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September 4, 2009 Downtown Express

September 4, 2009 Downtown Express

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Published by: COMMUNITYMEDIA on Sep 03, 2009
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Downtown Express photo by Elisabeth Robert
 Almost time to go Back to School
While children played easily in Battery Park City’s Tire Swing Park this week, parents probably were thinking moreabout the coming school year. Lower Manhattan has two new schools opening next week. We have more Back toSchool articles starting on page 21 including ones on a summer program to help children get ready for school anda look at the elementary school reading score rankings. The swing park is also in the news as a local group has justformed to prevent major changes to the area, Page 5.
The doors to Yaffa’s wereopen on Monday at lunch-time, but customers whowalked in could not get any-thing to eat.Tables usually coveredin platters of Mediterraneanfood were covered insteadwith piles of pots and pans,stacks of empty mugs androws of empty teapots, plusa few blenders, a food pro-cessor and the occasionalrooster figurine.Everything, includingthe furniture, was for sale,as Yaffa’s prepared to shutdown after 24 years at thecorner of Greenwich andHarrison Sts. As peoplewalked by and saw the red“AUCTION” sign plas-tered to the building, many
With no crying in herbeer or tea, Yaffa closes Yaffa’s
Four-year-old Charlotte Newmanis both excited and nervous to startkindergarten next week at P.S. 276 inTweed Courthouse.Charlotte is looking forward totaking the grown-up step of startingschool, but she’s a bit apprehensiveabout meeting so many new peopleand making friends, said her mother,Gabriela Newman.It might make Charlotte feel betterto know that Terri Ruyter, the principalof 276, feels the same way.“It’s very exciting and a little nerve-racking,” Ruyter said this week.P.S. 276 and the Spruce StreetSchool, Lower Manhattan’s two newK-8 schools, are opening next weekwith a total of six kindergarten classesin an incubator in Tweed Courthouseon Chambers St. The final homes of both schools are still under construc-tion, but Downtown needed the kin-dergarten seats for this fall, so theschools are opening a year early.Ruyter and Nancy Harris, principalof the Spruce Street School, have beenworking all summer to hire staff, ordersupplies and convert the lower level of Tweed Courthouse into kindergartenclassrooms.“They did an amazing job of pullingit together,” said Pam Hughes, whose
First day jitters for kids &principals at the 2 new schools
Continued on
 page 16 
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 page 21
SEPTEMBER 4 - 10, 2009
Council races heat up 
• With less than two weeks to go beforethe Democratic City Council primary, incum-bent Alan Gerson still has not qualified forCampaign Finance Board matching funds(See article, Page 6).• In this week’s issue we also profile twoother candidates in the Sept. 15 District 1 CityCouncil primary, PJ Kim and Arthur Gregory(Page 3).• To read our previously-published articleson the other three candidates — MargaretChin, Pete Gleason and Gerson — visitDowntownExpress.com.• This week we also look at the twoDemocratic candidates in the Second District,Councilmember Rosie Mendez and JuanPagan (Articles, Pages 8 and 9)• Downtown Express in this issue alsoendorses Margaret Chin, CouncilmemberRosie Mendez and Council Speaker ChristineQuinn in the Downtown City Council races(editorials, Pages 18-19).
September 4 - 10, 2009
downtown express 
District Leader candidate
Avram Turkel
backed off hiscriticism last week of a palm card supporting his opponent,
Paul Newell
, and acknowledged a new mistake this week.In our UnderCover item last week about
Freddy Ferrer
 sticking with his Council endorsement of 
Pete Gleason
, wealso said we heard that there was a campaign flyer sayingNewell had been endorsed by the Downtown IndependentDemocrats even though the club did not endorse Newellor Turkel. Turkel now tells us he thinks that the palm cardis accurate with respect to D.I.D. He and Newell said theydidn’t think the palm card should be an issue.“I would want him to read things more closely beforefiring off accusations, but people make mistakes and that’sfine,” said Newell.D.I.D. president
Sean Sweeney
was less forgiving aboutTurkel’s swipe of the club’s district map for Turkel’s cam-paign Web site, firing off an angry e-mail. Adding insult toinjury, Turkel claimed on the site that he owned the copy-right to the map. Sweeney says clubman
Ian Dutton
createdthe map with the help of Google, a fact which appears tobe confirmed on Turkel’s site since Dutton’s name is on themap. We’re pretty sure Turkel did not know his copyright claimwas just below the map since he sounded surprised whenhe saw it while we were talking to him, saying “What the[heck] did he do.” We’ll let you guess what word Turkel usedinstead of “heck.” He says he had someone work on his siteand the map did come from D.I.D.Turkel said he will make sure the site is corrected andhopes the campaign can move on to important issues, a sen-timent echoed by Newell.
