Michael Gruen. Although the garden has been there for more than 20 years, its creator, Allan Reiver, couldn’t keep it open to the public that much due to liability issues and the fact that he needed to have staff there to operate it. However, starting about five years ago — after the Bloomberg administration and Chin had stealthily designated the site for affordable housing, without notice to the community — a group of local volunteers started working to activate the space and truly bring it to life. No surprise to anyone living in the concrete jungle of New York City, and especially in park-starved Little Italy, the foliage- and monument-filled green oasis has since become a treasured space for locals. From worm and ladybug releases to yoga and live music to exercise and lunches for local seniors and just peaceful relaxation, the garden offers something for everyone. And what it offers is so sorely needed. It has created a special

PHOTO BY TEQUILA MINSKY

At a mass rally in the garden t wo years ago, A ssemblymember Deborah Glick urged Mayor de Blasio to “come back to the negotiating table� and save the Elizabeth St. Garden. At right is former C.B. Chairperson Tobi Bergman, who identified the alternative West Side site — formerly earmarked for a park — for the affordable housing project. But the cit y has responded by saying that it would just use both sites for affordable housing.

new feeling of community in the heart of Little Italy. What it creates can’t be commodified. Meanwhile, all of the area’s local politicians — save for de Blasio, Chin and her ally Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer — support saving the gar-

DI PALO’S OF LITTLE ITALY ª'RANDª3TREETªsª.EWª9ORK ª.9ªªsª

The Di Palo Family proudly supports

The Elizabeth Street Garden 12

August 30, 2018

den. Clearly, there is a huge disconnect here. Local politicians and other local leaders are standing strong in defense of the garden — and keeping up the pressure. “This is the kind of issue that drives people crazy about government,� said state Senator Brad Hoylman. “If the Elizabeth St. Garden is lost, it’ll go down in history as the collective failure of City Hall to use common sense and save something so widely cherished by New Yorkers. I don’t think it’s an overstatement to say destroying Elizabeth St. Garden for housing is like bulldozing Penn Station to build Madison Square Garden. In both cases, we shouldn’t mistake change for progress. “Nobody disputes that the Elizabeth St. Garden is beautiful and beloved by the local community. Housing is important,� Hoylman said, “but alternative locations have been presented by the community board. “I implore City Hall to save this unique open space before it’s gone forever.� His colleague in the state Senate, Brian Kavanagh, said, “Lower Manhattan does not have enough open space or enough affordable housing. We need more of both, and we shouldn’t have to choose between much-needed housing and a beloved — and also much-needed — community open space.� Assemblymember Deborah Glick said, “The city cannot continue to upzone and build without considering open space for New Yorkers. They were offered a place in the West Village which could have offered them significantly more affordable housing close to existing parks — J.J. Walker and the Hudson River Park. But, for whatever reason, they dug their heels in, and a true gem of a park is at threat.

“I have not understood it from the get-go,â€? Glick said. “We had a better alternative and they simply would not admit they were wrong. That’s the worst part of government, when government simply cannot admit that there’s a better alternative.â€? Assemblymember Yuh-Line Niou called the city’s plan completely “crazy.â€? “We have a lack of these spaces,â€? she said of Elizabeth St. Garden, “and we also have a lack of affordable housing. We shouldn’t be pitting these uses against each other. It’s a crazy plan that’s going to ruin everything for everybody. It’s crazy how little transparency they have given the community on this.â€? Similarly, City Comptroller Scott Stringer said, using de Blasio’s trademark phrase, “This is the disconnect of ‘a tale of two cities.’ It’s a disgrace that they have gotten away with stealing this in the light of day. Something tells me this is not over yet. “When I was borough president, we used to have something called ‘community-based planning,’â€? Stringer said, adding, “We will be out in the street with the children and the parents to save this garden.â€? For her part, Brewer continues to back the Chin / de Blasio plan. “I love this garden but recognize the dire need for affordable senior housing,â€? the B.P. said. “I am glad that there will still be open space on this site, and hope that all the wonderful gardeners and activists will stay involved.â€? Chin did not respond to a request for comment. A spokesperson for the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development indicated that, simply put, housing trumps gardens. “This city is in the midst of an affordability crisis, with the number-one issue being a lack of affordable housing for New Yorkers,â€? said Matthew Creegan, the agency’s deputy press secretary. “We have worked diligently to strike a balance between the dire need for lowcost housing for seniors with maintaining New York’s vibrant open spaces, which is why the site is keeping some public space for the community while also creating affordable housing for the seniors who need it most.â€? The city’s line is that long before the space was open to the public, the city made a commitment to dedicate the site for affordable housing. Of course, C.B. 2 was never told about that commitment until after the fact. Meanwhile, lovers of the garden continue to feel incredible frustration as their pleas to the city fall on deaf ears. “Saving the Elisabeth St. Garden should not be the political issue it has become,â€? said RenĂŠe Green, chairperson of Elizabeth St. Garden. “The garden is a living, thriving, beautiful, UNITED continued on p. 24 TheVillager.com


TheVillager.com

August 30, 2018

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A golden garden nurtured by community’s love BY JOSEPH REIVER

