The local paper for Downtown wn NEW CONSTRUCTION COULD CROWD SCHOOLS <BUSINESS, P. 16
WEEK OF APRIL
In Brief NEW YORK’S SEGREGATED SCHOOLS A new study from UCLA shows that New York’s public schools are the most racially segregated in the country. The study tracked enrollment numbers from 1989 to 2010, and said that many black and Latino students go to class with “virtually no” white classmates. At New York City’s charter schools, the numbers are even more dramatic; 73 percent of charters have “less than 1 percent” white enrollment, the study states, making them the least diverse of all of the schools it studied. One of the report’s authors, Gary Orﬁeld, said that while the segregation problem is closely tied to housing patterns, “in the 30 years I have been researching schools, New York state has consistently been one of the most segregated states in the nation — no Southern state comes close to New York,” he told the AP.
REFORMING THE COMMUNITY BOARDS Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer leaves her office, headed to seven events in one night. Photo by Megan Bungeroth
THE POLITICS OF EVERYWHERE CITY HALL On the circuit with Gale Brewer, the busiest politician in New York BY MEGAN BUNGEROTH
The Borough President is famished. Gale Brewer has been working since 7:30 a.m., and by 5:15 p.m., as she’s leaving her office, she realizes that all she’s had to eat so far is a banana. She’s not headed to dinner, though, or home. Tonight, Wednesday, March 26, Brewer will be attending seven events throughout Manhattan, a typical night for the woman who may
be New York’s most omnipresent politician. “I try to go to as many events as humanly possible,” Brewer says in the elevator. Her staff sifts through hundreds of requests each week to put together her packed schedules. She has two schedulers and a committee that helps decide which events she’ll attend. The only reason for turning down an invitation is that it conﬂicts with another scheduled event. Nothing is too minor, no one too marginal. She leaves the Municipal Building at 1 Centre Street about 15 minutes behind schedule, but still conﬁdent she can get to everything for the evening.
Stop number one is at a bar around the corner from City Hall, Manhattan Proper, where a surprise going-away party for Chuck Meara, former staffer to both Speakers Christine Quinn and Gifford Miller, is underway by the time Brewer arrives at 5:18 p.m. Council members and veteran staffers clutch glasses of wine and whiskey, reminiscing with Meara, while the younger staffers cluster together around iPhones. Brewer pushes through the narrow room, stopping every two feet to shake hands and say hello to former council colleagues. She ﬁnds Meara and chats with him. There is no time to grab a drink, and
no food to be found. She winds her way back out the door by 5:28 p.m. and climbs into the big black SUV with city plates that will shepherd her around the island this evening. As her driver Michael navigates the potholes of 10th Avenue, Brewer concedes that tonight, with its seven stops, is slightly above average in terms of number of events; normally she’s got four or ﬁve on weeknights. That restriction, though, is simply one of logistics, not of her willingness to show up. “Between 6 and 8 p.m. you can’t do
CONTINUED ON PAGE 7
Council Member Ben Kallos proposed reforming the city’s community boards. Kallos’ recommendations include instituting term limits for board members, requiring applicants to disclose conﬂicts of interest, and creating standardized online applications for those who wish to join boards. As we reported last week, Kallos’s report also recommends opening the community boards to teenagers. Between April 1 and May 30, four new borough presidents and 21 new city council members, along with their previously elected colleagues, will be making 1,475 appointments to 59 community boards spanning all ﬁve boroughs. “New York City community boards must truly represent the community,” Kallos said. “Those of us who have been on community boards know that they can be a vital space for New Yorkers who want to express concerns or get involved in local government. But they can and must be better: more transparent, more inclusive and less political.”
Our Town APRIL 3, 2014
NEIGHBORHOOD NEWS CHECK
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CHARGING BULL SET FREE Back in 2011 the NYPD put up barricades around the Charging Bull, the famous statue by Italian artist Arturo DiModica, out of fear that people associated with the Occupy Wall Street movement might be inclined to deface it. Now, almost three years later, Police Commisioner Bill Bratton has ordered that the barricade be taken down. Arthur Piccolo, chairperson of the Bowling Green Association, said “I am so proud we ﬁnally have a mayor in Bill de Blasio that all New Yorkers and especially Italians can be proud.” He added, “What was done to this great work of sculpture by Italian artist Arturo DiModica … by the last administration is a disgrace that cannot be justiﬁed.” Downtown Express
DBA CO-FOUNDER PASSES AWAY Bowery Bar DBA co-founder Dennis Zentek passed away last Monday. The bar, which has operated for the last 20 years, announced its owner’s death on Facebook. Zentek co-founded the bar with Ray Deter, who passed away in 2011 due to injuries related to a bicycle accident. “Dennis with his friend Ray was one of the co-founders, co-pioneers, co-visionaries of what has become a huge family,”
read the Facebook post. “We will share more details later on, but for now we ask that you send love and say prayers and raise a glass to a dear friend who will be so very missed.” Bowery Boogie
RABBI YUTER STEPS DOWN FROM STANTON STREET SHUL During Shabbat Services this past weekend, Rabbi Josh Yuter announced that he would be stepping down from leading his Lower East Side congregation after ﬁve years of service. Yuter plans to move to Israel in the summer. Yuter posted a message to his popular blog Yutopia explaining his decision. “It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a while, my immediate family is all there, and of course it’s a religious obligation.” read the blog post. “But making Aliyah is still a huge step. It’s probably the only time where you can give up a career, family, friends, security, and the entire life you knew for a completely uncertain future and people will still wish you “Mazal Tov” for doing so.” The Lo-Down
EAST VILLAGE CO-OP OFFERS LOTTERY The Cooper Square Mutual Housing Association is accepting applications for a dozen below-market studios and one-bedroom apartments.
This lottery will allow winners to buy into a co-op for “a few thousand dollars,” then a monthly maintenance fee of less than $550. The last time the asscoiation held this lottery more than 8,000 applications ﬂowed in. “It took seven or eight years to get to the end of that waitlist,” said Val Orselli, the association’s director. “The demand is far greater than the supply.” DNAinfo
DOWNTOWN RESIDENTS OFFERED FIRST LOOK AT 9/11 MUSEUM The 9/11 museum announced a short “dedication period” from May 15th to May 20th for people who live or work below Canal Street, as well as victims’ family members and ﬁrst responders. Those people will be able to visit the museum for free, before the general public. The museum will also be open 24 hours a day during that time period. Joe Danies, president of the September 11th Memorial and Museum, said to a Community Board 1 meeting that the invitation is “in recognition of the impact that the Sept. 11 attacks—as well as the World Trade Center rebuilding—has had on the Lower Manhattan community.” Tribeca Trib
The bronze bull statue at Bowling Green is now open again to the public, after being closed off during the Occupy Wall Street protests.
APRIL 3, 2014 Our Town 3
CRIME WATCH BY JERRY DANZIG CHLOE WOE Someone removed property from a woman’s unlocked gym locker. At 6:10 PM on Wednesday, March 19, a 26-year-old woman opened her locker in a gym on Wall Street and went to the bathroom, leaving it unlocked. When she returned ten minutes later, her bag was gone. The items stolen included a Chloe navy blue leather tan-tassel purse valued at $1,500, an Apple iPad priced at $1,000, a Louis Vuitton leather makeup bag costing $500, a Blackberry Bold cell phone valued at $300, and other items totaling $3,692.
THE MALEFICENT SEVEN A safe was stolen from a restaurant office. At 7:30 AM on Monday, March 24, a 52-year-old male employee of a restaurant on Church Street entered the basement office and noticed that the office door was wide open; both the restaurant’s office and front doors were usually locked at closing time. The employee entered the office and discovered that the
safe containing $4,000 in cash and documents had been taken overnight by an unknown intruder. There was a camera inside the office, but its view had been blocked on purpose with an article of clothing. The restaurant lacked a security alarm, and at least seven employees had keys to both doors.
the ﬁtting room put one jacket behind the other, took it back to the ﬁtting room, and came out with one jacket, which he put back on the rack before leaving the store with the other jacket, valued at $2,650. The item stolen was an Ink Blots silk embroidered Teddy.
A 6:45 PM on Tuesday, March 18, a man removed a black handbag from a shelf at a Spring Street store and concealed it in a white tote bag. He then exited the store without paying. As the handbag had a security tag, the man set off security alarms when he passed through the security checkpoint with two accomplices acting in concert: one a man, the other a woman. The stolen handbag was a Burberry valued at $1,595.
