Like us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter 

News and Events
in Lower Manhattan
Volume 1, No. 45  March 28, 2014

Quote of the day:
"Aging children out of safe bus transportation after the 2nd grade is ridiculous and places many children at risk." - Stacey Vasseur, parent of a 9-year-old student at PS 276, who has to walk to school in Battery Park City from the Financial District, crossing many busy and dangerous intersections.

* The hazards of going to and from school
* The remarkable fish of New York harbor
* Awards for the Alliance's fast-acting public safety officers
* Bits & Bytes: Drug-busters at Brookfield Place; Setai penthouse; Ferries to the Rockaways
* Update: Seaport Working Group at EDC
* Letters to the editor: The past, present and future of the South Street Seaport
* Calendar

Poppies from Emily Thompson Flowers in the South Street Seaport. March 27, 2014.
(Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)

Stacey Vasseur and Kate Godici, mothers of children at PS 276 in Battery Park City, appealing to Community Board 1 for help in persuading the Office of Pupil Transportation to let their children go to and from school on a school bus.  (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)

The school bus that takes young children between their homes in the Financial District and PS 276 in Battery Park City is nearly empty. Because of rezoning, few Financial District kids attend that school anymore. But the Office of Pupil Transportation (OPT) has repeatedly decreed that the older siblings of these youngsters may not ride the bus with them, even though there's plenty of room.

That means that twice a day, the older children -- some as young as 9 years old -- must cross  eight-lane West Street by themselves or navigate the places where vehicles zip into and out of the Hugh Carey Brooklyn Battery Tunnel. If they aren't to travel alone, a parent must accompany them to school and pick them up - and for some parents, that's not feasible because they work.

The worries and difficulties are manifest, but OPT has turned a deaf ear despite 29 submissions from parents asking for a "hazard variance." The OPT said that, "No hazards were found," according to Stacey Vasseur, who has a 9-year-old girl at PS 276.

The OPT suggested that the FiDi children walk down Broadway and then across Battery Place to get to school - a longer route than the most direct one, and one that would still require them to cross an entry point to West Street.

"All of the lower Manhattan authorities and agencies agree that our route is very dangerous," said Vasseur. She said that New York State Senator Daniel Squadron and Mary Cooley, his district office director, were "working on a course of action to get our children on the existing school bus until a permanent, long-term solution can be found. They are exploring the options working around the denial of the hazard variance, but they are not sure if they will be successful."

On Feb. 20, City Councilmember Margaret Chin wrote a letter to Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña, describing concerns over "fast-moving traffic and the large volume of construction in the area," and asking her to review the safety situation and reconsider the OPT's decision to reject the school bus application for older siblings of the kids who are eligible to ride the bus. So far, this letter has not produced results.

On March 25, at its full-board meeting, Community Board 1 added its voice to the pleas. "CB1 urges the OPT to allow pupils of all ages who live east of Broadway and more than half a mile away from PS 276 to ride the school bus until the hazardous walking conditions are eliminated," said a resolution that passed unanimously. "In addition, CB1 urges all responsible agencies to work together and place crossing guards in front of the school and at the West Side Highway and West Thames Street intersection."

Ironically, at the same time that the PS276 parents are waging a fight to get their children on a nearly empty school bus, the city has embarked on a program to reduce traffic injuries and fatalities called "Vision Zero."

"Today in New York, approximately 4,000 New Yorkers are seriously injured and more than 250 are killed each year in traffic crashes," says the Vision Zero website. "Being struck by a vehicle is the leading cause of injury-related death for children under 14, and the second leading cause for seniors. On average, vehicles seriously injure or kill a New Yorker every two hours."

"We are not waiting for the Department of Transportation and OPT to decide our children's fate," said Vasseur. "We want our kids on the bus regardless of their age. Aging children out of safe bus transportation after the 2nd grade is ridiculous and places many children at risk."

