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Mercy Corps departs:
Mercy Corps’ Action Center to End World Hunger at 6 River Terrace closed on June 30. Through the end of the year, the Battery Park City Parks Conservancy will use the 4,000-square-foot space for programming while the Battery Park City Authority determines what else to do with it.
In February 2008, the B.P.C.A. chose Mercy Corps to create The Action Center to End World Hunger, which was given a public amenity lease for 60 years. The B.P.C.A. also pledged $1.25 million in support. Other city organizations supporting the center included The Lower Manhattan Development Corporation with a grant of $1 million, the New York City Council with $250,000, and the Mayor’s Office with $500,000. The Center also received funding from private sources.
ESI Design, a firm owned by Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg’s husband, Edwin, designed the $5.4 million space.
The Center had a staff of four full-time people and cost $500,000 a year to run, according to Mercy Corps’ Chief Development Officer Jeremy Barnicle. Mercy Corps “had a hard time generating the resources to keep it open,” he said. The Center had been hoping for “significant support from the financial services industry,” which was not forthcoming.
Mercy Corps still has a facility in Portland, Ore., which was created after the Battery Park City center using what Barnicle described as “intellectual capital” from Battery Park City.
West Thames Park lawn in limbo:
A high fence with signs that read “Danger” still surrounds the beleaguered lawn at West Thames Park, which turned to mud shortly after the park opened last Memorial Day weekend. Even though the replanted sod may knit by July 22, the New York State Department of Transportation, which constructed the park, doesn’t know when the lawn will open. That depends on the B.P.C.A. and the Hudson River Park Trust working out their differences on ownership and maintenance.
“Are you anywhere near agreementon this?” asked Linda Belfer, chair of Community Board 1’s Battery Park City Committee at the committee’s meeting on July 5.
“I can tell you that there have been discussions and I can give you more details,” Anne Fenton, spokesperson for the Battery Park City Authority replied. However, David Katz, who handles press relations for the Hudson River Park Trust, which owns the park, said in a phone call on July 8, “At this point we are unaware of any agreements beyond the understandings that are already in place. The agreement that was in place before the refurbishment was that the Battery Park City Authority was responsible for the upkeep and maintenance. We’ve not been contacted by any agency or organization. The only people that have contacted us about that agreement have been the media.”
In an email on July 11, Fenton, assistant to B.P.C.A. president Gayle Horwitz, clarified. “B.P.C.A. met with H.R.P.T. on Friday [July 8] to discuss West Thames Park,” she wrote. “We are currently working together to draft an agreement regarding ownership and maintenance of the park.”
Once the lawn reopens, there may be new rules for using it. “Some of us observed when the field opened that there were adults commandeering it,” said B.P.C. Committee co-chair Jeff Galloway. Anthony Notaro, who served on the committee’s Working Group for West Thames Park said the intent was always that the field be used for active recreation, but what the group had in mind was small kids and Little Leaguers with no adults permitted except for “families with a few kids, throwing a ball around.”
If new rules are developed, the question of who would enforce them remains. “Presently, the park belongs to Hudson River Park Trust, therefore it does not fall under the jurisdiction of B.P.C.A. Parks Enforcement Patrol officers,” said B.P.C.A. spokesperson Leticia Remauro in an email.
Boomerang Toys seeks reprieve from Brookfield:
Karen and John “Ginger” Barwick opened Boomerang Toys at 2 World Financial Center in October 2006. The only toy store in the neighborhood, from the beginning, it was a hit. But because of Brookfield Properties’ construction plans, the store will close on Sept. 30. The Barwicks (who live in Battery Park City) would like to remain in the World Financial Center, either in temporary space through the Christmas/New Year holiday (a busy time for toy stores) or in more permanent space until Brookfield finishes construction and the store could find a new home in the reconfigured World Financial Center. But Brookfield is telling the Barwicks that there’s no room. “So far they have said they would get back to me if they could find temporary space,” Karen Barwick said. “As far as permanent space goes, they said that they would talk about what would be available when the construction is finished — at some point — but we haven’t had that conversation.”
To encourage Brookfield to find a space for the store, the Barwicks are asking customers to sign an online petition at www.ipetitions.com/petition/boomerangtoyswfc, that states, “Both residents and employees of the Battery Park City neighborhood that Boomerang Toys services feel that it is an essential piece of the community. To this end we are very sad to see it closing down. This is an amenity that this neighborhood cannot afford to lose.”
River & Blues:
The popular River & Blues concert series is back in Wagner Park every Thursday for the month of July. Despite some rain preceding the concert, Adam Levy & the Mint Imperials with Bill Sims, Jr. drew a sizable and appreciative crowd at the opening event on July 7. Next up, Valerie June from rural west Tennessee and Irving Louis Lattin from Chicago will play on July 14. The backdrop is New York harbor with ferries coming and going and the sun setting over Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty.
The free concerts start at 7 p.m.