A thief broke into a man’s parked car and stole his laptop. At 6:30 PM on Wednesday, March 19, a 37-year-old man parked his car on Barclay Street. When he returned to the vehicle an hour later, he found that the rear driver’s-side window had been smashed and his MacBook Air laptop valued at $2,000 was missing from the backseat.
READY TEDDY Two men shoplifted a pricey jacket from a clothing store. At 2:48 PM on Monday, March 24, two men walked into a store on Mercer Street. The ﬁrst man tried on some jackets in the ﬁtting room, while the other man sat on the couch. The man in
The Pothole Project: Week Three and Counting
PIZZA DOUGH Sometime during the night of Friday, March 21, a man clipped the front gate of a pizza shop on Park Place and entered through the front door. He removed a $1,500 laptop and took $300 in cash from the register.
We featured this pothole last month in a story on the city’s pothole problem -- and it’s still there two weeks later. We’ll check back weekly until it’s ﬁxed. Send us your pothole nightmares -- email us at news@strausnews. Meanwhile, watch your step. Photo by Daniel Fitzsimmons.
Our Town APRIL 3, 2014
An SRO at 206 West 95th Street. The building is empty but for one tenant. Photos by Lauren Naefe
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HOUSING The Upper West Side is plagued by vacant SROs, despite surging homelessness BY DANIEL FITZSIMMONS
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The only indication that something’s amiss at 206 W. 95th Street is a sign on the door stating “No Visitors.” The residential building looks like any other on the block: six stories of brickwork with
THE SRO: A VERY BRIEF HISTORY On the Upper West Side, many apartment buildings were converted into SROs during and after World War II to handle the influx of single G.I.s into the city. Urban decay in the 1970s - drug activity, crime, unemployment - led to the city pressuring building owners to convert the properties back into apartments, which exacerbated a growing homeless problem. In 1985, the city placed a moratorium on such conversions, which was overturned four years later. However, in the intervening years the program attracted a new wave of affordable housing developers whose legacy is still seen today.
a wrought-iron fence out front and a ﬁre escape climbing skyward above the door. But according to Marti Weithman, president of the SRO Law Project at Goddard Riverside Community Center, the building is a striking neighborhood example of a citywide problem: 206 W. 95th St. is home to 200 SRO units - only one of which is occupied. In a city where affordable housing is a major issue -- and where the homeless population is the highest since the 1930s -- there nevertheless are hundreds of low-cost rooms sitting vacant on the Upper West Side alone, “because the owners have the money to allow them to sit vacant until they can either completely empty the building, which would increase the value of the building exponentially, or ﬁnd a more lucrative means to operate the building – lawfully or not,” said Weithman. SRO stands for Single Room Occupancy, and generally refers to a building that contains a number of rooms which share a building’s bathroom and are used to house a single individual at affordable rates. According to Weithman, the story of 206 W. 95th St. is replicated throughout the Upper West Side: At 307 West 79th Street, there are 63 permanent tenants among 227 total units. Weithman estimates that a pair of SRO buildings on West 95th Street is warehousing about 100 units. Another building in the area, at 306 West 94th Street, has 114 units but only six tenants. That building, Weithman said, has been operated as an illegal hotel for years. In 2007, the city ﬁled suit against two SRO buildings on West 95th Street to prevent them from operating as illegal hotels, which can be more lucrative for building owners. Now, the city’s strategy seems to be to contract with SROs sometimes in emergency conditions at upwards of $3,000 a month - to house the homeless. And yet, vacancies persist. What’s more, according to the Coalition for the Homeless, homelessness in New
York City is at its highest level since the Great Depression. The group estimates there are over 50,000 homeless people, including 12,724 families and 22,712 children, sleeping each night in the city’s shelter system. Lisa Black, a spokesperson for DHS, said the ballpark $3,000-a-month ﬁgure that’s used in conversations about the city’s relationship with SROs is a generalization, but even so, the money they spend on such programs goes to more than just rent. “The misnomer is that we provide that just to rental support, and that’s certainly not the case,” said Black, who noted that funds are also used for things like case workers, security, shuttle services and other transportation costs for a DHS client. “We consider any model of housing that’s available to us that suits our population.” Still, the issue is one that Weithman and other city leaders feel needs to be addressed. “During the Bloomberg administration, we saw DHS using its emergency powers to come into SROs in the neighborhood without any community input,” said Weithman, who, with the help of allies a few years ago, successfully prevented DHS from putting down roots on West 94th Street. “While we believe everyone has a right to a home, we do not believe that SRO housing is the appropriate place for shelters.” Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer recently called for creating a tax abatement program that will provide incentive for building owners to start ﬁlling up their units. But the first step to remediating the problem of vacant SROs on the Upper West Side may be in quantifying just how bad it is. “There is no real data on SROs right now, nor has there been for several years,” said Weithman. “The city used to do a housing vacancy survey for SROs based on the census, but I think the last one was done in 2002.”
APRIL 3, 2014 Our Town 5
Neighborhood Scrapbook SPRINGTIME IN CENTRAL PARK
Bill Cunningham, Apthorp Apartments (built ca. 1908),390 West End Avenue between 78th and 79th Streets. ca. 1968-1976. Gelatin silver photograph. New-York Historical Society, Gift of Bill Cunningham
Bill Cunningham, Gothic bridge in Central Park (designed 1860), ca. 1968-1976. Gelatin silver photograph. New-York Historical Society, Gift of Bill Cunningham
Now that itâ€™s getting warmer out, itâ€™s ďŹ nally time to take a walk in Central Park. This photograph by Bill Cunningham depicts model Editta Sherman posing in period costume under the parkâ€™s Gothic bridge. The photograph comes from Bill
Cunninghamâ€™s Facades, an eight-year photographic essay project to document the architectural riches and fashion history of New York City by pairing modelsâ€”in particular his muse, fellow photographer Editta Shermanâ€”in period costumes with historic
settings. Although by turns whimsical and bold, Cunninghamâ€™s project also was part of the larger cultural zeitgeist in New York City, during an era in which issues surrounding both the preservation and the problems of the urban landscape loomed large.
Through June 15, the New-York Historical Society is exhibiting the complete Facades collection. For more information, visit nyhistory.org.
SPRING INTO DUTCHESS COUNTY! Exploring gardens. Cruising the Hudson River. Dining at a farm-to-table restaurant. Celebrating at a festival. There isnâ€™t just one way to enjoy the spring season in Dutchess County. There are many! Give yourself time to bike across the Walkway Over the Hudson, do some shopping, or go horseback riding. Walk through our historic estates, play through our golf courses, and stay through the weekend in a cozy B&B or full-service hotel. Just one hour away, and easily accessible by bus, train, or car. Go to DutchessTourism.com/hvtrip to plan your visit to Dutchess County with our Hudson Valley Trip Planner, and mention â€œStraus.â€? EVENTS IN DUTCHESS COUNTY INCLUDE: s &ORMAL 'ARDEN 4OURS RESUME AT 6ANDERBILT -ANSION !PRIL s %MPIRE #RUISE ,INES SEASON OF (UDSON 2IVER TOURS RESUMES -AY s 3EASONAL 4OURS OF "ANNERMAN )SLAND #ASTLE RESUME -AY s /PENING DAY AT )NNISFREE 'ARDEN -AY s $ISCOVER (UDSON 6ALLEY "IKE 4OUR *UNE s h3EE !MERICAv ART EXHIBITION AT THE &RANKLIN $ 2OOSEVELT 0RESIDENTIAL ,IBRARY AND -USEUM THROUGH *UNE s (EMMINGS -OTOR .EWS 'REAT 2ACE *UNE
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Our Town APRIL 3, 2014
POLITICS CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1
“THIS PLACE IS EPIC!”