- Terese Loeb Kreuzer


Battery Park City Parks Conservancy
Dr. Peter J. Park holding a model of a striped bass during his talk, "Remarkable Fishes of New York Harbor" on March 25. Park teaches biology at Nyack College and is a volunteer master angler for the Battery Park City Parks Conservancy's Marine Education Program.  (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)

Before getting to the "Remarkable Fishes of New York Harbor," the title of his talk on March 25 under the auspices of the Battery Park City Parks Conservancy, Dr. Peter J. Park had a number of other things he wanted to talk about. An assistant professor of biology at Nyack College and an avid angler, Park wished to discuss causality, the waterways that make up New York harbor, and the significance of "ecology" and "evolution" in an ichthyological context.

If you want to know what is a fish (and what isn't a fish) and how they got that way, you have to know the historical background (going way, way back) and the immediate forces at work. That's where "causality" comes in. You have to know about the glaciers and the rising and falling sea levels. You have to know how the continents drifted apart and came together and what got pushed around when they did. You have to know who eats what and whom and how this influenced evolution. And if you want to understand why New York harbor has a diverse fish population, you have to understand that this is where the Hudson River, the East River and the Atlantic Ocean meet, and that the harbor has both fresh and salt water.

More than half of the vertebrates in the world are fish, Dr. Park revealed. There are approximately 28,000 species of fish. Most marine fish live in only 2 percent of the Earth's ocean.

But that's only the beginning of what you need to know. As for those "remarkable fish," we have sea lampreys, which have no real jaws or paired fins, and which descended from the Cambrian era, 500 million years ago. And we have "voracious, ferocious bluefishes," which are open water predators and ocean sunfish, that can weigh more than 2,200 pounds. (Park described them as "a head with fins and prickly skin.") We also have tautog, called "blackfish," that can live more than 30 years. And we have northern pufferfish, that blow themselves up like balloons to scare off predators. And then there are the black sea bass. All are born female. The largest female turns into a male and becomes a keeper of the territory.

Dr. Park said that fish can learn, so that when an angler catches a very large fish, it is special because that fish is a wise, old coot that has outwitted many a hook. Fish display intelligence.

When we look out over our waterways, most people don't know, or only dimly suspect what's going on out there. There's a chance to learn more during the Battery Park City Parks Conservancy's "Go Fish" days, when BPC Parks provides fishing poles and lines and master anglers help novices to reel in some fish. They are gently placed in tanks and then tossed back into the river. 

The next "Go Fish" day will be on May 10 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Wagner Park, near where the Hudson River empties into Upper New York Bay. Then, "Go Fish" will recur in the fall, on Sept. 20, Oct. 4 and Oct. 18. Like birds, many fish migrate, and these times of the year are among the most interesting for seeing a variety of species.

- Terese Loeb Kreuzer


Downtown Alliance     

Jessica Lappin, president of the Downtown Alliance, with the award-winning public safety officers. Left to Right: Lyudmila Melnik, Christopher Olivo, Paul Lapera, Luis Soto, Sylenyn Price, Steven Maldonado, Denise Blackwell, James Page (back), Alliance for Downtown New York Chairman Robert R. Douglass, and Vice President of Operations Ron Wolfgang. (Credit: Downtown Alliance)


The doors of a No. 4 subway train closed as a woman exited, separating her from her autistic son, who was still on the train. The frantic mother was lucky. A Downtown Alliance public safety officer was nearby. The officer, Sylenya Price, notified dispatch with a description of the boy. Officers Paul Lapera and Steven Maldonado searched the area while Officer Luis Soto got on a bicycle and rode to the next station on that train, where he found a boy who fit the description of the missing child, reuniting him with his mother.    


These four Downtown Alliance public safety officers were among 10 honored on March 27 for their dedication and quick thinking this past year as they worked to keep lower Manhattan safe and to assist the public with emergencies and with more routine matters such as directions and recommendations on local attractions.   


Last March, Security Officer Antonio Fattorusso helped a woman who had been struck by a vehicle as she crossed Trinity Place at Rector Street. Fattorusso stayed with the woman until EMS workers arrived.


