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News and Events
in Lower Manhattan
Volume 1, No. 51  April 11, 2014

Quote of the day:
"You're better off as a group than you are alone." - Alice Blank, newly appointed Community Board 1 member, about what she learned from the role playing that was part of the community board selection process.

* Four new appointments for Community Board 1
* Bits & Bytes: Cardoz quits North End Grill; Doormen get new contract; Rent protection
* Update: Seaport Working Group hears from Landmarks Preservation Commission
* Letter to the editor: Props for Governors Island
* South Street Seaport Museum's 'Spring Revival'
* Calendar

For breaking news, go to

A male mallard duck in Battery Park City's duck pond. April 10, 2014.
(Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)

Community Board 1's Battery Park City Committee. Ninfa Segarra, then a public member of the committee, is on the left. She has just been named a voting member.
 (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)

Community Board 1 welcomed four new board members yesterday: Alice Blank, Frances Curtis, Ninfa Segarra and Andrew Zelter.  They replace Mark Costello, Ruth Ohman (who will continue to serve as a public member of the community board), Paul Viggiano and Oliver Gray.

Each New York City community board is comprised of 50 people who volunteer their time and serve two-year terms. They are selected by the president of each of the city's five boroughs in consultation with the city councilmember for each district within the borough.

This year, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, instituted a new method for interviewing and selecting community board members. There were 328 new applicants and 268 renewal applicants. All were asked to participate in an interview process that included role playing and simulations. Staff members and independent community leaders evaluated the applicants for interpersonal skills, respect for the opinions of others, analytic ability, thoughtfulness in decision making, potential for leadership and problem-solving skills.

"I thought the process was absolutely excellent," said Alice Blank, an architect. "It seemed very fair that everybody had an opportunity to be considered. They asked some very keen, intelligent, challenging questions." She said that the questions dealt with finance and budget, planning and zoning and survival. "I thought that was superb," she said.

Blank said that the applicants were randomly broken up into groups of about 15 people each. The group was asked to consider a hypothetical situation where they were in a life and death crisis and had to make choices. As it turned out in Blank's group, of the 15 people, only three would have survived individually but if they collaborated, all would have survived. The object of the exercise, said Blank, was to show what it means to work as a team. "You're better off as a group than you are alone," she said.

Applicants who were not selected for the community boards were encouraged to contribute their time and skills to the borough in other ways such as serving on Business Improvement Districts and Community Education Councils.

"We are fortunate that such qualified residents are volunteering their time to serve their community," said Catherine McVay Hughes, chairperson of Community Board 1 of the new appointees.  "Serving on a Community Board involves a significant time commitment, but we have been able to make Lower Manhattan even better for everyone by working together. We know that our new members will make valuable contributions to the board and the community and we look forward to working with them.

About the new Community Board 1 members:

Alice Blank, is the principal of Alice Blank, Architect, an architectural and design studio specializing in residential and commercial work in the New York area.  Her studio is "dedicated to creative and affordable approaches in design and construction." She has worked internationally as an architect and urban planner in Egypt, mapping the Islamic sites of Cairo, and restoring internationally renowned homes designed by Le Corbusier in the Jura region of Switzerland. She has taught architecture at the Catholic University of America, landscape architecture at the University of Pennsylvania, and urban planning at Hunter College, and has served on numerous design juries both here and abroad. She holds a Masters degree in Architecture from the University of Virginia, a Bachelors degree from the University of Pennsylvania, magna cum laude, and is also a graduate of the Institute for Architecture and Urban Design.


