Seaport Report: January 2017

By Janel Bladow

It’s the quiet month, when most of us lay low after spending too much and partying way too late. We make resolutions, thinking we’ll change our ways. Hey, if we didn’t enjoy all the eating, drinking, talking and gathering we’d be hermits … and we certainly wouldn’t live in the most buzzed city in the world! (And its best neighborhood!)

Photo By Janel Bladow Members of the Brooklyn Bridge South Neighborhood Association — including, left to right, hosts Lynda Davey and Alan Schiffres, treasurer Linda Roche, member Loretta White, spokesman Bryan Jung, president Una Perkins, secretary Zette Emmons, and member Vera Sung (member) — braved the snow on Saturday to meet up and reconnect.

Photo By Janel Bladow
Members of the Brooklyn Bridge South Neighborhood Association — including, left to right, hosts Lynda Davey and Alan Schiffres, treasurer Linda Roche, member Loretta White, spokesman Bryan Jung, president Una Perkins, secretary Zette Emmons, and member Vera Sung (member) — braved the snow on Saturday to meet up and reconnect.

BLOCK PARTY… A couple dozen neighbors ventured out on Saturday night (Jan. 7) to come together for a little fun and reconnecting. Many of them met the first time four years ago when Hurricane Sandy rocked, socked and nearly swept away the neighborhood. Without electricity, they cleaned out their fridges, made a few dishes, and shared a candlelit evening of communal reverie.

And a community group was born.

Saturday, more faces and food were added to the party as the Brooklyn Bridge South Neighborhood Association reconnected neighbors. And in spite of the day-into-night snowfall, the event hosted by Lynda Davey and Alan Schiffres was voted a success. Jeremy’s Ale House donated wine, beer and sodas, while 55 Market sent over a couple of casseroles, and folks again brought a variety of dishes and desserts to the potluck.

One much-discussed topic of concern was the new “Play Street” proposed for Peck Slip School. The scuttlebutt that the school plans to cover the historic cobblestones with mats to protect the children brought a lot of snickers and “you’ve got to be kidding me” jeers.

The group’s president, Southbridge Towers resident Una Perkins, was thrilled with the turn-out and looks forward to more conversation about issues facing the neighborhood.

Image via South Street Seaport Museum The South Street Seaport Museum launches its winter miniMates program for tykes 18 months through 4 years old, including story time, music, art projects and sensory play projects.

Image via South Street Seaport Museum
The South Street Seaport Museum launches its winter miniMates program for tykes 18 months through 4 years old, including story time, music, art projects and sensory play projects.

CALLING ALL WATER BABIES… The South Street Seaport Museum (SSSM) launches its winter miniMATES sessions on Mondays (9–10 a.m.) and Thursdays (10–11 a.m.) through March 9, and its brand new Open Play Mondays (10 a.m.–1 p.m.) and Wednesdays and Thursdays (2–5 p.m.). Both programs are for tykes 18 months through 4-years-old. MiniMATES includes story time, music, art projects and sensory play projects.

The new Open Play is informal play time that allows children to enjoy the museum’s large space and fun toys whenever and as long as they like during the scheduled hours. Members are given an Open Play Club Card. But not to worry, drop-in-visit rates are also available. But this isn’t a drop-off babysitter service! Caregivers must come and stay with the children.

Since the program first began, response has been great and the tots are enjoying their time at the museum, according to SSSM. With this being relatively new, an average of five to six kids participate in each session, but the museum hopes to see more little ones join the fun.

“Children and parents come back to the miniMATES space each week, excited to start another session,” says Elena Pepe-Salutric, the Early Childhood Coordinator and Educator.

For rates and registration, visit southstreetseaportmuseum.org/education/minimates.

NEXT WESTERN…  The Seaport Best Western is closed indefinitely “to refurbish.” But the real story — according to the scuttlebutt — is that the hotel went into bankruptcy and closed its doors on New Year’s Day. Cipriani restaurant group looked at the location but Howard Hughes Corporation is rumored to have swooped in and snatched up the building at auction. Word is the two corporate entertainment giants may be in talks — with Cipriani taking over the lobby level for a new dining experience. We’ll keep readers posted.

AFFECTING CHANGE… Our tiny neighborhood has more community organizations than M&Ms has peanuts.  Save Our Seaport (SOS), one of the first to align with neighborhood preservation back in 2010, called a meeting Tuesday night (Jan. 10) at Southbridge Towers because “The City’s handover of the Seaport continues … unless we stop it.”

About 15 Seaport loyalists attended to discuss old news and new — everything from the South Street Seaport Museum’s longevity to SOS membership, new bylaws, and the recent posting (and prompt removal) of “Rules and Guidelines” notices around Fulton and Front Sts. In case you missed them, black placards were bolted to the black bollards blocking road traffic. The rules — to be enforced by Seaport District Management (AKA Howard Hughes Corp.) security personnel — prohibit commercial photography, obscene language, running, rollerblading, loitering in groups of three or more, soliciting money, selling stuff outside a shop (read that as: not being a preferred HHC vendor), and on.

After an eagle-eyed SOS committee member called Community Board 1, the Borough President’s office, and the  Economic Development Corporation … viola! The signs suddenly disappeared.

That success would fire up the inner community activist of almost anyone. Now the organization hopes public input can reconvene the defunct Seaport Working Group (SWG), formed by local politicians and community leaders four years ago to focus “on the future development of the South Street Seaport, Historic District and vicinity.”

“We want to put out a call to get the Seaport Working Group back to work,” Michael Kramer a member of SOS steering committee told Seaport Report. To that end, the group is launching a campaign to get residents and neighborhood supporters to send letters to their elected officials.

As one attendee said: “You need more than hotels and chain stores to attract people to the neighborhood.”

Check out the SOS website for details: saveourseaport.org.

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