In April, Security Officer James Paige assisted a man who had fallen on the sidewalk in front of 65 Broadway and was bleeding heavily from his face. Paige administered first aid by applying ice to the injury and stayed until EMS workers could take the man to the hospital.  


In July, Supervisor Denise Blackwell was conducting a public safety survey when she noticed a small black box wrapped in plastic with an antenna in an outdoor telephone booth on Broadway at Wall Street. She notified dispatch, which contacted the NYPD. Several streets were closed while the NYPD responded and removed the device without incident.   


In August, Security Officer Lyudmila Melnik and Security Officer Christopher Olivo apprehended a vandal who was spraying graffiti paint on a door on Wall Street and also on the entrance to the No. 2 and No. 3 subway stations. 


There are 57 public safety officers in lower Manhattan, all employed by the Alliance for Downtown New York and under its supervision. They are unarmed but they carry walkie talkies and have a  close working relationship with the NYPD's First Precinct.


They work in shifts, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, covering the entire Business Improvement District, which stretches roughly from City Hall to the Battery and from the East River to West Street.


The officers receive general security guard training plus additional training from the Alliance's supervisors, who are retired from the NYPD.  


"They are an active presence, enhancing security and helping citizens, but also a very visible deterrent in and of themselves," said Andrew Breslau, the Alliance's vice president for communications and marketing.


- Terese Loeb Kreuzer


Bits & Bytes  

U.S. Congressman Jerrold Nadler, who represents the 10th Congressional District, will be at Gateway Plaza in Battery Park City on Saturday, March 29 from 11 a.m. to noon.
 (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)


"Drug-busting task force lands at Brookfield Place" Crain's New York Business, 3/28/14. Score
another win for Brookfield Place in Battery Park City. An elite city/state/federal drug-fighting task forces will be leasing the 19th floor at 250 Vesey St., according to Crain's New York Business. "The strike force is comprised of a partnership of federal, state and city crime-fighting organizations that was formed in 2004 by then-Attorney General John Ashcroft," Crain's explains. "Its aim is to target high-level drug trafficking organizations. The office is a who's who of law enforcement, including the DEA, NYPD, FBI, the state police, Homeland Security, the U.S. Secret Service, and the IRS, among others. A spokeswoman for the DEA said that the group is moving from its current location at 85 10th Ave. because its lease there is expiring. The New York operations of the strike force is among the largest in the nation the spokeswoman said, largely because the city is a major hub for the import of drugs from abroad and distribution along the East Coast." For the complete article, click here.

"Birkenstock Heir Wants $13M For Lavishly Renovated Setai PH,", 3/28/14. Alex Birkenstock, whose surname is familiar to sandal-wearers of a certain age, is selling his 2BR/2.5BA apartment at Broad Street's The Setai, says, "putting it on the market for $12,995,000. Shielded behind an LLC, Birkenstock bought the 30th-floor, 3,424-square foot apartment from the sponsor in 2011 for a (relatively) mere $5,867,156. But he also sunk $5 million into a massive renovation, tapping Miami-based interior designer Steve Harivel." For the complete article, with photos, click here.

Summer ferry to the Rockaways:
Yes, Virginia, there is a summer and it will probably be as hot and humid as usual in New York City. The Belle Harbor Property Owners Association hopes that sweaty lower Manhattan residents will want to visit the Rockaway peninsula this summer for a refreshing day at the beach, biking, al fresco dining or a stroll on the boardwalk. Belle Harbor, one of several communities in the Rockaways, was hard hit by Superstorm Sandy and by a fire that ravaged many of its homes. In an effort to help it recover, the city authorized a subsidized, high-speed ferry service between 108th Street on the Rockaway peninsula and Pier 11 in lower Manhattan at the foot of Wall Street. The ferry has been very popular but it is set to expire at the end of April. On March 21, the Belle Harbor Property Owners Association started a petition asking Mayor Bill de Blasio to extend the service through the summer. "An affordable weekend ferry service will promote tourism in Rockaway," they say. The ferry takes around 45 minutes each way and costs $3.50. On the Rockaway peninsula, visitors will find more than five miles of beach facing the Atlantic Ocean, the remnants of the boardwalk, and many beautiful houses, some of them more than a century old. "On our block, nobody left," said Hank Iori, president of the Belle Harbor Property Owners Association. "This is the place where we want to be. This is home." So far, the petition for the ferry has garnered more than 1.500 signatures. To sign the petition, click here.

