Covering Battery Park City, Nov. 20, 2013

B.P.C.A.‘s withdrawal of support for community raises hackles:
Community Board 1’s Battery Park City Committee is not happy with the Battery Park City Authority. This year, for the first time, the authority withdrew its support for such community activities as the annual block party and the Run for Knowledge, which raises funds for three neighborhoodschools. Other community activities and groups were also defunded.

“This is ridiculous,” said Justine Cuccia, a public member of C.B. 1’s Battery Park City Committee, at the Nov. 4 meeting. She said that she understood that the New York State Inspector General had criticized the authority for funding organizations not directly related to Battery Park City, but, she said,  “The things that they’re cutting out are just not reasonable. It does have a strong impact on the community.”

Committee member Tom Goodkind agreed. “I think there was some bad funding, but I think if you get a hangnail on your toe, you shouldn’t cut the leg off, which is what happened,” he said. “It’s a dumb move and it should be reversed.”

“This is a clear shift by the authority of what it thinks is its mission,” said Ninfa Segarra, a public member of the committee and a former deputy mayor.  “They’ve decided that they don’t want to be a social service agency. If we don’t take the strong stance that we’re taking right now, they’ll feel like they’re just a real estate agency.”

“I think that part of what’s made this community so special has been the Battery Park City Authority and what they’ve done,” said Cuccia.  By pulling back, she said that the B.P.C.A. was changing the character of the community.

The Battery Park City Committee voted to affirm a resolution asking the B.P.C.A. to reconsider its actions. That resolution will go to the full C.B.1 board at its monthly meeting on Nov. 21.

Water over and under  the bridge:
By spring, the elevators servicing the bridge that crosses West St. at Chambers will have canopies in place to provide protection from precipitation. At the Battery Park City Authority’s Nov. 19 Board of Directors meeting, the B.P.C.A. authorized an expenditure of $323,000 for this work.  The contract was awarded to D’Onofrio General Contractors Corp.

The B.P.C.A. also authorized $294,000 for the “repair and retrofitting of Parks Conservancy headquarters.” This contract went to Elite Construction of New York. Part of the work will involve installing systems to replace geothermal wells, which, for some reason, failed to operate as hoped.

Gwen Dawson, senior vice president of asset management, who is in charge of construction for the B.P.C.A., wasn’t sure how much the geothermal wells had cost, but she said she would look it up.

“Those geothermal wells, was that an experiment?” Board member Martha Gallo inquired.

Dawson said that there had been a desire at the time to have the Parks headquarters be a stand-alone facility that could operate if other systems went down, and there was also a focus on “green construction.”

Unfortunately, the wells didn’t work, Dawson said.

Board member Don Capoccia wanted to know if the authority had hired a geo-tech engineer to look at the situation before trying to dig the wells.

Dawson said that an engineering firm had designed and recommended the wells based on what they knew at the time.

“Whatever we’ve spent, we’ve blown. Is that what you’re saying?” B.P.C.A. chairperson Dennis Mehiel asked Dawson.

The short answer to Mehiel’s question was, “Yes.”

“It was something that we investigated and that we pursued trying to use it and to modify it and to fix it and to add to it and at this point, there’s nothing that anyone has been able to recommend,” Dawson replied.

Downtown Express photos by Terese Loeb Kreuzer Warren Shalewitz, manager of the shop at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in Battery Park City, holding  a menorah made in Haiti from a discarded oil drum by an artisan named Evenson. Hanukkah starts at sundown on Nov. 27 and runs through Dec. 5.

Downtown Express photos by Terese Loeb Kreuzer
Warren Shalewitz, manager of the shop at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in Battery Park City, holding a menorah made in Haiti from a discarded oil drum by an artisan named Evenson. Hanukkah starts at sundown on Nov. 27 and runs through Dec. 5.

Hanukkah at the Museum of Jewish Heritage:
Hanukkah begins at sundown on Nov. 27 this year. The shop at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in Battery Park City is stocked with menorahs, dreidels, candles and presents for people of all ages.

One of the more unusual menorahs was made in Haiti by an artisan named Evenson who used a discarded 55-gallon oil drum to fashion a bush festooned with birds and flowers. “He works by the light of day using only hand tools,” said a leaflet attached to the menorah.

Warren Shalewitz, manager of the museum’s shop, said that money earned through the sale of this lovely work of art would be so important to Evenson. Haiti is the poorest country in the western hemisphere.

Evenson’s menorah costs $99. A menorah made of cork is $110, and one of stainless steel is $150. Everything in the shop is selling at a 10 percent discount through Dec. 31.

The Museum of Jewish Heritage is at 36 Battery Place.  It opens Sunday through Friday at 10 a.m. with varying closing hours. It is closed on Saturdays. For more information, go to http://www.mjhnyc.org.

Battery Park City in bloom:
Biting winds are now blowing through Battery Park City, but flowers are still blooming in South Cove and along the esplanade. Pansies in many hues emerge through the dead leaves in South Cove. On the esplanade, Japanese anemones hold out against the encroaching cold and darkness. See them  before snow enfolds them for the winter.

Downtown Express photo by Terese Loeb Kreuzer Pansies are in bloom in Battery Park City’s South Cove.

Downtown Express photo by Terese Loeb Kreuzer
Pansies are in bloom in Battery Park City’s South Cove.

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

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