Downtown local

Downtown Express photo by Ramin Talaie

May plantings bring Sept. flowers
Sigrid Gray, a gardener with The Battery Conservancy, helped plant perennials last week in Battery Park’s new Memorial Gardens, designed by landscape architect Piet Oudolf to honor the victims of the 2001 terrorist attack. The flowers are expected to be fully visible by Sept. 11, the second anniversary of the attack.

Seaport shakeup?
Ed Hilla, the manager of retail operations and marketing for Seaport Marketplace, has resigned, and it remains unclear who will take the helm of the beleaguered retail operation when he leaves on May 23, sources said on Monday.

Hilla had served as the top official at the Seaport after Paul Harnett, the general manager of Seaport Marketplace, left his position in late March.

Hilla did not return a phone call on Monday seeking comment. His assistant left a voice message saying, “We have no comment at this time.”

News of Hilla’s resignation sent waves of anxiety throughout the Seaport community, where merchants have struggled with a prolonged slump in business. Hilla was generally liked among the Seaport merchants, many of whom felt that he did the best he could with a meager marketing budget.

“People are very nervous now,” said Gerard Nally, the owner of the Seaport Watch Company at Pier 17. “They better get someone savvy down here really quick.”

Paul Goldstein, the district manager for Community Board 1, said that Hilla’s assistant told him on Monday that Hilla would honor his prior commitment to appear at Tuesday’s Seaport/Civic Center committee.

“Obviously, there’s a bit of a shakeup taking place at Seaport Marketplace,” Goldstein said. “I’m puzzled as to what’s going on over there. We’d like to know who’s taking over.”

Nancy Tucker, a spokesperson for the Maryland-based Rouse Company, which operates the Seaport Marketplace, said on Monday that she tried unsuccessfully to reach Hilla to confirm his departure.


Gerson’s misspent youth?
Bill Clinton didn’t inhale. Mayor Bloomberg did and said it was great. Was Councilmember Alan Gerson, in his remarks at the Washington Sq. Arch renovation kickoff, the latest politician to comment publicly – albeit pretty obliquely — on his own dabblings? Gerson, a Village native, recalling fond memories of his youth spent in the park, said: “When I was a kid, I played in the grass and dug for worms. When I was a little older, I did other things, which I won’t get into right now....” Was he, ahem, still playing with grass? Contacted afterward, Gerson did not elaborate. “This is one of the few times I’m not going to comment,” he said. “Trust me, I had a fairly boring adolescence.”


Jack and Jill went to the 14th floor
Four fluffy falcon chicks, the offspring of the perigrine falcons, Jack and Jill, who live on the 14th floor ledge of 55 Water St., seem to be doing just fine, thank you. For a live webcam view, visit www.55Water.com/falcons/news.php and click on webcam. If you’re lucky, you might see Jack or Jill feeding them. The last of Jill’s eggs hatched last week.


Trusting Dorkey
According to sources, James Ortenzio has left the Hudson River Park Trust and Charles “Trip” Dorkey, III, has been named the Trust’s new chairperson. Dorkey is the managing partner of the New York office of Torys LLP, a law firm.

Dorkey specializes in litigation and has served as lead counsel in cases involving securities, reinsurance and construction. His extracurricular activities include serving on Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s Advisory Committee on the Judiciary, the Empire State Development Corporation and the New York Parks and Conservation Association.

Dorkey and Trust officials did not return calls for comment.


Ladybugs and puppets
Ladybug Day in Washington Market Community Park will be Fri. May 16. Children are invited to release thousands of the polka-dotted insects – the official state insect of New York – in the park. Magnifying glasses to examine the creatures and chalk for sidewalk art are free for all participants.

The Washington Market Community Park Spring Popcorn & Puppet Festival takes place from 1:30-4 p.m. on Sat. May 17, rain or shine. Children will be invited to make their own paper bag puppets and march in the parade around the park. Puppeteers Ralph Lee, famous for the early Village Halloween Parades, Amy Trompetter, Michelle Beshaw, Serra Hirsch, and Kate Brehm and the Chinaberry Puppets and the Circus Amok Band, along with the Toe Jam Puppet Band will conduct the event, which is free along with the popcorn.


C.B. 1 meetings
This week’s schedule of Community Board 1 meetings is as follows. All meetings will be held in Room 709 of 49-51 Chambers St. unless otherwise noted.

On May 13, the Seaport committee will meet at 5:30 p.m. to discuss the spring and summer concert series and events at Seaport Marketplace, the departure of the Marketplace general manager, the possible sale of the Peking tall ship, Con Ed substation, and the South Street Seaport rezoning.

The executive committee meeting, originally scheduled for May 14 at 5:30 p.m., has been cancelled. The committee will take up its scheduled agenda when it reconvenes in June.

On May 14, the Financial District committee will meet at 5:30 p.m. to discuss the new plaza design for 55 Water St. – Presentation and to pass a resolution on the proposed farmers market at Liberty Plaza.

On May 19, the Quality of Life committee will meet at 5:30 to discuss a number of liquor and beer and wine license applications and the renewal application for a sidewalk cafe for 249 West Broadway.


Web update
Many of you may have noticed we redesigned our Web site three weeks ago. For those visitors who have gone to our site only to find our old articles, please hit your refresh key or retype in www.DowntownExpress.com. Our Web address is the same although our U.R.L. is different, which is why some Web surfers got the old site. E-mail us at news@DowntownExpress.com to let us know what you think of the design.


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