Volume 16 • Issue 51 | May 14 - 20, 2004

Downtown local

Downtown Express photo by Robert Stolarik

That’s what’s going on
A construction worker reaches over a fence near one of the new “What’s Going On Here?” signs put up by www.LowerManhattan.info The Web site, a joint effort of New York City and the Lower Manhattan Development Corp., now has signs near Downtown construction sites explaining the nature of street repair projects.

Rail money
There may be a way to build a rail link from Lower Manhattan to J.F.K. Airport without dipping into the hotly contested pool of remaining federal 9/11 funds, according to Community Board 1 chairperson Madelyn Wils.

The likelihood of building a rail link without the funds hinges on the project receiving $3.2 billion in tax credits, Wils said. If it does, $550 million already committed from the Port Authority, $860 million diverted from the short bypass proposed for West St., the remaining small portion of Federal Transit Administration funds, and a possible $400 to $500 million payment from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority could push the funding up to the needed amount without any 9/11 funds, Wils said.

About $1 billion remains in federal Community Development Block Grant money, issued in response to the terror attack, and Community Board 1 has recommended spending much of the money on affordable housing, park space, community centers and a school.

Wils has been a proponent of the rail link, which is expected to cost about $6 billion. Governor George Pataki, Mayor Mike Bloomberg and Downtown business leaders have also called the link’s creation critical to Lower Manhattan revitalization.

Anti-terror drill
The city’s Office of Emergency Management will simulate an emergency at the Bowling Green subway station Sunday May 16 from 5 a.m. – 9 a.m. The drill to monitor response times is likely to include mock explosions, smoke, officials wearing protective suits and street closures, according to a warning advisory O.E.M. sent to Downtown Express.

The agency did not release the precise nature of the simulated emergency, code-named “Operation Transit Safe,” in order to better evaluate response capabilities.

The street and parking restrictions are expected to begin on Sunday after midnight to allow for setup and last until the drill ends on Sunday, May 16 at 9 a.m.

Southbound West St. traffic will be forced to go through the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel or the Battery Park underpass. Traffic exiting Battery Park City from Battery Pl. on to West St. will be directed to the northbound lanes.
Broadway will be closed south of Liberty St. at 4:00 a.m.

Battery Place will be closed from West St. to State St. State St. will be closed from Battery Pl. and South St. Pearl St. will be closed from Broad St. to State St. Bridge St. will be closed from State St. to Broad St. Greenwich St. will be closed from Battery Pl. to Morris St. Washington St. will be closed from Morris St. to Battery Pl. Signs will be posted on the closed streets before the drill.

The Bowling Green 4,5 subway station was already planned to be closed for a construction project. Questions about the drill can be e-mailed to Andrew Troisi at atroisi@oem.nyc.gov, Michael Johnson at mjohnson@oem.nyc.gov or Jennifer Yu at jyu@oem.nyc.gov. The O.E.M. phone number is 718-422-4800.

Chinatown fund
City and state officials have launched Explore Chinatown, a tourism initiative to promote an area still hurting from the Sept. 11 attacks.

The Lower Manhattan Development Corporation and the Sept. 11th Fund have each contributed $1 million for the project, which features marketing strategies such as a visitor Web site at www.ExploreChinatown.com and a visitor information kiosk to be installed in an as-yet-to-be determined location. NYC & Company, the city’s official tourism organization, is also working on the project.

Still more needs to be done to restore business in Chinatown to its pre-9/11 levels, said Paul Lee, a local businessman, including reopening Park Row, a major artery linking Chinatown to parts of Lower Manhattan.

Business is still “radically down,” Lee said. “Because we still have access problems, even as you’re coming back, you’re never going to recover what you’ve lost, and that’s the biggest dilemma.”