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ur community has been fighting for more than five years to save the Elizabeth St. Garden. This convoluted struggle, full of blurred lines where communities and values have been set against one another, is the carefully orchestrated outcome of Mayor Bill de Blasio, Councilmember Margaret Chin and the leaders of the Department of Housing Preservation and Development’s narrow-minded agenda. But beyond the city’s smoke and mirrors of false narratives and misleading marketing, there lies a simple solution to this distorted issue. That simple solution is to use the alternative site — a gravel-filled lot at 388 Hudson St. — to build five times more affordable housing with green space and to save Elizabeth St. Garden in its entirety for the community. While the community and many elected offcials have continued to propose this solution, it has only been brushed aside time and time again. Instead, the city is planning to sell the Elizabeth St. Garden’s land to the development team comprised of Pennrose, Habitat for Humanity NYC and RiseBoro. The developers plan to cut down the trees, dig up the lawn, level the flower and herb garden beds and destroy a community garden used by hundreds of people daily — all in order to build 123 nonpermanently affordable 300-to-400-square-foot apartments, along with luxury retail, plus 1,100 square feet of office space for Habitat NYC. In their efforts to make this plan as digestible as possible while sidestepping the housing-versus-green space issue plaguing New York City, the developers propose to build a small, privately owned open space on the site’s Mott St. side, sitting in the shadow of their seven-story building. This 8,600 square feet of “open space” includes 2,000 square feet of paved tunnel, lined by luxury retail. As for the alternative lot at 388 Hudson St., the city simply says it is considering building housing there, as well. If this response feels like being shortchanged, that’s because it’s careless and unjustly ignores the thousands of community residents who have been fighting for years to save the garden. The city’s project slated for the garden is the type of short-term planning that pits communities — as well as the basic needs of affordable housing and public green space — against one another. This development leads to toxic community board hearings (the ones where everyone needs a drink afterward), and false, hate-filled propaganda, such as the nonsensical claim that garden supporters are against affordable housing and the homeless. Our community-led, by-the-people

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PHOTO BY BOB KRASNER

Joseph Reiver, executive director of Elizabeth St. Garden, and volunteer Alina in the Little Italy hor ticultural hot spot.

solution does not force us to choose either senior affordable housing or a public green space but instead allows us both to preserve Elizabeth St. Garden and put a vacant gravel lot to good use. Our solution simultaneously achieves more affordable housing — ideally, permanently affordable — and more public green space. Our solution provides H.P.D., Chin and the de Blasio administration with the opportunity to listen to and work for the people they claim to represent — even if it takes more than five years of advocacy and thousands of people speaking out. Since the selection of the development team, Chin and de Blasio have slipped quietly out of the spotlight, to let organizations with cleaner reputations take their place at the helm. But to our community’s disappointment, the leaders of these organizations have continued to offer similarly hollow and dismissive responses to our community’s outcry to save the garden. As partners of this development project, Habitat NYC and RiseBoro each have a leading voice — and a choice to make. They can choose to continue supporting an outcome that devastates a community, claiming that they are “just responding to the R.F.P. [request for proposals from developers] put out by H.P.D.” (Karen Hycox, C.E.O. of Habitat NYC) and that “this is the best development [we’re] going to get” (Scott Short, C.E.O. of RiseBoro). Or they can choose to stand with the affected people of this community and work with us to achieve a true win-win solution. By moving forward with their plans, Habitat NYC and RiseBoro are threatening a habitat for humanity that already exists — one for people of all ages and backgrounds and one for the dwindling, forgotten and voiceless existence of nature. With all that would be lost,

how could Habitat NYC and Riseboro support such a strongly opposed project with such a spiteful and insensitive name as “Haven Green”? The outcome at the Elizabeth St. Garden will set the precedent for how the city deals with the need for both public green spaces and affordable housing. If such an injustice can happen to Elizabeth St. Garden — with all of our local, city and worldwide support, hundreds of volunteers, the backing of the majority of our local politicians and of Community Board 2, and an alternative-site solution — then it can happen anywhere and to anyone. The city does not prioritize public green spaces as much as it prioritizes affordable housing; yet the two are unequivocally symbiotic in affecting the livability of our city, and therefore must be preserved and expanded as such, and not separately. Community-led, organic initiatives that sit outside the confines of standard city processes are the spices that sustain New York City’s many celebrated flavors. But while the city preaches community involvement and community-based decisions, it does little to actually support such organic initiatives. When such initiatives do spring up between the concrete slabs of city process, those involved with the effort must jump over hurdle after hurdle in order to exist and work toward change. Take a moment and imagine how much Elizabeth St. Garden would have grown by now if Margaret Chin had at first recognized the value the garden brings to the community… . Instead, Chin has been trying to nip the garden in the bud because it doesn’t fit in her (behind closed-doors) agenda. Here, the fate of Elizabeth St. Garden will set another precedent for how city councilmembers abuse their power. Most Council District 1 residents are familiar with Chin’s relationship with