more than four events,” she says. That’s when most groups schedule their meetings. When she was in the city council, representing the Upper West Side, she also appeared everywhere, and wasn’t just conﬁned to her district, as many West Sidebased organizations would hold their events in midtown or the Lower East Side (where there’s a concentration of catering halls). “I don’t know what the other council members do,” Brewer says. “They used to laugh at me - how can you go to so many events?” The politically engaged Upper West Side, home to 2,500 non-proﬁts and one of the highest voter-turnout rates in the country, trained her well for the current gig. In Manhattan, people expect a lot from their elected officials. “You can’t be lackluster, you better be sharp,” she says. “You gotta be on your toes.” The car pulls up to Lincoln Center for event #2, a cocktail reception in Avery Fisher Hall for the Spring Gala fundraiser, at 5:59 p.m. Brewer has enough time to take her coat off and is immediately snagged into animated conversation with attendees. Jed Bernstein, the president of Lincoln Center,
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wants to talk to her about an upcoming arts funding meeting. Brewer asks a Lincoln Center administrator about some job openings they have; maybe she knows someone who would ﬁt the bill. A woman she doesn’t know (probably a board member) stops her to ask about arts education, and Brewer hands the woman her business card and tells her to call her office. By 6:10 p.m., the gala is moving upstairs for dinner and Brewer is back in the SUV for the short drive over to John Jay College. The peripheral search for food at the last event was futile. (Having been warned of the non-stop schedule, I packed snacks. I offered Brewer a granola bar, but she politely declined.) She was hoping for something a bit more substantial, but there’s no time to stop. The third event of the night (arriving at 6:15 p.m.) has Brewer onstage behind a placard with her name, ready to speak to a packed theater about the mayor’s Vision Zero initiative to eliminate pedestrian traffic deaths in the city. After an introduction by Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez, Brewer uses her allotted two minutes to lay out her ideas for improving safety - focusing on more audio assistance at intersections for the visually impaired; using federal money for traffic studies, like one that was conducted on the Upper West Side; helping educate cyclists to obey the rules of the road. After several rounds of thanking one another and the mayor, the council members introduce a Department of Transportation representative, who talks through some of Vision Zero’s plans. Brewer has to leave before it’s finished (one of her deputies will stay and report back), but is impressed by the woman’s presentation; she’ll mention it later in the evening. By 7:06 p.m., Brewer is back in the car and headed downtown again, to 817 Broadway
in the Flatiron. She’s speaking at a PAC meeting of Local 371, the Social Service Employees Union. Upon arrival at 7:27 p.m., she’s greeted with exclamations and clapping and ushered into a fluorescent room where about a dozen people are eating salmon cakes, roasted chicken and cooked greens from plastic plates, facing the front of the room. This group has endorsed her in the past, and she tells them that they’re the “fourth stop and my best stop” of the night. She talks about affordable housing, development in Manhattan, the fight for pre-K funding. One woman asks Brewer, with a tone indicating she expects her to know the full answers, what exactly is going on with the Second Avenue Subway, what’s happening to the people who lived in the East Harlem building that collapsed last week, and what’s going on with those tiny apartments Bloomberg was pushing? Asked about Mayor de Blasio, she defends his management style, explaining that it’s rooted in community organizing, not top-down management, so his initiatives will take time. (She also jokes that he “owes me for life” after she supported his failed bid for council speaker and was stuck on the technology committee as retribution, a post she turned from a dreaded appointment to a crucial role in the council with bills like the Open Data law and ones increasing broadband internet access in the city.) The president of the union, Anthony Wells, showers her with praise and presents her with a backpack and hat emblazoned with the union logo. “Gale does not just talk the talk; she shows us what she’s about,” Wells said. “She’s as humble and real now as when I ﬁrst knew her.” Brewer poses for a quick picture, with everyone in the room grinning behind her, but
APRIL 3, 2014 Our Town 7
there’s no time to grab a plate of food before she’s off at 7:56 p.m. She arrives at a private residence on East 75th Street a little past her scheduled time to speak at 8 p.m., but the two dozen or so members of Upper East Side for Change, a Democratic group, are thrilled she’s there. She takes to the center of the wellappointed living room and launches into a talk about what she’s been working on - arts education, getting mental health services into middle schools (“I’ve had 35 foster kids so I know that teenagers need help.”) as well as ﬁnding space for affordable housing in Manhattan without building too many massive skyscrapers. She notes that she, like all good de Blasio acolytes, is pushing for universal pre-K g (“I’m so sick of [talking w about] pre-K but I know o it’s the focus.”) but also hopes that the mayorr er won’t forget about other mepressing issues like homedes less services. She concedes way that she’s happy to be away from the committee meetuncil, ings of being on the council, and from some of the members: “The city council - Ben [Kallos, whose staffer is at the l, but meeting] is wonderful, ’t give some I can’t stand. I won’t you any names. Well maybe .) later I will.” (She doesn’t.) ipted, Her remarks are unscripted, he attailored to each event she tends. When someone asks about charter schools, she is re are quick to note that there ools in some great charter schools the city - just not those run by ead of Eva Moskowitz, the head he face Success Academy and the of the battle against de Blasio. “I know I get in trouble [saying this] - I cannot stand Eva Moskowitz,” Brewer says. “In the city council, she was very smart and very obnoxious. She was a good chair [of the education committee] because she asked lots of questions, but she didn’t involve anybody else.” Brewer has levied this criticism before; she sued Moskowitz and Success Academy when they moved into an Upper West Side high school, and she doesn’t think that charter schools belong in the districts with good public school options. A few other perennial Upper East Side issues come up - how to stop the East 91st Street Marine Transfer Station (Brewer
t organizer. Landon Dais, the “He has only goo good things to say about her, and he doesn’t say that about eve every politician.” Dais is eage eager to introduce Gale to his fiance, who it sh knows, and turns out she wit a few people she chats with headin out again at before heading 9:25 p.m., hop hoping to make it MIST Harlem 46 W. 116th Street on time to the seventh and ﬁnal stop of the night, an event that ends at 10 p.m. r She’s been running only a few minutes behind schedule the wh whole evening impressiv considering impressive variab the variables of traffic in Manhat Manhattan - and feels Private home confident that she’ll be arrivi late at this 53 E. 75 Street okay arriving last event. “If you’re going to a seAvery Fisher Hall nior center - be on time! Columbus Ave Everybody else, you got a at 65th Street little leeway, leeway,” she says. She’s right right. At 9:52 p.m., Manha the Manhattan Young John Jay College 5 Annual EnDemocrats 5th 524 W. 59th Street Pr gendering Progress Event is still going strong in the ba of Hudson basement bar 40 Street. It is, Bond on W. 40th as the name ssuggests, mostly people in their 20s and th are tickled 30s, and they Hudson Bond when Br Brewer arrives 215 W. 40th Street gra the microand grabs phon She musphone. ters up energy to ma match the crowd, te l l i n g t he m h how impressed s is by what she y young people Local 371 can accom817 Broadway plish, giving the example of the young D votDOT rep from r ed ea rlier in t he evenin at the Vision evening Manhattan Proper Zero town h against hall. She is hap6 Murray Street py with the development d it); when so w i l l de far on Vision Z Zero, she says. Blasio “I give Bill de Blasio a lot of make credit; I don’t a always - I’m his good on his conscience!” promise to rid After a round of whoops and Central Park of the cheers, she hands the microcarriage horses (she doesn’t phone over and stays to mingle think that one will be as easy as with the enthusiastic group. it sounds). She also, ﬁnally, has She spies a member of her staff, a moment to eat a small plate who was last seen at 1 Centre of bread, cheese and grapes Street stirring up a frozen dinproffered by the hostess, in be- ner as Brewer left the office. tween taking questions. The music is loud and the bar “I call her the queen of con- is dim, and if the feelings of a stituent requests,” says the reporter many years her junior event’s organizer, Monica Ati- are any indication, Brewer ya, of Brewer as she prepares must be exhausted. to leave. “She puts her whole It doesn’t show. She stays unheart and mind into it.” til 10:20 p.m. She’ll probably At 9:01 p.m., she’s back in eat something when she gets the tiny old elevator and then home, she says. headed up to W. 116th Street. At Finally, I ask if she ever takes 9:15 p.m., she arrives at MIST a vacation. “I haven’t had one,” Harlem for a fundraiser for vic- Brewer says, “but I know they tims of the recent building col- do exist.” lapse, run by the son of a friend. “My father knows Gale,” said
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Our Town APRIL 3, 2014
WHAT ARE YOU MOST LOOKING FORWARD TO THIS SPRING?