"ABC News Hires Ray Kelly, Former New York City Police Commissioner," New York Times, 3/28/14. No longer on the front lines of New York City police enforcement work, Ray Kelly gets to sit back, watch and say what he thinks. "ABC News announced Friday that it had hired the former New York City police commissioner, Raymond W. Kelly, as a consultant and expert commentator on law enforcement issues," says The New York Times. "He is expected to appear on all ABC News programs." Several news organizations vied for Kelly, The Times reported. "A 43-year veteran of the New York Police Department, he was the longest-serving police commissioner in the history of the city, having served two separate terms under different mayors, David Dinkins and Michael Bloomberg. He was a familiar face on television, both locally and nationally, during numerous crime and terrorism incidents." For the complete article, click here.

Meet your Congressman: U.S. Congressman Jerrold Nadler will be at the entrance to Gateway Plaza on Saturday, March 29 from 11 a.m. to noon, to talk with constituents. He is the ranking Democratic member of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet. This subcommittee has jurisdiction over copyright, patent, and trademark laws, as well as regulation of information technology, administration of U.S. Courts, federal rules of evidence, civil and appellate procedure, and judicial ethics. The subcommittee has begun the first comprehensive review of the nation's copyright laws since 1976.

In addition to this work, among other things, Nadler has espoused raising the minimum wage to at least $10.10 an hour and investing in job creation and training programs. He has been a strong proponent of equal rights and protections for women. For more about Congressman Nadler and his positions on various issues affecting the 10th Congressional District and the country, click here.


Looking down Beekman Street in the South Street Seaport toward the 76-story apartment tower at 8 Spruce St., designed by Frank Gehry. (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)
The statement emanating from the New York City Economic Development Corporation, landlord for much of the South Street Seaport, on the fifth meeting of the Seaport Working Group, was brief. The meeting took place on March 27 in EDC's offices.

"Members of the Seaport Working Group met yesterday and received a presentation from the Alliance for Downtown NY on recent Lower Manhattan development," said spokesperson Kate Blumm. "They also discussed priority focus areas for the meetings ahead, which will allow them to begin drafting principles for revitalizing the Seaport area."

The Alliance for Downtown NY manages the Downtown-Lower Manhattan Business Improvement District (BID), serving an area roughly from City Hall to the Battery and from the East River to West Street. It provides supplemental security and sanitation, a free bus service in lower Manhattan, streetscape and design services, economic development advocacy, comprehensive research about lower Manhattan, marketing and communication services, and special event programming.

At a Town Hall meeting about the future of the South Street Seaport on Jan. 13, 2014, Andrew Breslau, speaking for the Downtown Alliance, enthusiastically endorsed The Howard Hughes Corporation's development plans for the Seaport.

The Howard Hughes Corporation, a Dallas-based developer, has a long-term lease on much of the Seaport and is seeking to expand its holdings. It has proposed, among other things, the building of a 50-story hotel/apartment tower on a site currently occupied by the New Market building, part of the old Fulton Fish Market.

In January, Breslau said that the Alliance was "excited by Howard Hughes' transformation of Pier 17," which it is currently rebuilding. He cited the open space on the roof and the pier and the new retail space, which he said promised to add exciting destination stores, restaurants and shops to the neighborhood.


"Howard Hughes' interim program on the site has been excellent and represents an encouraging sign that they understand both the needs of the community and the vast potential of the area," he said at the time. 


He acknowledged that Howard Hughes' plans for the reconstruction of the landmarked Tin Building and the addition of a marina and 50-story hotel and apartment tower had "clearly sparked some concerns."  