developers and the many large-scale construction projects popping up all over on her “watch.” Although a two-time Democratic incumbent, Chin nearly lost the November 2017 primary election due, in part, to her stance on Elizabeth St. Garden. This issue is personal for her. Chin slipped a lie — dubbing the garden a “vacant lot” — into a last-minute amendment for a huge development in another community board district (C.B. 3) with no public review from C.B. 2 or the affected community. She then ignored the thousands of people crying out for years to save the garden. She did this by hijacking the good-intention theme of affordable housing and disregarding better alternative sites. It all begs the question: To what end can a councilperson abuse her power and sell out her district? When a councilperson and a mayor ignore the people to serve their own agenda, they’ve rendered themselves incapable of both looking beyond the end of their terms in office and planning for the city’s future — for our futures, and those of the generations to come. New York City’s soul is slipping away. If you’re from here or have lived here long enough, you’ve felt this loss to one degree or another — that sense that nothing gold can stay. The city is losing its unique places one by one, the places that give the streets their character. The places that make us so damn proud to be New Yorkers born and raised, and that attract people from all over the world to come and experience the city for themselves. The soul, the essence, the big apple on the tree of the world. Elizabeth St. Garden is more than just a public green space. It’s a sanctuary for art and sculpture. It’s a center for the community. It’s the heart of our neighborhood. It’s a symbol for what can organically grow in an abandoned lot, if the right old kook plants a seed, and we come out of our boxes into the sunlight and tend to the green. We find our own personal story between the flowers, grow with the trees, and discover a cycle of giving to the giver who always gives back. Sustainability, for the people by the people. As a conservation land trust, the garden would be owned by the community nonprofit Elizabeth St. Garden (ESG). It would be entirely self-sustainable, unique, organic and for all — and the city wouldn’t have to spend a penny. This is a future that protects and preserves a vital magic, a future that allows the garden to grow, and a future that we will continue to fight for. Because our community need not sink to grief if we allow nature to hold its golden hue. Reiver is executive director, Elizabeth Street Garden TheVillager.com


STOP MARGARET CHIN’S TRAIL OF DESTRUCTION! SAVE ELIZABETH STREET GARDEN Margaret Chin is destroying precious green space, and she’s been doing it without the knowledge and support of the community!

Sheldon Silver congratulating Margaret Chin. Downtown Exoress photo by Kaitlyn Meadee

How Council Member Margaret Chin has deceived us since 2012:

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In October 2012, Margaret Chin surreptitiously brokered a deal to add Elizabeth Street Garden to the Seward Park Urban Renewal Project (SPURA), a community nearly 1 mile away from the Elizabeth Street Garden site.

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Neither the community, nor Community Board 2 (CB2) was made aware of Chin’s inclusion of the ELIZABETH STREET GARDEN site at 21 Spring St. Despite this, in September 2013 Chin was touting the merits of collaboration “The Seward Park Urban Renewal Area project is the product of years of community engagement, compromise, and constructive dialogue”. Chin specifically thanked all the stakeholders, including since-disgraced former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. The two of which had been coined in the media several times as ‘The Dynamic Duo’. Chin not only deceived the community, but also failed to notify Mayor Bloomberg that the community adjoining Elizabeth Street Garden (CB2) was never consulted or aware of her intention to deprive the community of the beloved Garden. In January 2014 CB2 passed the first of 4 resolutions to reject Chin’s proposal to Build affordable housing at 21 Spring and to preserve the Elizabeth Street Garden. Chin ignored their resolution and continues to ignore the voice of the community.

A CALL TO ACTION

JOIN OUR DEMONSTRATION! SUNDAY 28th OCTOBER in ELIZABETH STREET GARDEN from 2-4pm Email SaveOurElizabethStreetGarden@gmail.com to let us know you’re interested and please notify your friends and neighbors. This public notice has been organized by an independant group of Garden supporters. TheVillager.com

SaveOurElizabethStreetGarden@gmail.com August 30, 2018

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Senator Brian Kavanagh & Assemblymember Deborah J. Glick join the community in support of preserving Elizabeth Street Garden

Monarchs, monuments and just chilling to music

PHOTOS BY BOB KRASNER

Allan Reiver, founder and creator of Elizabeth St. Garden, left, and Renee Green, chairperson of the Elizabeth St. Garden nonprofit organization that runs the space. Reiver created the garden 27 years ago.

The lush green oasis in the hear t of Downtown is a treasured spot to relax and recharge. You can listen to music on your phone, play music on an instrument or enjoy live music whenever it’s featured at the garden, which spor ts an impressive array of popular free public events.

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Adding to the garden’s uniqueness, it is filled with beautiful monuments collected — and installed with a forklift — by Allan Reiver. The local gallerist has leased the formerly rubblestrewn lot from the cit y on a monthly basis for nearly three decades. TheVillager.com


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Why destroy Elizabeth Street Garden when a nearby vacant lot will provide 5x the housing and twice the park?

STOP THE CITY FROM GIVING THE WRONG ANSWER, DONATE TO FRIENDS’ LEGAL DEFENSE FUND: ElizabethStreetGarden.ORG/Donate Friends of Elizabeth Street Garden has hired top land use lawyer Michael                                     !"

