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The Paper off Record d for f o r Greenwich fo Gre Gr ee en nw w iicc h Village, Vii llll a V ag ge e,, East Ea ass t Village, Vii llll a V ag ge e,, Lower Lo ow w er East E Side, Soho, Union Square, Chinatown oho, U Un n ion ion S io Sq qu ua a re re, C Ch h iin na att o ow w n and a n d Noho, an No N oh ho o , Since Sii n S ncc e 1933 19 1 9 33

October 18, 2018 • $1.00 Volume 88 • Number 41

Village school cites doubts on Pier 40 in expansion push BY GABE HERMAN


illage C om mu n it y School representatives went before Community Board 2 last week to present a plan that would significantly boost the school’s space in the West Village. To enlarge the five-story Kthrough-8 school at 272 W.

10th St., VCS plans to construct a new building at the corner of Greenwich and W. 10 Sts., on the current site of its outdoor playground. The new addition would sport three floors, including space for STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) labs, math and lanSCHOOL continued on p. 8

Lot by Merchant’s House Museum will be public open space BY SYDNEY PEREIR A


n empty gravel lot behind a chain-link fence on E. Fourth St. will be converted into a public open space as soon as 2021, Steve Simon, the Parks Department’s chief of staff to the borough commissioner, announced at a scoping meeting for or the project

last week. But don’t expect any ball courts or playgrounds to fill the nearly 10,000-squarefoot lot, between Bowery and Lafayette St., which doubles as an access point to City Water Tunnel No. 3. Under the $1 million projLOT continued on o p. 10


Dancer/per former Sonia Maria Sheron a.k.a. Sonia De Luna spor ted some high “trash-ion” style at the Pinks “Trash Bash” last week. See Page 16.

Merchant’s House vote buys time; Risk remains BY GABE HERMAN


ast month, the City Council unanimously voted to reject a zoning change sought by a developer to build an eight-story hotel next to the historic Merchant’s House Museum. Leading the effort to deny the zoning change was City

‘No’ on board term limits.......p. 19

Councilmember Carlina Rivera, who represents the district in which the museum is located. “We believe this proposal goes too far,” Rivera stated. However, while preservationists and neighbors hailed the decision on Sept. 26, the struggle is still not over. This is because the devel-

oper, Kalodop II Park Corp., which also owns a larger space — a parking garage around the corner at 403 Lafayette St. — could still construct a six-story hotel at 27 E. Fourth St., the site adjacent to the Merchant’s House. This reality left little time for MERCHANT’S continued on p. 6

City: Eliz St. Garden must move out statues ......p. 2 Crusties are under the spotlight, literally........ p. 12 www.TheVillager.com

GOING AFTER GOLDEN: State Senator Brad Hoylman held a day of action with Andrew Gournardes in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, on Sunday. “We knocked on some doors, rallied the troops and even managed to squeeze in some canine time!” said Avery Cohen, Hoylman’s press secretary. Gounardes is running to unseat incumbent Marty Golden, the borough’s only Republican state senator, who, last week claimed to have no idea what the Child Victims Act was.

GARDEN GOOD AND BAD: There’s a lot going on at the Elizabeth St. Garden, most of it good, but some of it troubling. On the positive side, last week the French street artist JR created a really cool mural on a wall on the garden’s northern side in a show of support for preserving the garden intact as it is now. The artwork depicts Nova, a young girl, as she desperately holds on to one of the trees in the garden, which would be destroyed if the city’s development plans are not stopped. Nova and her sister Luna are the daughters of neighbors Stephanie Tricola and Mark Craemer, who frequently visit and volunteer at the garden. Also, the garden’s Sixth Annual Harvest Fest is set for this Sat., Oct. 20, from noon to 4 p.m. The free affair will feature delicious snacks, pumpkin decorating, face painting and more. Costumes encouraged! There will be speakers starting at 2 p.m. Rain date is Sun., Oct. 21. Not so good is the news that the city has asked Allan Reiver to clear out all the statues and sculptures from the garden so that test drilling and digging can be done. On July 9, Harold Weinberg, the Department of Housing Preservation and Development’s deputy general counsel for property management and special litigation, first wrote Reiver, notifying the gallerist he would have to remove all of the heavy sculptures and monuments from the garden, so that H.P.D. could do 10 soil borings and dig six test pits throughout the space. Weinberg explained this was necessary so that the sculptures wouldn’t be damaged by the machinery during all the boring and digging. After the soil and environmental testing — which would take three weeks — Reiver could reinstall the monuments, the H.P.D. added. But Reiver responded that to remove the weighty monoliths, truck them away, then truck them back and reinstall them would cost at least $1 million. Weinberg wrote back on July 20, saying department officials had decided they could wait till the fall to do the tests. “The Agency will give you sufficient notice to remove the statuary and sculptures at that time,” Weinberg added. But it came as cold comfort to Reiver. “I installed it with helpers 25 years ago,” he told us, referring to all the statuary, trees and planting beds. “I was younger — and it took years. It’s not feasible” to remove everything, much less put it back, he said, adding, “It would destroy the garden.” As a result, Reiver will be leading a protest at the garden on Sun., Oct. 28, 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. ADVOCATE AVALANCHE: Former City Council Speaker Christine Quinn’s name is reportedly in the mix for public advocate. But then again — whose isn’t? Letitia James is slated to resign from the position next month, so she can take over as New York State attorney general. A nonpartisan special election for advocate would then be held in February or March; each candidate would create their own party and symbol. Other names being mentioned are Councilmembers Jumaane Williams — who narrowly lost to Kathy 2

October 18, 2018


JR’s new decal mural in the Elizabeth St. Garden shows Nova, a young girl who lives nearby, fighting to save one of the garden’s trees from destruction by the de Blasio administration’s bulldozers.

Hochul in the primary election for lieutenant governor last month — and Ydanis Rodriguez. Melissa MarkViverito, who was Council speaker after Quinn, may be interested in advocate, too, they say. Columbia professor David Eisenbach, who has raised his profile as an advocate for the Small Business Jobs Survival Act, is also expected to be in the running.

DOGGONE IT: Sadly, the annual Tompkins Square Park Halloween Dog Parade — which would have usually happened this coming weekend — has been canceled. According to a statement on the event’s Facebook page, the Parks Department was asking for “a large insurance & liability policy in order to hold the event this year — and we simply don’t have the funds or sponsor willing to provide it.” Gothamist reported that because the nearly 30-year-old event has grown so much in recent years, Parks was requesting a certificate of insurance, or C.O.I., valued at $1 million. However, we hear the amount in question was only $2,000 — but that the leader of the dog run, Garrett Rosso, would have had to put his name on the insurance policy and thus be liable as the “responsible party.” Over the years, the costumed-dog confab reportedly has raised $200,000 for the East Village park, plus secured twice that amount in matching funds. “We’re hopeful that the annual dog parade will return in some form in the future,” the group’s statement concluded. Well, at least there’s still the Washington Square Park Dog Run Association’s event on Sun., Oct. 28, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., with the parade at noon. Billed as the Dog Day Halloween Costume Party & Parade, it will feature judging of the pooches’ get-ups, prizes, treats, artists, “pawdicures” and more. It’s free and open to all but $10 to enter the contest. You can preregister at wspdogrun.org to get a treat bag.

DISNEY DESIGNS ON DOWNTOWN: In July, The New York Times reported that Disney plans to move out of its Upper West Side digs and build a modern, 1-million-square-foot complex on the entire square block bounded by Hudson, Varick, Vandam and Spring Sts. The company would lease the property, to be dubbed Four Hudson Square, for 99 years from Trinity Real Estate in an estimated $650 million deal. The complex would house ABC headquarters, WABC News and the studios for “The View” and “Live With Kelly and Ryan.” Praising the company’s planned new neighborhood, Robert A. Iger, Disney’s chairman and chief executive, said, “The Hudson Square district is rapidly becoming a dynamic, innovative hub for media, technology and other creative businesses.” The block is currently home to four historic warehouse and store buildings — two eight stories high and the other two lower — that were developed by Trinity Church at the end of the 19th century. City Winery occupies the block’s northwest corner. Andrew Berman, executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, said the society and the Charlton St. Block Association have jointly asked City Council Speaker Corey Johnson’s Office plan to set up a meeting with Disney to learn more about the megaproject. In July the society also submitted a “request for evaluation” for the block to the Landmarks Preservation Commission, to see if any of the existing buildings might be eligible for review as possible city landmarks. Berman said Disney has not released any design plans yet regarding its designs on the block. IN THE WEEDS: Former city Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe has been out on poisonous-plant patrol again on the Hudson River bikeway — and he recently spotted some offending foliage. “There were small patches of both Jimsonweed and black nightshade in several locations a month ago,” he told us. Benepe said he planned to bike the path again soon and let us know if the creepy greenery had been removed, but he got the bug that was going around and hasn’t been out riding lately, so we don’t have any updates. Our advice in the meantime: It’s probably wise not to eat any of the plants, smoke them, snort them or drink them as tea. Last summer, The Villager reported on how Benepe, an avid cyclist, had spotted Jimsonweed a.k.a. locoweed and black nightshade in the planted areas bordering the path. After our report, someone really went to town with a weed whacker because the dangerous plants — along with a lot of innocent shrubbery — were clear-cut. IN POLE POSITION: We bumped into Jim Power, the “Mosaic Man,” working on one of his iconic tileencrusted lampposts, at Second Ave. and St. Mark’s Place, and, as usual, he had plenty to say. For starters, Power would love to get the job to do the mosaic tile work in the expanded First Ave. L train station. Also, he’s planning to lead a revolt “to take back the territory” of St. Mark’s Place between Second and Third Aves. from the Village Alliance business improvement district. “They’re from the West Side,” he complained. He still hasn’t gotten the hip operation(s) that he clearly needs. Maybe this winter, he said. He just turned 71. … Also, he said, red lettering is always the best for visibility when he does store signs. TheVillager.com