At the January meeting, he said that "the Alliance takes no position on the specific design and density details of this part of Howard Hughes' proposal but we do want to affirm and recognize the integrity of their proposal's underlying logic. In the present fiscal environment, the rehabilitation of the pier, the necessary infrastructure improvements to the waterfront and the Tin Building and the future of the Seaport Museum all have an intertwined destiny for the economic viability of the entire site. ...The cost of rebuilding the infrastructure around the Seaport is simply one, in our estimation, the City will not undertake. It is incumbent on all of us to work creatively and constructively with Howard Hughes to bring about the kind of investment and the kind of visionary project that best benefits both New York's interests and the company's bottom line. A fully realized project will provide a significant economic boost to all of lower Manhattan and the city, catalyze interest in the area and stimulate business for the scores of small, independent businesses around the whole neighborhood."


Whether that is still the Downtown Alliance's position on the Howard Hughes plans is unknown. 


The next meeting of the Seaport Working Group will take place on Thursday, April 3, at a location to be determined.

The Seaport Working Group is made up of elected officials, community stakeholders, Community Board 1 members and representatives of The Howard Hughes Corporation and the New York City Economic Development Corp.
No reporters are present for its meetings and committee members are not allowed to reveal what is said.

The recommendations of the Seaport Working Group will be advisory and non-binding.

- Terese Loeb Kreuzer 

Letters to the editor
The Howard Hughes Corporation is looking into the feasibility of demolishing the Sciame building at 80 South St. (on the left side of this photo) and replacing it with a 1,000-foot-tall apartment tower.  (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)
To the editor:
(Re: "Howard Hughes Corp. may erect tower at 80 South St.," Downtown Post NYC, 3/26/14) The proposed acquisition of 80 South Street, announced March 26th by The Howard Hughes Corporation (HHC), would enable it to build a 1,000-foot-high residential tower adjacent to the South Street Seaport Historic District. This would represent an exciting addition to the vitality of Lower Manhattan and falls within its current zoning. It also provides a great opportunity for the City of New York to rethink the mixed-use tower that HHC has proposed to build over the historic site of the Fulton Fish Market. The Fulton Fish Market is an irreplaceable national landmark, and the community has made it clear that the proposed mixed-use tower would also fundamentally compromise the historic neighborhood around it.
The South Street Seaport District is the last remnant of New York City's maritime heritage. We now have a one-time chance to develop and program this asset in a manner that is worthy and reflective of its heritage and of its unparalleled location on the waterfront. Iconic structures should be left intact, particularly the two Fulton Fish Market sheds; and the neighborhood should thrive with small-business activity, community access, and a focus on food, consistent with the Seaport's longstanding role as the city's original wholesale and retail Market District. The spirit of the Seaport and the Market should be sustained and enhanced, rather than replaced by out-of-character development.

Robert LaValva
President of New Amsterdam Market
To the editor:

(Re: "Seaport Talk: Seaport Working Group and Seaport Charrette," Downtown Post NYC, 3/24/14) The South Street Seaport Historic District exists today, thanks to some committed individuals who recognized its local and national importance and fought to save it for all of us - the 'public'.


The problem with this gift is that the amorphous public, with no assured structure in place to protect its interests, was left with everyone and no one to take care of the area - not a very good approach in good times and definitely bad in challenging ones.


The result over time: private developers with shareholder interests as their driving force and money as clout, came to the Seaport area with a mindset and an agenda that viewed the Seaport as an economic opportunity first and foremost. And this agenda melded with the aims of city-designated officials charged with forging public-private relationships to raise money for a city being stretched thin for competing resources.


While the aims of the developers and city officials may have aligned, with regard to the Seaport historic district, they missed the mark entirely.


The Seaport area is not a privately owned area, and it is not throwaway space. It is public space with a special historic significance beyond the bounds of our city.