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Build more affordable housing but keep our park! BY JEANNINE KIELY

W

hy would the city destroy forever Elizabeth St. Garden — a thriving green oasis, outdoor education center and cherished, heavily used garden in a park-starved neighborhood — when there is a better alternative? Nearby there is an unused and litter-strewn city-owned lot that can provide five times more housing for seniors and twice the open space, an alternative site that has full support from Community Board 2. Let seniors keep the only place they have where they can sit in the sun and interact with their neighbors. The city’s development plan is not a compromise; it will destroy the garden, reducing its size by 70 percent. The building will destroy the garden’s entire Elizabeth St. side — bulldozing the lawns, pear trees and programming space — and eliminate sunlight in the remaining narrow sitting area. The proposed “compromise” barely provides the open space required by zoning — and some of what is called open space is just a 2,000-square-foot covered public entranceway to the building. Adding insult to injury, part of the open space will be lost, not for use as senior housing, but to accommodate a one-story office for Habitat for Humanity, something that could go anywhere. The developers’ misleading renderings create the appearance of a larger open space. The developers’ schematics manipulate the depth of field. For example, in their visuals, the indoor hallway looks like an enormous archway while other images reveal a much smaller scale. Drawings also show green space in the adjacent private courtyard at 21 Spring St., which is heavily shadowed and walled off from the proposed development. Once hard surfaces and A.D.A.-accessible circulation paths are added, only a few patches of lawn are possible. Add to this the shade from the project — a seven-story building — plus foot traffic, and the pretty drawings of green space are simply unrealistic. The garden is already a haven and already green. Don’t be deceived by branding. This development is led by the for-profit Pennrose Properties and will be subsidized by market-rate retail and 11,200 square feet (yes, 11,200 square feet!) of private office space for Habitat for Humanity. But there is an alternative to destroying the garden… . The nearby, cityowned site at 388 Hudson St. is much more viable for affordable housing. This 25,000-square-foot vacant gravel-filled lot could be developed as both housing and public open space, with housing built on its Clarkson St. side to comply with the city Department of Environmental Protection’s need for a permanent easement on the W. Houston St. side.

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PHOTO BY TEQUILA MINSKY

Jeannine Kiely, center, at a rally in March 2017 near Cit y Hall urging Mayor de Blasio to “wake up!” and realize the impor tance of saving the garden. They were accompanied by a “Reveille”-playing trumpeter. At right are garden leader Joseph Reiver (with hat) and politico Christopher Mar te.

A rendering showing the current Elizabeth St. Garden, midblock bet ween Spring and Prince Sts. and running bet ween Elizabeth and Mott Sts. The building at left is the Little Italy Restoration Apar tments (LIR A), affordable housing that is set to expire.

A design rendering showing how much of the existing garden would be covered by the planned Haven Green affordable housing project — and how shadows would significantly impact the small remnant of green public open space.

Local seniors benefit with community preference. The city typically allots community preference for affordable housing to local residents as defined by community board, not City Council district. Therefore, if five times as much housing is built at the alternative site, five times as many seniors who live in Community Board 2 will be able to age in place. Can’t be both. The lot at 388 Hudson St. was promised by the city as a park 20 years ago. But, in 2015, C.B. 2 held a public hearing and passed a resolution stating that it would be willing to compromise to get MORE housing, plus MORE park space, by allowing housing to be built on the Hudson St. lot — but “only if” the Elizabeth St. Garden site would be preserved in its entirety as a public park. Precedents! In fact, not long ago, the city announced just such a similar winwin swap in Chelsea. Like Elizabeth St. Garden, local Chelsea residents led a grassroots initiative to create a new park on W. 20th St. Instead of building housing at that location, the city instead built 234 affordable units on a larger cityowned site 2 miles north, still within the same community board boundary for affordable housing preference, but more than twice the distance between Elizabeth St. Garden and Hudson St. KIELY continued on p. 25 TheVillager.com


SAVE OUR GARDEN FROM DESTRUCTION The residents and small businesses of Little Italy support saving Elizabeth Street Garden from development. We urge our elected officials to save our beloved Garden and pursue development on the nearby alternative site.

DONATE TO LEGAL FUND: ElizabethStreetGarden.ORG/Donate

ESBA Elizabeth Street Block Association

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Continuing two centuries of community use

A united fight to preserve a beloved green oasis UNITED continued from p. 12

magical, self-supporting community focal point. Spend some time in the garden and you will hear languages from all over the world being spoken. To even think of destroying this treasure is unconscionable.” Several times the gardeners have in-

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vited de Blasio to visit it, and he has answered that he would. To date, though, he has not come by to enjoy its beauty and sense of community. And so, things will likely come down to a court battle, with the city sparring against two top attorneys, both of them with impressive past victories under their belts.

“The city’s plan regarding the Elizabeth St. Garden raises serious and substantial environmental and community issues,” said one of them, Norman Siegel. “The garden is a community and city treasure that is enjoyed by many people, including residents of Little Italy, Chinatown, Soho and other New Yorkers. It is a unique urban open green space.

Open green spaces are scarce resources in New York City. This is especially true in Community Board 2, which is an underserved community, in terms of access to open space. The campaign to save the Elizabeth St. Garden — including legal action, if necessary — is an important environmental and community undertaking.” TheVillager.com


Build more affordable housing but keep our park! KIELY continued from p. 22

The bottom line, obviously, is the city is not building housing on every available city-owned site in Downtown Manhattan. Case in point, the recently approved Tech Hub in Union Square. Our lawsuit is being prepared to launch: Destroying 70 percent of the garden for offices, retail and some housing is not a compromise. Destroying the beautiful Elizabeth St. Garden that has more than 100,000 visitors per year and hundreds of free programs is not a compromise.