MOMS BEFORE TEENS I am responding to your article about teens on the community board. The community boards are supposed to be reﬂective of the constituency, but this is barely the case with community board 7. There is only ONE woman under the age of 40 on the board, and only TWO who appear to be under the age of 60. Of the 50 members, there is only one young mother (i.e., under the age of 40). Young mothers are a core part of our community, yet we are not represented at all. Before we start changing the law to allow a teenager to get on the board, shouldn’t we ﬁrst make sure that families are represented? It is very frustrating that time and again the board consists of mostly older people over the age of 60, and the majority of the neighborhood remains voiceless. Jane Smith
SAY NO TO SCAFFOLDING
“ Not to have all these allergies. It’s a pain in the ass.” Alex M.
“ Outdoor cafes. Just being
IMPROVING VISION ZERO Pedestrians have to be grateful to Our Town for covering Vision Zero, Mayor de Blasio’s program to reduce the toll in injury and death that careless motorists take of those of us who hoof it instead of riding in a cab, car or bus.A good focus for Vision Zero would be the pedestrian cross-walks where major east-west streets intersect the major avenues. Drivers of taxis, vans and private cars turning into an avenue from a cross-street weave their way around people in the cross-walk as if they were slalom poles instead of vulnerable individuals. Some of these drivers actually accelerate threateningly at a walker; others speed up to avoid having to stop. Still others seem so oblivious to the presence of an individual on foot that they turn “Vision Zero” into an ominous joke. A car is supposed to give way to a pedestrian. How about some law enforcement at these intersections? It could save lives, prevent injury and force motorists to be courteous. Jonathan Piel
outdoors, having brunch with friends.” Chris G.
Just seeing all the pretty ﬂowers in the neighborhood. And sitting in the park.” Loren S.
Photo by Matt Green via Flickr.
Sidewalk sheds and scaffolding plague the city and cause unnecessary eyesores BY JOHN ELARI
There is something I would like you to look into: the ever-increasing number of buildings shrouded in
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scaffolding and/or sidewalk sheds in NYC. I use the term ever-increasing because I understand that’s exactly what is happening. And it’s all because of very stringent Department of Buildings inspection laws; more stringent that in any other city, from what I understand. The result is that New Yorkers have to put up with the very ugly scaffolding and/or sidewalk sheds on the landscape of our City to a greater degree as the years go by. And I, for one, hate it, and I think many other New Yorkers do too. And this can only mean that we will never,
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ever be free of it. It will be here forever. That’s a disgusting thought. I would like the City to find a way to cut down on scaffolding and/or sidewalk sheds, but understand, in some cases, that building owners will sometimes leave it up for years because they don’t have the money to take it down. I’m sure there are fines for not doing a building inspection as set down by law; there should be ﬁnes for leaving the scaffolding/sheds up too long also. And let’s get rid of it all forever.
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Staff Reporters, Gabrielle Alfiero, Daniel Fitzsimmons Block Mayors, Ann Morris, Upper West Side
“ Looking forward to be able to walk around for hours without getting cold. No more layers.” Katelyn C.
Jennifer Peterson, Upper East Side Gail Dubov, Upper West Side Edith Marks, Upper West Side
APRIL 3, 2014 Our Town 9
What the next Landmarks Chair could mean for downtown BY ANDREW BERMAN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, GREENWICH VILLAGE SOCIETY FOR HISTORIC PRESERVATION
There’s been much speculation lately about who the next Chair of the City’s Landmarks Preservation Commission will be. Though there are competing theories as to who the frontrunner is, all agree that whoever is chosen will have a huge impact on our city’s future – no place more so than downtown. Lower Manhattan is the oldest part of New York, with some of its quaintest and most historic structures. Ironically, it’s also probably the part of the New York under the greatest development pressure to tear down and build ever higher. That’s where the chair of the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission can come in. The Chair gets to decide which sites and neighborhoods the Commission will consider for landmark designation, and which it will pass over. This often means the difference between maintaining a charming, historic, humanly-scaled neighborhood, and out-of-scale and outof–character new construction. Right now, parts of the East Village, the South Village/SoHo, Tribeca, and the Bowery are all clamoring for landmark designation. These are “hot” neighborhoods, where new development is quickly altering the sense of place in some areas,
as one hundred- or even two hundred-year old buildings are being torn down. The new Landmarks chair will decide which stays, and which goes. A lot of factors will go into determining what kind of decisions the Landmarks chair makes. For the past eleven years, the chair has actually had no background in historic preservation or landmarks preservation. We’re hoping that will change. Under the past administration, the Landmarks Preservation Commission was very active, but frequently moved slowly on designations, giving developers who wanted to ‘beat the clock’ and tear down or alter buildings more than enough time to do so before designations took effect. We’re hoping the new chair will move swiftly to protect those buildings and neighborhoods identiﬁed as worthy of landmark protections. The new chair will face a lot of pressure from the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY) – a powerful lobbying group that claims landmarking is “out of control” and is somehow, paradoxically, both stifling economic development and making New York City neighborhoods playgrounds for only the very rich. This Alice-in-Wonderland logic should be easily dismissed, but REBNY has put a lot of money into their faux-populist campaign to undermine landmark designations in our city, and applying a lot of pressure to get the City to scale back on or forgo entirely new landmark designations. The new chair will have to vigorously defend the system and demonstrate
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Met Council is accepting applications for the waiting list of affordable housing rental apartments in our building located at 231 East 77th Street, NY. For one person households, applicants must be 62 years old at the time of application; for two person households, the applicant must be 62 and the co-applicant 55 at the time of application. Current Rent Range studio: $1014 - $1153 Income Range: $42,513 - $48,100 (1 person household)
that appropriate landmark designations of historic sites and neighborhoods enrich our city and helps maintain its diversity, not impoverish and homogenize it. The future of many of downtown’s residential neighborhoods depends upon whether or not the new Landmarks chair is up to these tasks. Without a vigorous Landmarks Preservation Commission – one willing to act swiftly and decisively to preserve our city’s patrimony, and one willing to stand up to big real estate – the special character and livability of our historic neighborhoods could quickly and easily be lost forever.
Current Range 1 bedroom: $1065 - $1238 Income Range: $44,584 - $48,100 (1 person household) $44,584 - $55,000 (2 person household) Monthly rent includes heat, hot water and gas for cooking. Seniors will be required to meet income guidelines and additional selection criteria to qualify. Income guidelines are subject to change. One application per household. Applications may be downloaded from: www.metcouncil.org/housing or requested by mail from Met Council: 231 East 77th Street Residence 120 Broadway, 7th floor New York, NY 10271 Please include a self-addressed envelope. No broker or application fee.
Met Council is accepting applications for the waiting list of affordable housing rental apartments in our building located at 334 East 92nd Street, NY. For one person households, applicants must be 62 years old at the time of application; for two person households, the applicant must be 62 and the co-applicant 55 at the time of application. Current Rent Range studio: $883 - $1153 Income Range: $37,257 - $48,100 (1 person household) Current Range 1 bedroom: Income Range:
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$989 - $1238 $41,538 - $48,100 (1 person household) $41,538 - $55,000 (2 person household)
Monthly rent includes heat, hot water and gas for cooking. Seniors will be required to meet income guidelines and additional selection criteria to qualify. Income guidelines are subject to change. One application per household. Applications may be downloaded from: www.metcouncil.org/housing or requested by mail from Met Council: 334 East 92nd Street Residence 120 Broadway, 7th floor New York, NY 10271
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Please include a self-addressed envelope. No broker or application fee.
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Our Town APRIL 3, 2014
A Cook’s Bes t R e source
Out & About countries, these images represent not only the complexities of a seemingly simple emotion but also the ambiguous nature of photography itself. brookﬁeldplaceny.com
LE CREUSET SIGNATURE 10.25” ROUND SKILLET GRILL
$119.95 Sugg Retail $220
Staying Sharp for the Holidays Knife Sharpening for Sat. Apr 12 & Sun. Apr 13 11am - 5pm Professional Sharpening While-U-Wait. $12 fee for every three knives sharpened. 100% donated to City Harvest.