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October 18, 2018


POLICE B L O T T E R Named best weekly newspaper in New York State in 2001, 2004 and 2005 by New York Press Association Editorials, First Place, 2017 Best Column, First Place, 2017 Best Obituaries, First Place, 2017 News Story, First Place, 2015 Editorial Pages, First Place, 2015 Editorials, First Place, 2014 News Story, First Place, 2014 Overall Design Excellence, First Place, 2013 Photographic Excellence, First Place, 2011


One of the alleged suspects in a mugging on Second Ave. in which the victim’s wallet and cell phone were stolen.


Member of the New York Press Association

Police say this guy tried to steal a straphanger’s wallet at the Delancey/Essex St. subway station.

Armed robber

2nd Ave. attack Two men in their 20s, both wearing hoodies, approached a 37-year-old man around midnight in front of 68 Second Ave., near E. Fourth St., and began to assault him. One forcibly removed the victim’s wallet and cell phone before fleeing on foot in an unknown direction. The victim suffered pain and bruising around the face and body but was not seriously injured. Both perps were described as black. In addition to hoodies, one of them sported red-white-and-blue pants. Surveillance photos of the two were obtained from Urban Outfitters at W. 14th St. and Sixth Ave. later on the same day of the incident. Charges on the victim’s credit card were attempted but none were approved. Anyone with information is asked to call


One of the alleged suspects in the Second Ave. mugging — shown here entering Urban Outfitters — repor tedly wore red-white-and-blue pants.

the Police Department’s Crime Stoppers Hotline, at 800-577-TIPS, or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782). Tips can also be submitted on the Crime Stoppers Web site, www.nypdcrimestoppers.com, on Twitter at @NYPDTips or by texting to 274637 (CRIMES) and then entering TIP577. All tips are confidential.

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October 18, 2018

LaGuardia Park Fun Day, on LaGuardia Place in the Village, definitely lived up to its billing, with loads of fun — and food, too. There were children’s games with staff from Manhattan Youth, plus all sorts of eats from neighborhood places, including barbecued hamburgers, cookies and cookie dough from Do. Accordion music livened up the already lively event even more. Bob Townley, the director of the Tribeca-based Manhattan Youth, at right, had some fun with the photographer.

Police arrested a suspect wanted in four armed robberies during a week spanning the end of September to the start of October. In the latest incident, police said the man entered Mona’s bar, at 224 Avenue B, between 13th and 14th Sts., on Thurs., Oct. 4, around 2 a.m., displayed a firearm and demanded cash. He made off with $700, fleeing toward 14th St. Police said that on Sept. 26, the same robber hit a Duane Reade at 296 Flatbush Ave., near Prospect Heights, scoring $200; then on Sept. 29, struck at the Kilo Bravo karaoke bar, at 180 N. 10th St. in Williamsburg, nabbing $560; and on Oct. 2 held up a Metro PCS store at 2015 Church Ave., near Prospect Lefferts Gardens, absconding with $65. On Sat., Oct. 6, in connection with the above robbery pattern, police arrested Sanjay McBayne, 29, from Crown Heights, charging him with four counts of robbery.

Subway grab A robber tried to grab a 22-yearold man’s wallet out of his hand in the Delancey / Essex St. J/F subway station on Thurs., Sept. 20, around 3:20 p.m., police said. But the man fought him off, and the robber fled up to the street empty-handed. The suspect was described as black, 6 feet tall and weighing around 150 pounds, with a small Afro, last seen wearing a redand-black shirt and blue jeans, with earphones around his neck. Anyone with information should contact the Crime Stoppers Hotline.

Lincoln Anderson


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Vote on Merchant’s House gives hope, for now MERCHANT’S continued from p. 1

celebration among those trying to protect the 186-year-old museum, including local residents, activists, area politicians and the museum itself. The museum staff and its supporters all say that any construction next door to the structure would cause terrible damage, since the building is preserved intact from 1832 and therefore very fragile. Both the museum’s interior and exterior have been landmarked — but that fact doesn’t prevent construction on the adjacent lot. “I was definitely very happy that the Council voted it down,” Andrew Berman, executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, said of the zoning change. “It’s not the end of the story, unfortunately, but it is a really important step in terms of trying to ensure the safety and integrity of the Merchant’s House.” Berman noted that the developer would not be able to build the six-story hotel right away, first needing approval from the Landmarks Preservation Commission for those plans. L.P.C. did approve the eight-story design, and Berman said it could conceivably approve a new plan as a revision, which would not require another public hearing process. “But I’m hopeful that won’t be the case,” he said, “because these would be pretty substantial changes.” Supporters of the Merchant’s House want the developers instead to build at the garage site around the corner on Lafayette St. “That would allow them to recoup the investment that they want to make but not endanger the Merchant’s House,” Berman said. The Villager reached out to the developer for comment on the latest news regarding the site at 27 E. Fourth St. Michael Kramer, the leasing director of ParkIt Management, e-mailed a statement, indicating the developer apparently still intends to build on the property. “Kalodop II Park Corporation is planning to replace their obsolete one-story garage, with a modern building that will be respectful of the NoHo Historic District Extension. We are currently evaluating all of our options,” the statement read. Margaret “Pi” Gardner, the museum’s executive director, could not immediately be reached for comment, but employees said the mood there was less than celebratory. Elizabeth Indek, a part-time worker at the Merchant’s House, said she was “very happy” after the City Council vote, but also “still sort of nervous that they’ll build the six-story building” next door. Indek was just outside the museum on a recent afternoon, overseeing a sale of donated items, with all of the money going to the museum’s legal fund for this issue. Indek said the museum has real estate lawyers working on the case, who have said that the garage at 403 Lafay-


October 18, 2018


Suppor ters warn that the Merchant’s House Museum, on E. Four th St. bet ween Bower y and Lafayette St., center above, is threatened by a potential development project to its west, where a one-stor y garage now sits. A s for the open lot flanking the museum’s other side, the city plans to redevelop it as a public space with seating and plantings.

Museum advocates say the developer should instead build the project around the corner at this garage site, which the developer also owns.

An interior landmark as well as an exterior one, the Merchant’s House spor ts period furnishings.

ette St. is more profitable for the developers, which is why they don’t want to build on that site. Another Merchant’s House worker, John William Rommel, who has been a staff member and the museum’s gardener since 1995, said his mood on the issue was “dire.” Speaking about the site next door, Rommel said, “If they dig a foundation for that building, everything shifts, despite all the engineering studies. A quarter-inch of a shift, all of the plaster in our front rooms would crack and collapse.” Rommel said construction at the site next door would mean having to put the museum’s entire collection in storage, reinforcing the ceilings, and closing the whole place down for around two years. “We’re talking hundreds of thousands of dollars,” he said. “We don’t have the money.” Rommel didn’t know if there was a realistic chance the developers would instead build at 403 Lafayette St., but he said that currently lawyers on each side are discussing the issue. “It’s all about if they want to do the right thing. If it isn’t economically feasible, they may opt out of that,” Rommel said of the 27 E. Fourth St. site. “It’s their call. But we’ll fight them tooth and nail until the shovels come in.” Rommel is also a local resident, living a few blocks away on E. Fifth St. “I have a vested interest in this house, obviously,” he said. “But also as a neighborhood person, I’m committed to historical preservation.” Overdevelopment in the area is an ongoing problem, he noted, saying, “This is concerning to me.” TheVillager.com