Frances M. Curtis is Program Director for District Council 37, AFSCME, New York City's largest public employee union.  She holds an MS in Social Work from Columbia University, and a Masters in Public Administration from CUNY's Baruch University.  She is a former president of the Columbia University School of Social Work Alumni Association. "I volunteered [for CB1] because after attending a few meetings for my boss I became more acquainted with the issues and how they affect me as a resident and the members of DC 37 who work in CB1," she said. "I'm interested in all the committees and will learn about the issues through the meetings but to start, I think [I will focus on] the Seaport/Civic Center since I have lived at Southbridge Towers from the first day they opened and remember when Battery Park City was just  flat land fill and I could walk down the middle of Water Street because there wasn't much traffic!  I would also turn my attention to the Financial District because I've worked at DC 37 Headquarters located at 125 Barclay Street for 34 years and will be a link between CB1 and the Union." Curtis said that for her, the top issues to be addressed are, "Overdevelopment/poor planning, the lack of affordable housing, and the lack of basic services (schools supermarkets, open space) to accommodate all the new residents. There are at least six parking lots [down here] that now have luxury housing," she observed.
Ninfa Segarra was the last president of the New York City Board of Education. She served as president of the Board from 2000 to 2002 when it was abolished by the State of New York and Mayor Michael Bloomberg assumed jurisdiction over the city's schools. Segarra is an attorney whose political career began in The Bronx, where she grew up. She was Deputy Mayor of New York City during the administration of Rudy Giuliani with responsibility for education, health and youth issues. "I will be on the Battery Park City and Planning Committees," she says.  "I moved to Gateway Plaza in January 2002 to be part of the rebuilding. I met a group of extraordinary residents that love our 'small town.'  While I had been active, including being one of the founders of CERT (the Community Emergency Response Team), I was prompted to request membership on the community board due to a very special experience. At the end of January, I completed 10 months of cancer treatment. I was able to feel protected, cared for and supported due to my wonderful friends, neighbors and workers at Gateway. They surrounded me with love. After such an experience you reorder priorities. So I decided to apply for the community board to be on the front line of community involvement. I am grateful for the nomination by Councilmember Margaret Chin and the approval of Borough President Gale Brewer."

Andrew Zelter, the president of the Downtown Little League, did not respond to a request for information about his background and his reasons for wanting to serve on the community board. In this photo, he was greeting the players and coaches, their families and friends on April 5, the opening day of the Downtown Little League season

- Terese Loeb Kreuzer


Bits & Bytes  

Danny Meyer's North End Grill as it looked when it opened in January 2012.
 (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)

"Floyd Cardoz Exits North End Grill," New York Times, 4/11/14. "Floyd Cardoz, the executive chef at North End Grill in Battery Park City, said Friday that he was leaving the restaurant and its parent company, the Union Square Hospitality Group, where he has worked for nearly 17 years for the restaurateur Danny Meyer," The New York Times reports. Cardoz said that he will temporarily be returning to India, with the intention of eventually returning to New York City to open an Indian restaurant. Cardoz has been at North End Grill since it opened in January 2012. No replacement for him has been named. For the complete article, click here.

"32BJ doormen get new contract," Crain's New York Business, 4/11/14. A threatened strike on April 20 by New York City's residential building service workers has been forestalled. "A tentative agreement has been reached between the Realty Advisory Board and union Local 32BJ SEIU on a labor contract that will keep paying New York's 30,000 residential building service workers the highest salaries for such jobs nationwide," Crain's New York Business reports.  "The new four-year pact includes an average annual wage increase of 2.71% or approximately 11.3% over the length of the contract. That boost will take the average doorman's salary to $49,402 from $44,389 and continue a wide array of benefits like a defined-benefit pension fund and 401(k) annuities." The settlement affects approximately 30,000 workers. For the complete article, click here.

Additional rent protection for seniors: Rising rents in New York City have forced many seniors to leave apartments where they have lived for decades. The Senior Citizen Rent Increase Exemption Program (SCRIE), which provides rent subsidies for tens of thousands of people over the age of 62, has enabled some seniors living in rent-regulated housing to remain in place. Now, a bill in City Council would cover more of these seniors by extending eligibility for rent freezes to those earning up to $50,000 annually. Currently, eligibility is capped at an annual income of $29,000. The expansion would extend eligibility to an additional 24,000 senior households. Picking up on legislation first sponsored by Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh, the legislation was introduced in City Council on April 10 by City Councilmembers Margaret Chin, Julissa Ferreras, and Jumaane Williams. Landlords would receive tax abatements to cover the differential between market rents and the frozen rents. For more information about the SCRIE program, click here.