Borough President
Scott Stringer
is finally endorsing
Alan Gerson
for City Council on Thursday, after a week of confusion and speculation over the beep’s position.The trouble started when Gerson claimed on hiscampaign Web site that Stringer supported him (Gersonmade the same claim in literature he gave to DowntownExpress).A Stringer aide asked the Gerson campaign to take theendorsement off the Internet earlier this week,
, Stringer’s campaign treasurer, told UnderCover,and Gerson complied.Asked about Stringer on Wednesday, Gerson fumbled,saying, “We were not claiming it before we had it.” Hethen deferred questions to spokesperson
George Arzt
, whowas surprised to hear that Gerson had posted the supposedendorsement on his Web site. Later, Arzt said, “That was amistake, but Stringer understands.”And it appears that Stringer does understand, as henow plans to endorse Gerson Thursday afternoon atIndependence Plaza. Councilmember
Jessica Lappin
willbe on hand as well to endorse Gerson.A press release announcing Stringer’s support says, “Thesurge in support for Gerson comes on the heels of Mayor
Ed Koch
’s endorsement last week.” That was the first we’dheard of Koch’s endorsement — or the surge of support.
This summer has been a disorienting one for
Bhupendra“Bobby” Patel
, who used to run the newsstand at Fultonand Gold Sts.The construction of DeLury Square Park forced Patelto move, and the city found another space for him onMurray St. near Broadway. Patel misses the SouthbridgeTowers seniors who stopped by every day for their lotterytickets and newspapers. Patel said he felt “just like partof the family” on Fulton St., and the seniors sometimescooked him meals and brought him rice pudding atChristmas.In return, Patel, 53, said he looked out for the com-munity, calling the police if he saw teenagers acting up infront of the Burger King.Patel hasn’t yet found regular customers in his newlocation, which is hidden behind scaffolding in a muchless residential neighborhood.He works 12 hours a day and said he barely managesto pull in $75, which he uses to support his wife, hisdaughter at Rutgers-Newark and his son in high school.“I am just survive, no saving nothing,” said Patel, whocame to Jersey City from India 25 years ago.The city promised Patel that he could return to FultonSt. next year once the DeLury construction is over,though some Southbridge residents oppose this, becausethey think the newsstand reduces the value of their com-mercial properties.Still, Southbridge resident
Paul Viggiano
spoke formany when he said Patel and the newsstand would bemissed if they disappeared from the neighborhood for-ever.
So much for being a good neighbor — the GoldmanSachs construction has squeezed the annual Battery ParkCity block party out of its usual block. At first, it lookedlike the Goldman work would only take up half of VeseySt. between West St. and N. End Ave., leaving the rest of the space open for traffic and the Sept. 12 block party.But a recent announcement that the Goldman workwould expand even further forced the organizers to movethe bash to Esplanade Plaza near North Cove, where thevolleyball courts are. Assuming no construction crops upthere, the block party will run from noon to 4 p.m. onSat., Sept. 12.
Because of Labor Day, the weekly Fulton Stall Marketwill not be open Sat., Sept. 5. The farmers’ market willreturn the following Saturday, but it may not last past theend of September unless more people start shopping there,the organizers say.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1-17 Transit Sam . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13 Mixed Use . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15 
. . . . . . . . . . . .18-19 
. . . . . . . . . . . .21-25 
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26 
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 27-30 Listings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .29-30 
 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31
C.B. 1
The upcoming week’s schedule of Community Board1 committee meetings is below. Unless otherwise noted,all committee meetings are held at the board office,located at 49-51 Chambers St., room 709 at 6 p.m.
The Planning and CommunityInfrastructure Committee will meet.