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VCS cites doubts about Pier 40 in expansion bid SCHOOL continued from p. 1

guage classrooms and a new library, plus an underground gym and a rooftop play yard. VCS hopes to start construction on the project next summer and finish it by early 2021. The school is applying to the Board of Standards and Appeals to amend a previous application the B.S.A. approved in 2001. This amendment seeks permission for additional lot coverage, or to be able to build on more of the property. “We would actually, by right, be able to have a much larger physical plan to the building,” Richard Lobel, an attorney for VCS, said during the school’s presentation to the C.B. 2 Land Use and Business Development Committee on Oct. 10. “The reason that this particular layout was chosen was to maximize the efficiency of the layout and the ability to use this space to satisfy the school’s individual programming.” The as-of-right zoning would allow an even bigger building addition sporting up to 20,000 square feet more space. The school if forgoing that extra volume in return for what it says is a better design that fits its needs. The VCS plan is to build a 25,000-square-foot addition, enclosing more than 17,300 square feet of floor area, plus a rooftop play yard and cellar. Marvel Architects is designing the additions for VCS. Caitlin Travers, a Marvel associate, told the board that without the B.S.A. amendment, fewer classrooms could be built and there would be other structural issues. The as-of-right proposal, she said, is “a compromised design functionally.” After the VCS presentation, Board 2 member Tobi Bergman challenged the school’s argument that the feared loss of use of the Pier 40 fields was a main driver of its push for the building additions. Eve Kleger, head of school at VCS, said


A design rendering of the proposed three-stor y addition Village Communit y School plans for its current outdoor playground at the southwest corner of W. 10th and Greenwich Sts.

that officials have told the school that Pier 40 will need many repairs, some of which have secured funding and begun, and the pier is generally in serious disrepair. “So that’s part of the concern — we don’t know the future of Pier 40,” Kleger said. She added VCS has had less access to the W. Houston St. pier due to increased community competition for permits, and also that there are safety issues in having students cross the West Side Highway. “For those who have been involved with Pier 40 for a long time,” Bergman said, “it sounds like the same old thing that Pier 40 is falling into the river, which we know isn’t true.” Bergman also asked if VCS had reached out to its neighbors, especially the residents at 692 Greenwich St., next door to the school. Kleger said there were

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October 18, 2018

no plans to show until mid-September, after which they were shown to the school community, then outreach was made to their neighbors. Bergman asked if other options were considered that might be “more considerate to 692 [Greenwich St.] than one that essentially seems to make most of the units in that building uninhabitable.” Marvel’s Travers said many options were looked at but they didn’t have them to show at the board meeting. “The B.S.A. may have some of the same concerns that we have,” Bergman noted. “And it would be very important for this process to start showing those options that you rejected, so that we can start to balance those concerns.” Lobel said VCS will provide other options it considered, to prove that the current proposal for more space is necessary for the school’s needs. There are 35 lot-line windows — split between five residential condos — on the side of 692 Greenwich St. that would be blocked by the proposed construction in the currently open schoolyard. With or without the amended variance, the lotline windows would be blocked by an addition, according to VCS attorney Lobel. Attorney Michael Hiller, speaking on behalf of 692 Greenwich St. and others in the community opposed to the VCS proposal, said it was critical to preserve the lot-line windows. “Those windows disappear and habitable rooms also disappear, so this is a very significant project for that building, in particular,” he stated. Hiller called for VCS to have more interaction with the community. Noting he had spoken with Lobel, he said, “I’m hopeful that we can continue that dialogue over the next couple of weeks.” Hiller said that VCS plans to expand its student population with the additions,

which would flout a rule contained in the 2001 B.S.A. variance. He pointed to the current B.S.A. application, saying that the additions, while meeting the school’s current needs, would also allow “for natural growth” of the school. “We should know how many students they’re anticipating when they say ‘the natural growth of the school,’ ” Hiller said. Architect Travers described how the building additions have been designed to respect the character of the neighborhood. But Hiller argued that the loss of open space on that corner would be a blow to the Village. “If you’re going to eliminate open space in the Village,” Hiller said, “I think it needs to be disclosed and needs to be addressed, in terms of how that’s going to impact the community.” As for other components of the proposal, like more STEAM classrooms and expanding the library, Hiller acknowledged those are “important” goals. Yet, he questioned whether these things could be achieved without the B.S.A. variance. When the meeting was opened to comments from the public, sentiment was roughly split between local residents against the proposal and VCS parents in favor of it. Opponents argued that the community recently had this sprung on them and are not being allowed enough input. They said the VCS expansion would only benefit a small portion of the larger community. One resident who said she lives on the VCS block stressed that if the school is going to propose this addition, “then we should have a really good reason why you need it.” She said needing another gym did not seem like an adequate reason. However, a woman who said she has lived in the West Village more than 15 years and has three children at VCS, said the school hosts events by many local groups, including nonprofits, religious groups, community board meetings and weekend activities. “The school cares very much about the input of the neighborhood,” she said. “They are very concerned with making this addition work within the character of the neighborhood.” The VCS parent disagreed with, as she put it, “the idea that there’s some malicious goal here. This is just a neighborhood school that wants to give the best possible education to their currently enrolled students.” As each side was offering passionate comments back and forth, Bergman stepped in to say that he appreciated that battle lines would be drawn, but that B.S.A. decisions were not simple “yes” or “no” votes. “It’s a process of understanding both sides and trying to find a solution,” he explained. “We’ve got a long way to go. B.S.A. is not going to act on this next month or the month after. So hearing from you about your ideas is very important to us.” TheVillager.com

Sunday, 10/28/2018  11 am-2 pm  285 Jay Street, Brooklyn NY 11201




Lot by Merchant’s House will be a public space LOT continued from p. 1

ect, the space will be transformed into passive open space — meaning a seating area with plantings. A significant swath of the lot will be shared space between Department of Environmental Protection trucks and workers as well as parkgoers. “There isn’t a hell of a lot we can do with the site,” Simon admitted. With around two-dozen manholes and hydrant coverings scattered across the site, as well as vertical shafts connecting to the underground drinkingwater artery, Parks designers are in for a challenge creating the open space. Simon said a design is expected to be presented to Community Board 2 within the next three to four months. “We would treat it as though it’s a regular park, although it will not be a regular park,” he said, explaining that it is technically an “open space.” The space would be open from around 7:30 a.m. to dusk, perhaps later in the summertime, he added. The Parks Department will be responsible for maintaining the space under an agreement with D.E.P. Alexandros Zervos, the designer on the project, said the city is studying whether an entrance from the open space into the Merchant’s House Museum’s garden could be possible. The news was greeted enthusiastically by many, including Margaret “Pi” Gardiner, the museum’s executive director. “The budget is very slim, but we’re looking at our options,” Zervos said. Other plans include installing evergreen plants and a water-bottle filling station, plus adding original historic columns that were a part of since-demolished buildings on Colonnade Row, on Lafayette St. that are currently being stored in New Jersey. But a top concern for a handful of neighbors who attended the Oct. 1 meeting was safety and security. If there is an entrance from the open space to the Merchant’s House, there would need to be a way to lock the museum’s garden, Gardiner and others noted. Others were concerned that the fence the city is planning for the open space would only be 5 feet tall rather than something taller. The current chainlink fence there is more than twice that height. “We have a real problem with graffiti and jumping over the fence, and that makes me nervous,” said Gardiner, who has worked at the museum for nearly three decades. “The point is, right now, you see what happens with a 12-foot chainlink fence,” said John Rommel, the Merchant’s House head gardener. “We have graffiti in that site. If they want in, they’ll get in, but there’s no reason to make it easy for them.” Fears were voiced that the space


October 18, 2018


The Parks Depar tment’s Steve Simon, center, in foreground, led a tour of the E. Four th St. D.E.P. site where a public open space is planned. At center rear is City Councilmember Carlina Rivera.

would simply become an unofficial restroom for public urination, with homeless people using the space to sleep in, particularly if benches without armrests or picnic tables are a part of the design. Another neighbor and Community Board 2 member suggested the Parks designers evaluate lighting on New York University’s superblock where a Picasso sculpture designed by I.M. Pei stands. “It’s a very safe space,” said Jeannine Kiely, who chairs the community board’s Schools and Education Committee and serves on its Parks and Waterfront Committee, as well. “I walk through there at night. “Given this space, you really need to have good lighting to make people feel comfortable,” she stressed. D.E.P.’s construction work on the site was originally greenlighted in 2001 through a public-review process on the condition that the city build a public open space, according to Department of City Planning records. The city has formally owned the site since 2004, according to property records. Former Manhattan Borough President Virginia Fields wrote that she approves the project, with the condition that “the area between the two landmarked buildings be designated for open space for public usage, appropriate to the landmarks and complementary to them.”

