Volume 22, Number 38 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | January 29 - February 4, 2010
Here to stay
It looks like Community Board 1 can’t live without Julie Menin as chairperson.
After Menin announced last month that she would step down from the board in June, many board members asked her to reconsider.
“I can’t tell you how meaningful that is for me,” Menin told the board Tuesday night. “In consideration of that, I’m going to run again for chair.”
Last month, Menin said her three young children and her cable TV show kept her too busy to regularly attend board meetings. But this week, she said she would find the time.
Most board members applauded Menin’s announcement, including Vice Chairperson Catherine McVay Hughes, who Menin had endorsed as her successor. Menin thanked Hughes and Paul Hovitz, who was also considering running for her seat but will now step aside.
So far, it doesn’t look like anyone is going to challenge Menin’s bid for another two-year term (her final term, under the board’s term limits), but if anyone does, we’re guessing it will be Marc Ameruso, who has had a rocky relationship with Menin.
As word of Menin’s decision spread through Lower Manhattan this week, we also heard that Menin was moving out of the neighborhood altogether. She confirmed to UnderCover that her family is signing a 12-month lease on the Upper East Side. She said her father is ill and she wants to live closer to him. Since Menin’s offices are Downtown, she can remain on the community board even once she changes her primary residence.
Don’t be surprised if Councilmember Margaret Chin takes the move as Menin positioning herself for a possible challenge for the Council in 2013.
Speaking of Councilmember Margaret Chin, we asked about her recent meeting with officials from the city’s Economic Development Corporation regarding the Seward Park Urban Renewal Area on the Lower East Side. We heard that Chin’s sit-down was with E.D.C.’s Madelyn Wils, former Community Board 1 chairperson, who is now heading up the city’s SPURA redevelopment effort.
“I had a briefing with E.D.C. It was good,” Chin said. “Now, we’re reaching out to the stakeholders. We want to talk to people with experience as developers. I think the city hopefully will listen to the community and be able to work with us.”
Chin, an affordable housing advocate, is talking to developers specializing in senior housing, and also to Habitat for Humanity, about which she said, “They create real home-ownership opportunities for working families.” Asked if, as we had heard, Wils was a bit taken aback at the substantial amount of affordable housing Chin was asking for, Chin just said, with a smile, that the meeting went well.
Former Councilmember Alan Gerson may be eying a civil court judge seat that recently opened up.
Before Gerson left office at the end of last year, he said he was not interested in becoming a judge, but he may be changing his mind, especially because some of his supporters are encouraging him to run for the judgeship.
“I have not ruled that out,” Gerson told UnderCover this week. He said he was using the month of January to weigh his options and then he would announce a decision.
The seat Gerson is considering is for the First Municipal District, an oddly shaped area that covers the west side of Manhattan south of 14th St. and all of the Financial District and the Seaport. Lucy Billings previously held the seat but was elected to the State Supreme Court last year.
If Gerson decides to run for the seat, he will likely be up against one of his historic Village foes whom we hear is already running: Carol Feinman.
About 12 years ago, Gerson was chairperson of Community Board 2 and he beat back Feinman, a former board chairperson, and some others in the Village who were opposing the Hudson River Park because they saw it as a resurrection of the Westway development project. Boards 1 and 4 had approved the park and 2 was the last holdout. Gerson led the effort to convince his colleagues to back the park and that help set the table for Albany approval.
Feinman was surprised to hear Gerson was considering running for the civil court judge seat, since he offered last month to help her with her own run. Feinman, an administrative law judge in the state Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, has already netted the endorsement of Assemblymember Deborah Glick, who was also once a park skeptic.
David Reck, said the judge opening in the First Municipal District would likely attract a slew of candidates, but Gerson would be strong.
On a lighter note, Gerson told us he is still planning his first vacation since he first took office in 2001. Asked where he was going, Gerson turned coy.
“If you report where I’m going, that will defeat the purpose of going away,” he said.
Craig Bero is inviting the public into the new version of his Cosmopolitan Cafe this Saturday from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Bero will serve free champagne and crepes in his new location, on Chambers St. between Church St. and W. Broadway. The space used to belong to The Soda Shop, which closed last year.