Delay in center opening angers Asphalt Green members

Work seems to have come to a halt at the Asphalt Green B.P.C. community center, even though a sign pointing to work permits dating back to 2010 is plastered on its future entrance. Downtown Express photo by Terese Loeb Kreuzer

BY TERESE LOEB KREUZER  |  Fed up with the delayed opening of the Asphalt Green Battery Park City community center, two Lower Manhattan mothers decided to start an online petition demanding that the center’s developer, the Battery Park City Authority, “stop the unnecessary bureaucratic delays.”

To local residents’ dismay, the B.P.C.A. hasn’t yet announced a new opening date, originally set for November 2011.

The petition, addressed to B.P.C.A. President Gayle Horwitz, was posted online the afternoon of Fri., July 27. Within a week, it garnered 245 signatures.

Tribeca resident Erika Teresko, who launched the petition with B.P.C. resident Liz McCabe, said she hopes the B.P.C.A. will have an “open discussion” with the petitioners. “Everyone is sitting around with no information,” she said.

The B.P.C.A. has attributed the delays to a lack of proper permitting from the city. “If it’s a matter of permits, let’s get [New York State Speaker] Sheldon Silver’s office involved and get this done,” Teresko said. “But there are rumors swirling around that the Battery Park City Authority is in litigation with Asphalt Green and that they don’t want them to be the ones who are running this facility.”

The B.P.C.A. didn’t respond by press time to the Downtown Express’s request for comment on the petition.

Teresko voiced her objection to the secrecy. “I just want to get this out in the open,” she said. “If there is litigation going on, what is the litigation about? If there are issues with the city, let’s get some help to contact the city and get them out here to do the inspections.”

McCabe said she frequently walks past the site of the community center, at 212 North End Ave., and recently observed construction had stopped. “If you call B.P.C.A. and ask why, there are never any answers,” she said. “If there’s something legitimate, you say what it is. When people don’t give answers, that’s when my suspicion goes up.”

McCabe attended the B.P.C.A.’s Board of Directors meeting on July 31 in the belief that Asphalt Green would be on the agenda, but it was not discussed in the public part of the session. The last hour of the meeting was in executive session for board members only. “If there is litigation involved,” she mused, “maybe it was discussed there.”

McCabe also attended Community Board 1’s July 31 full-board meeting to solicit help in finding out what’s happening with the center. She had not previously attended a community board meeting, but said that this would not be her last one. “I’m personally going to keep after this until we get some kind of answer,” she promised.

People who have signed the petition mentioned a number of reasons for doing so. “My family joined and paid money well over a year ago,” commented Bettina Teodoro. “The community deserves an honest explanation for the delay in opening.”

Another petitioner who requested anonymity believes the delays in opening the new facility “are driven by behind-the-scenes, back-room local tactics, which are frustratingly not transparent to the community and are definitely not benefiting the community at all. The fact that the delays are driven by small, entrenched special interest groups or individuals wielding power is really ridiculous given the size and purpose of the project.”

The petitioner also commented that the B.P.C.A.’s contract with Asphalt Green, which was signed by former B.P.C.A. chairman James Gill and president Jim Cavanaugh, is not to Gayle Horwitz’s liking — perhaps because of the revenue splits entailed — and that she is deliberately delaying the community center’s opening in the hope that Asphalt Green will choose to sever the contract.

McCabe, who with her family had signed up last year for a charter membership, said she had also heard that rumor. “Why make the community suffer?” she asked.

“I don’t want my money back. I want the facility opened.”

Teresko and McCabe sent the petition to the B.P.C.A. on Mon., July 30. As of Tues., Aug. 7, they hadn’t received a reply.

“To not address the petition at all after receiving it, I think is irresponsible,” Teresko said. “I just feel that everyone’s passing the buck, and no one is really providing any answers.”

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5 Responses to Delay in center opening angers Asphalt Green members

  1. clayton patterson

    I am trying to print a book, and the number of rules and regulations ands charges is ridiculous. It is anti-business. Where are Silver, Rosie Mendez, MArgaret Chin, Brian Kavanaugh, or any of the local politicians. They are willing to spend billions on elections, but we are losing jobs and opportunities by rules and regulations and stupidity that makes it impossible to be a small business.

    Out business man mayor- the one who knows all about the economy and was going to save NYC business- yet all he is doing is selling it out. The new warning about government fines came to my mail box from a BloombergExcelsior,Inc, Enterprise envelop. Like needing to spend thousands I do not have to advertize in the media. $$$$$. He is killing small business.

    "The B.P.C.A. has attributed the delays to a lack of proper permitting from the city. “If it’s a matter of permits, let’s get [New York State Speaker] Sheldon Silver’s office involved and get this done,” Teresko said. “But there are rumors swirling around that the Battery Park City Authority is in litigation with Asphalt Green and that they don’t want them to be the ones who are running this facility.”

  2. How do we get Sheldon Silver on this? How do we get rid of Horwitz? Seriously, do we have to go to Albany?

  3. I know that BPC residents are upset about the delays. But they are not the only ones. They will be hiring a lot of people to fill positions at Asphalt Green. Whoever is delaying the opening is acting in a way that is remarkably bad for the entire city considering the state of the economy. This is a chance for real and positive job creation.

    Whatever is going on, the city council and the mayor should step in and get New Yorkers working. Even if it’s not their “fault,” their inaction is bad for the people who live in the neighborhood, bad for the future employees and bad for the children who will not be participating in great programs like waterproofing (http://www.asphaltgreen.org/c-2151-Waterproofing.aspx%22%3E)

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