A C.B. 2 resolution echoed Fields’s stipulation, adding that the request should be “integrated into D.E.P.’s legal negotiations with the owner of the property, whether it be a private owner or the City.” But three years ago, C.B. 2 slammed the city for seemingly reneging on the promise, along with similar pledges for two other D.E.P. water-shaft sites, at W. Houston and Hudson Sts. and Lafayette and Grand Sts., DNAInfo reported at the time. A year later, amid the battle between the city and residents over the fate of Elizabeth St. Garden, the city reaffirmed its promise to make the sites open spaces, The Villager first reported in 2016. A plan stretching back more than a decade to build a playground on a privately owned property adjacent to a D.E.P. water-tunnel shaft also fell through in the Two Bridges neighborhood. Now, a 62-story building — one of four new residential towers proposed at Two Bridges — is slated for the lot instead. The Two Bridges playground plan ultimately fell through because D.E.P. never owned the lot and was unable to purchase it from its private owners, according to Michael DeLoach, the agency’s deputy commissioner of public affairs and communications. Although former Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer and City Planning approved the Two Bridges

playground project, the City Council never formally did, DeLoach added. According to the online search tool for zoning and land-use applications, the City Council “did not assume jurisdiction” of the Two Bridges site. DeLoach said that since D.E.P. owns the E. Fourth St. lot, that plan isn’t in jeopardy. The city and local politicians have allocated $1.27 million for the E. Fourth St. project, including $1 million from Mayor Bill de Blasio, $200,000 from former Councilmember Rosie Mendez and $70,000 from Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer. Mendez’s successor, Councilmember Carlina Rivera, is supportive of the project, as well. “This is a very unique opportunity,” Rivera said at the scoping meeting. “I’m excited because it’s also directly next to one of our city’s most beloved treasures, the Merchant’s House.” Last month, the City Council voted against a zoning change for an eightstory hotel planned on the west side of the Merchant’s House after opponents of the plan protested construction on the adjacent lot would seriously damage the 186-year-old building. “The Merchant’s House was recently under a little bit of stress,” Rivera said, “but we temporarily relieved that stress because it is such an important building, and I can’t think of a better complement than to really create a space for passive recreation.” TheVillager.com

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October 18, 2018


Crackdown on crusties after ‘Postie’ is punched BY MARY REINHOLZ


he young couple sat on a sidewalk cradling a kitten and panhandling outside a pizza joint on St. Mark’s Place. The two later moved a large sleeping bag a few blocks away. Around the corner, a solitary tattooed man screamed into his cell phone at a free WiFi-and-charging kiosk on Second Ave. Otherwise, the neighborhood of stores and restaurants seemed empty of apparent homeless, including a band of roving crusty punks and their pets. They were noticeably absent Tuesday evening outside the fenced-off vacant site of the 2015 gas explosion at Second Ave. and E. Seventh St., one of their favorite destinations for camping out on the streets of the East Village. Local residents and a merchant on the block say they haven’t seen these unwanted visitors for several days — ever since a bearded 25-year-old traveler named Zeke slugged Dean Balsamini, a New York Post reporter. Balsamini showed up outside the vacant lot on Wed., Oct. 10, asking questions of the scruffy vagabonds on the heels of an article about a “crusty crisis” there first published online on thevillager.com on Oct. 8. The Villager article recounted complaints about the interlopers’ alleged criminal acts, like a purported August stabbing — which the Ninth Precinct’s top cop John O’Connell said never happened — and quality-of-life offenses like public urination and defecation. Police made it plain this week that they had persuaded the crusties — and the wannabes who like to hang out with them — to move on from the blast site. “We conducted a major cleanup of that area,” said Sergeant Lesley Bailey, who heads the Ninth’s Neighborhood Coordination Officers, or N.C.O., program. She was speaking this Tuesday, shortly before a monthly Ninth Precinct Community Council meeting began on the second floor of the stationhouse, at 321 E. Fifth St. “We got it done,” she said. O’Connell, who assumed command of the Ninth in July, told about 50 locals at the meeting that the crusties regarded Zeke as “emotionally disturbed” and didn’t want to be associated with him. The captain said Balsamini did not press charges against Zeke, who had approached this reporter with a pleasant smile the day after the fracas, requesting money and saying, “Sure,” when asked to be photographed outside the Gem Spa. In an e-mail, Balsamini told this reporter he did not receive medical attention for his “crust-up” with Zeke, whom he described in his story as a “millennial with Charles Manson eyes.” (Funny, but Zeke struck me more as a wayward Rocky Balboa.) O’Connell, who took over the Ninth’s command in July, said in a conversation with The Villager that he and his cops had planned a crackdown on the crusties at the blast site right after a Sept. 25 meeting of the Community Council. At that meeting, two residents and a merchant complained that the unsightly homeless young folks napping, drinking and allegedly doing drugs on the sidewalk outside their building were wrecking their lives and business at 125 Second Ave. O’Connell insisted that the action was not precipitated by Zeke’s blow against Balsamini. Maryann Marlow, the longtime owner of Enz’s retro fashion boutique on the ground floor of the aforementioned address, attended both precinct meetings. She was skeptical of O’Connell’s version of events. Marlow claimed that she and her neighbors in the building hadn’t seen any cops around until reports of the crusty punch to the New York “Postie” were published in the


October 18, 2018


Captain John L . O’Connell says the Ninth Precinct is on top of the “crusty crisis” that saw homeless young traveler punks and so-called “home bums” (who don’t move about from city to cit y) take over the sidewalk outside the Second Ave. blast site.


This week the Ninth Precinct added a “light tower” on E. Seventh St. just west of Second Ave. to illuminate the sidewalks, so that the crusties can’t get too comfor table or openly par ty and drink beer on the street at night.

daily tabloid. “It’s great” the crusties have gone, she said. “But it was the New York Post [story] that chased them away. We never saw [the police] before that happened. Never. They may have talked to them. But they never chased them away” until The Post reporter got slugged. Marlow, however, acknowledged that O’Connell visited her store on the day of Balsamini’s encounter with Zeke, and admitted she had spotted Officer Danielle Vanuto, a comely blond cop with the Ninth’s N.C.O. program, patrolling in her neighborhood. Vanuto strongly denied that her police team was “turning a blind eye” to the problems posed by homeless people in the East Village. “I know you think we turn a blind eye, but we don’t,” she told the Community Council attendees. “Violations have to be observed” by police before they can take action, she explained. “I deal with homeless every day,” she said. “We’re on it.” She urged concerned residents to call the city’s Department of Homeless Services, at 212-361-8000, “to get O.K.’s” for police action from that agency. For his second Community Council meeting, O’Connell brought in two authorities from One Police Plaza on legal issues involving the homeless to speak to attendees. One was attorney Matthew Smith, a sergeant on special assignment with the New York Police Department’s Legal Bureau. Smith noted that police “can only criminalize behavior, not people who are homeless.” He called that view an “unpopular” position — even in New York City under liberal Mayor Bill de Blasio, where cops are now taking a “lighter approach” toward the homeless than they did under Mayors Bloomberg and Giuliani. “I know that it’s difficult when you have people on your doorstep and at your window,” Smith said. “But it’s hard to enforce that because you have laws involving people’s actions and not their homelessness. It’s hard to find the right things to enforce,” he added. “You can’t [arrest] someone who is asking you for money or sitting on your doorstep and you ask them to leave. If they’re blocking pedestrian traffic, we can enforce that. There are options.” O’Connell said the East Village police precinct is now “thinking about different options,” including bringing in a “light tower” for the blast block. That action was a direct response to a request made at the last Community Council meeting by a 64-year-old retiree living in a rent-stabilized apartment in Marlow’s building. The diesel-powered light tower was out there on E. Seventh St. this Wednesday. The retiree, a former science teacher who asked to be identified as Stephen Lipski, told the captain that conditions have been “wonderful since that reporter got hit.” However, Lipski angrily claimed the crusties should not be classified as homeless. “They’re vagrants! They’re thugs!” he exclaimed. “They’re scary to my wife and daughter. Those people who are advocates for the homeless — [they can] take them home!” Meanwhile, crime over all has declined in the rapidly gentrifying East Village over the last 28 days, according to O’Connell. “We had only 14 crimes for the whole week — usually it’s 25 to 35,” he said. “Seven were grand larcenies, [like when] somebody left their wallet on a bench or in a taxi. We had three commercial burglaries with people getting into windows. “It’s pretty remarkable that we had a 15 percent decline in 28 days. So we’re going in the right direction.” TheVillager.com


Curbing opioid use and addiction among seniors BY JOANNA R. LEEFER


ost seniors pride themselves on being cautious. But not when it comes to opioids. Opioid use and addiction among seniors is on the rise. Statistics indicate that the number of opioid abusers over the age of 50 doubled between 2002 and 2014. In contrast, opioid abuse among younger age groups is declining. The absolute number of senior abusers is still lower than other age segments, but the growth rate is alarming. The reason for this is twofold: First, older adults are more likely to experience acute or chronic pain and require prescribed pain relievers more frequently than younger people. Opioid painkillers are the most effective method of relieving acute pain in older patients. This makes it the medicine of choice for many physicians. A report by the New England Journal of Medicine estimated roughly 40 percent of older adults are taking an opioid prescription to relieve pain. Prescribed opioids are the first step toward addiction. Second, doctors often overprescribe opioids to their older patients. Doctors might warn their older patients to limit usage to a few days, yet the prescriptions are usually written for up to 30 days, with refills. Patients might take the dosage the doctor suggests, but they do not throw away the remaining dosages. Most people save the rest in case the pain comes back or worsens. This overuse is the cause for addiction.

