downtownexpress.com
Volume 19 Issue 37 | January 26 - February 1, 2007

Undercover

Cue the “Mission Impossible” music — the Battery Park City PEP squad is on a roll. Fresh off their promise earlier this month to help crack down on reckless sidewalk cycling, the Parks Enforcement Patrol officers are now going undercover to bust B.P.C. vandals.

The sting operation, though not particularly covert (it was announced in a press release from the Battery Park City Authority), is designed to combat a recent bout of graffiti.

“Graffiti is not cheap,” James Cavanaugh, authority president, said in the release. “Last weekend vandals left their mark on 150 spots on Tribeca Bridge [the Chambers St. pedestrian bridge] alone. Our staff had only just finished restoring the damage when whoever it was struck again this weekend.”

It’s unclear what Cavanaugh meant by “spots,” but a recent trip to the bridge revealed a number of amateurish scratchings on the Plexiglas windows that line the bridge, as well as one pane tagged with either white spray paint or the highly destructive glass etching acid that has recently plagued the city subway system (the former can be washed off, the latter requires a complete window replacement).

The B.P.C.A. release said that similar covert ops between 2004 and 2006 resulted in six arrests, dozens of citations and a number of lawsuits to secure restitution. This time around, Cavanaugh promises “a hefty bill” for vandals.

Comp Connor
State Senator Martin Connor submitted papers on Monday seeking to fill the state comptroller’s position recently left vacant after Alan Hevesi resigned over “Chauffergate” as part of his plea bargain. Connor, the Senate’s senior Democrat who represents part of Downtown, resigned as assistant counsel to the state comptroller when he was first elected to the Senate in 1978.

For eight years he was Senate Minority Leader. “I love being a member of the New York State Senate and the only other job for which I would leave the Senate is to serve the people of New York as their comptroller,” Connor told UnderCover. “I’m the only person applying for this position who has actually worked in the Comptroller’s Office.” Connor says he aims to make the Comptroller’s Office “the responsible, fiscal watchdog the people of New York expect and deserve.”

Connor moonlights as a Demo­cratic election lawyer so he may not be a favorite of Gov. Eliot Spitzer, who has made it clear he doesn’t want the Legislature to pick a political insider for the post. But Councilmember Alan Gerson told us that “Marty Connor is a contender….I think he would be a great comptroller.” Would Gerson run for Connor’s seat if it opened? “It’s certainly too early to consider or rule anything out,” Gerson said.

Less is more
Downtown boaters want less, and they’re not going to take it anymore. Tired of being simultaneously told that the boathouse slated for Pier 26 in the Hudson River Park is A) already in final design and B) unbuildable because it has no funding, Community Board 1 Waterfront Committee chairperson Julie Nadel has convened a task force to take a fresh look at the boathouse and its sister project, the Pier 26 estuarium.

“If it’s already designed and there’s no money to build it, I don’t see why certain things couldn’t be changed,” said Nadel, who also sits on the board of the Hudson River Park Trust.

The task force goal? To strip away the structure’s fashionable design in favor of a functional, affordable building. The task force wants to lower the height of the docks, move the pier’s toilets to the land and cut showers, fancy doors and year-round heating out of the plan.

“The tendency here was to build this state-of-the-art boathouse with all these expensive elements that don’t work,” Nadel said.

311 2.0
In his “State of the City” address last week, Mayor Bloomberg made the much-publicized announcement that the city will soon begin equipping 911 call centers to accept digital photos and videos from emergency victims or witnesses. The images could be sent from cell phones or computers and would give the responders a better idea of the situation at hand.

Lost in the announcement was the tidbit that 311 call centers will eventually have the same capability. Which leads UnderCover to wonder whether photo evidence of illegally parked placard cars or gaping cobblestone potholes will really get the city to fix the situation or whether the 311 operators are simply looking forward to reading angry text messages from otherwise literate community members that might go something like this: “Scuz me but ur cop cars r blocking the sidewalk again. Check out the pix. If u could plz move them thatd be gr8.”

Pier Fashionistas
Project New York, a fashion whole­sale trade show, has temporarily commandeered a healthy chunk of Pier 40, the 14-acre W. Houston St. pier. A young Japanese designer leaving the pier on Monday morning said it was “one of the biggest fashion shows in the city.” Luckily, it’s winter now and the pier’s athletic fields are not as heavily used, but we hear the Hudson River Park Advisory Council is un­happy that the Hudson River Park Trust didn’t even notify them of the event. The fashion show brought a steady stream of cars to the pier. However, on Monday, two Park Enforcement Patrol officers were posted on the bike path near the pier’s entrance; they were making sure no cars turned onto the bikeway, near where Eric Ng, 22, was killed in December by a man charged with drunk driving.

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