Volume 20 Issue 20 | Sept. 28 - Oct. 04, 2007

Under Cover

Promises, promises
Last week we reported that design issues and/or financing problems might delay the 75-story Beekman St. tower being designed by Frank Gehry and developed by Bruce Ratner. Since a delay in the construction could potentially delay the completion of a new public school in the building, the UnderCover item sent local education advocates running to their phones.

At Tuesday night’s Community Board 1 Youth and Education Committee meeting, committee chair Paul Hovitz said that the board had been assured by the Lower Manhattan Development Corp. that the school is on schedule for its 2009 opening date.

“Now, that’s what they’re saying now,” Hovitz added as a caveat.

“If you’re judging by the L.M.D.C.’s record of meeting deadlines and saying that everything is fine and whatnot, I wouldn’t put much credence in that,” said board member Barry Skolnick, alluding to the development corporation’s missed deadlines and false reassurances at the former Deutsche Bank building. Many other members either nodded in agreement or chuckled at Skolnick’s assessment.

Hovitz said that both the board and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver’s office would be looking into the matter further, but that until something is confirmed, there is no reason for alarming speculation.

“There is nothing that we’re going to do until we hear officially that there is a delay,” Hovitz said.

Cool Congress
The World Trade Center healthcare advocates at 9/11 Environmental Action took a break from community meetings, vigils and protests for a night on Sept. 15 in order to celebrate with a musical fundraiser.

Danny Ross, a staffer for U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler, took the stage at the Bowery Poetry Club with his eight-piece piano rock band (think Ben Folds Five, but with jazzier instrumental backup). Nadler, an outspoken advocate on 9/11 health issues, introduced the budding musician as “your tax money at work.”

Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal, who represents part of the Upper West Side, was also on hand for the concert. “I used to work for Congressman Jerry Nadler,” Rosenthal reportedly said. “That was the pre-Danny days. We weren’t that cool when I was there.”

In addition to Ross’ band, activists Bob Gulak and Jenna Orkin took the stage to perform one of the many satirical protest songs that the group has penned over the years in its quest for cleaning, monitoring and healthcare for people affected by World Trade Center toxins.

All told, the benefit brought in $1,600 for the non-profit. And we have to say, if Ross ever gets tired of playing with his eponymous ensemble — “Tax Dollars at Work” would make a great band name.

Wild water
A brainstorm swept across the Community Board 1 Waterfront Committee Monday night, as several groups presented their outside-the-box thoughts on the potential future of Downtown waterways.

First, a tugboat captain pitched his proposal to set up a tour service using a new, eco-friendly fleet of amphibious vehicles. Like the Duck boats that operate in several water-bound cities and the Splash boats in Midtown Manhattan, the vehicles would be able to drive from the land straight into the harbor. Unlike the Duck boats, however, the captain’s new vehicles would run as hybrids on land and would use either biodiesel or ultra low sulfur diesel in the water. Future customers could then see both Lower Manhattan and Governors Island without ever leaving their seats.

Next, an inventor put forth his bold concept to use a high-speed fleet of amphibious vehicles to give commuters, business deliveries and even medical patients a door-to-door trip over land and sea while avoiding the city’s most crowded roadways.

Finally, an artist and a landscape architect pitched a plan to rebuild Pier 13 with public art, an aquarium and a low-level boardwalk that would be submerged during part of the day during the summer months, allowing visitors to splash and wade in the East River waters.

Though none of the ideas has ventured too far out of the scheming stage, the committee members vowed to mull the concepts to see if there was anything they want to actively pursue. The imaginative exercise even drew a smile from Seaport resident Joe Lerner, who is known for his careful — and often critical — analysis of waterfront development plans.

“I think this is great,” Lerner said after looking at the Pier 13 proposal. “Absolutely mind-blowing.”

Tour grows
After playing to receptive crowds in Columbia, S.C., Raleigh, N.C., and Norfolk, Va., the National Sept. 11 Memorial announced Sunday that it would be adding 10 more stops to its heartland fundraising tour.

The tour includes 9/11 exhibits and speakers, and allows visitors to sign a steel beam that will be used to build the memorial. So far the tour has pulled in nearly $1 million in donations, bringing the Memorial’s fundraising total to $325 million — well past the original goal of $300 million and within spitting distance of the $350 million revised target that Mayor Michael Bloomberg set last winter.

Downtown Express is published by Community Media LLC. 145 Sixth Avenue, New York, NY 10013
Phone: (212) 229-1890 | Fax: (212) 229-2790 | Advertising: 646-452-2465 | © 2007 Community Media, LLC

Written permission of the publisher must be obtainedbefore any of the contents of this newspaper, in whole or in part, can be reproduced or redistributed.