Older adults are more likely to experience chronic pain and require prescribed pain relievers, and doctors often overprescribe opioids to their older patients.

If you are an average household, you may have at least one partially used prescription for OxyContin, Percocet, Fentanyl or Vicodin. These are all opioid painkillers. Most people save these drugs for emergency situations. No wonder older people get addicted. Besides being addictive, opioids have other risks. Older people metabolize drugs at a slower rate. So a senior will experience the effects more intensely and for a longer period of time. Opioids also lead to disorientation that causes seniors to fall. This creates a vicious cycle of pain, relief and more pain. The Centers for Disease Control

and Prevention recently published new guidelines for offering opioid painkillers. They recommend clinicians limit patients to a three-day supply of opioids and, rarely, a seven-day supply. To stop the chance of overdose, physicians who prescribe opioid drugs often combine them with naloxone, a medication that blocks the negative ef-

fects of opioid medications and is not addictive. Naloxone is also used to treat narcotic overdoses. Doctors and clinicians also are now exploring other effective pain treatments. Some options include offering stronger doses of over-the-counter medications, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Motrin) or aspirin (Bayer). Recent findings indicate that, in some cases, anti-depressives with serotonin reuptake inhibitors, such as bupropion (Wellbutrin) and duloxetine (Cymbalta) can successfully treat pain. But as part of the growing movement away from Big Pharma and the dangers of overmedication, nonmedical treatments are also being considered. Some of the more popular treatments include physical therapy and movement classes â&#x20AC;&#x201D; including water exercise â&#x20AC;&#x201D; acupuncture and, in some cases, steroid injections or nerve blockers. Opioid painkillers do help eliminate acute pain for seniors. But doctors and clinicians must continue to discover new ways of treating pain in the elderly without putting them at risk. Leefer is founder, ElderCareGiving, a service helping families make care decisions for aging loved ones


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October 18, 2018



Ray Rogers, of the group Stop REBNY Bullies, spoke out about the influence of big real estate on the cit y.

Fighting for a city for humans — not developers BY LINCOLN ANDERSON


hey’re mad as hell and they’re not going to take this anymore! More than 50 activist and community groups from around the city rallied in front of City Hall on Saturday afternoon in a protest organized by Tribeca resident Lynn Ellsworth, of the group Human-Scale NYC. Speakers decried Mayor Bill de Blasio’s neighborhood rezoning schemes, saying they are actually forcing out immigrant and low-income New Yorkers. They similarly blasted the megatowers going up in the Two Bridges neighborhood. Joseph Reiver, head of the Elizabeth St. Garden, called on the mayor to spare it from a development project that the overwhelming majority of the neighborhood opposes. Steve Barrison, of the Small Business Congress, blasted Monday’s upcoming hearing on the Small Business Jobs Survival Act in advance as a “sham,” and derided City Hall as “REBNY Hall,” referring to the powerful Real Estate Board of New York, which opposes the bill. He said the S.B.C. would boycott the hearing. Another speaker slammed the administration for selling off public libraries for development projects. “It’s become clear that our politicians, our regulatory agencies and even our community boards have been captured by big real estate,” Ellsworth said at the rally’s end. “And to fight this, we are going to have to find new people to run for office who will not take any real estate money. “We are going to have to fix the rules of the game that stack the deck against us. We are going to have to remake a city democracy.”


October 18, 2018

Affordable housing is a big par t of the equation for a livable city, advocates said.


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October 18, 2018


Garbage trucks spark alarm and ‘trash-ion’ show BY SYDNEY PEREIR A


ast Siders continued to raise a stink about a fleet of garbage trucks parked in their neighborhoods, including on the street on E. 10th St., as well as new trucks added to an existing Department of Sanitation garage at Pier 36. Last Thursday, neighbors partied in protest on E. 10th St. at a “trash bash” at Pinks, a four-year-old East Village bar. Musician Liah Alonso and crew performed decked out in plastic bags and other garbage costumery to draw attention to what’s become a crisis threatening the bar’s future, according to its owners Avi Burn and Alex Sassaris. After garbage trucks began parking on E. 10th St., Burn and Sassaris saw their revenue plummet. “The garbage trucks being out here puts the bar in jeopardy,” said Lindsay Sleppin, an Upper East Sider who has become a part of the burgeoning community of Phish rock-band fans at Pinks. Last Tuesday, Community Board 3’s district manager said at a Transportation Committee meeting that the Sanitation Department is evaluating whether it could park trucks on First and Second Aves. instead of the narrow residential side street. “It seems like a relatively easy thing to do,” Susan Stetzer offered. Farther Downtown, Two Bridges community members are concerned about safety on busy South St. where an additional 12 garbage trucks are being housed at the Pier 36 garage, at Jefferson St. Between the roadway, bike lanes and sidewalk — the latter which is often where city employees park — the increased number of garbage trucks are worsening an already dangerous stretch, according to some neighbors. “Where they enter and exit is just not designed for trucks to come in, and it’s certainly extremely dangerous,” said Trever Holland, a C.B. 3 member and longtime Two Bridges resident. The change since mid-September in the amount of traffic going to and from the pier has been noticeable. “It certainly wasn’t this volume of vehicles going in and out [before],” Holland said. Holland said C.B. 3 was originally told that 35 Sanitation trucks would be added at Pier 36. However, Sanitation spokesperson Dina Montes said only 12 trucks were added. Montes added that a similar number of trucks were at Pier 36 a few months ago when Sanitation District 1 trucks were parked there prior to being moved to the department’s garage at Spring and West Sts. “The department is working to evaluate alternative parking options as


October 18, 2018

Plastic bags, like this outfit worn by Sonia de Luna, were in fashion at the “trash-ion” show at Pinks. The lighthear ted event had a serious theme: tr ying to get the Depar tment of Sanitation to stop parking its garbage trucks in front of the four-year-old bar.


Singer Liah Alonso and her crew rocked Pinks on E. 10th St. at a par ty/ protest to call attention to the city garbage trucks parked outside the place, which are hur ting the bar’s bottom line.

provided by elected officials and the community board,” Montes said. “Other city agencies, such as [the Department of Transportation], may need to be involved in evaluating any alternate spaces as well.” Although Holland has seen workers guiding Sanitation truck traffic this month, it’s unclear how the department plans to manage safety for the long term. “It does not appear as if the safety concerns on Pier 36 are being acknowledged and addressed,” C.B. 3 District Manager Stetzer said last Tuesday. Some slammed the department for moving vehicles servicing Community Board 6 to the area — particularly since they were relocated to a low-income neighborhood. “It’s really an environmental-justice issue,” said Samuel Moskowitz, a Two Bridges resident whose daughter attends Shuang Wen School, P.S. 184, across the street from Pier 36. “It’s basically taking advantage of this community.” Sanitation districts are coterminus with community board districts, meaning they have the same boundaries. So, Sanitation District 1 serves Lower Manhattan’s C.B. 1, and Sanitation District 6 serves C.B. 6, which covers between E. 14th and E. 59th Sts. roughly east of Lexington Ave. Moskowitz added neighbors in District 6 fought against a massive Sanitation garage to be built in Kips Bay, at First Ave. and E. 25th St., back in 2015. Now, he added, garbage trucks servicing those residents are being parked right next to the site of a long-awaited “eco park” at Pier 35 and across from a public school serving many low-income, minority residents. That expected “eco park” would essentially be next to “an open-air dump,” Moskowitz protested. The District 6 garbage trucks now being parked on both E. 10th Sts. and Pier 36 were displaced when the department’s garage lease expired at W. 30th St. between 11th and 12th Aves. in Chelsea. Additional Sanitation trucks were relocated to Mt. Carmel Place, located at E. 26th St. between First and Second Aves., and York Ave. between E. 59th and 60th Sts. The block where the garage was located is now being developed by Douglaston Development and Lalezarian Properties for a residential building with around 1,200 apartments. “[The department has] known for at least four years they were going to lose it,” Stetzer said of that former garage, speaking last Tuesday. “They have not yet been able to find a new place that has support of the councilmembers in those districts.” TheVillager.com



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October 18, 2018


LETTERS TO THE EDITOR Same old crusty story

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To The Editor: Re “Crusties enrage residents, merchants on E.V. blast block” (news article, Oct. 11): Anyone who still has a rent-regulated apartment should be happy they still have a home and are not sleeping on the street with these guys. Gee...the annual crusties are a big “problem” story. Honestly, how many of them are crashing there on E. Seventh St.? You want to see an eyesore, walk down Bleecker St. and look at the empty storefronts. Every year the amount of crusty travelers coming to the East Village becomes fewer and fewer. Every year The Villager does the same story. And, every year, sooner or later, the cops move them along and they go to Coney Island or leave town. Boring. And sooner or later, the real-estate robber barons will make sure you non-rich rent-regulated renters will be gone, too.