Family Owned & Operated Since 1976 65 East 8th Street (off Broadway), New York NY 10003 Mon-Sat 11am-7pm j Thurs ‘til 8pm j Sun 11am-6pm Tel: 212.966.3434 j www.broadwaypanhandler.com
MARBLE’S JAZZ INSPIRED WORSHIP
EVERY FIRST & THIRD FRIDAY AT 7:00PM The Marble Loft (274 5th Ave) Great Music. Great Spirit. Great Way to Kick Off Your Weekend. A perfect blend of jazz and the Word. Led by Dr. R. Mark King Chris Whittaker, Music Director Dr. Michael B. Brown, Senior Minister 1 West 29th St. NYC, NY 10001 (212) 686-2770 www.MarbleChurch.org
NEW YORKER TRIO: FOLK IN CLASSICAL MUSIC
THE PAPER BAG PLAYERS WORKSHOP
SMILE! A PHOTO ANTHOLOGY BY VII
Hamilton Fish Park Library, 415 East Houston Street 3:30 p.m., Free The goal of the Workshops is for each participant to experience The Paper Bag Players approach to creating and performing theater --essentially each participant becomes a Paper Bag Players. Each session will deal with the elements that make this company most famous: original and fanciful narrative plays, a dynamic interactive approach to the audience, the use of paper and cardboard to create compelling stage effects and costumes, creating comedy that hat children respond to, movementt as an element of storytelling, and music as the connecting tissuee that holds the shows together. nypl.org
Arts Brookﬁeld, 220 Vesey Street 12 - 6 p.m., Free Smile! This is one of life’s most basic and simple reactions and a clichÉ of photography. Yet in photojournalism, it’s almost a taboo emotion to show. Featuring 84 photographs by the awardwinning photojournalists of the VII photography collective, this exhibition reveals the astonishing range of human behavior by looking at how smiles manifest in our world: from the most depressing, violent and poverty-stricken conditions to the warmth and security of home. Drawn from work produced over a 30 year span, from more than 30
DOWNTOWN URBAN THEATER FESTIVAL: CLIPPINGS HERE Arts Center, 145 Avenue of the Americas, btwn wn Spring and Broome 8:30 p.m., $18 They should just leave. Or tell. Or kill. When three women tell their stories of surviving abuse the best way they know how, they begin to think no onee understands. Or do they. Or that at they are alone. Or are they. By Royal Shiree dutfnyc.com
Caffe Vivaldi, 32 Jones Street 5 p.m., Free The energetic trio will play movements of trio pieces that were inﬂuenced by folk themes. The program will include pieces from J.S. Bach, Sergei Rachmaninoff, Franz Schubert, Johannes Brahms, Antonin Dvorak, Dmitri Shostakovich, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky and Astor Piazzolla. caffevivaldi.com
6 BRIGHT! COLORS IN THREE DIMENSIONS Arts Brookﬁeld, 220 Vesey Street 12 a,m, - 6 p.m. Free The artworks artwo in Bright! showcase the t possibilities of color in three th dimensions. With the advent of digital and ad commercial technology, it has commercia become ea easier to take the power of color c for granted in two-dimensional mediums two-dim brookﬁeldplaceny.com
COMEDIAN COMED PABLO F FRANCISCO PERFORMS SPOT ON PERFO IMPRESSIONS IMP Gotham Comedy G Club is located at 208Clu West Wes 23rd St. 8 p.m., p. $26 Pablo hits hit his mark every weaving together his one time weavin arsenal of characters, of a kind ars spontaneous outbursts, spot on spontaneou impressions, and clever insights impressions show that to create a stand-up s an hour-long more resembles resem
APRIL 3, 2014 Our Town 11
Eastville Comedy Club, 85 East 4th Street 9 – 11 p.m., $5 Matt Nagin presents some original comedy acts in New York City. This show will feature Jeff Paul (Sirius Radio), Yohei Kawamati (Cape May Comedy Festival, Comedy Time TV), Cooper Rego (MSG), Matt Nagin (Edinburgh Comedy Festival, Travel Channel, TLC, WPIX), and headliner Louis Katz (HBO, Comedy Central
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30 East 9th Street Various Times, $8 The Take Two Film Festival is a festival celebrating short ﬁlms. The festival is now in its 3rd year and will feature over 50 ﬁlms from 14 different countries. The festival last from April 8th - 9th and there are various ﬂms you can purchase tickets to ahead of time. www.taketwoﬁlmfestival. com or 347-982-7116
MATT NAGIN PRESENTS COMEDY SHOW
The Theater at The New School for Drama, 151 Bank Street 7 p.m., Free The House Itself Does Not Burn by Molly Haas-Hooven, direct ed by Stephanie C. Cunningham. In the desolate landscape of a North Dakota boomtown, where oil ﬂows and space is limited, residents and roughnecks struggle to live, love and break even. This production is part of The New School for Drama’s New Voices Playwrights Festival. 212-229-8900
TAKE TWO FILM FESTIVAL
Seward Park Library, 192 East Broadway 12:15 – 12:45 p.m., Free Special ﬁfteen to twentyminute program of simple ﬁngerplays, songs and board books geared to babies and prewalkers up to 18 months old with their parent or caregiver. Program begins promptly at 12:15 pm. 212-477-6770
NEW VOICES PLAYWRIGHTS FESTIVAL PERFORMANCE
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Chatham Square Library, 33 East Broadway 3 – 5 p.m., Free Come to Chatham Square Library every Thursday from 3:00-5:00pm to play board games and card games of all types and skill levels. Come and play Chess too! Basic introduction to the game provided.No Registration is required. For children ages 5 to 11, tweens, and families. 212-964-6598
Barnes & Noble, 97 Warren Street 6 p.m., $20 - cost of book welcome Paul Stanley, cofounder and frontman of KISS, as he signs Face the Music: A Life Exposed. This will be a signing only. Must purchase book at Barnes & Noble Tribeca for entry. No memorabilia. store-locator.barnesandnoble. com/event/82971
BOARD GAMES & CHESS FOR CHILDREN
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FACE THE MUSIC: A LIFE EXPOSED
Theater for the New City, 155 First Avenue (btwn E 9th & 10th Sts) 6:30 p.m., Free 1. Updates on Arts organization database 2. FAB Update re effort to obtain economic data from Pew Charitable Trust’s Cultural Data Project 3. Art Space presentation -on the development of PS 109 as artist housing with gallery and non-proﬁt space as a possible model for artists in LES 4. Consider for A&C Task Force to become Subcommittee of Parks committee nyc.gov/html/mancb3
SVA, 136 West 21st Street, Room 418F 7 p.m., Free Ukrainian-born photographer Dina Litovsky presents her work, which documents New York City nightlife in its many incarnations—clubs, lounges, bars, as well as public and private parties. Her talk is part of the i3: Images, Ideas, Inspiration lecture series, which features presentations by digital photographers, hardware and software developers and industry experts. Presented by the MPS Digital Photography Department. 212-529-2000
COMMUNITY BOARD 3 ARTS TASK FORCE
ARTIST PRESENTATION: PHOTOGROPHER DINA LITOVSKY
comedic jazz riff. gothamcomedyclub.com; pablofrancisco.com
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Our Town APRIL 3, 2014
Edith Harnik, left, dictates her story to instructor Barbara Cassidy during a weekly meeting of Cassidy’s playwriting course for visuallyimpaired seniors. Photo by Gabrielle Alﬁero
LOSING SIGHT, BUT HOLDING ON TO MEMORIES SENIORS A writing program, often in braille, for the visually impaired BY GABRIELLE ALFIERO
CHELSEA During a recent class in a basement art studio at Visions at Selis Manor, a center for the visually impaired, playwright Barbara Cassidy asked her six writing students—all women—to make a list of items they would put in a memory box, and write a story based on one of the objects. Some wrote of their mothers, childhood friends or family vacations. Others told of weekends at the roller rink, cheeseburgers and Cherry Cokes. Elsie Smith, 51, remembered her mother’s pearl necklace and typed her story on a braille typewriter. “I like writing about memory, when I was growing up, my childhood,” Smith said. Her mother passed away on Sept. 23, 1987: “I will always keep her. That’s my special memory box: my heart.” Seniors Partnering with Artists Citywide—a program developed as part of the Age-Friendly NYC initiative and funded by the NYC Department for the
Aging, in collaboration with the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs—places working artists in 50 senior centers throughout the ﬁve boroughs. The sixmonth course for seniors with visual impairments meets weekly for two hours, and culminates with a live play on June 6 at the Visions auditorium, with a script built from the personal stories crafted during the in-class writing exercises. “It seems like a lot of their writing lends itself to monologue,” said Cassidy. “They like to tell stories from their lives.” Cassidy first came to Visions about a year and half ago to lead a workshop through the NY Writer’s Coalition. She applied to the SPARC program, which gives all artists in residence a $1,500 stipend and $500 in material reimbursements, in order to give her students at Visions another outlet for their writing. “I had always been thinking in the back of my mind I would like to do some theater with them,” said Cassidy, who earned her M.F.A in playwriting from Brooklyn College. “They’re so ambitious…they want to go further with their work. This little workshop on Thursday wasn’t enough for them. They asked, ‘Where can we send our writing? Can we do a reading?’ I said, ‘I gotta get