Ignoring the garden’s tremendous base of support is not a compromise! Our supporters include numerous elected officials: Congressmembers Jerrold Nadler and Nydia Velazquez; state Senators Brad Hoylman and Brian Kavanagh; Assemblymembers Deborah Glick and Yuh-Line Niou; City Comptroller Scott Stringer; Public Advocate Letitia James; District Leaders Vittoria Fariello, Paul Newell and Daisy Paez; Community Board 2; a total of 21 park and community organizations; more than 10,000 letters and signatures of support from local residents and small business own-

ers; and hundreds of volunteers. In fact, the community already compromised in 1981 when the city sold two-thirds of the former public school site for affordable housing next door and promised the current garden space would be used for public recreation. The real compromise is preserving green open space in park-starved Little Italy and providing five times as much housing and twice the park space at a gravel-filled alternative lot at 388 Hudson St. If the city continues to ignore this opportunity, Friends of Elizabeth St.

Garden and our legal team, led by noted land-use attorney Michael Gruen, will launch a lawsuit to stop the city from destroying the garden. Friends of Elizabeth St. Garden welcomes all who treasure the garden to join our the fight to save the garden. To learn more about our legal team, please visit ElizabethStreetGarden.ORG. This is not a done deal! Kiely is president, Friends of Elizabeth St. Garden. She is also a member of Community Board 2, but is not writing on behalf of C.B. 2.

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SAVE OUR TREASURED ELIZABETH STREET GARDEN THERE IS AN ALTERNATIVE SITE FOR AFFORDABLE HOUSING AND OPEN SPACE!

Why a vacant City-owned lot at Hudson and Clarkson is a better site than Elizabeth Street Garden: 3 It can provide 5x as much affordable housing and 2x as much open space. 3 Allows 5x as many seniors to age in place. 3 Community Board 2 passed multiple resolutions in support of building housing here “only if” Elizabeth Street Garden is preserved in it’s entirety. 3 It will develop a gravel-filled, vacant lot vs a heavily-used community garden. 3 The site is located across the street from James J Walker Park and Tony Dapolito Recreational Center, both of which would support quality of life and access to resources for Seniors.

Tony Dapolito Recreational Center

ALTERNATIVE SITE

Facilities include: Locker room indoor pool outdoor pool table tennis bocce court fitness room arts and crafts room cardio room roof top sun deck dance room Annual Membership Fee for Seniors 62+ is only $25

This public notice has been organized by an independent group of Garden supporters.

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SaveOurElizabethStreetGarden@gmail.com TheVillager.com


PHOTOS BY TEQUILA MINSKY

The verdict: Kavanaugh can’t be appointed! On Women’s Equalit y Day, Sun., Aug. 26, people rallied outside the cour ts in Foley Square to protest the looming possible appointment of Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Cour t. A chief fear of having another conser vative on the land’s high cour t is the possible repeal of Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 decision that recognized the constitutional right to access to abor tion.

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BAY RIDGE MANOR 476 76th Street, Brooklyn (718) 748-8855 www.bayridgemanor.com BAYSIDE HISTORICAL SOCIETY 208 Totten Avenue, Fort Totten Bayside NY 11359 (718) 352-1548 email: siterental@baysidehistorical.org GRAND OAKS COUNTRY CLUB 200 Huguenot Avenue, Staten Island (718) 356–2771, www.grandoaksnyc.com GRAND PROSPECT HALL 263 Prospect Avenue, Brooklyn (718) 788-0777, www.grandprospecthall.com HOLIDAY INN 39-05 29th Street, Long Island City, NY 11101 (718 707-3700 www.holidayinnmanhattanview.com HUNTERS STEAK HOUSE 9404 Fourth Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11209 (718) 238-8899, www.HuntersSteakhouse.com IL FORNETTO 2902 Emmons Avenue in Brooklyn (718) 332-8494 www.ilFornettoRestaurant.com PA-NASH EUROSOUL 144-14 243rd Street, Rosedale, NY 11422 (718) 917-6094 www.panashnyc.com THE PEARL ROOM 8518 - 3rd Avenue Brooklyn, NY 11209 (718) 833-6666 www.pearlroombklyn.com RECEPTION HOUSE 167-17 Northern Blvd, Flushing, NY (718) 445-1244 www.ReceptionHouse.com SHERATON BROOKLYN NY HOTEL Contact Stephanie Mendez, Sales Mgr (917) 281-5550 stephanie.mendez@ sheratonbrooklynnewyork.com SHERATON LAGUARDIA EAST HOTEL 135-20 39th Avenue, Flushing NY 11354 (718) 670-7408 sales@sheratonlaguardia.com sheratonlaguardiaeast.com

SIRICO’S CATERERS 8015-23 13th Avenue, Brooklyn (718) 331-2900, www.siricoscaterers.net SOTTO 13 5140 West 13th Street, New York, NY (212) 647-1001, sotto13.com TERRACE ON THE PARK 52-11 111 Street, Flushing, NY 11368 (718) 592-5000 www.terraceonthepark.com THALASSA 179 Franklin Street TriBeCa, New York City (212) 941-7661 www.thalassanyc.com THE VANDERBILT AT SOUTH BEACH 300 Father Capodanno Boulevard Staten Island, NY, (718) 447-0800 www.vanderbiltsouthbeach.com WOODHAVEN MANOR 96-01 Jamaica Avenue Queens, NY (718) 805-8500

