Lower Manhattan’s Local News
Cuomo Announces Planned Expansion of Museum of Jewish Heritage
At his annual State of the State address, delivered Wednesday in Albany, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo included on his list of dozens of proposals an announcement that he was directing the Battery Park City Authority (BPCA) to develop an expansion plan for the Museum of Jewish Heritage — A Living Memorial to the Holocaust, located within Wagner Park, on Battery Place.
Near the end of his 90-minute address, Governor Cuomo said, “I am directing Battery Park City to develop a plan to expand our magnificent Jewish Museum on the Holocaust, which is located in Battery Park City. We want to expand the Holocaust Museum, so it can host school children from all across the State. Let’s make a visit to the Museum part of a rounded education. Because to know the history of the Jewish people is to know our mutual love and connection. Because New York would not be New York without the Jewish community.”
Setting aside that the Governor appeared to be confused about the name of the institution he was praising, this idea raises multiple questions, among them how much park land will be expropriated for the expansion. In this context, it is worth noting that the Museum of Jewish Heritage, which originally opened in 1997, has already expanded, opening an 80,000-square-foot new wing in 2003, which entailed the taking of many thousands of square feet of formerly open, public space.
Another issue will be the budget for this expansion, and where these funds will come from. If the BPCA is called upon to subsidize this plan, it will necessarily raise questions among residents and community leaders, who have been repeatedly told by the Authority that other local priorities (such as housing affordability within Battery Park City) must be weighed against competing imperatives, such as the mandate to convey the maximum possible excess revenue to the City of New York each year.
Any new expansion of the Museum of Jewish Heritage also appears likely to entail significant costs. The 2003 enlargement project was budgeted at $22 million, all of which came from public sources. What other uses local leaders might prioritize for tens of millions of dollars in BPCA funds is a discussion that has yet to begin.
Additional financial questions involve the Museum itself, as well as the State as whole. In recent years, the Museum of Jewish Heritage has experienced serious difficulty in raising sufficient funds to cover operating costs.
As recently as 2016, according the filings with the Internal Revenue Service, the Museum booked a deficit of more than one million dollars. How these challenges would be made more manageable by calling upon the Museum’s management (and the donors who underwrite their efforts) to preside over a larger physical plant is unclear. Moreover, Governor Cuomo is presiding over a State budget with a projected deficit of $6 billion for the coming fiscal year. Where Mr. Cuomo plans to find room for this largesse in an already strapped balance sheet was not addressed in his Wednesday speech.
Another financial question hinges upon whether the Governor is to be taken literally at his word about bringing school children from around New York State to the Museum of Jewish Heritage. As of this year, there are approximately 2.65 million public school students enrolled in primary and secondary schools throughout the State, according to the federal government’s National Center for Education Statistics. The cost of transporting any significant percentage of this population (from cities as far away as Buffalo, Rochester, Utica, and Syracuse, as well as hundreds of other, smaller school districts), along with teachers and chaperones, while providing all of them with food and (in some cases) overnight accommodation, so that they could spend even a few hours at the Museum of Jewish Heritage, would likely run to many tens of millions of dollars per year. The source for this funding was also unspecified in the Governor’s speech.
Some of these questions may be resolved (or at least clarified) later this month, when Governor Cuomo is scheduled to deliver his annual budget address.
At Wednesday evening’s meeting of the Battery Park City Committee of Community Board 1 (CB1), chairwoman Tammy Meltzer asked, “where is there parking for all of the buses needed to bring these children in?” BPCA representatives agreed to inquire about this aspect of a plan that they said was still in its preliminary, conceptual stages. They also offered assurances of collaboration with the community in developing the proposal.
Regardless of whether residents are afforded a meaningful role in planning for any expansion at the Museum of Jewish Heritage, this initiative would appear to be part of a pattern in which Battery Park City, a community directly controlled by Mr. Cuomo, has become the venue of choice for a succession of high-profile gestures (including planned memorials for Puerto Rican victims of Hurricane Maria, and the life of Mother Cabrini) that seem calculated to curry favor among important constituencies for a Governor who is widely believed to have national political ambitions.
Cuomo Vetoes Legislation Sought by HRPT to Allow Development on Pier 40
On New Year’s Eve, Governor Andrew Cuomo vetoed a bill passed earlier this year by both houses of the State legislature that would have allowed limited commercial development on Pier 40, the massive former cruise ship terminal on the Hudson River waterfront, adjacent to Houston Street, which covers 14 acres and now houses athletic and recreational facilities.
Such development would have helped to fund operations for the Hudson River Park Trust (HRPT), which oversees the four-mile-long riverfront park that stretches from the Battery to West 59th Street.
