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The M22 bus will keep running between Battery Park City and the Lower East Side, thanks to a last- minute reprieve from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, but Downtown will still see other bus and subway cuts.
The M.T.A. had planned to discontinue the portion of the M22 between City Hall and Battery Park City and stop all service on the route on week- ends to save about $1 million a year. But after Downtown residents and elected of\ufb01 cials protested at a public hearing earlier this month, the M.T.A. decided not to make such a drastic cut to the M22.
\u201cI am absolutely delight- ed,\u201d said Linda Belfer, chair- person of Community Board 1\u2019s B.P.C. Committee. \u201cTo stop [M22 service] was an utterly ridiculous thing.\u201d
Lower Manhattan will still see a dramatic impact from the $93 million in cuts the M.T.A. board approved Wednesday to \ufb01 ll its nearly $800 million operating bud- get shortfall. Starting later this year, the M train will no lon- ger run through Chinatown and the Financial District. And changes to other bus and subway lines \u2014 including the N/Q/R/W, M6, M8, M9, M15 and M20 \u2014 will also mean less service for Downtown.
Randy Credico, a come- dian turned drug activist, wants to give Senator Chuck Schumer a primary election challenge \u2014 something Schumer notably didn\u2019t face in his 2004 re-election.
Credico, in his \u201cmid-50s,\u201d well, \u201cearly-mid-50s,\u201d as he hedged, made his name in Las Vegas with his politi- cal impersonations in the 1980s, and appeared on the \u201cTonight Show\u201d in 1984.
\u201cI imitated Johnny Carson \u2014 and was blackballed for calling Jeane Kirkpatrick a Nazi,\u201d he recalled of his \ufb01rst and last gig on the show.
moved to New York in 1981. Starting about a dozen years ago, he transformed him- self into an activist \ufb01ghting for reform of the punitive Rockefeller Drug Laws. He had earlier met radical attor- ney William Kunstler when he was seeking legal help for his then-girlfriend, actress and singer Joey Heatherton.
Becoming friends with Kunstler, Credico went on to head the William Kunstler Fund for Racial Justice after the civil rights lawyer\u2019s death. For the past 20 years, he has lived off and on at Kunstler\u2019s Gay St. building \u2014 where the Kunstler Fund is located. He
ZONE,\u2019 P. 37
In our Spring Progress Report 2010, Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe gives an update on city parks scheduled to open later this year with \u201cplay workers,\u201d and Community Board 1 chairperson Julie Menin lays out the best ways to spend the remaining Lower Manhattan Development Corp. money, which could be as high as $300 million. Above, the Hudson River Park\u2019s Tribeca section, which the H.R.P. Trust expects to be mostly \ufb01 nished by the end of the year. For more updates on Downtown projects, see pages 15 \u2013 28.
hired guns also
work for the
Former Mets closer John Franco will be at the Downtown Little League\u2019s Opening Day festivities April 10. Franco, a former D.L.L. parent and Tribeca resident, will reunite with an old Shea Stadium companion, Mr. Met. Ms.Chin, as in CouncilmemberMargaret, is also expected as is Lower Manhattan\u2019s marching band, the TriBattery Pops. The play- ers will make their annual march from City Hall to the Battery Park City \ufb01elds at 9 a.m. and will get a chance to time their fastballs in a pitching booth. The league will also be collecting used baseball equipment.
Board 1 leaders for a few years, gave them an easy excuse not to show up at Downtown Independent Democrats\u2019 meeting Tuesday: it was the same night as C.B. 1\u2019s full board meeting.
Two years ago, Sweeney, president of the political club, accused C.B. 1 chairperson Julie Menin of orchestrating a \u201ccoup\u201d against him. He ended up staving off the leader- ship challenge from C.B.1\u2019s Pat Moore. Last year, D.I.D. splintered and some C.B. 1 leaders and others joined Lower Manhattan Democrats.
Sweeney assured us the scheduling con\ufb02ict was not a slap, and quipped it was one of the perils of being a \u201cbenevolent dictator.\u201d He said it was others in the club who picked the date and they should have checked the commu- nity board calendar.
Sweeney is stepping down as president, and this week the club nominated Jeanne Wilcke and Marc Ameruso to run for the top spot. Adam Silvera, who had been looking to run against Wilcke, stepped aside to run for V.P., and Ameruso joined the race.