ENTERTAINMENT

HARRY’S HABANA HUT 214-09 41st Ave., Bayside, NY 11361 (718) 423-5049 www.harryshabanahut.com ND CIGARS INC. AKA LA CASA GRANDE CIGARS 2344 Arthur Avenue, Bronx, NY, 10458 (718) 364-4657, lcgcigars.com

FAVORS & INVITATIONS

UNFORGETTABLE EVENTS 2049 Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn, (718) 377-4535

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FLORAL FANTASY 3031 Quentin Road in Brooklyn, (718) 998-7060 or (800) 566–8380 www.floralfantasyny.com FLOWERS BY MASSENET Jamaica, Queens, NY (347) 724-7044, (718) 526-3725 HENRY’S FLORIST 8103 Fifth Avenue in Brooklyn (800) 543-6797 or (718) 238–3838 www.henrysfloristweddingevents.com MARINE FLORIST AND DECORATORS 1995 Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn (800) 447-6730 or (718) 338-3600 www.marineflorists.com

JEWELERS

BUONO JEWELERS 1250 Hylan Blvd., #6a Staten Island, NY 10305 (718) 448-4900, www.buonojewelers.com

LIMOUSINE SERVICES

MILA LIMOUSINE CORPORATION (718) 232-8973, www.milalimo.com M&V LIMOUSINES LTD. 1-800-498-5788 1117 Jericho Tpke, Commack, NY (631) 543-0908 151 Denton Ave., New Hyde Park, NY (516) 921-6845 535 8th Ave., 3rd Flr., NY, NY (646) 757-9101 www.mvlimo.com

ROMANTIQUE/DOUBLE DIAMOND LIMOUSINES 1421-86 Street, Brooklyn, NY, (718) 351-7273 2041-Hylan Boulevard, Staten Island (718) 351-7273, www.rddlimos.com SOPHISTICATED LIMOUSINES Servicing the Tri- State Area, (718) 816-9475 www.sophisticatedlimousines.com

PHOTOGRAPHY & VIDEO

FANTASY PHOTOGRAPHY 3031 Quentin Rd., Brooklyn NY, (718) 998-0949 www.fantasyphotographyandvideo.com NY PHOTO VIDEO GROUP 1040 Hempstead Tpke Franklin Sq., NY 11010 11 Michael Avenue Farmingdale, NY 11735 Office: 516-352-3188 Joe Cell: 516-445-8054 Peter Cell: 516-343-6662 www.nyphotovideogroup.com info@nyphotovideogroup.com ONE FINE DAY PHOTOGRAPHERS 459 Pacific St., Massapequa Park (516) 690–1320 www.onefinedayphotographers.com ZAKAS PHOTOGRAPHY info@zakasphotography.com www.zakasphotography.com

REAL ESTATE

DREAM HOUSE REALTY 7505 15th Avenue Brookyn, NY 11228 (718) 837–2121, carolynctrp@aol.com Carolyn Trippe, Lic. RE Broker

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PILO ARTS SALON 8412 3 Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11209 (718) 748–7411, www.piloarts.com

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COSMETIC & LASER CENTER OF BAY RIDGE 9921 4th Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11209 (718) 833-2793 or (718) 833-7616 www.BayRidgeDerm.com ELITE WEIGHT LOSS 1316 Kings Highway, Brooklyn, NY 11229 (917) 444-3043, EliteWeightLossNY.com KHROM DERMATOLOGY & AESTHETICS 2797 Ocean Parkway, 1st Fl. Brooklyn, NY 11235 (718) 866-3616, www.josephlichterdds.com JOSEPH LICHTER, D.D.S. 1420 Avenue P in Brooklyn (718) 339-7878, www.khromMD.com OMNI DENTAL CARE 313 Kings Highway in Brooklyn (718) 376-8656, www.omnidentalcare.com THE VEIN CENTER OF THE VASCULAR INSTITUTE OF NY Dr. Natalie Marks 960 - 50 Street, Brooklyn, NY 11219 (718) 438-0067, www.vascularnyc.com

TRAVEL

JOLYN TRAVEL (718) 232-3139 (917) 797-7341

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BRIDAL AFFAIR (718) 317–9701, www.bridalaffair.com

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TRI STATE INSURANCE BROKERAGE 277 Tarrytown Rd.,White Plains, NY 10607 (914) 607-7799 610 Crescent Ave., Bronx, NY 10458 (718) 618-7666 www.tsinsbk.com

TO BE INCLUDED IN THIS DIRECTORY CALL (718) 260–8302 28

August 30, 2018

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It’s far from over for UNDER St. Marks New lease guarantees more life for longtime East Village venue

Photo by Antonia Stoyanovich

A slice just for you: Clay McLeod Chapman serves up a one-on-one version of his “Pumpkin Pie Show” Sept. 2-Oct. 7 at UNDER St. Marks.