Individuals, stepping from the same mold as the original advocates for the Seaport, have been uniting to put the 'public' back into this public space and to insure their rightful place in any discussions concerning the Seaport's future.


At the charrette at Pace University on March 22, Susan Silberberg, an urban designer and planner, spoke on 'place' making, and the use of design to assist in imagining and developing public places. She mentioned how, up until recently, corporate interests have controlled much of public place making.


Ms. Silberberg used examples throughout the United States to illustrate that it didn't have to be this way. Committed individuals created a thriving public market in Detroit; others turned a neglected median into a peaceful gathering place, and still others used quarters, lawn chairs and a grass mat to turn an empty parking spot into a temporary rest spot.


We don't have to look far to come up with our own examples - The Seaport's own public food market - the New Amsterdam Market - being a perfect one.


As for the question: The South Street Seaport Historic area - who does it belong to? It belongs to all of us; it is one of our very special public spaces. We have a right to a strong voice in its future.


J. Gorman



CALENDAR: Week of March 24
A Bible with commentaries by Rashi and Ibn Ezra was printed by Giovanni di Gara in Venice in 1568. It was among the books found in the flooded basement of the headquarters of Saddam Hussein's intelligence services when a U.S. Army team searched it on May 6, 2003. The Bible is now on display at the Museum of Jewish Heritage.
 (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)
March 29: Grammy Award-winning artist Kathy Mattea, an American country music and bluegrass performer, presents "Calling Me Home" at the Tribeca Performing Arts Center, 199 Chambers St., at 8 p.m. Tickets: $35-$55. To for more information or to buy tickets, click here.
March 30: "But Where is the Lamb?: Imagining  the Story of Abraham and Isaac," with author James Goodman at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in Battery Park City examines Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son, Isaac, at God's command, Isaac's innocent faith in his father as he follows him up a mountain to the appointed place for the sacrifice, and the last-minute intervention that spares Isaac's life. Goodman's book analyzes the story's place in today's cultures and faiths and its influence on philosophy and art. Place: 36 Battery Place. Time: 2:30 p.m. Tickets: $15; $12 (members). To buy tickets, click here
March 30:  In a series of six Sunday concerts called "Lamentatio," Trinity Wall Street presents  early Renaissance music juxtaposed with contemporary music. The fourth concert features work by Canadian composer Peter Togni, Philip Glass' Symphony No. 3 and Shostakovich's Symphony No. 14 performed by NOVUS NY with Julian Wachner conducting. Place: Trinity Church, Broadway at Wall Street. Time: 5 p.m. Tickets: $25. For more information or to buy tickets, click here. Concerts every Sunday through April 13.
Ongoing: "Discovery and Recovery: Preserving Iraqi Jewish Heritage," is at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in Battery Park City. The exhibit details the dramatic recovery of historic materials relating to the Jewish community of Iraq in a flooded basement in Saddam Hussein's intelligence headquarters, and the National Archives' ongoing work in support of U.S. government efforts to preserve these materials. Through May 18, 2014. Place: 36 Battery Place. Varying hours. Museum admission fees: $12 (adults); $10 (seniors) and $7 (students). Members and children 12 and under, free. Free admission on Wednesdays from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. For more information, click here.

Ongoing: "Defining Lines: Maps from the 1700s and early 1800s" at the Fraunces Tavern
Museum. Twenty-seven maps provide a perspective on the evolving nation's place in history. A map from 1804, never before exhibited, shows the U.S. postal routes. Place: 54 Pearl St. Time: Noon to 5 p.m., daily. Admission fees: $7; $4 (seniors, students with ID, children, 6 to 8 years old. Children, 5 and under, free. Active military with ID, free. For more information, click here.
Ongoing: 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.

Downtown Post NYC is emailed Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. 
To subscribe, click here

Editor: Terese Loeb Kreuzer

We welcome comments, questions and letters to the editor. Send them to

To advertise, email

Previous issues of Downtown Post NYC are archived at

All articles and photographs in Downtown Post NYC are copyrighted and
may not be reprinted or republished without written permission.
© 2014