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News and Events
in Lower Manhattan
Volume 1, No. 6  Dec. 27, 2013
* The last days of West Street pedestrian managers
* Lawsuit tries to block Probation Dept. move to 66 John St.
*Downtown holidays: New Year's Day brunch
* Bits & Bytes: Trinity Youth Chorus offers free music education
* Calendar

Masthead photo: Hudson River sunset. (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)



A pedestrian manager on West Street at West Thames Street.
(Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)


West Street will soon become more hazardous for the thousands of pedestrians daily who cross the eight-lane highway that divides Battery Park City from the Financial District. Beginning on Jan. 1, 2014, the crossing guards who have helped pedestrians negotiate the most heavily used intersections will no longer be there as they have been since August 2010.  


The Battery Park City Authority had been paying for the crossing guards. "The BPCA's contract with the pedestrian managers ends December 31, 2013," said Kevin McCabe, a spokesman for the Authority. "Funding for these services was provided by LMDC [Lower Manhattan Development Corporation]."


When the pedestrian managers were first introduced, Sam Schwartz Engineering, which supplied the crossing guards, noted that in the previous year there had been 170 accidents on West Street south of Chambers Street.


In April 2010, the Downtown Alliance testified in front of a joint hearing of City Council's committees on Lower Manhattan Redevelopment and Transportation in favor of having the guards. "The need for appropriate crosswalk placement and enhancements along West Street is a matter of growing urgency," the Alliance said in its testimony.


New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said at the time that, "Hiring these managers has been a priority for members of the community, including parents of children who will begin school this fall at nearby PS 276."


He said that adding this level of protection for pedestrians "is essential."


Crossing guards were stationed during rush hours on Warren, Murray, Albany and West Thames Streets. The tab for three years of services was $1.2 million. 


Anthony Notaro, chair of Community Board 1's Battery Park City Committee, speculated that the pedestrian managers at these locations seemed less necessary than they had been three years ago because there is now a pedestrian crossing at Vesey Street and an underpass from Brookfield Place to the PATH station.  


He said that the West Thames Street bridge, now being designed, would also be helpful in ameliorating the dangers of West Street. But, he said, "that's probably two years away."   


"West Street, especially where the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel exits near the Battery Park underpass, is a dangerous section of the road," said Battery Park City resident and C.B. 1 member Tammy Meltzer.  "Kids and families from PS/IS 276 come from the east as well as from Battery Park City. They will be crossing Route 9A during the most dangerous times of the morning - rush hour - without any assistance.  The Battery Park City Authority and LMDC seemed to be focused on the Goldman Sachs crossings and forgot that the families south of the World Trade Center and in southern Battery Park City need the pedestrian managers to protect the smaller stakeholders in the city!"


Needed or not, these crossing guards will not be there.


- Terese Loeb Kreuzer 



Patrick Kennell, a resident of John Street and father of two young children, told city officials at a Community Board 1 meeting on Nov. 6 that locating part of the Probation Department at 66 John St. was "a bad idea." He is now party to a lawsuit attempting to block the move. (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)


Aghast and worried at the impending move of the City's adult Probation Department from its current quarters at 346 Broadway to 66 John St., Pace University, Century 21 and some John Street residents yesterday filed a suit in the Supreme Court of the State of New York to block the move.


The plaintiffs are seeking a temporary restraining order prohibiting the City from proceeding with the transfer, which was scheduled to start in January 2014, and enjoining the City from taking any further actions until environmental impact studies and the ULURP (Uniform Land Use Review Procedure) have been completed. The plaintiffs also protest the move because they say that the City's "fair share" obligations as outlined in the City charter, have not been met.  


Under the "fair share" criterion, the City must engage in an "open and systematic planning process in which communities are fully informed, early in the process, of the City's specific criteria for determining the need for a given facility and its proposed location...and the alternatives for satisfying the identified need."


The community first heard about the City having leased space at 66 John St. for its adult Probation Department at a Community Board 1 meeting on Oct. 22, 2013, when Deputy Mayor Cas Holloway casually mentioned that this was in the offing.