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

Keen’s role was key

To The Editor: Re “Deny the dystopia Big Real Estate wants for us” (talking point, by Lynn Ellsworth, Oct. 11): Thanks Lynn, for a great summary of everything that’s wrong with the way development is being done in New York City. We the people can change this if we organize, unite and speak with one voice. I’m confident that most people in New York can’t stand what’s happening to the city they love, but lack any means to do something about it. Well, now there’s a path: Join the coalition HumanScale NYC to help take back our city! Alan P. Berger

Mary Johnson

It’s time to unite

Biophilic baloney

We cover “The Cube”!

Lynn Ellsworth

To The Editor: Re “ ‘It’s a great day!’ At last, ribbon is cut on Morton middle school” (news article, Oct. 4): We celebrate the final completion and official opening of the Morton St. school and give thanks to the literally hundreds of people involved in bringing this project to reality. I was privileged to work on Community Board 2 with some of the prime movers on this project at the time, many years ago, when there was just an inkling of an idea that this location for the school could work. So, special thanks to the then-C.B. 2 Chairperson Brad Hoylman (now state Senator Hoylman), who supported this effort from the very beginning. It is pleasing to note that his two young daughters may someday be students at this school. But showers of congratulations and hurrahs are due to Keen Berger, our Democratic district leadeer and longtime C.B. 2 executive board member. She struggled for all these years — through the ups and downs, red tape and disappointments — to believe! And now we have the final triumph of the creation of this monument. Keen’s devotion and never-ending efforts on this project, along with her work on a full plate of other priorities, have been unbending. Bravo, Keen! With many thanks from a grateful community!

John Penley

Your Community News Source

notions of biophilia anyway since such buildings are ecological nightmares, even when they have overhyped LEED certification. So sorry to see our city transformed into a real estate dystopia.

To The Editor: Re “Say it saint so… St. John’s project blindsides C.B. 2” (news article, Oct. 4): Biophilic fantasies are great, but they rarely live up to the renderings. The glass architecture goes against

E-mail letters, not longer than 250 words, 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.


Kanye and Trump —it takes two to tango! 18

October 18, 2018


Developers want board term limits TALKING POINT BY GALE BREWER


here’s a reason lawmaking is compared — unflatteringly — to sausage factories. It’s not neat, it’s not quick, and if you do it out in public, it can kill a lot of people’s appetite for the final product. But rushing through new laws with short notice and inadequate public review, on an issue that isn’t a genuine emergency, isn’t the answer, either. That’s not how we make good policy — it’s how government makes mistakes. That’s the story with the three ballot proposals coming out of the Mayor’s Charter Revision Commission, and placed on the general election ballot this Tues., Nov. 6. Proposal No. 3 would institute term limits of eight years for all community board members, cutting our first line of defense for protecting our neighborhoods. Introduced midway through a Charter Revision Commission that was convened to focus on different subjects, this change to community board appointments would further empower developers, who already wield too many advantages in the city’s land-use process — and developers aren’t term-limited! Like a lot of well-intentioned ideas, this proposal would have substantial unintended consequences. I should know: I served on my local community board for many years. When an issue reaches one of the city’s 59 allvolunteer boards (each with 50 members appointed to two-year terms by the borough presidents), the institutional memory of those members comes into play and helps them decide local issues large and small. In my board experience on the Upper West Side, we did our best to mitigate how Donald Trump could build over the West Side rail yards. During the development boom New York has experienced, the land-use and zoning decisions community boards make, and the scrutiny that boards can put development TheVillager.com

plans under, have all been critical in shaping neighborho¬ods’ destinies. Major rezonings by the administration in East New York, East Harlem and Inwood have all been examined — and improved by — community board members’ input. And that’s just Proposal No. 3 on the ballot; Proposal No. 2 would create something called a “Civic Engagement Commission,” with a majority of members appointed by the mayor, that would supply urban planners and other support services to community boards. But the mayor already has control over the Department of City Planning; why should his appointees help select the community boards’ technical advisors for land-use decisions, too? Borough presidents already have responsibility for appointing a diverse, active membership to community boards and help inform and support their work — and borough presidents are term-limited. I’ve appointed more than 360 new members as borough president — more than 60 percent of the 600 community board members in Manhattan. We conduct a rigorous interview process and assign an urban planner to cover each board and supply technical advice and counsel. The boards could certainly use more permanent staff, but that can be accomplished by the city’s budget process. The 2018 Charter Revision Commission the mayor proposed in his “State of the City” address in February was charged with changing the City Charter to “enhance voter participation and improve the electoral process.” In proposing to term-limit community board members and change their staff support, it has ranged a little far afield — and used “term limits” as a buzzword to help sell their brand of reform. The Commission’s Proposal No. 1, on campaign finance, has merit. But the other two proposals will make it harder for community boards to do their job as an early-warning system and an honest advocate for neighborhood residents — and thus will strengthen the hand of developers. On Proposals No. 2 and No. 3, I’m voting no. Brewer is Manhattan borough president


‘Cowboy Kid’ rides onto Avenue A in new mural Solus, a street ar tist from Dublin, put the finishing touches on his “Cowboy Kid” mural, using spray paint on a brush. The new work, on Avenue A bet ween Four th and Fifth Sts., was sponsored by the L .I.S. A . Project, a nonprofit organization that began funding murals in Little Italy. It has since expanded into Soho, the Lower East Side, Chinatown, Chelsea and the East Village.

October 18, 2018


Approaching the peek geek point Expanding New York Comic Con grapples with growing pains BY CHARLES BATTERSBY It was just a few hours into the first day at New York Comic Con (NYCC; Oct. 4-7). A cheerful PR woman at a booth told me that Thursday at this year’s con was a little more crowded than usual. “But it’s not like Saturday,” she added, with a mixture of excitement and apprehension, “Nothing is like Saturday.” Two days later, NYCC was bursting with so many fans that the Javits Center couldn’t hold them all. As the domain of the Con expands culturally beyond print comic books and their traditional fans, this annual event has also expanded physically, sending waves of nerds all over Manhattan’s West Side. For the last few years, NYCC has staged some panels and screenings at Madison Square Garden, and the nearby Hammerstein Ballroom. This year, there were two new satellite venues — most notably, Pier 94, where a dedicated Anime Fest was held in conjunction with Anime Expo, a long-running, Los Angelesbased event. This Anime Fest comes less than a year after rival convention “Anime NYC” was held at the Javits. Alas, the attempt to corner the New York anime con market got off to a rocky start for NYCC and Anime Fest. Pier 94 is 16 blocks north of the Javits, and it required a separate ticket from NYCC (discounted tickets were available for people who went to both). Although a shuttle bus was making trips between the two locations, many attendees were unaware of this, and even those who knew there was a bus were uncertain where to find it. We hoofed it up 12th Ave. between the two venues on Saturday, and met many anime fans walking down from Pier 94. We stopped to speak to a cosplayer who goes by the handle Firefrost Cosplay. She complained that the walk was “a bit of a drag, especially in cosplay,” and pointed out that other satellite venues like Madison Square Garden are conve-


October 18, 2018

Photo by Carlos A Smith

Meetups are organized ahead of the Con, so cosplayers plan their daily outfits.

Photo by Charles Battersby

Conservative protesters mocked attendees, unaware of the inflatable penis behind them.

niently next to the subways. Aside from Pier 94, there were panels and signings at “The Studios,” a warehouse located a couple of blocks away from the Javits Center, on W. 39th St. Smaller and less glamorous

than the other satellite venues, it also had some rough moments: We arrived at a panel that was already underway, and were told that the elevator attendant was unavailable and that we would have to walk up

three flights of stairs. A spokesperson from ReedPOP later assured us that, if we had needed the elevator for medical reasons, we would have had access to it. (This was small comfort to able-bodied latecomers, who hiked up the stairs throughout the weekend.) With all this walking and stairclimbing, NYCC attendees will need to be in better shape in the years to come. Luckily, there were several panels dedicated to fitness and wellness. Some were specifically to help cosplayers get a heroic physique — but the creators of Yoga Quest were targeting a broader audience, and trying to make yoga less intimidating for newcomers. They held classes at both the Javits Center and Pier 94 throughout the weekend, and incorporated narrative references to nerdy franchises like “Doctor Who” and Pokemon. As NYCC works to refute the “nonathletic nerd” stereotype, it’s also getting away from the “straight white man” stereotype. A more ethnically diverse generation is reading comics now, as are more women. TheVillager.com

Photo by Carlos A Smith

Legion of Super-Heroes cosplayers show off their Legion Flight Rings.

