Covering Battery Park City, Week of July 12, 2012

Mark O’Connor and his group, Hot Swing, opened this year’s River & Blues Festival in Battery Park City’s Wagner Park. A different blues group will perform every Thursday night during July. Downtown Express photos by Terese Loeb Kreuzer

BY Terese Loeb Kreuzer TERESE LOEB KREUZER  |   B.P.C.A.’s Asphalt Green update deemed inadequate:  At Community Board 1’s Battery Park City Committee meeting on July 3, Matthew Monahan, a spokesperson for the Battery Park City Authority, gave a status report on B.P.C.A. activities but neglected to mention Asphalt Green Battery Park City.

C.B. 1 public member Fran Dickson decided to bring it up.

“I’m concerned about the recreation center,” she said, alluding to the fact that it hadn’t yet opened. “We’ve been hearing it’s a permitting issue. I called the City Department of Buildings. It appears that there are six things that are outstanding objections. I wanted to find out the status of these.

Dickson added, “I’d like to know when this thing is going to open.”

Anne Fenton, special assistant to B.P.C.A. president Gayle Horwitz, replied, “This is a building within a building,” referring to the Milstein-owned Liberty Luxe and Liberty Green condominiums.

“We have a completely different architect and construction manager,” she said. “The information on [the D.O.B.] website is incorrect, and that’s one of the issues we’ve been having.”

Fenton said that every open space in a building has to be fireproofed and firestopped.

“We’re continuing to firestop, and we’re doing our sprinkler inspection,” she said, noting that the center has to tie in its standpipe to the building’s standpipe.

“While we have separate boilers,” Fenton explained, “there are points in the building where our ducts hit [condominiums’] ducts, so we have to coordinate with them. We’re working with several contractors.”

Fenton said that she could not provide a date as to when the inspections would be finished, and noted that the building wasn’t losing money.

“We’re still under budget,” she said.

Dickson countered this claim saying, “But you’re not making money on the center being open, because they’d be making money.”

Committee member Tom Goodkind proceeded to ask about Asphalt Green as well.

“Are they still going to be the people who are operating this?” he inquired.

Fenton replied in the affirmative, saying, “They’re still our partner.”

In an e-mail following the meeting, Dickson was disappointed that a date for the center’s opening hadn’t yet been publicly announced.

“There doesn’t seem to be any urgency with this project,” she said.

River & Blues: Blues lovers have a dilemma.

On July 11 and 12, the free Lowdown Hudson Blues Festival comes to the World Financial Center plaza from 6 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. with top blues performers Buddy Guy and Neko Case.

And on July 12, Shemekia Copeland, winner of DownBeat Magazine’s “Rising Star – Blues Artist” award, is giving a free concert in Wagner Park as the second installment in the Battery Park City Parks Conservancy’s annual River & Blues Festival. The concert starts at 7 p.m. and runs until 8:30 p.m., so theoretically it would be possible to hear some of both.

River & Blues has been going on for at least 15 years, according to Abby Ehrlich, the B.P.C. Parks Conservancy’s programming director. The concerts take place on Thursday nights throughout the month of July.

Blues violinist and composer Mark O’Connor and his group, Hot Swing, led off the series this year with a virtuoso performance on July 5.

O’Connor, who has won a couple of Grammy Awards and has been lauded as the Country Music Association’s Musician of the Year for six consecutive years, played affecting solo renditions of  “We Shall Overcome” and “America the Beautiful,” and was joined by his group for “Ain’t Misbehavin’,” “As Time Goes By” and other favorites.

Tamar Korn, Hot Swing’s vocalist, demonstrated her uncanny ability to imitate a trumpet and a violin. Julian Lage, 25, a child prodigy who began performing in public at age six, came on stage from the audience and borrowed a guitar to play a few songs with O’Connor and the band.

It was a hot night in more ways than one. O’Connor observed that the heat was causing the glue on his violin to begin to melt, but by the time the sun set over Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty, the air had cooled off some and fireflies danced on the esplanade as the audience wended its happy way home.

On July 19, River & Blues will feature Jim Campilongo, and on July 26, there will be a double-header with “The 13th Amendment?” — which draws from African-American spirituals — and the Eli Yamin Blues Band.

A mural by Molly Dilworth now decorates the 85-foot-long wall facing North Cove Marina that Brookfield Office Properties erected amid construction work at 2 W.F.C.

Artwork in and around W.F.C.:
Construction at 2 World Financial Center, which will continue for the next two years, has not staunched the stream of free arts programs produced by Brookfield Office Properties.

In fact, the construction gave Brookfield an opportunity to commission a young artist, Molly Dilworth, to paint a mural on the 85-foot-long wall across from North Cove Marina. The site-specific commission, called “36°30,” went up at the end of June and will be there for several months. The name of the piece refers to the Mason-Dixon Line that divides the north from the south. Dilworth said that she was thinking about global trade when she created the mural and was also influenced by the African Burial Ground and by the quilt patterns used as signals on the Underground Railroad.

The art wall will be redecorated once later this year and two or three times in 2013. “For as long as the wall is up, we will have artwork there,” according to Debra Simon, who runs Brookfield’s arts programs in North America. Brookfield’s U.S. arts programs are in 19 venues — three of which are in Lower Manhattan at the W.F.C., One New York Plaza and One Liberty Plaza.

“We run the largest privately funded arts program in the country,” said Simon, noting that Brookfield’s arts department will be celebrating its 25th anniversary next year. “We have recorded over 10,000 performances and exhibitions to millions of spectators.”

The annual budget for arts programming at the W.F.C. is more than a million dollars and is underwritten by Brookfield, Bank of America and American Express, she said.

“We want to build a strong sense of community in the markets in which we operate,” explained Simon. “We see this as an opportunity to have artists and new audiences meet each other.”

For information on upcoming programs at the W.F.C., visit 

City to calm B.P.C. traffic with new signals: By the summer’s end, it should be safer to cross Murray Street between West Street and North End Avenue than it has been.

The NYC Department of Transportation is about to install a traffic light at North End Avenue and Murray Street. At the same time, the Battery Park City Authority is reconstructing Murray Street from West Street to North End Avenue with a new concrete roadbed, an asphalt top and a reinforced bus pad.

A traffic signal, meanwhile, will be placed between the ball fields and Goldman Sachs alley to help regulate traffic. According to B.P.C.A. spokesman Matthew Monahan, the work should be finished and in service before Labor Day, barring any unforeseen snags.

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