Under Cover, Week of Aug. 27, 2015

The big dance  The French street artist JR recently installed a large-scale photo mural of a ballerina on a 75-foot-by-100-foot wall in Tribeca. The artwork is on the side of a residential building at 100 Franklin St.   Downtown Express photo by Tequila Minsky

The big dance
The French street artist JR recently installed a large-scale photo mural of a ballerina on a 75-foot-by-100-foot wall in Tribeca. The artwork is on the side of a residential building at 100 Franklin St. Downtown Express photo by Tequila Minsky

Chinatown fizzle
Long-suffering Knick fans of a certain age might recall Michael Ray Richardson’s famed “the ship be sinking,” when they hear the latest with the Chinatown Working Group.

The group is losing membership and even Anthony Wong, the group’s co-chairperson, acknowledged, “it’s the same thing every meeting.” 

The Chinatown organization formed seven years ago to try and give the nabe more planning clout with the city. The idea was for three community boards — namely 1,2 & 3 — to unite with community groups to develop a plan for the city to endorse, but it hasn’t worked out as hoped.

Earlier this year, the group was dealt a blow when Carl Weisbrod, chairperson of the Dept. of City Planning (who was the founding president of the Downtown Alliance),  sent a letter to Community Board 3 saying the special zoning district that the group had worked on for six years was “not feasible at this time.”

This month, Community Board 1, the group’s contact point and meeting host, withdrew.

Jan Lee, a founder of the Civic Center Residents Coalition, which left the working group last year, said, “there was no meeting of the minds” and the discussions “devolved into this just adversarial, nonsensical, oftentimes shouting at landlords.”

But Wong insists the group will continue on by supporting C.B. 3 as it moves forward with the three special zoning districts mostly within its boundaries.

He said the overall goal was still to create a community-based plan.

“I think we did a lot,” he said. “In terms of a community-based plan, I think we do have a good picture of what the community wants. But it’s really time to sort of push it forward or else the community really is going to get shut out.”

Charged Issue
Let the confusion continue.

The city’s oldest area and one of its newest share a border and a “Battery,” so any distinction between the two might always be difficult for some.

There’s the place that many continue to call Battery Park, the historic green space which the city Parks Dept. agreed to rename “The Battery” earlier this year.

The change had the strong support of Warrie Price, the park conservancy’s longtime leader, and was done in part to avoid the common confusion with Battery Park City, the residential neighborhood built late in the 20th century on landfill from construction of the original World Trade Center.

But the new name for the older park might be catching on too well. NY1 ran a segment Wednesday on the spread of unofficial costumed Disney characters from Times Square to the historic park and ID’d one person in the story as “The Battery Resident.”

We’d bet the house the resident was not a homeless person living in the park and assume she lives in Battery Park City. 

Troy Masters

Troy Masters

Master of his domain
Troy Masters, a founder of Gay City News and its predecessor, LGNY, left the publication last week to start a biweekly publication in Los Angeles.

Gay City is a sister paper of Downtown Express, where Masters was also webmaster and an occasional contributor — readers may recall his essay this year about being the victim of gay bashings as a boy in Alabama.

Paul Schindler, editor of Gay City News, wrote, “I know that he will be missed in New York, at Gay City News, and, in particular, by me for his grit and guts and his commitment to keep the LGBT press’ mission fresh and sharp.”

“Gay City News represents my life’s work,” Masters said. “As excited as I am about my new venture, Paul and I have enjoyed a privileged working relationship over the years and I will miss the productivity and brainpower.”

Masters’ new paper, The Pride L.A., will be part of Mirror Media Group, the publisher of the Santa Monica Mirror and five other community publications focused on West LA neighborhoods.

We wish him well.

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