The Special Street Co-namingTaskforce will meet at 5:30 p.m. at 49-51 Chambers St.,room 709, and the Seaport/Civic Center Committee willmeet.
The Tribeca Committee willmeet.
The Landmarks Committeewill meet.
Derek Newman
YogaReikiYogic hypnosisCraniosacralSwedishThaiDeep tissueMeditationBreath workEmotional releaseSpiritual counseling
ten years experiencein West Village or your home
Read the Archives
downtown express 
September 4 - 10, 2009
PJ Kim
If PJ Kim wanted to do what was best forhis political career, he would not be runningfor City Council this year.As a relative newcomer to LowerManhattan’s first district — he moved herea year ago and started working Downtowntwo years before that — Kim acknowledgedthat it would make sense to grow neighbor-hood roots before running for office.But he entered the race for incumbentCouncilmember Alan Gerson’s seat becausethe rapid growth of Lower Manhattan andthe deterioration of the economy have com-bined to create an opportunity he didn’twant to miss, Kim said in an hour-long inter-view with Downtown Express last week.“We’re in an extraordinary time,” Kimsaid, citing classmates from Harvard BusinessSchool who are seeking food stamps.Kim, 30, said his background in socialservice nonprofits is what the district needs,and his cool-headed, thoughtful approachhas netted him the support of the D.C. 37public employees union and the CitizensUnion watchdog group.But Kim’s brief history in the neighbor-hood and his quiet campaign style (he hasnot issued a single press release) have ledto questions about his seriousness in thefive-way race.“This is not a test run,” Kim said lastweek. “I’m very serious about winning, andI wouldn’t have done this if I didn’t think Ihad a good chance of winning.”Kim is running on a platform of change,promising to do more outreach than Gersonand to cool Downtown’s superheatedpolitical scene, where grudges can last fordecades. However, Kim has been reluctantto criticize Gerson and did not list manyspecific examples of why the district needsa change. Kim did say Gerson’s disorganiza-tion is a problem, but he more often praisedGerson’s service to the district.“I don’t have a personal beef with him,”Kim said last week. “I like him.”If elected, Kim’s agenda includes get-ting an additional 1,000 school seats forDowntown, increasing transparency atthe Dept. of Education, improving trafficenforcement and pedestrian safety, imple-menting a bus management plan and helpingresidents who are entitled to governmentbenefits like food stamps and Medicaid butare not receiving them.That last idea comes from his work attwo nonprofits, Single Stop USA, whereKim ran dozens of centers that offer servicesto low-income families, and FoodChange,where Kim oversaw a free tax preparationprogram in the city.Before joining the nonprofit sector in2006, Kim received master’s degrees inbusiness and public administration fromHarvard University.Kim often forgoes optimistic campaignrhetoric when he discusses the issuesDowntown. On the World Trade Centerrebuilding, Kim acknowledged that the CityCouncil’s formal role is small. In the currenttower-financing dispute, Kim said he wassympathetic to developer Larry Silverstein,who is seeking loan guarantees from thePort Authority. But if the Port gives morehelp to Silverstein to build his Church St.office towers, Kim said the Port should alsoreceive more of the upside if the towerssucceed.In addition, Kim suggested includinga school in one of Silverstein’s Church St.towers, which he said would not requirea lengthy redesign because schools havebeen built in office towers before. Given theuncertainties about the need for office spaceDowntown, there should be room in thetowers for a school, Kim said.Kim does not support the Port Authority’sproposal to build shorter retail podiumsalong Church St. as placeholders for two of the towers, because he is skeptical that tow-ers would eventually rise over the podiums.He cited the example of the Port AuthorityBus Terminal, which was conceived as thebase of a tower but has remained just astump.“I wouldn’t want that kind of eyesore inLower Manhattan,” Kim said.Kim also took a measured approach onaffordable housing during his interview withDowntown Express, calling the real estatemarket “inexorable.” Kim said he wouldfocus on preserving existing affordable unitsrather than on building new ones.Kim wants to offer legal help to rent-protected tenants to put them on equalfooting with their landlords. Particularly
 Arthur Gregory
