Volume 20, Number 52 | THE NEWSPAPER OF LOWER MANHATTAN | MAY 9 - 15, 2008

Under Cover

Swim, Charlie, Swim
Congratulations are in order for Charlie Urstadt, vice chairperson of the Battery Park City Authority, who broke the United States and world records for the 50-meter breaststroke in the age 80-84 bracket.

Urstadt raced through the 50 meters in 45.92 seconds at the World Masters Swimming Meet in Perth, Australia last month.

James Gill, chairperson of the B.P.C.A., announced the news at the authority’s board meeting Tuesday, with a pleased but shy Urstadt sitting beside him.

“Gee whiz,” Urstadt said, as Gill described the swimmer’s successes.

Urstadt pointed out that he is only 79 years old, but he qualified for the 80-84 group on a technicality. Since he’ll turn 80 later this year, he got bumped up to the higher age group.

“It makes a big difference,” Urstadt said.

Movin’ on up
Acting Buildings Commissioner Robert LiMandri doesn’t have a lot of time on his hands, but he can still find a moment to contemplate his next career move.

LiMandri took over for Patricia Lancaster last month, after she resigned under pressure from Mayor Mike Bloomberg. The mayor hasn’t indicated how long LiMandri could stay in his current position, or whether it could become permanent, but LiMandri wasn’t coy about wanting the permanent job.

“I have no problem putting my hat in the ring,” he told UnderCover.

Lot o’ Keith cash
In its largest gift to date, the Keith Haring Foundation on Sunday — which would have been Haring’s 50th birthday — announced a $1 million endowment grant to the New Museum. With the massive infusion of cash, the new Bowery museum will establish a fund to work with local school children and will appoint a Keith Haring director and curator of education and public programs. The private celebration for Haring, who died in 1990 at age 31, was held in the New Museum’s rooftop sky room. On prominent display was a large “Haring dog” made of red flowers from Yoko Ono with a card, though she wasn’t spotted there herself. Many Haring family members were on hand, including his mother and father, sisters and nieces. Standing out among the crowd, with magenta hair, a white punky dress, tattoos, nose ring, pierced tongue and an octopus-pendant necklace was one statuesque niece in particular, Jenna, 22. Like Keith, she’s from the heart of conservative Pennsylvania Dutch country, and is also an artist. Even though she was only 4 or 5 at the time, she vividly recalls Uncle Keith bounding up the front yard with a funky/goofy bop to greet them. “I have had three or four dreams where I was hanging out with him,” she said. Like Haring, she eerily also shares a penchant for collecting newspaper headlines. From 1981 to 1986, Haring lived and worked at Broome St. and Bowery. In addition to the grant to the New Museum, a fluorescent mural that Haring painted at Houston St. at Bowery in the early 1980s on what was then a cement handball court has been restored — just under the giant Grand Theft Auto ad.

Smile for policecam
Community Board 1 member Marc Ameruso tells us some police and traffic officials were talking about putting up surveillance cameras recently on Canal and Greenwich Sts. He said they were being “very defensive and very secretive,” but they did disclose a lot of other cameras would be going up and it was not to monitor traffic near the Holland Tunnel.

One told Ameruso “we were told we were not allowed to speak to the public.” Ameruso said he volunteered his name and number as well as the C.B. 1 number to a police detective, but the officer did not want to disclose any more information unless Ameruso presented his driver’s license. Ameruso declined since he had done nothing wrong.

The cameras may be for Police Commissioner Ray Kelly’s “ring of steel,” a series of cameras intended to protect Lower Manhattan. If so, the secrecy seems odd since Kelly has commented on the program many times.

Shakedown or bargain?
The Battery Park City Authority is not required to contribute money to the Downtown Alliance, but the authority writes the business improvement district a check each year anyway.

The Alliance runs a bus through Battery Park City and around Downtown, does publicity, provides tourist services and funds police patrols.

After years of keeping the payment at a steady $270,000 — about half what the authority would owe if Battery Park City were in the Alliance territory — the authority increased the payment to $432,000 last year and voted this week to keep it the same for next year. The amount does not take new construction into account. After initial skepticism this week about the higher payment, the discussion soon turned to appreciation of the Alliance’s work.

“Shouldn’t we give more than last year?” one board member asked before the vote.

“We don’t have to go that far,” laughed Jim Gill, chairperson of the B.P.C.A.




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