Tunnel closing
The eastbound south tube of the Holland Tunnel will be closed during the early hours of Sun. May 16 from 1 a.m. to 6 a.m. for construction, the Port Authority announced. Motorists traveling to Manhattan at that time should use the Lincoln Tunnel or the George Washington Bridge. A Port Authority official said the work is not related to the Lower Manhattan security drill scheduled at the same time. Information on the closing is available at the Port Authority website www.panynj.gov.

A decade of taste in Tribeca
Tribeca area schools and restaurants have teamed up once again as the annual Taste of Tribeca benefit returns for its 10th year on May 22.

Over 50 area restaurants will offer their gastronomic specialties during this year’s festival, which helps fund arts and enrichment programs at P.S. 150 and P.S. 234.

“The event has done nothing but gotten bigger and better,” said festival co-chairperson Maia Wechsler about the event milestone.

The one-day event, which is scheduled to last from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Duane St. between Hudson and Greenwich Sts., will include offering by such neighborhood restaurants as Duane Park Cafe, Roc, Montrachet, Chanterelle, Manna Catering and the Odeon.

Some of the children’s activities will include storytellers and a puppet show by the Ivy Vine Players. Tribeca historian Oliver Allen will offer two historical walking tours in the neighborhood and six different musical acts are scheduled to play during the event including the jazz and R&B sextet Beetroot and the all female international band Paprika. Students from P.S. 150 and 234 will also be providing a musical and dance performance during the afternoon.

“To be able to celebrate a 10th anniversary is a real gift,” Wechsler said, indicating that efforts such as a corporate donor program have been implemented this year in order to guarantee the festival’s longevity. “You know it’s great to survive 10 years, but can it live on? I think we’ve added enough new elements to ensure it has a life beyond 10 years.”

Proceeds from the event will go towards funding the arts and enrichment programs at P.S. 234 and P.S. 150. Food tickets for the event are available in groups of six with advance tickets are available at A.L. Bazzini & Co., 339 Greenwich St., or online at www.tasteof tribeca.org for $35. Festival participants can also purchase tickets the day of the event for $40.

Liberty Bond extension
The U.S. Senate passed legislation on May 11 that extends the deadline for Liberty Bonds for another five years, until Dec. 31, 2009. The 9/11 financing was set to expire at the end of this year, causing concern that some of the $8 billion in tax-exempt aid would go unclaimed.

But the extension will not likely affect the $1.6 billion set aside for residential Liberty Bonds, which, spurred by the hot Downtown residential market, are expected to be fully allocated by the original deadline. By contrast, approximately $2 billion of commercial liberty bonds have been approved so far, according to a spokesperson for the Empire State Development Corporation, which administers the commercial bonds.

The House is likely to vote next week on a bill including the extension of the Liberty Bond deadline, according to a Congressional source.

If all $8 billion in Liberty Bonds were used, it would cost federal taxpayers an estimated $1.2 billion over 10 years.

Al fresco dining Downtown
For the seventh year in a row, New Yorkers will get a chance to sample food from some of Lower Manhattan’s most notable restaurants at the Dine Around Downtown festival on Wednesday, May 19 at Chase Manhattan Plaza from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Over 50 restaurants, including Bouley, Roy’s New York, Vine, Bull Run and Ise will be offering an opportunity to taste some of their dishes. Admission to the event is free and samples will cost from $3 to $5. The plaza is between Nassau and William Sts. and Liberty and Pine Sts. In the event of rain, the festival will be held the following day on May 20.

C.B. 1 meetings
The upcoming week’s schedule of Community Board 1 meetings is as follows:

On Monday, May 17, the Financial District Committee will meet at 6 p.m. in room 709 of 49-51 Chambers St. to discuss the Battery Park carousel.

On May 18, the board will hold its monthly full board meeting at 6 p.m. in the Museum of Jewish Heritage at 36 Battery Pl. in Battery Park City.

In last week’s article about Downtown Little League games, we misidentified two players. The Twins player who got his first two hits was Liam Kavanagh, not Gallagher. The Giant pictured at the plate was Joshua Colon, not Owen Kimmell

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