Battery Park City, Sept. 19, 2012

West Thames Street pedestrian bridge:  At the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation board meeting on Thurs., Sept. 13, a pedestrian bridge over West Street at West Thames inched closer to becoming a reality. Local stakeholders have been talking about a bridge at that location for years. In 2009, SHoP Architects drew up plans for the structure.  The sticky question of where the bridge would land on the east and west sides of the highway was negotiated.  That same year, Community Board 1 sent a request to the city Office of Management and Budget to fund the project, which at the time was estimated at $21 million. When the request was denied, the Battery Park City Authority said it was willing and able to kick in $7 million for the bridge in hopes of making the package more palatable to the O.M.B.

The cost of the bridge has gone up from approximately $27 million to $30 million in the intervening years. The cost increase is due in part to revised designs that would cover and illuminate the bridge.

The L.M.D.C. authorized $20 million for the bridge in 2010. The city and state have agreed that additional funds designated for B.P.C. infrastructure should go toward the bridge, subject to the Battery Park City Authority’s board of directors approval. The next board meeting is scheduled for Sept. 25.

At its Sept. 13 board meeting, the L.M.D.C. credited New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver with playing a key role in bringing the parties together to make the bridge possible. “A pedestrian bridge over West Thames Street has long been a top priority of mine,” Silver said in a statement. “I am thrilled that all parties involved are fully committed to moving forward with the high-quality, all-weather bridge that our community sought. When this bridge is built, residents of Battery Park City, as well as students, faculty and parents of P.S. 276, will have a safe and reliable way of crossing West Street.”

When the bridge was being discussed in 2010, prior to the opening of the Battery Park City school (P.S. 276), Sam Schwartz Engineering projected that 1,342 people an hour would cross West Street at West Thames Street during peak morning hours — including 648 people en route to the elementary school. At that time, without a bridge at West Thames Street, the L.M.D.C. authorized money for the deployment of pedestrian managers at that crossing and along West Street.

Since it will take several years to build the bridge, even with approvals and funding, the L.M.D.C. authorized an additional $910,000 to extend the contract for pedestrian managers on West Street through fall 2013. The specially trained managers will continue working from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays at the intersections of Warren Street, Murray Street, Albany Street, West Thames Street and Morris Street.

[/media-credit] The last pieces of more than 400 tons of steel were recently installed in the two basket capitals that will support the glass pavilion of the new front entrance to the World Financial Center.

Pavilion construction at World Financial Center:
Though much of the construction at 2 World Financial Center is occurring behind opaque barriers, there is visible progress on the pavilion, which will cap the western end of the underground passageway linking Battery Park City with the World Trade Center transit hubs. The 55-foot-tall basket capitals that will support the glass pavilion are almost finished. The last of 400 tons of steel for the capitals were recently welded into place.

The structures were built in Canada and shipped to Manhattan in 10 pieces.

The pavilion is scheduled to open in the fall of 2013, along with a dining terrace and food marketplace on the southern corridor of 2 World Financial Center. The retail stores in that space had closed by October 2011.

Now stores on the northern side of 2 World Trade Center are beginning to close. With the exception of P.J. Clarke’s, Rite Aid, Financier and Starbucks, all retail will be closed by next spring. The new retail corridor will open in spring 2014.

Shortly after midnight on Sept. 11, 2012, retired Lt. Paul Putkowski, who formerly served with the N.Y.P.D.’s 61st Precinct in Sheepshead Bay, led a commemoration at B.P.C.’s New York City Police Memorial for the police officers who died on 9/11. Downtown Express photos by Terese Loeb Kreuzer

Midnight September 11 observance:
Shortly after midnight on Sept. 11, the Battery Park City Esplanade was almost deserted. A cold wind blew off the river. The flags of the United States, New York City and the New York Police Department fluttered over the police memorial at North Cove Marina, where the names of policemen who have died in the line of duty are incised on a granite wall.

Nearby, on South End Avenue, two men were standing, one of them in uniform. They had a large vase of red, white and blue flowers and a smaller bouquet. Policemen from the 61st precinct in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, have come to Battery Park City the evening of every 9/11 anniversary since 2001 to commemorate their fallen comrades.

In former years, more than a dozen police officers partook in the commemoration. This year, only a few showed.

Lieutenant Paul Putkowski, who had been the master of ceremonies for the observance in other years, said that he had retired and that most of the precinct’s current cops are young. “If they remember [9/11],” he said, “they were kids at the time, or teenagers.” Police officer Brendan O’Hara, who was in uniform, said that he had left the 61st Precinct and was now with the Mounted Unit. He and Putkowski had purchased the flowers themselves. “We all wear the same badge,” he said, explaining why he visited the memorial every 9/11 anniversary.

He had worked on the pile on Sept. 11 and 12, 2001 and had returned to ground zero several times after that. Though he now suffers from breathing problems, O’Hara said he would do what he did again. “It’s part of my job,” he said. “I always wanted to help people. You don’t help people by going the other way.”

Putkowski and O’Hara were joined by retired Sergeant Kevin Fitzgerald, formerly a detective in Bay Ridge. The three of them walked down to the memorial with the flowers. There, three men and a woman accompanied them down the steps of the memorial — one of whom had been a police detective. The other men had served with the U.S. Army and the Coast Guard. The woman was a school teacher.

Putkowski read aloud the names of the dead and a quotation from Teddy Roosevelt that he has read every year: “The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause.”

O’Hara placed the flowers next to the granite wall of names. Putkowski knelt briefly to straighten the bouquet. Another year had passed. The group dispersed.

To comment on Battery Park City Beat or to suggest article ideas, e-mail Terese Loeb Kreuzer at TereseLoeb10@gmail.com.

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One Response to Battery Park City, Sept. 19, 2012

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