something more for these people.’” Evelyn Larson, 81, whose service dog, a black Labrador named Idora, slept at her feet, also types in braille. She recalled her pink wedding dress, an Amethyst pin she won in her sixth-grade spelling bee, and a pair of snow pants she wore as a child. When they ripped, her mother mended the tear in the silky fabric, and Larson remembers running her ﬁngertips along the stitches. “I don’t have much from my mother, but I still have those,” Larson said. “I’d never give them up.” For Cassidy, working with visually impaired students brings a unique set of challenges. She collects their work each week, but she can’t read braille and doesn’t have any of Larson’s work on her computer yet. “I’m starting to panic about that,” Cas-
PROGRAM OVERIVEW WHAT: SPARC (Seniors Partnering with Artists Citywide) Our Stories---Writing Memoir for the Theater Instructed by playwright Barbara Cassidy
sidy said. While Larson and Smith can read and type braille, other students in the class still have some vision and write their stories by hand using thin black markers. A few students lost their vision recently and haven’t learned braille yet. Edith Harnik was born in Austria and came to New York in 1942. Now 94, she’s wheelchair-bound and losing her vision. She doesn’t know braille and can no longer write, so she dictates to Cassidy, who pecks out the stories on her iPhone. Harnik recalled her ﬁrst apartment, on the Upper East Side, and remembers her landlady, who showed her how to pack her dresses by rolling them instead of folding. When she got stuck and didn’t know where to take her piece, she borrowed the theme of Goethe’s poem, “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice,” for her
WHERE: Visions at Selis Manor, an education and social services facility for the blind and visually impaired 135 W. 23 Street WHEN: A public play based on the student’s work will be presented on June 6 at the Visions auditorium
a story about her childhood blanket named Ducky. “I’ve never done anything like this,” Harnik said. “It’s new for me. Two hours of fantasy.” The structure of the play hasn’t quite taken shape yet, Cassidy said, though the performance on June 6 will likely feature a mix of performers from her class and some outside actors. She’s looking for a thread to emerge and connect the individual stories, but no matter the direction, she wants to avoid performing anything too “cutesy,” which she thinks is a common impulse when working with seniors and the visuallyimpaired. “When I first came to work with the visually-impaired, I had this kind of very naïve, ‘what does a blind person think?’ stupid, uninformed attitude,” Cassidy said. “This is a small part of who they are. They’re all their own people and they all have different ideas and different ways of doing things. Just like there’s not one way that they write. They’re all writing in very different ways. It’s a very complex thing. I think often we kind of make blind people childish in some way, in our thoughts about them, in our minds, and they’re anything but.”
APRIL 3, 2014 Our Town 13
SPRING PROTECTION FOR CATS AND DOGS PETS
The warm weather means it’s time to check up on your pets’ wellbeing and safety
Animals are waiting for sunny days too! Make sure they’re properly prepared for spring and summer.
As we say goodbye to the chills and snow and hello to the sun, be aware of seasonal hazards that can threaten your pets. Experts at North Shore Animal League America, the world’s largest no-kill animal rescue and adoption organization, urge pet owners to be mindful of their pet’s safety. “It’s an animal owner’s obligation to ensure its safety at all times, but spring especially presents a unique set of challenges with the weather change. With good preparation and knowledge, pets can be safe and comfortable over the season,” advises Mark Verdino, Vice President and
Chief of Veterinary Staff. Animal League America offers these tips: 1. Springtime brings Easter fun but a lot of human celebrations can be toxic to our pets. Keep Easter lilies and candy bunnies away from your pets. Chocolate is toxic to cats and dogs and lilies can be fatal if ingested. Cats and kittens love to nibble on plastic grass - this can lead to an obstructed digestive tract, severe vomiting and dehydration. 2. Pet owners spending time outdoors with their pets should make certain they are protected with flea, tick and heartworm treatments and are up-to-date on vaccinations. 3. Be sure to install sturdy screens in all windows, to avoid putting your pets at risk of jumping or falling through the window.
cal hazards, including nails, staples, insulation, blades and power tools. 7. Beware of many springtime plants that are highly toxic to pets and can easily prove fatal if eaten. Fertilizers, insecticides and herbicides might help our plants and lawns grow but can be fatal for your pet if ingested. 8. Pets can be allergic to foods, dust, plants and pollens. Allergic reactions to dogs and cats can cause minor snifﬂing and sneezing as well as life-threatening anaphylactic shock. Please check with your veterinarian to see if your pet has a springtime allergy. 9. Springtime means longer walks and more chances for your pet to wander off! Make sure your dog or cat has a microchip for identiﬁcation and wears a tag imprinted with your home address, cell phone and any other relevant contact information. 10. And most importantly, any time of the year, spay and neuter your pet so that your animals do not contribute to the large population of unwanted litters.
4. Dental hygiene is another effective “Spring Tune-Up” tool. Have your pet’s teeth checked and cleaned by a vet. 5. We all know dogs love to feel the wind on their faces, but allowing them to ride in the bed of a pick-up truck or stick their heads out of a moving-car window is dangerous. This opens up your pet to inner ear or eye injuries and lung infections from ﬂying debris and insects. Make sure your pets are always secure in a crate or wearing a pet seatbelt harness while riding along with you. 6. Spring cleaning brings opportunities for harm to our pets. Be sure to keep all cleaners and chemicals out of your pet’s way. Products such as paints and solvents can be toxic to your pets and cause To learn more about keeping your severe irritation or chemical pets safe and healthy at all times, burns. Be careful of physi- visit www.AnimalLeague.org.
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Our Town APRIL 3, 2014
Food & Drink
<THE STANDARD HOTEL RESTAURANT NARCISSA REVIEWED IN NEW YORKER New Yorker critic Hannah Goldﬁeld praised Narcissa, the restaurant in The Standard hotel in the East Village, in the March 31 issue of the magazine. Named for the pet cow of hotel proprietor Andre Balazs, Narcissa’s menu, created by head chef John Fraser, is “elegant and accessible,” Goldﬁeld said. She focused on the
In Brief CHANGES TO RESTAURANT GRADING SYSTEM WILL REDUCE FINES Recent changes to restaurant grading rules will minimize ﬁnes and provide free consultative support for restaurant owners, City Council Speaker Melissa MarkViverito announced on Friday, March 21. Penalties for violations will be ﬁxed, and restaurant owners can schedule ungraded inspections without the fear of ﬁnes, designed to teach about proper food safety and prepare restaurants for their next graded inspection. The health department estimates that the new guidelines will result in a 25 percent reduction in ﬁnes. 90 percent of city residents approve of the restaurant grading system, Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett said in a statement. She added that since the implementation of the system in July of 2010, the number of reported incidents of Salmonella in New York City has dropped by 14 percent compared to the rest of New York. Nearly 90 percent of restaurants in New York City currently have an A grade.
WRITERS HONOR LEGENDARY RESTAURATEUR ELAINE KAUFMAN The Table 4 Writers Foundation’s Second Annual Awards Gala honored legendary New York City restaurateur Elaine Kaufman on Thursday, March 27 at the New York Athletic Club at Central Park South, the Wall Street Journal reported. Kaufman, who passed away in 2010, opened her eponymous restaurant on the Upper East Side in 1963, which became a famed respite for some of the city’s great writers. (Elaine’s shuttered about six months after Kaufman’s death). Table 4 Writers Foundation, a nonproﬁt founded in Kaufman’s memory, provides grants for emerging writers. The gala’s awards ceremony honored both prominent writers and actors, including Stuart Woods, Chazz Palminteri and Richard Dreyfuss, as well as promising new talent—grants totaling $12,500 were awarded to ﬁve up-andcoming writers. Also in attendance at the event were Gay Talese and actor Tony Danza, longtime friends of Kaufman’s.
restaurant’s farm-fresh vegetables, especially carrots, sourced from Balazs’ farm in the Hudson Valley. “Fraser kneels at the altar of the beet, too, judging by how long and lovingly he roasts them in his open kitchen’s rotisserie oven, until their exteriors are charred and their interiors rival the consistency of tender
steak…” While she hinted at the well-executed meat and seafood mains, Goldﬁeld revisited the attention Fraser pays to vegetarian fare in dessert: “A citrus salad, served over tapioca pudding and under an orange-blossom granita [...] perfectly embodies the careful line Fraser walks between virtue and indulgence.”