Though Ameruso is a C.B. 1 member, that won\u2019t neces- sarily be a disadvantage for him in a D.I.D. election since he is often at odds with Menin.
For his part, Sweeney, a C.B. 2 member, insists there is no Board 1 vendetta, pointing out the April 22 D.I.D. elec- tion con\ufb02icts with a C.B. 2 meeting.
There is no lure like Lady Liberty for politicians who focus on stopping illegal immigration. Last week Long Island Democrat Steve Levy announced his Republican campaign for governor in Battery Park with a view of the Statue of Liberty. Levy has taken flack over the years for tough statements about illegal immigrants on Long Island. But do you remember that in 1995, another immigration crusader, California Gov.P e t e
here in Lower Manhattan in order to use the statue as a backdrop? Heck, you get points if you even remember Wilson ran for president.
The Emma Lazarus poem on the statue welcomes the world\u2019s \u201cwretched refuse\u201d and \u201chomeless\u201d people \u2013 two groups Levy and Wilson never sounded enthusiastic about letting into the country.
The new Battery Park City Library is getting all the attention these days, but what about Lower Manhattan\u2019s other library, the 21-year-old New Amsterdam Branch on Murray St.?
\u201cPeople still seem to be coming here,\u201d said Diane Chin, manager of the New Amsterdam Branch, on a rainy after- noon this week. She hasn\u2019t noticed a drop in the volume of customers or in materials checked out, though a few fami- lies stopped in to say goodbye because they would be going to the B.P.C. branch from now on.
Chin said she had visited the new B.P.C. library and was impressed by the size of the children\u2019s area. Asked what the smaller New Amsterdam Branch has that the B.P.C. Library doesn\u2019t, Chin was momentarily stumped. Then she said her branch has a popular read-aloud pro- gram for babies from birth to 18 months, and also does movie events. The B.P.C. branch doesn\u2019t offer those pro- grams \u2014 yet.
The blog BrickUnderground recently did a survey of the loudest and quietest neighborhoods in Manhattan, and surprisingly found that Downtown is one of the best places to get a good night\u2019s sleep.
Despite the frequent griping we hear about construction noise, bar noise and even ferry noise in Lower Manhattan, residents of Community Board 1 logged only 436 noise com- plaints by calling 311 in 2009. Only Midtown\u2019s Community Board 5 had fewer complaints, at 403. By comparison, resi- dents of Community Board 12, which covers Washington Heights and Inwood, made almost 15 times as many noise complaints as C.B. 1: 6,439.
Perhaps one reason C.B. 1\u2019s \ufb01 gures are so low is that residents have gotten tired of calling 311 and not seeing any results. Some noisy projects, like the World Trade Center site, are not under the city\u2019s jurisdiction so there\u2019s not much that a 311 call can do.
Don\u2019t be alarmed if you hear some growling near the Pier 17 mall food court \u2014 it\u2019s just the setup of \u201cTigers \u2014 Tracking a Legend,\u201d an interactive exhibit opening April 24.
\u201cWe\u2019re turning it into an Indian jungle, should you want a break from the urban jungle,\u201d Amore told Community Board 1 last week.
The nine-month exhibit includes high-tech features such as an electronic climbing wall and side-by-side CT scans of a tiger and a human being. Tickets are $15 for adults and $13 for children. And no \u2014 there won\u2019t be any live tigers.
The good news is that the crime rate in Battery Park City is so low that people feel secure enough to lock their bikes in the street for weeks at a time. That\u2019s also the bad news. The B.P.C. Authority\u2019s Leticia Remauro tells us with the warm weather coming, of\ufb01cials want to make sure that the neighborhood\u2019s bike racks have enough space for com- muters using \u201cpedal power.\u201d Bikes permanently anchored to racks near Gateway Plaza and other parts of the nabe will soon get notices asking them to use \u2018em or lose \u2018em. Owners will be able to recover their bikes at the Regatta, or if they wait too long, the First Precinct.
88 Fulton Street
(Corner of 33 Gold St.)