BY TRAV S.D What is it that comes out of the ground? Lore and science tell us: good things and bad. Diamonds, gold, silver, and oil wells! Life-sustaining water! Root vegetables to get you through the winter! Archaeological revelations about extinct species and civilizations! But… also, monsters: vampires, mummies, zombies, and mole people! On some level, theatre is what you get when you mix all those things together. And one particular subterranean venue, UNDER St. Marks (94 St. Marks Pl., btw. First Ave. & Ave. A), has been unearthing dreamstuff and nightmares for over two decades. Downtown audiences will be delighted TheVillager.com

to know that the process of excavation won’t be stopping any time soon: FRIGID New York, the parent company of UNDER St. Marks, as well as The Kraine Theater, has secured the use of this much-cherished basement theatre space for another seven years. This development is significant because there were times in recent memory when UNDER St. Marks’ future as an arts venue seemed uncertain. In 2011, a lease re-negotiation necessitated an emergency scramble (a crowdfunding campaign called “Save UNDER St. Marks” saved the day). Last year, ownership of the building changed hands, and it briefly seemed that such an effort would need to be

revisited. But according to Erez Ziv, Managing Artistic Director, the danger has passed, at least for a while. “We’ve been in negotiations for like a year,” Ziv said. “Fortunately for us, the real estate market’s a little rough right now, so we were able to get a two-year lease with a five-year option. We’re also planning a bunch of renovations, including a second bathroom, and some other more cosmetic changes that will improve the look of the place.” Not bad for a literal hole in the ground. Ziv says that he first fell in love with UNDER St. Marks after seeing shows there during the New York International Fringe Festival in 1998.

Given that the space is just a few dozen yards from the other two venues he then managed, The Kraine Theater and The Red Room (both at 85 E. Fourth St., btw. Bowery & Second Ave.), his company “took it and ran with it.” In its two decades under Ziv’s management, a long list of distinguished performing artists have trod its basement boards. “It is rare that I sit through an evening of TV without seeing someone I saw on our stage at least once,” he said, citing a wide range of successful actors, comedians and writers from Broadway and television: Ilana Glazer (“Broad City”), Joshua Conkel (“A UNDER ST. MARKS continued on p. 30 August 30, 2018

29


Photo by Benjamin Spradley

FRIGID New York Managing Artistic Director Erez Ziv has been giving voice, and a stage, to Downtown performers for 20 years. UNDER ST. MARKS continued from p. 29

Series of Unfortunate Events”), Netflix staff writer and playwright Ming Peiffer, Tony winner Ari’el Stachel (“The Band’s Visit”), Christopher John O’Neill (“The Book of Mormon”), and — full disclosure — your humble correspondent. Another “repeat offender” is multiple threat Clay McLeod Chapman, whose popular theatrical horror series, “The Pumpkin Pie Show,” will be returning from Sept. 2 to Oct. 7 in a risky iteration called “The Pumpkin Pie Show: One-on-Ones.” (He’s performing the show for one audience member at a time.) “UNDER St. Marks is worth its weight in gold,” Chapman told this publication. “Erez has given me his faith and trust and access to the venue for 20 years, with the onus on me to give a good show. Places like that are so important now with theatre spaces all going the way of the dodo. It’s a black box for all the black sheep!” While it’s wonderful to know that his organization is stable, Ziv is eager to point out that it also is not static. All manner of positive changes are afoot, and have been for some time. The most seismic for longtime fans of the organization will be the knowledge that they are moving away from “Horse Trade” — the brand name we have always associated with the company that manages The Kraine and UNDER St. Marks. “This is probably the last year we will use the name ‘Horse Trade,’ ” Ziv said. “We incorporated as a not-forprofit called FRIGID New York six years ago.” Previously, “FRIGID” was the name of the annual theatre festival put on by Horse Trade, which had, by design, never been a not-for-profit. “It was not exactly profitable,” he joked, “but not being a not-for-profit allowed us to do a lot of things we might not have if we’d been one. But it’s even

30

August 30, 2018

Photo by Erez Ziv

A new lease on life worth noting: UNDER St. Marks is safe and secure for another seven years.

Photo by Erez Ziv

A ground level sign beckons theatergoers to the basement.

nicer to be able to pay people, and now we can qualify for foundation and government grants that have allowed us to start doing that.” Also on the horizon: long-term plans to purchase their own permanent theatre complex with the participation of Indiespace, an organization Ziv cofounded with Randi Berry and Paul Leibowitz, which helps New York theatres with the difficult task of acquiring real estate in the toughest real estate market in the world. But until that day, the company remains snug in the home it has known since the Clinton administration. In an age when most other Off-Off theatres have been folding or moving to the outer boroughs, that can be counted as a major victory. “The Pumpkin Pie Show: One-onOnes,” written and performed by Clay McLeod Chapman, takes place Sept. 2-Oct. 7 at UNDER St. Marks (94 St. Marks Pl., btw. First Ave. & Ave. A). Sessions are 20 minutes each, and reservations are required. Audience members will receive an email questionnaire that will help select a story best for their experience. Personal requests are welcome. For tickets ($15) and info, visit FRIGIDnewyork. info. Artist info at claymcleodchapman.com. TheVillager.com


Just Do Art ty of other opportunities to see Penny Jones & Co Puppets. The troupe will be back this fall for a new season of performances at Westbeth (155 Bank St., btw. West & Washington Sts.). For more info, visit pennypuppets. org. Also visit westbeth.org.