This provoked an immediate uproar. The adult Probation Department supervises people who have been convicted of felonies such as theft and assault, sex offenses, child abuse, domestic violence and drug dealing. Kendra's Law psychiatric offenders and people with known gang affiliations are among those seen.


Pace University joined the suit to block the move because it has dormitories housing approximately 1,900 students within a three-block radius of 66 John St., including one directly across the street.


Century 21 feared that visitors to its store would encounter Probation Dept. clientele and that this would harm its business. Residents feared for the safety of their families and worried about the impact that having the Probation Department on the block would have on parking, traffic and the residential character of the neighborhood.  


All said that they would be "irreparably harmed" if the move goes forward.


This morning, the plaintiffs appeared before Justice Martin Shulman, the emergency judge on duty, to ask for a temporary restraining order. He did not grant it. Instead, he adjourned the case to Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2014 at 9:30 a.m., 60 Centre St., Room 331, to be heard before Justice Carol Huff.


The plaintiffs were represented by the firm of Wolf Haldenstein Adler Freeman & Herz.
"The judge was persuaded not to make a ruling right now because the City represented to him on the record that no one would be moving in until January 17 at the earliest," said Patrick Kennell, a John Street resident and a party to the suit.  "That would be just staff. But the City conceded the plan is to begin receiving probationers on February 1, 2014."

Kennell said that he remained "hopeful for a positive outcome."


Late on Friday, Dec. 27, New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver added his endorsement to the lawsuit.  


"The city's plan to relocate the Department of Probation to John Street is ill-advised and will have a major impact on the surrounding neighborhoods," he said in a statement.  "With lower Manhattan continuing to be rebuilt and more and more families moving to the area, I support the lawsuit to stop the relocation of the department and urge the city to look at other alternatives."  


He cited the "tragic events of September 11, 2001 and Superstorm Sandy" and the community's valiant efforts to rebuild.  


"The decision to relocate the probation department, with no prior notice to the community, will have serious negative impacts on the quality of life in this area," he continued, "and the city should immediately reassess their plans for this relocation and consider alternative locations in consultation with the community."


- Terese Loeb Kreuzer  


Downtown holidays
Brunch aboard Classic Harbor Line's yacht, Manhattan. (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)

First, the bad news. If you were planning to go to Bill de Blasio's inauguration at City Hall on New Year's Day, the 1,000 tickets available to the public sold out within two hours of becoming available online yesterday.

Now, the good news. That leaves you free to go out for a New Year's Day brunch. Here are some suggestions.

Wall and Water at the Andaz Hotel, 75 Wall St. A special brunch on New Year's Day includes a choice of entrées such as a lobster and spinach omelet, a New York strip steak, boneless fried chicken with waffles, or smoked salmon with poached eggs. Diners get a choice of a Mimosa or Bloody Mary in addition to coffee, tea, juices and soda and a variety of desserts. They also get a free massage and make-up application and the chance to win a free night's stay at the hotel. $50 a person includes tax. Brunch will be served from 11 a.m to 3 p.m. For reservations, call (212) 699-1700.

Ulysses, 95 Pearl St. Ulysses has a Pearl Street address but it cuts all the way through to Stone Street, where the New Year's Eve action is likely to go on until the wee hours. The next day, Ulysses opens for business again at 11 a.m. (drinks only) and brings out the food at noon. An all-you-can-eat brunch (raw bar, omelets, carved meats, sweets, and more) is served until 4:30 p.m. for $25 a person. For reservations, call (212) 482-0400. For more information, click here.

Classic Harbor Line's yacht, Manhattan, can accommodate 40 passengers. It is an all-weather boat with a cozy, glass-enclosed space aft and open decks in front. The New Year's Day brunch cruise features a buffet of freshly baked bagels and pastries, fresh fruit, glazed ham, a spring mix salad, stuffed quiche, a Belgian waffle station, a smoked salmon display, and turkey sausages. There are sweets, of course, and drinks. The price of $88 a person for the 2.75 hour cruise includes a Bloody Mary or a Mimosa and non-alcoholic beverages. The boat departs at 10 a.m. from Chelsea Piers. For reservations, click here.