This year’s “Black Panther” movie, a female in the lead role for the recently launched new season of “Doctor Who,” and the upcoming female “Captain Marvel” movie (March 2019) are all signs that creators have been preparing content for this new audience. LGBTQ content is also quite common in panels at the Con, but new to NYCC this year is a “Queer Lounge.” During the first two days, it was run by the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), and Saturday it was run by The Stonewall Inn (53 Christopher St., Greenwich Village). Alas, it was closed on Sunday, which happens to be Kids’ Day. We spoke with Stacy Lentz, coowner of The Stonewall Inn, about this new feature at the Con. “This is the first time we’ve done anything at Comic Con — ever,” she explained. “It’s really growing. It’s one of the most diverse groups of people that you can gather in New York City, so we wanted to be a part of it.” In fact, the comics industry has become so known for its progressive values that this year it was protested by conservative Christians from the Key of David Christian Center, who opposed the LGBT content, feminist views, and non-Christian religions. Ironically, they set up their protest near a booth for the irreverent cartoon “Rick and Morty” and a giant inflatable penis monster from the booth was flapping around behind the oblivious protesters throughout TheVillager.com

their rally. The Fantasy Food Truck, by Fandom.com, has been present at NYCC for five years. Their food is based on fictional products in geek media. Because they give out free food on the convention floor, it’s a hot spot for Con attendees and a good insight into how the Con is going. We spoke to Nikki Flynn, head of PR at Fandom. “Every single year, I’ve witnessed more and more people coming to Comic Con,” she told us. Even though the truck brought more food this year than last, they still ran out of tickets within 20 minutes each day. Other hot ticket booths like a “South Park” escape room and a playable demo of the upcoming “Resident Evil” game also filled up early each day. This informally corroborates the convention organizer’s official number of attendees, which continues

to grow each year. This year it was 250,000 tickets sold (although some were to individuals who bought multiple tickets to different days and venues), as well as $100 million brought to the local economy. However, it

also raises a question: How long can this growth continue before NYCC hits “peak geek” — and fans aren’t willing to pay $20 to walk up 12th Ave. on a rainy Thursday afternoon for a Sailor Moon meetup?


October 26, 7:30 pm

St. John’s in the Village, 224 Waverly Place Tickets: $25 Featuring performances by Hannah Reimann, Nick Farago & Pablo Aslan Photo by Charles Battersby

The desolate venue for the off-site Anime Fest.

remotetheaterproject.com stjvny.org/arts-at-st-johns-autumn-winter-2018 October 18, 2018


Future Present on East Fourth On stage and off, La MaMa knows how to break ground BY TRAV S.D. There’s never a dull moment at La MaMa, the seminal Off-Off-Broadway theatre company founded by the late Ellen Stewart in 1961. We profiled them in this space last year, but much has happened since that time. In June, the company was given a special Regional Theatre Tony Award for over a half-century of excellence, which was accepted by artistic director Mia Yoo. In September, a special groundbreaking ceremony was held to mark the official start of renovations on their landmark 1873 building at 74 E. Fourth St. (btw. Bowery & Second Ave.), attended by local dignitaries including NYC Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen and NYC Department of Cultural Affairs Commissioner Tom Finkelpearl. Said Yoo of the three-part, $50 million capital plan, “These renovations are about the future of La MaMa, the future of our artistic community, and our neighborhood. The future of our city and the necessity of spaces like La MaMa in the world of the future where there is creativity and experimentation, diverse perspectives, inclusivity and access, and pushing the limits of human potential — all of this is essential.” On October 25, La MaMa honors Tony Award-winning playwright Lisa Kron at their annual gala, with guest performances by Taylor Mac, Erin Markey, Gunnar Montana, and Olympia Dukakis. Next on the horizon is the 2018 edition of the biannual La MaMa Puppet Festival — touted as their biggest yet — running Nov. 1-25. The director and curator of the festival since the beginning has been Denise Greber, a Downtown actress who has been with La MaMa since 1999. “I started working with Ellen [Stewart] on a puppet series in 2004,”Greber noted. “Ellen always loved puppetry. It’s always been at least 20 percent of the programming at La MaMa. It was a small series at first. But it’s continued to grow.” This year’s festival features 11 separate events, some of them full-length puppet works, some bills of shorter pieces or excerpts, and one afternoon panel program. “Each show runs 55-65 minutes, and we try to schedule two to three in an evening so you can come at seven o’clock, have some cocktails, see a couple of very diverse puppet shows, and then be back home by 10:30.” A very special offering this year will


October 18, 2018

Photo by Klaus Kühn

A marionette work from Germany, “Wunderkammer: Cabinet of Curiosities” (Nov. 1-3) is part of La MaMa’s Puppet Festival.

Photo courtesy of the La MaMa Archives

The late Ellen Stewart with Andrei Serban, who will be the topic of Sept. 29’s Coffeehouse Chronicles series.

be a crossover event between two ongoing La MaMa programs: the Puppet Festival, and Coffeehouse Chronicles, the theatre’s long-running panel series, curated by Michal Gamily, that explores Off-Off Broadway theatre history, usually by paying tribute to notable artists or other arts professionals. On Nov. 10, the invited guest will be Ralph Lee of the Mettawee River Theatre Company, whose credits in NYC stretch back over half a century, ranging from cofounding the annual Village Halloween Parade to large scale pageants at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine to

designing the famous “Land Shark” from the first season of “Saturday Night Live.” Said Gerber, “I’ve long wanted to have the opportunity to incorporate puppetry into Coffeehouse Chronicles. I thought Ralph’s long years of community service through his mask work and puppetry deserved to be celebrated and honored.” Aside from this event, however, most of this year’s work showcases females as lead artists. “We made a special effort this year to highlight the perspectives of women,” Greber noted. “That’s not always the case in the puppetry world.” Offerings include “Wunderkammer: Cabinet of Curiosities” (Nov. 1-3), a marionette work from Germany; “Blind” (Nov. 8-11), a collaboration between Duda Paiva and Black Hole Theatre that incorporates Yoruba ritual to tell a true story of illness and healing; “Everything Starts from a Dot” (Nov. 8-10), a work by Sachiyo Takahashi and Nekaa Lab that magnifies minuscule moving shapes and projects them through a live video feed; “Food for the Gods” (Nov. 15-18), a multimedia work by Nehprii Amenii which talks

about the killings of African American men; and a family-oriented work called “Don Quixote Takes New York” (Nov. 10-11), co-directed by Greber herself and Federico Restrepo. And there’s more. “With each festival we tend to add at least one more feature,” Greber said. “This year we’ve added a new program called ‘Jump Start,’ where we present a weekend of sections from late stage works-in-progress.” The Jump Start programs will be Nov. 23-25, each one containing four works of about 20 minutes in length. Another multi-work evening is the Puppet Slam (Nov. 5), curated by Jane Catherine Shaw. At this event, 10-13 artists present self-contained works (not excerpts) of three to seven minutes. These tend to be geared toward mature audiences, i.e., not suitable for young children. As with La MaMa itself, the general trend of the Puppet Festival is in the direction of growth. “We’re still small by comparison to many international puppet festivals,” Greber said. “But we’re getting bigger.” For more information, visit lamama. org. TheVillager.com

Just Do Art

Photo courtesy of Chabad of the North Peninsula

October 25 at NYU Skirball Center: Holocaust survivor Eva Schloss delivers a message of hope, marking 80 years since Kristallnacht.