NEW RESTAURANT WEEK RESTAURANTS The weeklong event celebrates establishments that support their workers BY LAUREN ROTHMAN
New York City Restaurant Week: been there, done that, right? The dining deal that allows city dwellers to get a taste of haute cuisine at a softer price point debuted in the early ‘90s and has since inspired ma ny spinoffs, including Brooklyn Restaurant Week, Chinatown Restaurant Week and Queens Restaurant Week. Next month, the city will add yet another dining deal to its annual roster, but this one has a conscience behind it. H i g h Road Restau ra nt Week will run from April 23 to April 30. Participating restaurants are those that have been recognized by the Restaurant Opportunities Center of New York (ROC-NY)—a labor organization that promotes improved working conditions for restaurant workers—for providing sustainable wages and safe working conditions for their employees. Twenty restaurants in Brooklyn and Manhattan, including several well-loved downtown restaurants like La Palapa and Good, will serve special dishes at somewhat gentler prices, but don’t expect a traditiona l three-course prix-ﬁ xe: those cranked-out meals tend to lead to longer hours and lower tips for the restaurant workers that
cook and serve them. High Road Restaurant Week was announced last week in front of a group of participating restaurateurs and organizers who gathered at the historic West Village restaurant One if by Land, Two if by Sea. New York City diners’ standards are higher than ever, but few consumers think beyond what’s on their plates to consider what working in a restaurant is like. And the reality, ROC-NY representatives say, is sobering. Both front- and back-of-house staff “are forced to work long hours for low wages, they often work in unhealthy and hazardous working conditions, they are denied basic benefits such as paid sick days, vacation days, and healthcare, and they often face unlawful practices such as workplace discrimination and wage theft,” a section on the organization’s website reads. “There is a way to main-
tain high standards without is lower and the quality of abusing your staff,” said Colt life higher. Taylor, executive chef at One “This needs to happen in if by Land, Two if by Sea, who New York ﬁrst,” he said. was instrumental in organizing the restaurant week. Like all High Road restaurants, IN YOUR One if by Land pays its workers a rate above minimum NEIGHBORHOOD wage; provides beneﬁts such Here are the participating as healthcare; affords workrestaurants on the East ers both sick and vacation Side: days; and promotes from Untitled at the Whitney within the restaurant as op945 Madison Avenue at posed to hiring from outside. 75th Street If New York—a premier cu212-570-3670 linary destination for most Riverpark of its history—wants to hold 450 East 29th Street on to its restaurant workers, 212-729-9790 it needs to step up its game, Shake Shack Taylor said. 154 East 86th Street Over the past few years, the 646-237-503 city’s restaurant workforce Blue Smoke Flatiron has eroded as the cost of liv116 East 27th Street ing continues to skyrocket 212-447-7733 and underpaid, overworked Jazz Standard chefs and cooks bring their 111 East 27th Street talents to fast-growing cu212-576-2232 linary destinations such as Denver, Austin and Portland, Ore., where the cost of living
Chef Colt Taylor explains why the city needs to celebrate restaurants that offer fair wages and working conditions.
APRIL 3, 2014 Our Town 15
RESTAURANT INSPECTION RATINGS MARCH 19 - 25, 2014 The following listings were collected from the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s website and include the most recent inspection and grade reports listed. We have included every restaurant listed during this time within the zip codes of our neighborhoods. Some reports list numbers with their explanations; these are the number of violation points a restaurant has received. To see more information on restaurant grades, visit www.nyc.gov/html/doh/html/services/restaurant-inspection.shtml.
The Pothole Project
76 Chambers Street
275 Greenwich Street
65 West Broadway
Dirty Bird To Go
155 Chambers Street
Grade Pending (23) Hot food item not held at or above 140º F. Food not cooled by an approved method whereby the internal product temperature is reduced from 140º F to 70º F or less within 2 hours, and from 70º F to 41º F or less within 4 additional hours. Raw, cooked or prepared food is adulterated, contaminated, cross-contaminated, or not discarded in accordance with HACCP plan.
31 West 17 Street
250 West 14 Street
Grade Pending (22) Cold food item held above 41º F (smoked ﬁsh and reduced oxygen packaged foods above 38 ºF) except during necessary preparation. Evidence of mice or live mice present in facility’s food and/or non-food areas. Food contact surface not properly washed, rinsed and sanitized after each use and following any activity when contamination may have occurred.
244246 West 14 Street
One Lucky Duck
75 9 Avenue
196 8 Avenue
Grade Pending (23) Evidence of mice or live mice present in facility’s food and/or non-food areas. Food not protected from potential source of contamination during storage, preparation, transportation, display or service. Food contact surface not properly washed, rinsed and sanitized after each use and following any activity when contamination may have occurred.
61 West 8 Street
47 West 8 Street
the potholes in your neighborhood,
200 East 17 Street
send us an e-mail with the exact location
Momofuku Ssam Bar
207 2 Avenue
300 East 5 Street
Little Italy Pizza Iii
122 University Place
send us a photo with the location to
319 East 14 Street
231 East 5 Street
Bond Street Chocolate
63 East 4 Street
21 East 12 Street
226 East 14 Street
Grade Pending (4)
111 University Place
82 2 Avenue
Grade Pending (27) Evidence of rats or live rats present in facility’s food and/or non-food areas. No facilities available to wash, rinse and sanitize utensils and/or equipment. Food contact surface not properly washed, rinsed and sanitized after each use and following any activity when contamination may have occurred.
208 3 Avenue
41 Union Square West
Grade Pending (36) Hot food item not held at or above 140º F. Cold food item held above 41º F (smoked ﬁsh and reduced oxygen packaged foods above 38 ºF) except during necessary preparation. Evidence of mice or live mice present in facility’s food and/or non-food areas. Food contact surface not properly washed, rinsed and sanitized after each use and following any activity when contamination may have occurred. A
If this pothole at 47th & Park Ave. looks like any of
and we’ll go take a photo or
We’re compiling locations to inform the City & improve our neighborhood The local paper for Downtown
New Your Neighborhood News Source ^
Our Town APRIL 3, 2014
HARLEM REAL ESTATE TOUR THIS WEEKEND The Real Estate Board of New Yor’s residential members are preparing to hold their 2nd Annual Upper Manhattan Committee Harlem Open House Expo on Saturday, April 5th and Sunday, April 6th from 9:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.. The event kicks off at Corner Social at 321 Lenox Avenue, and will include exclusive viewings of co-op, condo, and townhouse listings for sale in East Harlem, Central Harlem,
West Harlem and Hamilton Heights, providing buyers a look into real estate available in the neighborhood. The expo will begin with an information session and meet-and-greet. Brokers representing ﬁrms including Aizer Realty, Bohemia Realty, Bold New York, Charles Rutenberg Realty, Citi Habitats, Coldwell Banker, Douglas Elliman, Halstead Property, Harlem Lofts, Harlem
Properties, Level Group, Miron Properties, Platinum Properties, The Corcoran Group, and Warburg Realty Partnership will be on hand. Each will host an open house viewing of an exclusive listing later in the morning. The expo will include all different types of housing stock, from affordable housing options to market rate co-ops, condos and town houses. At 11 a.m., the brokers will disperse to their
respective listing locations, where they will be showing the properties until 3 p.m. Open house coverage will include Upper Manhattan homes including, East Harlem, Harlem, Morningside Heights, Hamilton Heights and Washington Heights. For reservations to attend the Open House Expo, contact Desiree Jones at djones@rebny. com, or -Jeanne Oliver-Taylor at (212) 616-5261.
In Brief RENTAL SHORTAGE DOWNTOWN If it seems like rents downtown are unusually high, here’s one reason why: no new units were added south of 14th Street in the entire fourth quarter of 2013. A report by the real-estate information ﬁrm Reis saya that only 52 new units were completed downtown all year. That has produced an unusually low vacancy rate, of 2.3%, and an average asking rent of $4,174. Reis predicts that 1,802 units will complete construction downtown over the next ﬁve years, which should ease the pressure on rents.
