Volume 22, Number 52 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | May 7 - 13, 2010
BID for Soho?
The Soho Partnership, which trains and employs homeless people to keep the nabe’s streets clean, is looking to turn a narrow slice of the tony area into a business improvement district. Barbara Cohen, a consultant on the project, said one of the reasons Broadway is under consideration for a BID is that businesses on the street have not given much support to the Partnership, which relies on donations. Another is that Broadway is the dividing line between two police precincts (the First and Fifth), and the new group could help make sure security is coordinated in the proposed district, between Houston and Canal Sts.
She said Partnership founder Henry Buhl started the BID effort, which now has a steering committee of neighborhood property owners and others, but if a district is formed, the Partnership would not be guaranteed the street cleaning contract. BIDs charge property owners a fee that is tpically used for services like sanitation and marketing.
If things go smoothly and the idea is well-received, Cohen hopes the new organization will be up and running next year.
Sean Sweeney, who heads the Soho Alliance, recalled that roughly 15 years ago, the Partnership looked into a BID, but it was defeated because he and other neighbors opposed it. He is reserving judgment this time, but said he is much less likely to oppose this one because it includes far fewer residents than the previous effort.
Cohen said the committee did briefly consider covering a larger area of Soho but decided against because focusing on Broadway would be a “quicker route to getting something done.”
Buhl also founded the Tribeca and Nolita Partnerships, but Cohen kept ducking our questions as to whether those nabes might also be considered for BIDs.
Speaking of BIDs, Carl Weisbrod, the founding president of the Downtown Alliance and a driving force in the creation of the Hudson Square business district last year, will be leaving as head of Trinity’s real estate division at the end of the year. Weisbrod, 65, told UnderCover he wanted to give Trinity ample time to find a replacement and himself the chance to consider his next move carefully.
“I already have a few offers and I’ll probably collect a few more before January,” he said, declining to go into specifics.
He said he’s proud of the role Trinity has played in helping improve Hudson Square and he’ll miss working with the church and its “core values."
Bill Love, president of Downtown’s newest political club, Lower Manhattan Democrats, tells us he’s “amazed at how well we’ve done” with 59 members in only a few months. The group’s first gala will be May 16 in the home of one of it’s charter members, Rebecca Skinner.
L.M.D. splintered from Downtown Independent Democrats at the end of last year after at least sstwo years of infighting at D.I.D.
Both Love and D.I.D. leader Sean Sweeney said inter-club relations have gotten better since Sweeney left as club president last month. Sweeney said Jeane Wilcke, the new D.I.D. president, is more conciliatory than he is and has already reached out to Love, who also thinks all of the fighting will cool down. (Talk about your recipe for getting ignored by UnderCover.)
Sweeney, though, is personally not ready to bury any hatchets. He says after Love’s allies failed to defeat him as president two years ago “like spoiled children, they took their marbles and started another game.” He can’t see their reason for another club now that he he is no longer the leader.
Love showed Sweeney some love and passed on a comeback. “That’s just Sean being Sean,” he told us.
The city appears to have gotten out while the getting was good and protected its perfect record regarding helicopter noise complaints in Lower Manhattan. Last Friday, the city’s Economic Development Corp. announced new rules designed to reduce chopper noise from Downtown Heliport flights.
Tourist traffic from the Wall St. heliport has been steadily increasing there because it has been phased out of the 30th St. spot. There were many complaints from Downtown Brooklyn, but we were surpised to report a few weeks ago that the city had received zero complaints from Lower Manhattan since tourist traffic began incereasing Downtown.
E.D.C. spokesperson Kyle Sklerov told us this week that there still have been no complaints from Lower Manhattan.
The new rules require tourist flights to turn away from the Seaport and go around Manhattan up the west side of Manhattan. Over the Hudson, choppers must fly in the middle of the river at least 1,500 feet in the air.
The change was praised by a slew of politicians including State Sen. Dan Squadron, U.S. Rep. Jerry Nadler and Councilmember Margaret Chin.
Seaport resident John Ost said the changes sound like they will help. He said chopper noise does echo more in Downtown Brooklyn, but it was also a big problem in Lower Manhattan too. He noticed much more noise Downtown a few weeks ago. He has not had much luck complaining to 311 about other probelems and he suspects that’s why his neighbors never bothered to drop a dime on the choppers either.
“I’m plesaed the city administration responded to the pressure,” he added.
For the record
For those keeping score at home, as far as we know, Downtown Little League officials were right two weeks ago when they said Kaylee Cimino made league history by being the first softball player to hit an out-of-the park homer, but were incorrect saying it was the first such homer of the season. Tyler Rohan hit a baseball over the Battery Park City fence a week before Cimino’s “shot heard round B.P.C.”