Pataki commits to Downtown timeline
By Josh Rogers
Responding to criticisms that the Lower Manhattan rebuilding efforts are proceeding too slowly, Gov. George Pataki last week released an extensive timeline of short and long-term goals, such as a new Greenmarket, which will open across the street from the World Trade Center site this summer, and the last piece – a Downtown link to J.F.K. Airport and the Long Island Rail Road in 2013.

L.M.D.C. begins search for W.T.C. memorial ideas
By Josh Rogers
Any adult with $25 and an idea of how to remember the victims of the 2001 and 1993 terror attacks on America now has the chance to design the permanent memorial for the World Trade Center site.

Chinatown businesses battle SARS fears and rumors
By Elizabeth O’Brien
As rumor played tug-of-war with reality last week in Chinatown, community members voiced concern that an outbreak of the SARS virus—actual or perceived—could bring further economic damage to an area already struggling with fears of the illness.

Police clash with crowds rushing Chinatown banks
By Josh Rogers
Chinatown resembled Bedford Falls at its worst last week as an old-fashioned bank panic prompted over 1,000 immigrants to crowd two neighborhood banks in scenes reminiscent of the rush on the Bailey Building and Loan in “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

12 new members join Community Board 1
By Elizabeth O’Brien
For the second year in a row, an unusually high number of new members will join Community Board 1. Retroactive as of April 1, 12 appointees began their two-year terms.

Fields finds a conflict of interest in Pier 40 vote
By Lincoln Anderson
Borough President C. Virginia Fields’ office has just ruled that one of the members of Community Board 2’s waterfront committee had a conflict of interest in voting on matters pertaining to the redevelopment of Pier 40 as part of the Hudson River Park.

Vesuvio, famed bread shop in Soho, is sold
By Albert Amateau
Vesuvio Bakery, at 160 Prince St., where Anthony Dapolito, unofficial Mayor of Greenwich Village, has presided for more than two generations, changed hands last month.

News Briefs
Downtown local

B.P.C. neighbors

Water St. deals

Tribeca teen discovered

Garden winner

Peking staying for now

Gill reappointed

Letters To The Editor

Editorials
Pataki timeline a welcome step
Gov. George Pataki last week began to do what we and others have been calling on him to do: start making decisions about Downtown’s future.

Downtown Notebooks
Krugman up close: ‘What went wrong?’
By John W. Sutter
Paul Krugman, one of the Bush administration’s most tenacious and effective critics arguing from no better perch than a bi-weekly column in the New York Times, addressed a New School University audience last week on the subject, “What went wrong?




Chinatown businesses battle SARS fears and rumors

By Elizabeth O’Brien

Most of the tables were empty at Nam Wah Tea Parlour late last Sunday afternoon. Photo by Christie Johnston

As rumor played tug-of-war with reality last week in Chinatown, community members voiced concern that an outbreak of the SARS virus—actual or perceived—could bring further economic damage to an area already struggling with fears of the illness.

No cases of severe acute respiratory syndrome have been linked to Chinatown to date. But fears of the virus, which spread from China and Hong Kong throughout the globe, have already cost the local economy an estimated $5 to $10 million in losses, said Don Lee, a member of Community Board 2 who serves as the volunteer executive director of the Chinatown Community Economic Development Project.

“It’s clear that the rumors and fears of the disease are more damaging than the disease itself,” Lee said.

Over the past month, Chinatown has seen the destructive impact of rumors on its community. In an apparent April Fool’s Day prank earlier this month, a false story circulated over the Internet that the owner of a Bayard St. restaurant had died of SARS, causing business to drop in eateries throughout Chinatown.

Then last week, after news spread that the manager of the Canal Street branch of Abacus Federal Savings Bank was dismissed and suspected of embezzlement, panicked account holders withdrew more than $2 million even as officials tried to reassure them that their money was insured [article, page 20].

“I’ve been in this country for 30 some years, and I’ve never seen anything like this before,” said John Hung, owner of the May May Gourmet Chinese Bakery on Pell St., referring to the nervous climate in Chinatown.

Community leaders have said that the best way to counter the rumors is to repeat the message that Chinatown is safe. Don Lee said that civic organizations are looking to place ads to let New Yorkers know that, “Chinatown is a happy, happening place to visit.”Such reinforcement appears to be needed.

Local restaurateurs said that so far, efforts by city officials to boost confidence in the area have not had the desired impact.

Chuen Tang, the owner of Vegetarian’s Paradise at 33 Mott St., said that business did not revive after Mayor Mike Bloomberg had lunch in Chinatown two weeks ago.

