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BY JANEL BLADOW | Cards and dice… The Casino Fundraiser starts at 6 p.m. Thurs., May 31. Entry is $50 per person to a poker or blackjack tournament. The grand prize for winners of each tournament is a choice of a box of cigars, a Dupont lighter or $150 store credit (usable for cigars and merchandise or toward membership purchase). R.S.V.P. isn’t required but is appreciated. The benefit is honoring NYPD Sergeant Bruno Orench, a loyal friend and supporter of the shop who recently passed away, and his family. Sgt. Orench’s wife is battling cancer.
Mail Moves… We longtime Seaport residents will miss strolling around the corner to our huge local U.S. Post Office to drop off a letter, mail a box or pick up a package. After more than a half-decade, the post office at One Peck Slip will shut its doors on June 1, and construction will begin to convert the 60-year-old building into a four-story, 476-seat elementary school. The mail will go on through rain, sleet, snow and even economic storms at a smaller location — the 3,500-square-foot former Andrew’s Coffee Shop (at 114 John St.).
Things have been changing fast around the ’hood for some time, but luckily when the doors of our spanking new mail facility open on Mon., June 4, we’ll still see some familiar faces. Postal clerks Linda, Miss Griffin, Kenny and Mrs. Chambers will all be at their posts to sell us stamps or weigh our bundles.
A wheely good idea?… Recently Mayor Michael Bloomberg, city Department of Transportation commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan and top execs from Citibank announced a $41 million bicycle share program called Citi Bike, which will begin this summer. Citibank’s multi-million-dollar sponsorship rolls out 10,000 bright blue bikes that will be available at 600 docking stations around Manhattan, Brooklyn and Long Island City.
To get a free bike, you have to become a member. Membership costs each rider $9.95 per day, or $25 per month with 30 free minutes per ride or $95 per year with 45 free minutes per ride. After the first 30 minutes, the price escalates: the next 30 minutes costs $4, 60 more minutes costs $13 and 90 more minutes costs $25. After that, each additional 30 minutes costs $12.
Phew! Try doing the math: A five-hour, one-time ride, say, comes to $111.95!
We thought this was all very complicated and pricey — and anyway, what did it mean to the several private vendors now renting bikes in the Seaport? We spoke with Savas Sevil, owner of Central Park Bicycle Shop at 87 South St.
Savas started out all supportive, saying, “Competition is welcome. When we were renting in Central Park, another bike rental opened but, instead of our rentals going down, they went up. More people were seeing bikes and going for bike rides. More competition, more bikes; more bike paths and lanes [equals] a more bike-friendly city.”
But, he went on, the city already has a stake in Bike and Roll rentals. And, he said, there’s talk that one docking station will be installed directly across South Street from his shop.
Savas’s current rates beat Citi Bike’s pricing at $10 an hour, $20 for two hours and $35 all day. And unlike Citi Bike, which doesn’t have cycling accessories, Sevil’s rentals come with a helmet, a basket and a bike lock.
A Sad Tail… Many people have asked about the posters around the Seaport and Southbridge showing the beautiful face of Ice, an all-white, brown-blue-eyed Alaskan Klee Kai measuring 15 pounds who went missing in May. Alan, the dog’s owner who declined to give his last name, recounted the story: The seven-year-old dog, which he had since it was a two-month-old puppy, was being walked while the college student was in class.
The dog broke loose from his leash and bolted from the area around Southbridge Towers toward City Hall. Near there, the pup was struck by a car. A Good Samaritan scooped him up, hopped into a taxi and rushed Ice to a vet in Chelsea. They valiantly tried to save the dog, but the little guy had such severe internal bleeding it was impossible to revive him, so they put him to rest.
The band played on… On Mon., May 21, the Thompson Warehouse (at 213 Water St.) was alive with musical history. The fundraiser for our own Knickerbocker Chamber Orchestra was co-sponsored by the South Street Seaport Museum, which still had much of its now-closed exhibit marking the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the RMS Titanic on display — including the massive blow-up photo of the tip of the killer iceberg taken from the RMS Carpathia.
“The event tonight is to honor the musicians who bravely and heroically played on” as the ship sunk, according to Knickerbocker musical director and conductor Gary Fagin, a resident of Water Street.
Jerry Gallagher, the Seaport Museum’s general manager, apprised the more than 100 guests of new developments at the museum, including the opening of 16 of its 21 exhibit galleries, the repair and return of ships Ambrose and Pioneer to the waterfront as well as the continued restoration of the museum’s extensive collection of artifacts.
Maestro Fagin on standing bass then stole the show with his orchestra mates — Andy Stein and Joyce Hammann on violin and Caryl Paisner on cello. They played songs from the White Star Line Songbook, which accompanies the musical crew on every sailing. Kicking into a bouncing rendition of “Oh, You Beautiful Doll,” Fagin described the song as a big hit written in 1911.
“It would have been the Lady Gaga song of the time,” he said.