BY SCOTT STIFFLER

â&#x20AC;&#x153;MILE-LONG OPERAâ&#x20AC;? ENGAGEMENT EVENTS Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s as ambitious as it is site-specific â&#x20AC;&#x201D; but you donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t have to visit the High Line to get a taste of what itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s all about. We did, however, when our reporter Michael Rock recently walked Chelseaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s elevated park for a preview of â&#x20AC;&#x153;The Mile-Long Opera: a biography of 7 oâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;clock.â&#x20AC;? The epic choral project, to be performed Oct. 3-7, takes place over the entire length of the High Line, and features 1,000 singers from across New York City. Rock found the minimalist work to be â&#x20AC;&#x153;hardly a traditional opera, in that it lacks traditional arias and recitativesâ&#x20AC;Ś Rather than telling a coherent story, it contains countless short ones reflective of the challenges of life in New York City. The lyrics, particularly as sung against the backdrop of the night sky, are especially haunting and sometimes even heartbreaking.â&#x20AC;? Leading up to Octoberâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s fi ve free public performances (reservations required), the project recently announced a series of borough-wide community engagement events that evoke and explore various aspects of the operaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s themes and subject matter. On Aug. 30 and Sept. 16, for example, â&#x20AC;&#x153;Circle Sing Shoutâ&#x20AC;? takes the techniques of Ring Shout and Haitian Rara (movement, voice, rhythm, improvisation) in order to create an atmosphere of connection and openness, while cultivating a sense of confidence in oneâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s own body. On Sept. 9, 10, 16 and 28, â&#x20AC;&#x153;Autobiography of 7 oâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;clock: A Community Conversationâ&#x20AC;? invites participants to share their own stories of how NYCâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s rapid transformation has informed, and transformed, their own lives. The event features audio clips from some of the interviews that would ultimately become part of the â&#x20AC;&#x153;Mile-Longâ&#x20AC;? project. For a complete list of events and locations, visit milelongopera.com â&#x20AC;&#x201D; where you can also sign up to attend the October High Line performances.

PENNY JONES & CO. PUPPETS Come for the show, they told us, and stay for the sunset! On Thurs., Aug. 30 at 4pm, Pier 62 in Chelsea is the setting for a free performance by TheVillager.com

FLATIRON WALKING TOUR

Photo by Liz Ligon

Before â&#x20AC;&#x153;The Mile-Long Operaâ&#x20AC;? is performed Oct. 3-7 on the High Line, a series of community engagement events will touch upon its themes.

Image courtesy of Penny Jones & Co.

Penny Jones & Co. Puppets are back this fall, for another season at Westbeth.

the wise, witty, and whimsical puppets from Penny Jones & Co. Puppets â&#x20AC;&#x201D; an early childhood puppet theater currently celebrating 40 years of making kids laugh, learn, and think. The Aug. 30 show, â&#x20AC;&#x153;The Circus and Sebastian,â&#x20AC;? is a ballet set to the music of Kabalevskyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s symphony suite, â&#x20AC;&#x153;The Comedians.â&#x20AC;? In this tale, park attendant Sebastian pines to join the circus. He does, but is quickly fi red. Despair doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t have long to take hold, however, when a little dog shows him how to master the art of tightrope walking â&#x20AC;&#x201D; which leads to a triumphant return to the circus he loves. The free performance takes place Thurs., Aug. 30, 4pm on Pier 62 (cross at W. 22nd St.). If you miss

that performance, donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t despair as Sebastian did, because there are plen-

!!"! 

## $ Saturday 09/08 2PM, Washington Square Park Sunday 09/09 2PM, Sol Bloom Park, 91 St., Between CPW & Columbus Avenue www.theaterforthenewcity.net (212) 254 - 1109 @ 155 First Avenue, East Between 9th &10th Street

T he F latiron /23rd Street Partnership puts a new spin on its informative series of walking tours, with this Labor Day-themed installment sure to stimulate the mind while it brings you closer to your daily step goal. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Labor History & Madison Squareâ&#x20AC;? is a 90-minute, rain-or-shine tour that takes place at 11am on Sun., Sept. 2. No advance registration is required â&#x20AC;&#x201D; just meet in front of the William Seward statue in Madison Square Park (23rd St. & Broadway). Native New Yorker Mike Kaback will be your guide, taking you on a journey through time that touches on the history of, among other things, the old Fifth Avenue Hotel on Madison Square, where an 1872 fire claimed the lives of 22 hotel employees. The tragic incident would ultimately lead to reforms in working and safety conditions. Also along the way, youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll learn about the role Madison Square played in the first Labor Day Parade (Sept. 5, 1882), and find out about the connection between the old location of Madison Square Garden and the fight for an eight-hour workday. What we just described might seem like a bunch of spoilers, but thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s just the tip of the iceberg. For more info on the Flatiron/23rd Street Partnership â&#x20AC;&#x201D; and their other walking tours â&#x20AC;&#x201D; visit flatirondistrict.nyc.

$$"# ' #! #"%

www.dreamupfestival.org or call Smarttix at (212) 868 - 4444 #"!!#

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August 30, 2018

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August 30, 2018

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PHOTOS BY TEQUILA MINSKY

Incredible edible backgammon How creative can you get? Local residents Dilan Bozer, left, and Maite Or tiz, from the West Village and Soho, respectively, made use of a built-in backgammon board on a table outside of Vesuvio Playground, at Spring and Thompson Sts. “I grew up playing backgammon ever y day in Turkey,” said Bozer, who taught her friend how to play. This was only the third game for Or tiz. They invented their playing pieces: Bozer had the “hot Japanese peas” and Or tiz used the cherries. It’s probably not a surprise that they’re both studying ar t. And for the roll of the dice? These Millennials naturally used an app on an iPhone.

TheVillager.com

August 30, 2018

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