Covering Battery Park City

The 10th Annual Battery Park City Block Party on Saturday, Sept. 17, had added significance, as it fell on the weekend following the 10th anniversary of 9/11. Downtown Express photo by Terese Loeb Kreuzer

Block Party:
The 10th Annual Battery Park City Block Party that took place on Saturday, Sept. 17 was not just another neighborhood fest. “Much like our first block party [in September 2002], it was a reminder of our strength as a community, our rebirth and our resilience,” said Rosalie Joseph, who has been one of the principal organizers of the block party since its inception.

The first block party brought residents, workers and business owners back together after the neighborhood was decimated by the World Trade Center attack next door. They embraced and helped each other. “Out of this grew our slogan, “Battery Park City, Best Small Town in the Big Apple,” said Joseph.

At the Saturday block party, Battery Park City still felt like a small town with lots of familiar faces, kids on the stage, singing and dancing, a pet parade, crafts projects for the children, local eateries selling, or in the case of SouthWest NY, giving away food, flea market tables, games and more.

On this special occasion, businesses that were in Battery Park City 10 years ago and are still there were honored as were the educators who shepherded the children in their care through that awful day 10 years ago and who are still instructing Battery Park City’s youth. Residents such as Percy Corcoran, who worked tenaciously to get Battery Park City a library and a Greenmarket, were honored.

Brookfield Properties, UNQLO, Milford Management and the Battery Park City Authority underwrote the cost of the block party. Anthony Notaro, who has co-chaired the last decade of block parties with Joseph said that, “This year was the most we ever spent because we had 22 awards to get, insurance, lots of rides, table and chair rental, advertising, printing, etc.” He estimated the cost at around $14,000.

Traditionally, the B.P.C. block party ends with renditions of “New York, New York” and “Downtown.” The stage was crammed with adults and with children from Battery Park City’s New American Youth Ballet in their pink costumes. The singing was spirited, but the moment was also poignant. Joseph and Notaro have said they will step down from chairing the block party and whether anyone else can or will take the reins is uncertain.

“Work for your community!” Joseph said to the audience, before the last song, which, unless someone steps up to take charge, might have been the last B.P.C. block party song ever.

Asphalt Green:
At the B.P.C.A. board of directors meeting on Sept. 13, Carol Tweedy, executive director of Asphalt Green, described the enticing facilities and features of the Community Center on North End Avenue that will open in November under Asphalt Green’s management.

A 25-yard, deep-water lap pool and warm water teaching and exercise pool are centerpieces. The Community Center will have swimming classes for children as young as six months, competitive swim teams and exercise classes for the elderly, said Tweedy.

There will be a Triathlon Club and adult sport leagues in basketball, soccer and volleyball for men and women.

Utilizing the Community Center’s professional kitchen, Asphalt Green will be working with Great Performances to teach about nutrition and to teach cooking skills to adults and children. Other partners will include the Church Street School of Music & Art, InShape Circus and the B.P.C. Parks Conservancy.

The B.P.C.A. is subsidizing the Community Center during the pre-opening period and for its first year. The contract, first negotiated in October 2009, was recently renegotiated to reduce the subsidy to around $500,000.

“Asphalt Green will charge a membership fee and they will charge for classes and birthday parties and a whole host of other things that will be their revenue stream,” said B.P.C.A. President Gayle Horwitz. “We do believe that there will be revenue eventually and the revenue will be shared with the Authority and Asphalt Green.”

However, B.P.C.A. chairman William Thompson, Jr. emphasized that, “This is looked at as providing services to the residents of this community and surrounding communities. We are not going to make a lot of money on this. That is not the anticipation.”

Charter memberships are currently available at reduced rates. An adult membership, which will cost $105 a month with a $199 initiation fee closer to the opening date of the facility is currently $90 with no initiation fee, for instance.

After the charter membership period, seniors can pay $94.50 a month, but other than that, there are no membership scholarships or subsidies. Memberships include access to the fitness center and member lap swims, open recreation hours in the pool and gymnasium and complimentary group and water exercise classes. However, there will be numerous programs that require additional fees.

“In the first year, we expect memberships of nearly 1,500 families,” said Tweedy. She said that she anticipates the gross revenue to be” just a little under $5 million.”

Asphalt Green’s sales office is at 211 North End Ave.

Battery Park City calendar:
Motorexpo is back this week at the World Financial Center with 20 exhibitors showing off their finest, flashiest and latest automobiles. Through Friday, Sept. 23, automotive buffs can swoon over offerings from the likes of Aston Martin, Cadillac, Jaguar, Land Rover and Mercedes-Benz, among others. Motorexpo is free and is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at 2 World Financial Center.

“Harmony on the Hudson,” the Battery Park City Parks Conservancy’s end-of-the-summer-season music bash, takes place Sunday, Sept. 25 from noon to 6 p.m. in Wagner Park, with folk music, rhythm & blues, salsa, lawn games, art activities and food for sale. Folk singer Tom Chapin, who has been part of Harmony on the Hudson since it was first staged 10 years ago, will be back to headline the event.

Soccer season:
Bill Bialosky, president of the Downtown Soccer League, had thought that the players would be testing the new artificial turf on the Battery Park City ball fields as of the weekend of Sept. 17, but as poet Robert Burns remarked, “The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men gang aft agley.” “The turf installation was at a weather-sensitive step in the procedure and it rained last week,” said Bialosky, “delaying the progress of the project. The B.P.C.A. expects that the Downtown Soccer League will be playing on the ball field by this weekend [Sept. 24]. In the interim, B.P.C.A. has allowed us to use the open field at Rockefeller Park until the ball field is ready.”

Bialosky said, “We are anxiously watching the progress and are excited about opening the field this weekend.” (Weather forecast for this week? Fifty percent chance of rain Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday.)

To comment on Battery Park City Beat or to suggest article ideas, email TereseLoeb@mac.com

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