Under Cover, Week of July 30, 2015

Al Capone  & the Seaport
What do Al Capone and Geraldo Rivera have to do with the Tin and New Market buildings? No, this isn’t the start to a bad joke, but rather what led to a moment of levity in a discussion that is anything but.

Rich Cote, of the city’s Economic Development Corporation, went before Community Board 1’s Seaport Committee at their July meeting to give an update on the removal of the cooler sections of both Seaport buildings.

Not much has changed since his last presentation, but Cote did say that they are looking for a historical preservation architect to work as a liaison between the agency and the Landmarks Preservation Commission, review the removal plan and then opine about whether the proper protections are in place in case there are any historical elements left — such as the Tin Building’s original exterior cast iron.

“They never told us that they thought there would be any tin left,” said Michael Levine, C.B 1’s planning consultant.

Cote replied, “I’m looking forward to seeing what’s behind that wall. It’s kind of like Geraldo and the safe.”

For those too young or without long memories, Rivera infamously hosted a live special that purported to find Capone’s buried treasure. For several hours, the site was evacuated — and all that was found was broken bottles. Let’s hope the preservation architect has more luck.

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Playmate cutbacks
Has the shine already rubbed off of Imagination Playground? Five years ago, the playground in the Seaport opened to much fanfare and the uttering of Bloomberg buzzwords such as “private-public partnership.”

The private bit seems to have gone first as David Rockwell — the famous architect who designed the playground at no cost — is no longer helping with funding.

At Community Board 1’s Seaport Committee meeting on Tues., July 21 — the last meeting at 49 Chambers St. before the board moves its offices to the Municipal Building — Catherine McVay Hughes, C.B. 1 chairperson, had a laundry list from neighborhood parents about what needed to be fixed at the playground: the mast and pulley system, the water faucets, the sand slide, more sand for the box and concerns about rot under much of the wooden planks.

Lawrence Mauro of the Parks Dept. said that the decking is fine but “there are issues with rot in the supports underneath” and the city would soon be doing a thorough check.

Hughes also asked if there was still a person to help facilitate play with the blocks — what we at UnderCover once dubbed professional playmates — albeit G rated. Mauro said the playground is being staffed, but “not to the level that I think anyone would like.” He has submitted for funding from the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, but wasn’t optimistic.

But word on the street, or at least in the park on the day we checked, is that folks were pretty happy with the park now. 

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