BY SCOTT STIFFLER Keenly aware of history and evermindful of the need to address contemporary acts of hate and anti-Semitism, New York Hebrew, a Chelseabased after-school Jewish education destination, is marking 80 years since Kristallnacht with a message of hope, delivered by Eva Schloss — a Holocaust survivor, and Anne Frank’s stepsister. Schloss will recall her childhood friendship with Frank, tell her story of survival, and talk about the sources of strength she drew upon to rebuild her life and become an internationally respected humanitarian. This talk is suitable for people of all ages and faiths. Patrons for the event include The Avenues World School, Friends Seminary, and Leman Manhattan Preparatory School. Copies of “Eva’s Story: A Survivor’s Tale” (by Schloss) will be available for purchase at the event. Thurs., Oct. 25, 7:30pm at the NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts (566 LaGuardia Place). Doors open at 7pm; VIP reception at 6pm. For more info, visit kristallnacht80. org. New York Hebrew info can be found at nyhebrew.org. A little bird (an elephant named Horton, actually) told us he heard that you only have a few more days to take the train, grab a cab, or hop on pop — whatever it takes — to arrive at Pop International Galleries (195 Bowery). That’s where the witty, whimsical, timelessly trippy work of Dr. Seuss is on vivid display, in “The Art of Dr. Seuss Collection – 20th Anniversary TheVillager.com

Celebration.” Featuring estate-authorized limited editions both known and unknown to the public (available for acquisition), the exhibition spans decades’ worth of the author/ illustrators’ work, from the pages of his children’s books to images he crafted for his own personal pleasure. “Perhaps the wackiest and most wonderful elements of the collection,” Horton (aka the gallery’s press release) noted, “are Dr. Seuss’ threedimensional ‘Unorthodox Taxidermy’ sculptures with names like ‘The Carbonic Walrus,’ ‘The Two-Horned Drouberhannis,’ and the ‘Goo-GooEyed Tasmanian Wolghast,’ to name a few.” Free. Through Sun., Oct. 21. Visit popinternational.com. Earlier this week, their Oct. 17 “Women in Power” event served as a prelude to the main event: The Chelsea Film Festival, whose sixth annual edition is set to unspool Oct. 18-21, at AMC Loews 34th Street. See chelseafi lm.org for the entire schedule. Here a title we’re watching for — and, schedule permitting — will be watching in its entirety on the big screen, having seen an enticing sneak preview: Moody, melancholy, daringly duplicitous, contemplative, and, at times, deeply unselttling, Naghmeh Shirkhan’s feature fi lm “Maki” has its US premiere at 9pm on Oct. 19. Set in a city New Yorkers will be all too familiar with, it’s a “modern love story” whose plot twist puts its coming-of-age character in the crosshairs of competing agendas (and the requisite secrets that come with troubled, but true, love).

TM & © 2018 Dr. Seuss Enterprises, L.P. All images, all rights reserved

Green eggs and art: Pop International Galleries’ Seussically spectacular exhibition closes Sunday.

212.254.1109 / www.theaterforthenewcity.net / 155 First Ave bet 9th & 10th St.

The Open Gate


Dir by David Willinger (Books & Lyrics) Arthur Abrams (Composer) Thur - Sat 8PM, Sun 3PM October 14 - 27, 2018

by Anne Marilyn Lucas Dir Stephan Morrow Thur - Sat 8 PM, Sun 3PM October 11 - 28, 2018 October 13 Talkback

Village Halloween Costume Ball Costume Prizes & Live Bands Hot Food & Entertainment Cabaret ALL Evening Tickets: $20 October 31, 2018 October 18, 2018


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October 18, 2018


VillageCare is taking a high-tech path BY JAMES HARNEY


s the healthcare world keeps marching into the millennium, VillageCare is poised to march with it. VillageCare touts itself as “a communitybased nonprofit organization serving people with chronic care needs, as well as seniors and individuals in need of continuing care and rehabilitation services,” with a mission “to promote healing, better health and wellbeing to the fullest extent possible.” Begun in 1977 as a project by Greenwich Village community volunteers to rescue and reorganize a for-profit nursing home slated to be shut down, VillageCare originated as a residential healthcare facility for seniors. In the 1980s and 1990s, the facility took on the added task of responding to the H.I.V./AIDS epidemic that ravaged the Village community. In the new century, VillageCare offers managed acute and long-term-care services for individuals living with chronic diseases, and in 2017 alone served 25,000 members. Going forward, says its chief information officer, the organization plans to become even more data driven. “VillageCare is making significant investments in both people and technology in order to harness and use data for the benefit of our members in the achievement of better health outcomes,” Stuart Myer said. Now in its 41st year, VillageCare runs programs that include VillageCare Rehabilitation and Nursing Center, and community-based services that include an Adult Day Healthcare program, Community Care Management Health Home provider and the VillageCare at 46 and Ten Medicaid Assisted Living Program. The organization’s managed long-term care plans include VillageCareMAX Managed Long-Term Care Plan (MLTC); VillageCareMAX Full Advantage FIDA Plan; VillageCareMAX Medicare Total Advantage (HMOPOS SNP) and VillageCareMAX Medicare Health Advantage (HMO-POS SNP). Emma DeVito, VillageCare president and chief executive officer, said the organization’s 40th anniversary last year “served as an important reminder to us of our accomplishments, while empowering us to forge ahead toward future opportunities in addressing the continuing needs of those we serve.” She explained that the organization is “creating a culture where staff, our professional partners, clients/patients and their caregivers have prompt access to diverse and accurate data in order to make better decisions about care.” Such a culture, DeVito said, “will help ensure that our clients/patients and health plan members receive the most appropriate health-


A VillageCareMA X Care Manager working with a member on a computer tablet utilizing data and analy tic s to ensure that he is receiving the highest qualit y of care.

care and related services through the most efficient means possible.” VillageCare plans to invest in additional technology and staff — including a director of data architecture, who “will be responsible for supporting the planning, oversight and implementation of VillageCare’s data and reporting strategy,” the C.E.O. added. DeVito explained that advanced analytics will “cus-

tomize individual care plans that offer a more comprehensive and more effective approach to delivering care [and] help to detect any inappropriate treatments.” Looking forward, DeVito said, “We will continue to provide the best possible patient and member experience, while helping to deliver the highest quality of care to all individuals we serve.”

For more news & events happening now visit www.TheVillager.com TheVillager.com

October 18, 2018



October 18, 2018



Local politicians and officials get ready to lower their flags, the symbolic signal for pile driving to star t. From left, state Senator Brian Kavanagh; Holly Leicht, chairperson of the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation; Michael Novogratz, chairperson of Hudson River Park Friends; A ssemblymember Deborah Glick; Madelyn Wils, president and C.E.O. of the Hudson River Park Trust; Congressmember Jerrold Nadler; Diana Taylor, Trust board chairperson; Deput y Mayor Alicia Glen; Citi C.E.O. Mike Corbat, and Rose Har vey, commissioner of the state Depar tment of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preser vation Commission.

Pr. 26 ‘will be unlike anything built in N.Y.’ BY SYDNEY PEREIR A


udson River Park “broke ground” at Pier 26 on Tues., Oct. 9, as local politicians and community leaders celebrated the driving of the final pile for the Tribeca pier. The next step will see a platform added atop the piles. The long-awaited pier is expected to open in 2020 with lounge areas, kid-sized fields and a “science playground.” Atop the pier platform, a pathway will cut through a forested area and lawn before leading to the two playing fields, with a lounge area on the south side. Tiered seating will lead into a walkway surrounded by a marsh area, designed to attract native birds and some 70 types of fish native to the river. “This will be unlike anything that has been built in New York,” said Madelyn Wils, the Trust’s president. “This neighborhood has grown and changed. We are committed to serving everyone.” For Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen, the long-planned pier is a prime example of a public/private partnership that worked. “These things are labors of love that take an extraordinary amount of time,” Glen said. “I think it’s the recognition that projects like this have to transcend political administrations.” In 2015, Lower Manhattanites weighed in on possibilities for the pier, including sports facilities and open green space focused on the


educational mission. Earlier this year, Wils presented to Community Board 1 a design for the pier that packed both “asks” — passive and active recreational uses — onto the pier. She also highlighted the pier’s connection to the future estuarium, which will house five classrooms — two for kindergarten through eighth grade and three for college level — and a technology exhibit. The $30 million pier project was funded equally between the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, CitiGroup and the city. The estuarium’s price tag has previously been reported as $20 million, of which the Trust has raised $10 million so far. For C.B. 1 Vice Chairperson Paul Hovitz, lack of full funding for the estuarium is a concern. “They really don’t have their funding in place for the estuarium, which seems to be the major part of the educational piece of this effort,” he said. Hovitz called Pier 26 “terrific.” But he anticipates pushback about Pier 25, just to the south, where an agreement is in the works between the Trust and Citi to create a private dock for Citi to shuttle its employees between Jersey City and Pier 25 by water taxi. “On the one hand, we’re grateful,” Hovitz said of Citi’s helping fund the Pier 26 project. “On the other hand, we’re ever-diligent about what’s happening with our open space and public land that has now become public/private.” October 18, 2018



ThE 28Th ANnuAL


HAlLowEeN pARadE OCTOBER 31, 2018, 3-6PM Families and children will gather at 3:00 pm at the fountain in Washington Square Park. Free trick-or-treat bags, performances, games, and rides will await the children after the parade on West 3rd Street between LaGuardia Place and Mercer Street. Design based on original artwork by Kathryn Faughnan.

Made possible in part through generous funding provided by:

Con Edison • The Lucille Lortel Foundation • The Villager 9th Police Precinct Community Council • The Greenwich Village Chelsea Chamber of Commerce (GVCCC) The NYU Alumni Association • The NYU Photo Bureau • Sky Management Corporation • The Village Alliance


October 18, 2018


Profile for Schneps Media

The Villager - October 18, 2018  

October 18, 2018

The Villager - October 18, 2018  

October 18, 2018