Hornblower Hybrid is a swanky, multi-decked yacht with enough space for dancing as well as dining. The two-hour New Year's Day brunch cruise includes a cocktail at boarding, a buffet, unlimited Mimosas and Bloody Marys and a DJ, who will keep the dance floor hopping. The price is $78.24 per person. The Hybrid departs from Pier 40 at Houston Street at 2 p.m. Boarding begins at 1 p.m. For more information or to reserve, click here.

- Terese Loeb Kreuzer

Bits & Bytes

Melissa Attebury, conductor of the Trinity Youth Chorus, leading the singers down the aisle of Trinity Church at Broadway and Wall Street during a performance of Benjamin Britten's "A Ceremony of Carols" on Dec. 26 - the opening event in Trinity Wall Street's Twelfth Night Festival. (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)

From the back of Trinity Church on the day after Christmas, a choir of angelic voices sang the opening strains of Benjamin Britten's "A Ceremony of Carols" as the singers, members of the Trinity Youth Chorus, walked slowly down the aisle.

"Hodie Christus natus est," they sang. "Today Christ is born."

The Trinity Youth Chorus was founded at Trinity Wall Street in 2007. Its members, ranging in age from 5 to 18, receive free group and individual training in voice, music theory, sight reading and performance skills.

Though the music they sing is liturgical, the chorus is non-denominational. Its members come from all five boroughs. Admission is by audition.

"We welcome all young people, regardless of their musical experience or background," said Melissa Attebury, conductor of the Trinity Youth Chorus. "We're looking for mature students with an interest in singing and the commitment to attend weekly rehearsals. The choirmaster will evaluate each student's conduct, singing ability, and reading skills. There is no preparation required for the audition."

This past fall, 20 people were selected for the Youth Chorus. There are currently a total of 60 members. Auditions will next take place from Jan. 7 to Jan. 10, by appointment.

At the present time, there are unlimited slots for children ages 11 and up. For children aged 7 to 10, there are currently 10 slots available. For the youngest children, ages 5 to 7, known as Peppercorn Choristers, there are very few spots available but Attebury said that she may add another class if there's enough interest.

"For the younger choristers (under age 10), there is a very simple audition 'meeting' just to test music ability, pitch matching, and rhythmic skills," Attebury said.  "Older students are tested on the same skills, asked to sight-read a simple hymn tune, and may also sing a favorite song (sacred or secular) if they wish."

The Youth Chorus usually rehearses once a week. "Advanced students attend twice a week, and many choristers also participate in a music theory course which we offer," said Attebury.  "The Youth Chorus also sings each Sunday morning at the 9 a.m. service at Trinity."

Attebury, who is a member of Trinity Wall Street's choir, said that she felt "privileged to work with these kids."

"I'm trained as a singer," she said, "but you don't get to have your voice forever. The best thing I can do is to try to pass that gift on. That's the only way to keep music going. You have to teach the next generation."

For more information or to make an appointment for an audition, call (212) 602-0798 or email Melissa Attebury at [email protected].

- Terese Loeb Kreuzer

CALENDAR: Week of Dec. 23

The entrance hall of the National Museum of the American Indian at 1 Bowling Green, designed by Cass Gilbert to serve as a U.S. Custom House and finished in 1907.
(Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)

Dec. 27-29: The National Museum of the American Indian is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., with free admission. It offers free films, docent-led tours of its exhibitions and tours of its premises, the Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House, designed by Cass Gilbert. The building, which was completed in 1907, is a National Historic Landmark and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. One Bowling Green. Phone: (212) 514-3700. For the museum's calendar, click here.

Dec. 27:
"The Play of Daniel," Gotham Early Music Scene. Trinity Church, Broadway at Wall Street. Time: 8 p.m. (Also, Dec. 28 and Dec. 29 at 3 p.m.) Tickets, $20-$60.

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Editor: Terese Loeb Kreuzer

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