New York, NY 10038
Blotter. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 Transit Sam. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14 Progress Report. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15 - 28
EDITORIAL PAGES. . . . . . . . . . . 30 - 31 YOUTH. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .32 - 34 ARTS. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35 - 37
The upcoming week\u2019s schedule of Community Board 1 committee meetings is below. Unless otherwise noted, all committee meetings are held at the board of\ufb01ce, located at 49-51 Chambers St., room 709 at 6 p.m.
Parents found relief or anxiety in their mailboxes this week as kindergarten admis- sions letters arrived.
The relief went mostly to families who are zoned for P.S. 89, P.S. 276 and the Spruce Street School \u2014 all of whom received accep- tances.
But many families zoned for P.S. 234 were not so lucky. Tribeca\u2019s perennially over- crowded elementary school received far too many applications and used a lottery to place 67 children on a waiting list.
Jim St. Andre, who lives at 50 Murray St., a few blocks from P.S. 234, opened his letter on Wednesday to \ufb01 nd that his son was No. 61.
\u201cWe have no chance of getting in,\u201d St. Andre said Wednesday night. \u201cIt\u2019s an incred- ible amount of disappointment and frustration with the situation.\u201d
Part of St. Andre\u2019s frustration is that the Dept. of Education will not let him and other waitlisted families express a preference for their second choice. St. Andre, for example, prefers the Spruce Street School over P.S. 89 or P.S. 276 because he doesn\u2019t want his son to cross the West Side Highway at one of its busiest intersections.
Elizabeth Rose, the D.O.E.\u2019s director of portfolio planning for District 2, said Wednesday night that she understood the community board\u2019s position, but the city\u2019s pol- icy is to place waitlisted children in the nearest school with available seats, without asking for a preference. Rose said giving parents the extra choice ultimately \u201ccreates worse feelings and more anxiety,\u201d especially if the city can\u2019t honor that choice.
Rose spoke at the District 2 Community Education Council meeting, where she laid out the next steps for families zoned for P.S. 234.
Rose said that Lisa Ripperger, principal of P.S. 234, has already heard from some parents who received one of the school\u2019s 115 general education seats but are sending their children to private school. Additional seats in the school will open up as children with special needs are placed in the collaborative team teaching program or as they are admit- ted to the city\u2019s gifted and talented programs, she said.
P.S. 234 asked all families who received seats to con\ufb01 rm that they want to attend by April 9 and to register between April 12 and April 23. As the school hears of seats opening up, \u201cThey will not wait, they will not pass Go,\u201d Rose said, but the school will immedi-
Those children who are still on P.S. 234\u2019s waitlist in May will be offered alternate seats the week of May 17, Rose said. That\u2019s six weeks earlier than the D.O.E. noti\ufb01 ed parents on waitlists Downtown last year, she said.
\u201cBecause we know how anxious families are, we want to make sure everyone knows as early as they possibly can,\u201d Rose said.
The alternate offers will likely be in extra classes the city opens in P.S. 276 and the Spruce Street School and in available space at P.S. 3 in the Village. Rose said it was unlikely that seats would open up at P.S. 89.
In fact, P.S. 89 in north Battery Park City is also dealing with more applications than the school can handle: 88 for 65 general educa- tion seats. But unlike P.S. 234, which held a lottery, P.S 89 sent out acceptance letters to all the zoned students who applied. To prevent the school from being overcrowded this fall, the city also sent a second letter to the roughly 20 children who live in Gateway Plaza, offer- ing them the chance to switch to P.S. 276, the new school opening in south B.P.C.
Connie Schraft, parent coordinator at P.S. 89, said she expects many Gateway families to take the 276 offer, since they live close to 276 and wanted to be zoned there anyway.
St. Andre, the Murray St. parent, said it was unfair for the city to offer a choice to some Lower Manhattan families and not others.
\u201cAll any of us are hoping for is a reason- able, defensible, logical plan going forward that treats all residents the same way,\u201d he said.
The Dept. of Education \ufb01 red back at Manhattan Youth last week in the \ufb01 ght over classroom space for P.S. 234.
For the past two years, the D.O.E. has rent- ed two classrooms for the overcrowded P.S. 234 in Manhattan Youth\u2019s Downtown Community Center. The D.O.E.\u2019s lease on the classrooms expires this year, and the city offered to pay $48 per square foot for a renewal, a small increase over the $45 per square foot D.O.E. currently pays, Townley said. But Townley wants the city to pay $150 per square foot, because that is how much Manhattan Youth would need to build out similar space nearby, he said.