“It’s been so quiet,” said Tang, who estimated that his dinner business has been down about 40 percent since the beginning of April.

“If there is medication for SARS, I think then people will come back,” said Nicole Sow, a worker at Vegetarian’s Paradise. “Right now, there’s no medication to control it.”

While there may be more elbowroom in Chinatown restaurants these days, not all diners are staying away.

“All the hype is something for the media to talk about,” said Julie Whitfield of Durham, N.C., who was looking for a place to eat with her husband, Charles. “It’s not something that concerns us at all.”

“We’re looking for SARS specials,” joked Jacob Matsibekker, a bank worker who came with two colleagues for their weekly Chinatown lunch.

The three said they weren’t scared of SARS but added that some of their co-workers were avoiding Chinatown.

Many officials agree that the situation in Chinatown is precarious. Alarm has been kept in check—on a recent Friday, no facemasks were spotted on the neighborhood streets—but community leaders acknowledge that this could change if even one case of SARS is traced to Chinatown either through fact or gossip.

“A rumor could close everything down,” said Father Raymond Nobiletti, the Cantonese-speaking pastor of Church of the Transfiguration on Mott St.

Nobiletti said that the church has taken some precautions to reassure its congregation. Worshipers have been asked to receive communion with their hands only, not their mouths, and the church has temporarily suspended the drinking of wine during the service.

These measures have comforted the small number of congregants who have asked about safety during the threat of SARS, Nobiletti said. The church has not experienced a drop off in attendance, he added, even though 60 percent of the congregation comes from outside of Chinatown.

The community is keeping its fingers crossed, hoping that the SARS scare can be weathered without further damage to an area still hurting from the terror attack of Sept. 11, 2001. The closing of Park Row for security reasons, blocking a major artery linking parts of Lower Manhattan to Chinatown, has hindered access to the area and caused business to suffer. Even before the terror attacks, Don Lee noted, the closing of the Grand St. subway stop for long-term renovations was a big blow to the community.

But these setbacks have had positive results as well, some have noted. Time and again, the community has demonstrated its resiliency. Chinatown has come together and civic involvement is up, community leaders have said, increasing confidence that the neighborhood will soon pull through the SARS scare.

“One thing I’m feeling good about is we’re taking a pounding but we’re hanging tough,” said Paul Lee, a Mott St. merchant.

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IS. 89 film festival ahead of that Tribeca one
By Laura S. Greene
When you grow up in artsy Downtown, maybe you’re never too young to start making documentary and narrative shorts. In fact, you can take an afterschool class to teach you how.

Family Life

Well-played scrimmage
Many of the Downtown Little League games were canceled last weekend because of Saturday’s rain, but the Royals and Diamondbacks played a hard-fought scrimmage on Sunday in East River Park.

High school to open
Millennium High School will occupy its Downtown digs for the start of the school year this September, thanks in part to government funds earmarked for post-Sept. 11 revitalization.

Some parents concerned over new ferry terminal
By Jane Flanagan
A new, temporary ferry terminal, with diesel engine boats shuttling in and out, is set to open in May, across from Rockefeller Playground and Park. Its opening will coincide with the start of the summer season, the busiest time at the park and some neighborhood parents say they are worried.

Children

Resourceful babysitter is quite an icebreaker
By Jane Flanagan
At a preschool event some weeks ago, a woman I’d never met introduced herself and told me that my son Rusty, 41/2, was over at her place having dinner. She knew Rusty well, she said, and he and her 2-year-old daughter were good friends.

Children’s Activities
Everything you will need to plan play with your kid

Arts & Entertainment

Before the M.T.A., I remember Kalikow at The Post
By JERRY TALLMER
In late February or early March of 1988, I stood on the floor of the city room of the New York Post — then on South St., just north of the Brooklyn Bridge — and, with maybe a hundred other ink-stained (okay, computer-stained) wretches, survivors of close to a dozen near-death experiences of our beloved rag throughout the previous 10 years, listened to the new owner introduce himself.

Koch on film
Mayor Koch reviews Raising Victor Vargas and Lilya 4-Ever

Home

Room for Improvement
The best places to let there be light
By Beth Lee Segal
Whenever we turn the clocks ahead to signal spring’s arrival, I ask myself, “how did I live without the clear, pure light of this season?”

The Penny Post
Eulogy for a certain someone
By Andrei Codrescu
One day, a child who had been daydreaming under the big tree, was intercepted by an angry adult who looked at him with one hand on her hip and a ruler in her hand. “What, what?” mumbled the dreamer, who had just driven back an army of intruders and was about to make his victory speech before men in tophats who represented the best minds of all times in the fields of the sciences, arts, and diplomacy.\

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