Volume 20, Number 28 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | November 23 - 30, 2007

Under Cover

All quiet on Beekman’s front
When you hear Downtowners complaining about construction, they usually say that it’s too loud. But when it comes to the construction of the Beekman St. school, neighbors are saying that the site is much too quite — nothing is getting done.

Since the foundation work finished on Oct. 26, the site has been still, leading some to question whether the delayed project will actually open in September 2009, as projected.

“It does raise eyebrows at this point, but they’re not raised all the way up,” C.B. 1 member Paul Hovitz said of the pause in construction. “There still really is time for them to get this thing going.”

Meanwhile developer Bruce Ratner’s spokesperson did not return calls. UnderCover recently reported that Ratner was having money troubles and might cut back on Frank Gehry’s costly design.

Good riddance, C.B. 1
Rick Landman won’t be reapplying for the community board when his term expires next spring, he told UnderCover. The longtime C.B. 1 member and chairperson of the Planning and Community Infrastructure Committee has quit before, but this time he’s really fed up.

“All they care about at these meetings is promoting the notion that Battery Park City and Tribeca are only for parents with little children,” he told UnderCover. “The majority of the people who live in the community board are not raising children.”

The committees are filled with chairperson Julie Menin’s “flunkies” and “soccer moms” passing resolutions that they don’t read, Landman said, and he’s sick and tired of it.

Menin is at least the third C.B. 1 chairperson Landman has fallen out of favor with. He first left C.B. 1 when he was dissatisfied with chairperson Anne Compoccia, only to return hoping for a new day under Madelyn Wils.

When Landman leaves, he said C.B. 1 won’t have any openly gay members — just like when he joined in the late ’70s and had to conceal his sexuality on his application. Thirty years later, he does not think much has changed.

Bus bulbs
The Dept. of Transportation may finally show up to one of Community Board 1’s Quality of Life Committee meetings to discuss all of the complaints about D.O.T.’s “bus bulbs” clogging up lower Broadway.

When one attendee at last week’s meeting asked if there is any chance of removing the bulbs, the Lower Manhattan Construction Command Center echoed committee members: “I wouldn’t hold my breath.”

C.B. 1 has invited transportation officials to several meetings and everyone hopes a rep will finally show up sometime in December.

“There’s a good likelihood that we will attend,” a D.O.T. spokesperson told UnderCover. “I can’t give a solid yes or no, but it’s definitely on our radar.”

Tree-mendous new sidewalks
With the Houston St. renovation project on the West Side finally nearing completion, we were pleasantly surprised to discover that the sidewalks between Sixth Ave. and W. Broadway on the street’s south side have doubled in width. And, in an interesting twist, the existing trees were left in place — right in the middle of the pavement. Ian Dutton, vice chairperson of Community Board 2’s Traffic and Transportation Committee, said this was not a mistake by the Department of Design and Construction.

“People really expressed concern that trees were being destroyed needlessly in this project,” Dutton said. “So I think that was D.D.C.’s way of preserving these trees.” Surprisingly, some people had expressed concern about widening the sidewalks. Dutton said Lucy and Leonard Cecere, who own a building at MacDougal and Houston Sts., feared they’d have more snow to shovel in the winter, while Sean Sweeney, the Soho Alliance’s director, thought wider sidewalks could become a “circus,” attracting an influx of vendors and performers on top of the vendors who already congregate there under a deal with St. Anthony’s Church. But Dutton said he believes that only a path needs to be cleared in winter, not the entire sidewalk.

“I think it has actually changed the mood of the street,” Dutton said of the mid-pavement trees. “It almost feels like a European promenade.”

Meanwhile, Councilmember Alan Gerson is still fuming at the Department of Transportation over the project’s having narrowed traffic islands at pedestrian crossings heavily used by local senior citizens. “I am at my wit’s end with this department,” he declared at C.B. 2’s meeting last Thursday.

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