Battery Park City, Aug. 28, 2013

West Thames bridge
Having gotten burned at Pier A, the Battery Park City Authority has been very cautious about committing to a bridge over West Street at West Thames. The B.P.C.A. says it will advance $2 million toward the design of the bridge but that’s it until some definite specs are on the table and there’s little or no chance that the authority would be holding the bag if there were cost overruns.

Right now at Pier A, the B.P.C.A. is looking at an expanse of dirt in front of the pier at the southern end of Battery Park City where a plaza should be well on its way to being finished, but the city Comptroller’s Office won’t approve the $5 million to fund it and the New York Economic Development Corporation has washed its hands of the project.

The B.P.C.A. doesn’t want a repetition of this experience. If the E.D.C. agrees with the arrangement, it is willing to be a funding conduit for the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, which would actually be paying for the West Thames bridge.

“The benefit of this is that if we undertake this actual project, we will do so with a very recent, comprehensive design,” said B.P.C.A. chairperson Dennis Mehiel at the July 30 board of directors meeting. Previous cost estimates for the bridge had been based on ballpark 2008-2009 numbers, he said.

With a definite design, Mehiel continued, “We’ll be able to go out and contract with contractors and get real costs based on a real design rather than a conceptual rendering. The other thing is that the completion of the design phase will put us in a position to get some insight from various stakeholders and interested parties about the nature of the bridge itself.”

There has been much discussion already about how wide the bridge should be, whether it should have an elevator, whether it should be covered and other aspects of a project that will likely involve trade-offs — and might not even happen if it looks like it could turn into another Pier A-type morass.

Poets House fundraising
Poets House — a free poetry library at 10 River Terrace offering programs for adults and children, is in the midst of a fundraising campaign. If it can raise $150,000 by Aug. 31, the National Endowment for the Humanities will kick in another $50,000 to support Poets House programs.

“Each year, fewer than 20 awards are given across the country,” said Poets House executive director Lee Briccetti. “The interest from this Challenge grant will immediately support the staff position of Poets House librarian, while also investing in our future.”

Many people enjoy working in Poets House’s tranquil, sunlit reading room overlooking the Hudson River. Others come to Poets House for its art exhibits, lectures and poetry writing classes.

Through Oct. 5, Poets House is hosting an exhibit called “Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here.” Handmade books, many of them illustrated, chronicle the anguish of writers and artists who experienced a car bombing on March 5, 2007 that destroyed Al-Mutanabbi Street in Baghdad — the intellectual and artistic hub of the community. Thirty people were killed, 100, injured. The street’s bookstores, bookstalls, cafés, stationery stores, and teashops were reduced to rubble. “The deconstruction of civilization,” one poem in the exhibit called it. Another begins,

“Under Middle Eastern stars,/Fire ravages yellowed texts,/Chars centuries of thought/Bound in ancient leather./As smoke twists to the sky,/Crumbling ideas wither to ash./A bookseller blinks back tears,/Hands clasped in quiet prayer.”

The people of Battery Park City who lived through 9/11 can surely relate to that.

Poets House is open Tuesdays through Fridays from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturdays. For more information, go to www.poetshouse.org

Culinary classes at Asphalt Green
Through the summer, Asphalt Green Battery Park City cautiously dipped its toes in the water, with its gym and swimming pool in full operation, and a summer camp. Now, the fall classes are about to begin with cultural arts and culinary arts offerings as well as circus classes.

On the culinary front, there will be classes for kids and adults taught by chefs from a catering company called Great Performances. The classes include “Cooking with the Kids,” which meets on three successive Sundays, and “The Clean Plate Club,” which meets on three successive Tuesdays and Wednesdays. A “Culinary Boot Camp” is for beginning and semi-experienced home cooks, meeting on Monday evenings. There will be single classes in “Entertaining 1.o,” “Just Desserts,” “Comfort Food,” “Vegetarian Living, “Tasty Cooking for Special Diets and Allergies,” and Italian cooking.

Classes start on Sept. 9 and run through mid-December.

They vary in price, with discounts for Asphalt Green Battery Park City members. “Culinary Boot Camp,” for instance, is $360 for members and $450 for non-members. Single classes start at $115 for members.

There will be free culinary demo classes from Sept. 3 to Sept. 5. For more information, call (212) 298-2930.

Downtown Express photos by Terese Loeb Kreuzer Sixteen new palm trees have now been installed in the Winter Garden at Brookfield Place. They look a little puny compared with their predecessors, but the old trees had gotten too tall for the space.

Downtown Express photos by Terese Loeb Kreuzer
Sixteen new palm trees have now been installed in the Winter Garden at Brookfield Place. They look a little puny compared with their predecessors, but the old trees had gotten too tall for the space.

New palms
The new palm trees have been installed in the Winter Garden at Brookfield Place, and if they look puny compared with their predecessors (they do), at least they’re healthy. The old palm trees had grown too tall for the space.

Next up at Brookfield Place, will be the annual MotorExpo, rolling in between Sept. 8 and Sept. 13 with all the flashiest, fanciest new cars from BMW, Cadillac, Ford, Lincoln, Mercedes-Benz and other manufacturers. For more information, go to MotorExpo.com/NewYork.

Singing for Miramar
Miramar, the Mediterranean seafood restaurant at 21 South End Ave. overlooking South Cove, just got its liquor license and is celebrating on Thursday, Aug. 29 from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. with live music, a complimentary appetizer buffet and $5 signature cocktails. Vince Smith, of the Vince Smith Hair Experience, at 300 Rector Place, is providing the entertainment. Before he became a hairdresser, Smith was a dancer and a singer – and he’s still a terrific singer. Miramar invites party guests to stay for dinner and get a coupon good for 10 percent off on their next visit.

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

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