Arthur Gregory is not one to sugarcoat it.Like the other four Democratic candidatesin the City Council race, he’s for buildingmore affordable housing, but he made itclear he doesn’t think any of it should be forlow-income people.“We don’t need any more McDonald’s work-ers,” he said in an interview last week. “Weneed people for schools and we need people fordoctors’ offices and that work in hospitals —the 40 to $70,000-a-year jobs.”If elected, he said he would fight hard tomake sure current low-income people livingDowntown are able to stay, but he thinks anynew developments should include set asidesonly for moderate-income people.The World Trade Center site and the SewardPark Urban Renewal Area are two locationswhere Gregory, 55, would like to see below-market rate housing.Gregory often answers questions about the World Trade Center by stressing the importanceof rebuilding, which suggests he favors devel-oper Larry Silverstein’s approach of building asmany towers as possible now, but last week’sinterview revealed he is actually closer to thePort Authority position.Referencing the 53 friends and former bar/restaurant customers he lost on 9/11, he said“they would roll over in their graves if some-thing wasn’t built. These were Wall St. people.Money was their business.” But a little whilelater he said, “I just want the one main officetower as a showing to the world.”The Port is currently constructing theFreedom Tower (Gregory refers to it as the“Liberty Tower”), and Silverstein Propertiesis building W.T.C. Tower 4. The two par-ties remain at an impasse as Silverstein andthe mayor are pressing the Port to guaranteeenough financing to ensure that Tower 2 isconstructed now.Having seen Lower Manhattan recover fromprevious recessions and stock market crashes,Gregory suspects the real estate market will beripe soon for more W.T.C. development, butlike the Port, he doesn’t want any more subsi-dies to speed it along.Gregory said he would use his “soapbox”to try and influence the discussions. He wantsmuch of the basic plan to proceed, but hewould alter some of the uses. For instance if it were up to him, he’d cut out about 50,000square feet of the proposed mall for anotherschool and he’d put some housing in one of theChurch St. towers, presumably No. 4.He thinks the district needs about 1,000more school seats beyond what’s under con-struction now and said he would not deserveto be reelected four years from now if he didn’tmake progress. “If I didn’t get any more schoolsdown here, I’m out,” he said.Gregory has sat on Assembly SpeakerSheldon Silver’s school overcrowding taskforce. He got the idea of building a school at26 Broadway a few months ago after SportsMuseum employees came in for drinks at B4,a bar/restaurant he co-owned until recently,and told him the museum was closing. TheDept. of Education is now looking to expandits proposed school space there, but Gregorycredits Silver for turning the idea into a realpossibility.The anecdote points to Gregory’s phi-losophy on how to get things done. He oftencites his personal connections to politiciansand the fact that he has their numbers pro-grammed in his cell phone.Gregory has an unconventional way toexpand park space in Lower Manhattan:Acquire unused, low-rise Financial Districtbuildings under eminent domain, then demol-ish them to create small plazas. If the economyrebounds, it could make those buildings moreexpensive to acquire, but Gregory thinks itwill present a good opportunity because largeDowntown firms will be willing to help pay forbetter outdoor spaces for their employees.“There’s a lot of little buildings in the districtthat aren’t historic and a couple of them are in arow that someone’s warehousing,” he said.He said there are a few such buildingson Water St. and there also may be somein Chinatown, although surprisingly, Gregorydoesn’t think the neighborhood needs moreopen space.“They have more parks than anywhere,”said Gregory, who includes Greenstreets asparks. Community Board 3, which covers mostof Chinatown, is often cited as one of the mostpark-starved areas in the city.Gregory, along with his opponents, is againstthe proposed redesign of Chatham Square inChinatown, which is also opposed by C.B. 1 and3. He suspects Mayor Bloomberg has delayedimplementing the plan because of its problems.
Council Candidates: Where Do They Stand?
This week we look at PJ Kim and Arthur Gregory, two of the five candidates in the First City Council District Democratic primary Sept. 15. The district includes all of   Manhattan south of Canal St., Chinatown, Soho and parts of the Village and Lower East Side. Visit DowntownExpress.com to read our articles in last week’s issue about the other candidates in the race, Councilmember Alan Gerson, Margaret Chin and Pete Gleason. Also online are the video and audio recordings of our Aug. 17 candidates’ forum.
Downtown Express photoby Jefferson Siegel Downtown Express photoby Jefferson Siegel 
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