Volume 22, Number 10 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | July 17 - 23, 2009
By Janel Bladow
Hot times in the summer…
especially around the South Street Seaport (S3 to you!). There’s always something happening — on Pier 17, along Front St. and on the riverfront boardwalk.
Margaritas and Mermaids…
A new cowgirl rode into town this week and anchored her seahorse on Front St. “Being by the water is healing for me,” Sherry Delamarter Holmes told Seaport Report about why she took over the former Radio Mexico to open her third N.Y.C. drinking/dining establishment, The Cowgirl Seahorse, this week.
“Growing up in Texas, I always thought of the Conestoga wagons as sailing ships on land,” so her new watering hole, she adds, “brings these two parts of my life together. To me, horseshoes are the anchors of the West.” And seahorses…giddy-up!
Friday night Sherry had a private party for shareholders and friends including Seaporters Sofia and Don Durante and Melissa and Sal Nunziato, who writes for the Huffington Post and the blog Burningwood. They loved the new outpost. “Very cool, very homey, feels like Cowgirl,” said Melissa, referencing Sherry’s famous Cowgirl Hall of Fame on Hudson St.
Guests were treated to samples of the menu then all joined in a rousing “Happy Birthday” along with Sherry and her husband Bob Holmes — who told S.R. that he met his wife at Cowgirl; how’s that for a hook-up? — for their son Zane who was celebrating turning 16 with a table full of friends in the back.
Saturday night, Sherry, who has lived with her family on Pearl St. more than 10 years, treated her new building’s residents to dinner and asked for their feedback. While she admits to having some kinks to work out, she expects to be in full operation by the weekend with a full breakfast, lunch and dinner menu, similar to that of Cowgirl and her other joint, Tortilla Flats, serving seven days a week. Come on down Partners, and tell Sherry S.R. sent ya!
Mad As Hell, Mayor…
And we’re not going to take it anymore! That’s what many S3 residents are saying these days about the uncontrolled and outrageous takeover of our streets by city vehicles. On Friday night, one of the busiest for local restaurants and retail, Seaport Report counted more than 40 city cars in public parking spots (alternate side; metered — with placards in windows so that they did not pay parking fees) on Dover, Pearl, Water, Front, Fulton and John Sts. Most of these same cars had been in the same spots since 11 a.m. and were there when we checked throughout the weekend.
This has residents and people like Lisa Kunst, daytime manager of the Bridge Café, fuming. She drives to work daily because there is no public transportation near her house in Queens and she can’t afford the pricey parking in Downtown lots.
On Thursday, July 9, at 10:24 a.m., she walked with a handful of quarters over to Pearl St. between Peck Slip and Beekman where her car was legally parked to buy another two-hour Muni-Meter ticket. Looking up the block, Lisa was stunned. The space where she left her car was empty.
“I thought the car was stolen,” she told S.R. “Two men were hanging by the spot and told me that the car was towed five minutes earlier.”
Lisa, who has only two tickets, both scheduled for hearings, immediately called 311, which couldn’t locate her car for more than two hours. “What’s the point? I’m not even sure.” When she finally found it, she had to go to the tow pound at 38th St. and 12th Ave where 30 other people waited for their cars. While there, two people were given the wrong cars and Lisa finally got hers after 10 p.m.
“I’m really ticked off because none of the official cars parked in the spaces around me were towed. The sign clearly says ‘No parking 8 a.m. – 9 a.m.’ and ‘Two hour metered parking 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.’ I’m fighting it. My ticket reads ‘For non-parking M-F 8 a.m. – 9 p.m.’ which is totally wrong. I had to pay $185 to get the car, that’s without the ticket! Parking around here is horrendous. Every day it’s a chore for me.”
Lisa cites two other examples of parking laws gone wild in S3. One is on Dover between Water and Front Sts., a span that is basically unmarked between arrowed signs pointing in opposite directions. “Every day people park there. Every day people get tickets,” she says. “The traffic agent told us that it’s a sidewalk crossing. Ridiculous! There’s no sign! And where are they crossing to? A fence?”
Plus, numerous parking spaces have been lost over the last three years because of “Construction Site No Parking” signs on Dover and Front Sts., even though construction never began.
Meanwhile on Monday, S.R. spoke with resident Tracy Spinney, who has been fighting for his right to free street parking in the Seaport for more than three years. He’s attended Community Board 1 meetings, written/talked with the First Precinct, and lobbed complaints through 311.
“I’m doing the dance now,” he said, as he waited near Pearl St. for a space to clear. “Right now there are one, two… six, seven, Toyota Prius city cars parked around me. Wait… ten, eleven, twelve. All are in public or metered spots, not special city vehicle parking. It’s just maddening. You confront them and ask why they aren’t parking in their designated lot under the F.D.R. Drive along South St. and they look at you like you’re a moron. They aren’t treating the public with courtesy, respect or even acting professionally. Mayor Bloomberg says he’s working on the problem but it’s the classic waiting game and nothing is getting done.”
Spinney suggests all S3 residents go to www.uncivilservants.com and post photos of parking abusive city workers and their vehicles. Maybe then the mayor will really do something about this problem.
Life’s a Beach…
There’s a little patch of sand along the East River that my husband calls Janel’s Beach because I’m always threatening to grab a lawn chair and set up camp as if I’m at the shore. Most locals call it Brooklyn Bridge Beach because it’s directly under the bridge. But these days the sandy strip belongs to Joe Derogatis. Last week, on Wednesday for five hours and again Friday from 11 a.m. till dusk, stunned passersby stopped and shook heads in amazement as the longtime Southbridge Towers resident pitched rocks to a rhythm of his own. Armed with a super-sized steel shovel and wearing only a black ski glove on his left hand and a black knitted winter glove on his right for protection from getting more blisters, Joe scooped up shovel-full after shovel-full of rocks, pitched them into the river then went back and turned the sand. Where most jaded New Yorkers saw only flotsam, Joe saw a beach.
“The city should clean it up for the community to use,” Joe told S.R. as he took a short break from his shovel. “I’ve been here doing this about twelve times,” he said, adding that his 12-year old son Sal came with him twice but got bored. “I’m getting the rocks down in the water, then as the tide comes in, it washes over them, it leaves behind clean sand. I turn the sand and now it’s nice and soft. The city takes all this money and rebuilds a perfectly good park on the West Side when they could fill this area and make a nice beach. See the curve?” he said, pointing north, along the shoreline.
“This could all be a public waterfront, all the way to the Sanitation Department building. There’s an abandoned warehouse near there where a water filtration plant could be built and turn the river cleaner and clearer. Fifteen years ago, you saw lots of garbage floating on the river, bubbles of slime, but you don’t see that anymore. Oysters are now growing on the rocks here.” And what does his wife think of his one-man beach project? “She thinks it’s crazy all the hours I’m spending here. But it’s great exercise and maybe kids can come here and have a nice clean beach.”
Get Your Top Dog On…
Come to the first annual Puppy Prom at The Salty Paw (38 Peck Slip), Thursday, July 23, 6 – 9 p.m. where the best dressed Prince and Princess pup under 30 pounds will be crowned! This fun fur event features puppycakes by Canine Confectionery, photos by Susan Marie Photos and scents by Sexy Beast Dog Cologne. Raffle tickets and giveaways include treat bags and free walks. Woof!