Volume 16 • Issue 37 | February 13 - 19, 2004

Downtown Local

Downtown Express photo by Elisabeth Robert

Pressure rehearsal
First-time amateur dancers looked like they were all business Wednesday at the Tribeca Performing Arts Center. They had to be. They had only three hours to prepare for a performance that night. Choreographers from the center’s Artists in Residence program trained the dancers for their debut. The program’s fifth annual festival will be from March 19 –April 3 at the arts center.

PATH crowds
Ridership for the World Trade Center PATH station has surged past expectations in the two months since the Port Authority reopened the station last November.

Before the Port Authority restored PATH service to the W.T.C., agency officials predicted that 18,000 riders would use the temporary station every weekday. Instead, since Jan. 15 more than 30,000 weekday commuters have streamed through the station each workday. Ridership at the W.T.C. station has surpassed that of the PATH’s 33rd St. station, which averaged 26,500 weekday riders in January.

A Port authority official said they had not expected the W.T.C. to become the commuter line’s busiest station again for two more years.

Officials hailed the station’s progress as a clear sign of Lower Manhattan’s revitalization.

“This is a tribute to the determination of the people of New York City, New York State and the region,” said Governor George Pataki in a statement.

The permanent PATH station, a widely praised, winged design by Santiago Calatrava, is scheduled to begin serving passengers by the end of 2006. All elements of the World Trade Center transportation hub are scheduled for completion by 2009.

Washington fest
An annual ceremony in honor of George Washington’s 272nd birthday will be held at Federal Hall, located at 26 Wall St. As George Washington’s birthday falls on a Sunday this year (Feb. 22), the ceremony will be held two days prior his actual birthday on Friday Feb 20. The service will begin at noon on the front steps of the Federal building, where officials will lay reefs at the foot of the George Washington Statue. The ceremony will continue inside where there will be a number of different events. Jo Kim, a student from Queens college, will lead the singing of patriotic songs. Murray Gaile, a combat veteran in W.W. II and a Southbridge Towers resident, who goes every year said, “it is our privilege to continue with the ceremony.”

Dancing with C.B. 1
An official for the Department of Consumer Affairs briefed Community Board 1 on Wednesday about the agency’s proposed changes to the city’s cabaret laws. Consumer Affairs Commissioner Gretchen Dykstra has said she would like to have a new nightlife law in place by the time the city’s existing cabaret licenses expire on Sept. 30.

Among other questions, members asked whether community boards would still play an advisory role in the proposed new system, where noise, unruly crowds and dirty sidewalks would replace dancing as the nightlife no-no punishable by the Department of Consumer Affairs. Jonathan Mintz, deputy commissioner for the Department of Consumer Affairs, reassured community members their input would still be valued.

Under consumer affairs’ proposal, the presence of three factors would require a nightlife establishment to get a license: “big, loud and late,” Mintz said. In other words, clubs, bars and restaurants with a capacity of at least 75 in residential neighborhoods and 200 in commercial neighborhoods that stay open after 1 a.m. and play music at 90 decibels or louder would be required to have a license. Contrary to widespread rumors, the Department of Consumer Affairs is not trying to close down the city’s nightlife at 1 a.m., Mintz said.

The licensing system would largely depend on proprietors’ self-selection, Mintz said. When a board member asked what would happen if a bar owner misrepresented his operation or simply ignored the licensing requirement, Mintz said complaints about a property would trigger a review that could result in a violation for un-licensed activity.

“We wouldn’t be going through all this anguish to pass a law that we have no intention of enforcing,” Mintz said.

Mintz’s visit to the community board came one day before The New York Times reported remarks Mayor Mike Bloomberg made about the cabaret laws. During a trip to Washington , D.C., on Wednesday, Bloomberg said that it was likely that the administration would not make any big changes to the city’s 78-year-old cabaret law this year. “I want to make sure we get it right,” The Times quoted Bloomberg as saying.

“We are pleased to have more time to create an effective law that balances the needs of neighborhoods and the city’s vibrant nightlife,” Dykstra responded in a statement. “We are receiving many interesting and thoughtful ideas from businesses and communities on how we can revise the cabaret law - a law that doesn’t work or address real problems such as noise, safety, and dirty sidewalks.”

Mintz also stressed to the community board that the agency was still accepting feedback from the public on all aspects of the proposed nightlife law.

Meeting schedule
The upcoming week’s schedule of Community Board 1 meetings is as follows:

On Tues., Feb. 17, the Board will hold its monthly full-board meeting at 6:00 p.m. in the community room of Southbridge Towers, 90 Beekman St.

On Thurs., Feb. 19, the Financial District Committee will meet at 6:00 p.m. in room 709 of 49-51 Chambers St. to discuss proposed street fairs for 2004 and pass a resolution on a liquor license application for 110 Liberty St.


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