An architectural rendering of the 1,189-unit apartment building on West 57th Street between 11th Avenue and 12th Avenue.
TAX BREAKS FOR LOWER MANHATTAN BUSINESSES State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver announced Monday that ﬁnancial incentives for Lower Manhattan businesses were extended in the ﬁnal 2014-15 state budget. The incentives are designed to encourage businesses to remain in or relocate to Lower Manhattan. The incentives are made up of seven different tax breaks, from green energy credits and employment assistance programs to local tax breaks and rent reductions. One incentive, called the Industrial and Commercial Abatement Program, provides abatements for property taxes for up to 25 years. To qualify, industrial and commercial buildings must be built, modernized, expanded or otherwise physically improved. Those who qualify must spend at least 30 percent of the property’s taxable assessed value within four years.
NEW BUILDING COULD STRAIN SCHOOLS NEW CONSTRUCTION City leaders eyeing impact of 1,000+ unit apartment building on Upper West Side BY DANIEL FITZSIMMONS
UPPER WEST SIDE City leaders are looking closely at plans for a 1,189-unit apartment building at 606 West 57th Street that’s just received approval from the City Planning Commission. Although the project would create construction jobs and make better use of underdeveloped lots, Councilwoman Helen Rosenthal and Borough President Gale Brewer have reservations that they’re trying to work through with developer TF Cornerstone. “I definitely have some concerns about the project,” said Rosenthal, who as a former chair of Community Board
7 reviewed a proposal for the nearby Riverside Center, a 616-unit project on West End Avenue. “That guides a lot of my thinking about this particular project,” she said. The biggest issue with Riverside Center and the West 57th Street project, she said, is the effect that an inﬂux of residents has on public services. “Most importantly, in my mind, schools,” said Rosenthal. “I really want to work with the Dept. of Education and city planning to do a better job planning for school demand so we don’t have to respond in these crisis situations like we’ve had to in the past.” However, Rosenthal said she feels limited by a lack of options in creating new schools or otherwise mitigating the impact that residential development has on the educational resources of a neighborhood. “I’m committed to ﬁguring out a way
to address the public school needs of this community coming up in the next ﬁve, six, ten years,” said Rosenthal. “It’s going to be overwhelming.” Brewer, in a letter to the planning commission, said the proposed project has plans to go into a community that has seen a number of such large developments in recent years, “and has many more in the pipeline.” “The impacts of each of these projects may not reach the level of signiﬁcant adverse impacts, but the impact of all of the projects taken together is certainly signiﬁcant,” said Brewer. Shino Tanikawa, president of Community Education Council 2, in which the proposed building will be located, called for a detailed analysis of the western corridor of district 2 that would take into account the educational impact of all recent development in the district that’s occurred. Although
she knows such a study is beyond the responsibilities of TF Cornerstone, she’d like to avoid overcrowding issues that she said are a problem in district 1 due to unchecked development. “Lower Manhattan in district 1 has the worst overcrowding problems because residential development projects were allowed without any consideration for impact on public infrastructure, including schools,” said Tanikawa. “Most of them were as-of-right projects, and the city does not have any mechanisms for requiring developers to contribute to public infrastructure. That is what we would like to see changed. We have to learn from our mistakes and start a different process somewhere.” According to TF Cornerstone’s ﬁnal environmental impact statement, the project wouldn’t adversely impact public high schools or middle schools.
APRIL 3, 2014 Our Town 17
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Our Town APRIL 3, 2014
YOUR FIFTEEN MINUTES
DRAWING FROM LIFE IN NEW YORK Q&A Artist Nathan Pyle on standing at subway entrances, checking out at the 42nd St. Library, and navigating the city in crutches BY ANGELA BARBUTI
Nathan Pyle is sure to earn the respect of natives and newcomers alike with his ﬁrst book, NYC Basic Tips and Etiquette. In the cartoons he’s created, he hopes to teach transplants how to survive in New York by taking a light-hearted approach to the positives and negatives of daily life here. In the process, he also manages to entertain city veterans by reinforcing situations that have undoubtedly become second nature to them. The 31-year-old Ohio native moved to Manhattan in 2008 and started putting his work online last year in the form of animated GIFs. In just a few weeks, he already had a book deal.
Nathan Pyle draws cartoons to help newbies navigate the city.
When did you ﬁrst put the GIFs online? One year ago at the end of March. I had this idea for a while. I wanted to try and draw some New York-based humor because I had been here for four and a half years at that point. I wanted to make something that someone might buy. Sure enough, someone did buy it. HarperCollins called me up
I’m from New York and think you did a great job with this book. Awesome. I always hope to get an approval from natives. It’s a big deal to me.
You said you take inspiration in Manhattan. Where? There are so many seats in front of windows in the city. Especially for this book, I found that those were the best places to sit and draw, and kind of watch the city go by. I have all these secrets places that people with laptops haven’t discovered yet. I have to keep them secret. I go to coffee shops and cafés all throughout the city. I’ll even walk to Brooklyn two or three times a week because I don’t live far from the
time I saw people doing something in Central Park that was unusual. I think it was the fact that people would just sunbathe in normal clothes. I remember seeing a lot of people playing weird sports on the Great Lawn. Sports that I didn’t think were really sports, but just games they were making up. I was thinking, ‘This is exactly what Central Park is all about. You have all this space here and we all have all this pent-up energy because we don’t have any grass.’ It’s like never having a lawn as a kid and wanting to go to the park. It’s such a big deal.
One joke you mention is that people can’t check books out at the 42nd St. Library. a few weeks after. That was really my hope, that someone would reach out to me like that.
You have a cartoon in showing how anything can go on in Central Park. What is the weirdest thing you’ve ever seen there? I remember the very first
Yeah, right. [Laughs] A lot of people make that mistake. I sure did. I thought, ‘I’m gonna go and check out a book at the famous library.’ You’re going to have to learn over time that a lot of the things that you assume, you just have to go try them.
The cartoon showing two dif-
never been on before.
ferent kind of brunches - traditional and trendy - is so accurate. Where are your favorite brunch spots? [Laughs] I went to a really loud brunch on accident one time. Which is fine, if that’s what you want. But I wasn’t planning on it, I was planning to talk to someone and it wasn’t the atmosphere I expected. I had no idea there would be loud brunches; I didn’t know they were an option. Café Orlin in the East Village is one of my favorites. On reason is because I love French toast and they have a really good one there. And then down near me, there’s a place called Vin et Fleurs. It’s kind of off the beaten track in SoHo.
You also show how everyone from residents to tourists needs maps to get around. One of my cartoons is just a big map of the city where I’m saying a lot of tourists come and think they’ve explored New York because they wandered around Midtown for a while. The point is that part of the reason we need maps is because this is a huge place. There are many times where I’m on some street that I’ve
Giving money to the homeless is the theme of another cartoon. You mention that people can also give to charities like the Bowery Mission. What’s that? That’s one of the oldest missions in the city. The Bowery Mission is an organization that helps people get back on their feet. What’s neat is that they do a lot of comprehensive stuff, like helping people with their resume. It’s really about helping people get back into the working world which is obviously a huge deal.
A major tip you give is to not stand at the entrance of the subway. Not a good place to stop. People stop because that’s the last chance they have to use their phone for most stations. It’s natural for them to want to stand there, but the idea is it’s really easy to stand off to the side. And I see people do it the right way all the time.
You also explain that without the privacy of cars, New Yorkers are forced to show emotion on the subway. I’ve deﬁnitely cried in Penn Station a few times. [Laughs] We’ve all cried.
There are so many examples of seeing people cry in public and on the train. There’s really not much that raises anyone’s eyebrows in the city. Like no one thinks, ‘Oh, look at that guy crying.’ Everyone’s just going about their business. We’re all experiencing this great spread of emotion-some of us are having wonderful days and others are having the worst days everbut we’re all right next to each other on the train.
You said that people here inspire you to do better. Can you give an example of that? Last year, I was on crutches and that was the worst, being on crutches in Manhattan. There were people opening doors and holding things for me, this is the nicest place in the world. I had so many people say, ‘Hey, I was on crutches not long ago. I know how bad it is.’
GET THE BOOK The book is available on April 15th, in print and as an animated eBook. Follow Nathan on Twitter: @ nathanwpyle
APRIL 3, 2014 Our Town 19
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