B.P.C.: Week of May 15, 2013

DSC_1073BPCFruitVendorSouthEndAveMay152013FFFFruit Wars: For most of the last six years, vendors have sold fruit from a cart parked on the northwest corner of Albany St. and South End Avenue. But on the night of May 15, the fruit stand had been replaced by a table holding a petition and a board displaying handwritten signs, many of them addressed to Abraham Merchant of Merchants Hospitality, owner of SouthWest NY restaurant, which is also on the northwest corner of Albany St. and South End Avenue.

“To our customers,” said one handwritten sign soliciting signatures for the petition. “Restaurant owners trying to move us from here. But we will be here with our lovely customers so let you know. Thank you for your support.”

“Do not worry Ms. SouthWest NY,” said another sign. “We will sell only fresh fruits, not hot food.”

Yet another sign declared, “We are 1000 percent legal here.”

Abraham Merchant thinks otherwise. In response to an inquiry, he cited Section 20-465 (a), (b), (d), (m), (n) and (q) (1) of the New York City administrative code governing fruit stands.

It says, in part, “No general vendor shall engage in any vending business on any sidewalk unless such sidewalk has at least a twelve-foot wide clear pedestrian path to be measured from the boundary of any private property to any obstructions in or on the sidewalk, or if there are no obstructions, to the curb.”

No vending cart is allowed to be within 20 feet of the entranceway to “any building, store, theatre, movie house, sports arena or other place of public assembly.”

No general vendor may vend “within twenty feet from sidewalk cafes.”

This Wednesday, on a sunny, warm afternoon, the sidewalk café at SouthWest NY was thronged with people, who did not especially seem to mind the fruit cart, which was back in its usual site. A woman pushing a baby stroller stopped to buy some blueberries and bananas. Another woman purchased some grapes.

Whether this represented a permanent ceasefire between the warring parties or a temporary halt in hostilities wasn’t clear. The fruit vendor declared that everything was fine, adding that Merchant owned the restaurant but he didn’t own the sidewalk and the street.

No tape measures were in evidence. Stay tuned.

Slow Zones for B.P.C.? At certain times of the day, pedestrians have to hustle to cross North End and South End Avenues safely. Both streets are wide and are increasingly traversed by tour buses as well as by neighborhood vehicles and taxis. South End Avenue has two traffic lights, one on Liberty St. and one on Albany St. North End Avenue has traffic lights at Vesey St.  and Murray St. Otherwise it’s a free for all.

The New York City Department of Transportation has agreed to undertake a traffic calming study for Battery Park City, but in the meantime, Councilmember Margaret Chin suggested that “Neighborhood Slow Zones” might help to increase pedestrian safety.

These zones reduce speed limits from 30 to 20 m.p.h. and add other safety measures to help change driver behavior. Gateways consisting of signs and markings at Slow Zone intersections alert drivers to the reduced speed limit. Speed bumps and other traffic calming measures are typically installed as well.

Community Board 1’s Battery Park City Committee approved a resolution last week asking for Slow Zones on South End and North End Avenues. Should the resolution be approved by the full board May 28, as expected, C.B. 1 and Councilmember Chin’s office will jointly submit an application to D.O.T. The cut-off date to apply is May 31.

If the city approves the application, the Slow Zones would be installed in 2014.


Shakes for charity:  Battery Park City’s Shake Shack in Goldman Sachs alley is raising money for charity this month. An organization called Share Our Strength has teamed up with Shake Shack to raise money to feed hungry children. According to Share Our Strength, one in five children in the United States doesn’t have enough to eat. The “No Kid Hungry” campaign connects kids in need to effective nutrition programs such as school breakfasts and summer meals and teaches low-income families to cook healthy, affordable meals.

Through May 31, anyone who donates $2 to this campaign at Shake Shack will receive a card good for a complimentary shake — valued at $5 — to be used on their next visit. One hundred percent of donations will go to No Kid Hungry.

Downtown Express photos by Terese Loeb Kreuzer The Norwegian Breakaway

Downtown Express photos by Terese Loeb Kreuzer
The Norwegian Breakaway

Norwegian Breakaway in Manhattan:  Anyone with a view of the Hudson River from Midtown South to the Battery will get an eyeful on Sundays from here out when Norwegian Cruise Line’s newest ship, Norwegian Breakaway, arrives on the morning tide and departs on the evening tide, headed for Bermuda. The ship made its debut in New York City on May 7.

Norwegian Breakaway, the length of three and a half football fields, can carry 4,000 passengers and has 1,600 in its crew. The largest ship to homeport in New York City, it’s a floating poster child for everything New York from the Peter Max paintings on its prow to its godmothers (the Rockettes) to the images projected on the two-story-tall LED screen in its lobby. No Lower Manhattanite need get homesick aboard this leviathan when there are giant pictures of the Brooklyn Bridge, the di Suvero sculpture on Broadway at Zuccotti Park, and of course, the Statue of Liberty.

For those who see the ship pass by and wonder what it’s like aboard, here’s the scoop: There are 27 restaurants, a water park with five water slides, a ropes course (the largest at sea), and three Broadway-style shows.

Norwegian Cruise Line’s C.E.O., Kevin Sheehan, said: “If you can’t provide all the bells and whistles you have in these big ships, people are going to be under-impressed.”

Downtown Express photos by Terese Loeb Kreuzer Water play area aboard the cruise ship.

Downtown Express photos by Terese Loeb Kreuzer
Water play area aboard the cruise ship.

However, one of the most impressive things for many passengers is the trip up and down the Hudson River. From an upper deck (the ship is 18 decks tall), it’s possible to see much of Manhattan, the harbor and parts of Brooklyn.

Another treat is to witness the sunrise over the sea and the moon and stars away from city lights.

Norwegian Breakaway is expected to put $35 million a year into New York City’s coffers. Welcome.

To comment on Battery Park City Beat and to suggest article ideas, email TereseLoeb10@gmail.com

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