"In rare auction, Battery Park luxury condo sells for nearly $3M," The Real Deal, 4/9/14. "A 29th-floor condominium at Battery Park City's Ritz-Carlton New York Residences sold at auction for a bid of $2.96 million," The Real Deal reported. "The pre-auction marketing campaign by Sheldon Good & Company pulled 4,560 inquiries from all over the U.S. and 1,448 from international bidders, according to a news release from Sheldon Good. A total of 65 interested parties visited the property and five bidders participated in the auction of the 10 West Street residence." For the complete article, click here.

"How to Think Like the Dutch in a Post-Sandy World," New York Times, 4/9/14. Shaun Donovan, the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, first met Henk Ovink, the director of the office of Spatial Planning and Water Management for the Netherlands in December 2012 - a few weeks after the devastation caused by Superstorm Sandy. Ovink's job was "to keep the famously waterlogged country dry," says The New York Times. "As he learned about various Dutch innovations, Donovan was struck by the fact that Ovink looked at water as much in cultural as in engineering terms, which was a function of the centuries-old need of the Dutch to act together for protection. For his part, Ovink said it dawned on him during Donovan's visit that the post-Sandy turmoil in the U.S. was an opportunity. Dutch water-management experts have done such a good job of protecting their country that they rarely get to practice with water crises - whereas America was facing something monumental that as a culture it didn't yet grasp....the need to apply new thinking in the U.S. couldn't be greater, Ovink said. Climate scientists predict that by the end of the century, sea levels will rise by between one and a half and four feet. New York City could see storm surges up to 24 feet. Miami Beach could be under water." For the complete article, click here.


Community Board 1's Jan. 13, 2014 Town Hall meeting on the South Street Seaport was discussed at yesterday's meeting of the Seaport Working Group.
(Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)

Yesterday's meeting of the Seaport Working Group was held at the offices of the New York City Economic Development Corporation, landlord for much of the South Street Seaport.

"Members of the Seaport Working Group received a comprehensive presentation on the designation of the South Street Seaport Historic District from the Landmarks Preservation Commission," said EDC spokesperson, Kate Blumm. "They also began drafting urban design guidelines and principles regarding height, density, view corridors, streetscape, the public realm and other relevant topics. Additionally, the working group received a summary of the January 13 Seaport Town Hall meeting convened by Community Board 1."

The next meeting of the Seaport Working Group will take place on Thursday, April 17, at EDC's offices.

At the Jan. 13 Town Hall meeting, many in the community expressed dissatisfaction with The Howard Hughes Corporation's announced plans for the South Street Seaport, which included a proposal to build a 50-story luxury apartment/hotel tower on the present site of the New Market Building.

The Seaport Working Group was convened to help determine the Seaport's future. The group has been meeting weekly since Feb. 27. It 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. Its recommendations will be advisory and non-binding.

 - Terese Loeb Kreuzer


Letter to the editor
A woman leans against a monument that records the purchase of Governors Island on June 16, 1637 by Wouter van Twiller, Director General of New Netherlands, from Cakapeteyno and Pehiwas of the Manahatas Tribe. (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)

To the editor:
(Re: "Coming Attractions at Governors Island," DPNYC, 4/9/14) We love the island. Governors Island open every day this summer...$2 for a round-trip ferry...not bad!

Laurie Blackstone

From the editor:
We welcome letters to the editor. Email

The South Street Seaport Museum's historic sailing ships, Wavertree and Peking.
 (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)

The South Street Seaport Museum, on the ropes for more than a year because of uncorrected Superstorm Sandy damage, plans a triumphant celebration on Saturday, April 26. It will include ship tours, wood carving, sail raising, live music, local food, vendors, New York harbor souvenirs, and "living history."

The museum's interim president, Jonathan Boulware, describes the "Spring Revival" as "one in a series of steps to revitalize and grow this important institution."

The re-opening of Pier 16 will also recall and celebrate the "Street of Ships" -- the name once given to South Street because of the vessels berthed shoulder to shoulder along the waterfront, their prows extending over the bustling thoroughfare.

"Now, more than ever, the story of the formation of new York - the story of a city built on its waterways - is critical to our city," says Boulware. He calls the museum "the beating heart of the historic South Street Seaport district."

The celebration will take place rain or shine between noon and 5 p.m. with a bell-ringing ceremony and remarks at 2 p.m.

