Volume 22, Number 23 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | October 16 - 22, 2009

Under Cover

Banks foreclosure
The area under the Brooklyn Bridge has been a popular skateboard park for decades, but its days are soon coming to an end, at least temporarily.

The city plans to use the internationally known Brooklyn Banks skate park as a staging area during the Brooklyn Bridge reconstruction, which is starting later this year and will last until 2014, said Ralph Musolino, a district manager for the city Parks Dept.

Musolino said the closure of the skate park was not certain, but Scott Gastel, spokesperson for the city Dept. of Transportation, later said the city would definitely need the space. Gastel was not sure when the park would close.

Adios Santiago?
The last time UnderCover got to sit in on an interview with Mayor Mike Bloomberg he went out of his way to praise renowned Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, telling us in 2005 that Calatrava’s proposed Seaport condo-box tower was the only building that could tempt him to move Downtown.

But the bloom must have fallen off the rose in the interim, even though Bloomberg did get Calatrava to design at no charge an aerial gondola that was to go to Governors Island.

Last week, the mayor said the architect’s work was “interesting and nice,” while saying the Calatrava World Trade center train station was overpriced.

Here are a few other interesting tidbits from the interview:

“This’ll send you off the deep end,” he said, “but I actually was in favor of Segways, although my transportation commissioner and police commissioner both just about threw me through the window. It’s great technology, [and I figured] why not try it, but we’re not going to have it.”

Bloomberg mentioned the Segways when asked about pedicabs, another alternate mode of transportation that he defended.

“I’ve never been in a pedicab in my life, incidentally,” Bloomberg said. “My girlfriend (Diana Taylor) has taken it occasionally. I’m sure there are abuses, but, you know, it’s an environmentally friendly way to see the city.”

During an anecdote about Francis Lewis, a New York signer of the Declaration of Independence, Bloomberg revealed his reliance on technology: Bloomberg said he Googled Lewis’ name, “but I have verbal Google because I can’t spell,” he said. “I’d have trouble with Lewis, much less Francis.”

Vandal bulletin
Southbridge Towers resident Larry Vide tells us that a vandal broke into the new anti-privatization bulletin board last week and removed Vide’s letter and all of the other material except for “a graph that nobody could understand anyway.”

He said the Building 6 board was “ordered on high from Albany,” presumably from Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, who’s reviewing the complex’s document on leaving its middle class housing program. As we reported last week, Cuomo has an informal gag order on the board of directors because they are technically the sponsors of the privatization application.

Vide said clearly a “fanatic” who wants to leave Mitchell-Lama is trying to silence Southbridge voices, but he acknowledged that neither side is clean on the zealot front. “We have fanatics on our side, but they’re not violent,” Vide said.

He credited management -- which answers to the pro-privatization board elected by Southbridgers -- for fixing the lock at 100 Beekman St. quickly, but he’s angered by the act.

“It was a crime,” he said. “It lasted seven or eight hours.”

No to non-Jews
The dark-suited men chasing down strangers near the World Trade Center site last week were not selling anything, though they were as persistent as salesmen. Carrying a ceremonial lulav (collection of plants) and etrog (similar to a lemon), the Lubavitcher Jews from Crown Heights hoped to convince secular Jews on Lower Manhattan’s streets to stop for a moment and say a blessing in honor of the holiday of Sukkot.

Jacob Benadiba, 23, was one of about a dozen hopeful Lubavitchers on Church St. last Thursday following people up and down the block, asking, “Are you Jewish?”

Most people ignored him, and UnderCover asked if anyone had responded negatively.

“Only Jews get bothered,” Benadiba said. “Everybody else doesn’t care.”

Pricey ice rink
The Battery Park City Authority has to sink an extra $116,000 into the new ice rink coming to the ballfields this winter, but the authority is not backing off the project.

“We believe that even at a cost of $116,000, it’s still a worthwhile thing to do,” said Jim Cavanaugh, president of the B.P.C.A. Cavanaugh pointed out that the 17,000-square-foot B.P.C. rink will be the only one in Lower Manhattan, since the rink at the Seaport last year isn’t coming back.

The reason for the price increase is that the authority will not be able to rout electricity to the rink in time for its December opening, so they will have to use a generator instead, like the rink in Bryant Park. In future years, once the electric lines are in place, the authority expects to break even or make a small profit on the rink.


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