It’s rare if not unprecedented for the same person to appear on “Nova,” “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” and the “Today” show all in the same week, but Downtown astronomer Neil deGrasse Tyson, director of the Hayden Planetarium, has just made all those shows and many more for the chance to talk about the emotional reaction people are having to the Planetarium’s decision to take away Pluto’s planet classification. Tyson, an active Lower Manhattan parent, says the over the top reaction is due in part to the fact that many adults learned about the planets around the same time they were introduced to the beloved Disney character of the ex-planet’s name.
Former Councilmember Alan Gerson’s hearings were known for dragging on for hours, but a hearing held this week by his replacement, Margaret Chin, zipped right along. In just an hour, Chin heard testimony from several agencies and arrived at the last person on the speakers’ list: Julie Menin, chairperson of Community Board 1.
But Menin, who was accustomed to testifying well into the third or fourth hour of Gerson’s hearings, had not yet arrived. Chin called a brief recess and Menin soon raced in, apologetic but also surprised.
“I commend you on a timely hearing,” an out-of-breath Menin told Chin as the hearing resumed. “This is the first time I’ve ever testified at a Council hearing ahead of schedule.”
Saying silence can be “deadly to Chinatown residents,” activists at Community Board 3’s meeting last week said the Chinatown-Lower East Side board should be more like the No. 1 board to the south, which has been out front opposing the 9/11 terror trials Downtown.
”C.B. 1 has risen to the occasion, and has gotten tremendous national and international visibility,” said Jan Lee, one of the earliest opponents to the trial location. “But C.B. 3 missed the boat.”
Julie Menin, Board 1’s chairperson, for the last two months has been the leading spokesperson for what looks to be a successful effort to get the trial out of Downtown, although the final decision has not been made yet. She originally supported the trial Downtown, but switched when the scope of the costs and security measures became clearer.
Many at the meeting rose up in defense of Dominic Pisciotta, C.B. 3’s chairperson, who also spoke up. “It’s ridiculous to say that I haven’t been concerned about this issue,” he said.
Dog run development
Bob Townley has big plans for the dog run behind P.S. 234, and he promises that they won’t make dog owners angry.
Townley, executive director of Manhattan Youth, envisions an environmentally friendly gym and theater space perched over the current dog run, which sits on a Warren St. lot between P.S. 234 and Manhattan Youth’s Downtown Community Center. Townley said the dog run could stay open at street level, and he has architectural drawings but is keeping them under wraps for now.
“It’s an amazing idea, but it’s not an easily accomplished idea,” Townley told UnderCover. He’ll reveal more details at a Community Board 1 meeting March 16.
Therese Eiben, who has been coming to the Warren St. run for the past 14 years, said there are plenty of places in the neighborhood for children to play, including Washington Market Park and the B.P.C. ballfields, while there are few places for dogs.
But Cathy Haft, another longtime Tribeca resident, said it could be nice to have the dog run partially covered or heated in the winter.
“If Bob Townley supports it, I’m for it,” Haft said. “He’s my hero. He single-handedly made Tribeca what it is today.”
For anyone whose tax refund has fallen a little short of their expectations (unfortunately, that includes UnderCover this year), State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli has another way of getting cash: an online database of unclaimed funds. New Yorkers are owed billions of dollars in everything from uncashed checks to estate proceeds, but people often don’t claim the money because they don’t know about it. To find out if you’re one of the lucky residents in the database, visit www.osc.state.ny.us/ouf/index.htm.