The 102-year-old barque, Peking, the 1885 schooner, Pioneer, the tugboat, W. O. Decker, and the lightship, Ambrose will be open to visitors as will the Bowne stationery and printing shops on Water Street.

"Help to celebrate and kick off a season of celebration," says Boulware in a letter addressed to "museum members, colleagues, neighbors and friends."

The South Street Seaport is the place where New York City's commerce began in the 17th century. Here, Boulware says, the museum strives to celebrate and preserve "not just maritime New York" but the history of New York itself. For more information about the South Street Seaport Museum, click here.

- Terese Loeb Kreuzer


CALENDAR: Week of April 7
An exhibit of 84 photographs called "Smile! A Photo Anthology by VII" is in the Winter Garden at Brookfield Place through May 1. (Photo: Terese Loeb Kreuzer)
April 12: Leaving from Chelsea Piers, Classic Harbor Line offers Saturday and Sunday morning brunch cruises aboard its luxury yacht, Manhattan, from now through Oct. 12. The cruise of just under three hours, usually circumnavigates Manhattan. Passengers can sit in a cozy, glass-enclosed lounge or position themselves on the outdoor decks. A buffet includes bagels and pastries, fresh fruit, glazed ham, spring mix salad, stuffed quiche, a Belgian waffle station, smoked salmon, and turkey sausages.  One beverage in included (soda, juice, coffee, tea, beer, wine, champagne, Bloody Mary or Mimosa) with additional beverages available for purchase. Cost: $88/person. To buy tickets, click here.   


April 13:  In a series of six Sunday concerts called "Lamentatio," Trinity Wall Street presents  early Renaissance music juxtaposed with contemporary music. The sixth concert features the North American premiere of "The Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ" by Gabriel Jackson performed by NOVUS NY with the Choir of Trinity Wall Street and the Choir of Merton College Oxford,  Benjamin Nicholas conducting. Place: Trinity Church, Broadway at Wall Street. Time: 5 p.m. Tickets: $25. For more information or to buy tickets, click here.

Reserve now: Bowne Printers, part of the South Street Seaport Museum, is offering a "Block Party Workshop" on Saturday, April 19, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Printer Ali Osborn will teach the basics of carving and printing linoleum blocks. Arrive with a few ideas for images and Osborn will teach how to transfer them from block to paper. At the end of the workshop, he will pull prints of everyone's blocks locked up on the museum's vintage Vandercook press. All materials are supplied. Place: 211 Water St. Fee: $50; $45 (South Street Seaport Museum members). $15 non-refundable deposit for materials due by April 12. Email or call (646) 628-2707 for reservations.

Reserve now: Celebrate Easter on April 20 with brunch and a festive, two-hour cruise around New York harbor aboard Hornblower Infinity. The cruise includes bottomless cocktails, a full breakfast buffet and an Easter egg hunt for the kids. In addition, there will be a live jazz band on board. The ample menu features breakfast selections (eggs, sausages, bacon, home fries, French toast, fruit, muffins, Danish and bagels) a carving station, roast chicken, fish, salads, desserts, coffee and tea. The cruise leaves from Pier 40 at Houston Street. Boarding begins at noon and the ship sails from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Tickets:  Adults, $78.25 with tax and fees;  seniors/military rate, starting at $70.43; children, starting at $46.95. Children, 3 and under, free. This week only, Hornblower New York is offering a 25% discount on the Easter brunch cruise. Use promo code EGG25 at checkout for the discount. To book the cruise, click here.

Ongoing: An exhibit called "Smile! A Photo Anthology by VII" is in the Winter Garden at Brookfield Place. The exhibit of 84 photographs by award-winning photojournalists was drawn from work produced over a period of 30 years in 30 different countries. Place: 220 Vesey St. Time: 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. Free. Through May 1. The public is invited to add smile photos to the exhibit by following @ArtsBrookfield on Instagram and Twitter and submitting your photo via Instagram and/or Twitter using hashtap #ShareMySmile. Also, answer in a few words, "What makes you smile?" Arts Brookfield will screen and add submissions on a rolling basis.
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.

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Editor: Terese Loeb Kreuzer

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