The city balked at Townley\u2019s request, and last Friday Jack Zarin-Rosenfeld, D.O.E. spokesperson, released a statement sharply critical of Townley:
\u201cWe have made Mr. Townley a top of the market offer, which is extremely fair given that there has not been one alteration to the space since the beginning of the lease,\u201d Zarin- Rosenfeld said in an e-mail to Downtown Express. \u201cUltimately, the D.O.E. wants to pay this top of the market rate so we can ensure the space continues to be used by public school students. If the owner of the space would pre- fer to use the space for \u2018fee-based programs\u2019 in order to boost his personal margins, that is his unfortunate position.\u201d
The city\u2019s offer of $48 per square foot appears fair for raw of\ufb01 ce space: The average rent for of\ufb01 ce space below Chambers St. was about $40 per square foot in the fourth quarter of 2009, according to the Downtown Alliance. But Townley said the Manhattan Youth class- rooms are not raw space \u2014 they are already built out with ventilation systems and bath- rooms and meet the D.O.E.\u2019s stringent require- ments, so they are worth a lot more, he said.
Also, while Townley acknowledged that he had not made improvements to the two class- rooms since the lease began, he said he spent about $35,000 beforehand to meet the city\u2019s classroom space codes, and he spends about $15,000 a year on security and maintenance for the rooms.
The Dept. of Education did not contradict any of Townley\u2019s numbers, including the $48 per square foot offer for the renewal.
Downtown Express incorrectly reported last week that the city had offered Townley $46 per square foot. Townley gave the slightly lower \ufb01 gure at a meeting two weeks ago, and the D.O.E. representative at the meeting did not dispute it. Downtown Express also over- estimated Manhattan Youth\u2019s annual rent take last week, because the D.O.E. does not use the 2,000 square feet of classroom space when school is not in session. The D.O.E. currently pays Manhattan Youth about $78,000 a year and is offering an increase to $83,500, Townley said. Townley is asking for about $260,000 a year, not the $300,000 reported last week.
P.S. 234, which is next-door to the Downtown Community Center in Tribeca, cur- rently uses the two rented classrooms for art and science. If the city and Manhattan Youth do not reach an agreement, the art and science teachers will wheel carts into the school\u2019s regu- lar classrooms to teach those subjects.
Without P.S. 234 using the community cen- ter classrooms, Townley said he might convert one into a technology lab and the other into active recreation space for young children. Townley said he could easily make up the $83,500 the city is offering by running other programs in the two rooms. The money could
come from a variety of sources including fees paid by the participants or from government contracts, Townley said.
Still, Townley\u2019s \ufb01 rst choice is to reach a deal with the city that would allow P.S. 234 to keep the space. Since negotiations have broken down, Townley wants an independent arbiter with a real-estate background to hear the case. But the city is not interested.
\u201cWe feel there\u2019s no need for an independent arbiter when we\u2019re making a top of the market offer for the space,\u201d Zarin-Rosenfeld said.
The Dept. of Education\u2019s Elizabeth Rose
explained the Downtown kindergarten
decision Wednesday night.
The Dept. of Education is spending $118 million to rent the former Sports Museum of America space at 26 Broadway for 30 years.
The city plans to build 650 high school seats on the \ufb01rst and second \ufb02oors of the building, opening in 2011. The D.O.E. has not decided which existing high school pro- gram will move into the space.
Downtown Express \ufb01rst reported the city\u2019s lease last week, but the D.O.E. only just disclosed the cost of renting the 106,000 square feet of space. The lease, signed last month, starts at $3.4 million a year and rises to $4.5 million by the end of the term, said Jack Zarin-Rosenfeld, D.O.E. spokesperson. Over the 30 years, the lease averages out to $37 per square foot.
The D.O.E. is already leasing another 180,000 square feet on the fourth through seventh \ufb02oors of 26 Broadway for the Greenwich Village Middle School and the Urban Assembly School of Business for Young Women. The 30-year lease for those schools cost $250 million, or about $46 per square foot.
Some parents concerned about local school overcrowding hope the city will use the new 26 Broadway space for a middle school instead. However, the D.O.E. still plans to use the space to replace high school seats recently lost at 220 W. 58th St. when the city\u2019s lease there expired.
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