“Pier 40 is a very key element of the Hudson River Park,” noted Paul Goldstein, who chairs the Waterfront Committee of Community Board 1 (CB1), at an April meeting. To read more…
Class-Action Suit on Behalf of Gateway Tenants Reaches Proposed Settlement
Attorneys representing Gateway Plaza residents in a class-action suit that began in 2014 have reached a tentative settlement with the LeFrak Organization, the landlords at Battery Park City’s largest residential complex, which they value at $42 million. To read more…
To the editor:
The Seaport Coalition is asking our neighbors to send their comments before January 16th to NYSDEC, the agency that will be overseeing the cleanup of toxins found under the 250 Water Street (formerly Millstein) parking lot.
Here are some talking points:
1. Mercury Action Levels should never exceed background at the site perimeter
2. Double the number of mercury vapor and soil samples taken
3. Double the number of air monitoring stations around the perimeter of the site
4. Use more sensitive mercury detection monitors such as Jerome 505 or Lumex RA915M
5. Establish a “hot line” so community concerns about the site can be called in.
6. Provide real time air monitoring data in an on-line data room for easy access.
7. Curtain or Tent drilling sites to reduce noise, light and vapor releases
8. Notify the schools, residences and commercial establishments 24 hours in advance of perimeter work.
9. Immediate community notification when work site is shut down for any reason.
10. Coordinate emergency response of police, fire, hospitals, DOT prior to any ground intrusive activities.
Responses can be to: Michael.Koromoske@dec.ny.gov 518-402-9802
Happy New Year,
Michael Kramer for The Seaport Coalition
Eyes to the Sky
January 6 – 19, 2020
Sun’s New Year, dawn and dusk planets
Since the winter solstice, December 21, I have been particularly attentive to the Sun as it sets into the skyline to the southwest. Even though I know that the Sun is setting about a minute later everyday, I am impressed to notice that the location of the setting Sun has inched more westerly.
By the time of Vernal Equinox, March 19, sunset will be due west. Sunset today, the 6th, is at 4:43:33pm., an increase of 15 minutes from the earliest sunset on December 8th. Picking up momentum, we will experience a 14-minute gain of afternoon sunlight by January 19, when sunset time is 4:57:28pm. To read more…
Shutter to Think
Turns Out That Ignorance of the Law Is an Actually Pretty Good Excuse
A Tribeca building owner recently violated landmarks law by destroying metal shutters on a legally protected building, but both Community Board 1 and the City’s Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) have decided that there isn’t much to be done about this.
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Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House Tour
National Museum of the American Indian
Join a Museum Ambassador for a tour of the Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House, home of the National Museum of the American Indian in New York. Tour highlights include a discussion of the history of the site, architect Cass Gilbert, viewing the Collectors office with Tiffany woodwork; Reginald Marsh murals; and the 140 ton Rotunda Dome by Raphael Gustavino. One Bowling Green.Soundz at the Back of My Head
Soundz at the Back of my Head is the third and final installment of the talkingdance series begun with …i am black [you have to be willing to not know] and continued with white privilege. This dialogic manifesto talking-dancing-technology work engages its audience with the contradictory impulses that run through the creative imagination of an artist working within experimental performance and the afterlives of slavery. Check website for times. 280 Broadway. $15, $20
Pipes at One
St. Paul’s Chapel
Stretching the Canvas Exhibition Tour
National Museum of the American Indian
Landmarks & Preservation Committee
Click here for any changes to agendas prior to the meeting dates.
Recalling Five Points
Epicenter of a Notorious Slum Proposed for Commemoration
In 1831, the City government considered a petition that warned, “that the place known as “Five points” has long been notorious… as being the nursery where every species of vice is conceived and matured; that it is infested by a class of the most abandoned and desperate character.”
A decade later, Charles Dickens, visiting New York, wrote of the same Lower Manhattan neighborhood that had inspired the petition, “what place is this, to which the squalid street conducts us? A kind of square of leprous houses, some of which are attainable only by crazy wooden stairs without. What lies behind this tottering flight of steps? Let us go on again, and plunge into the Five Points…. To read more…
Cruise Ships in New York Harbor
Arrivals & Departures
Sunday January 19
07:00 ~ 17:00
Sunday February 2
07:00 ~ 17:00
10:00 ~ 16:00
07:00 ~ 17:00
07:00 ~ 17:00
10:00 ~ 16:00
Many ships pass Lower Manhattan on their way to and from the Midtown Passenger Ship Terminal. Others may be seen on their way to or from piers in Brooklyn and Bayonne. Stated times, when appropriate, are for passing the Colgate clock in Jersey City, New Jersey, and are based on sighting histories, published schedules and intuition. They are also subject to passenger and propulsion problems, tides, fog, winds, freak waves, hurricanes and the whims of upper management.
Death Came Calling at the Corner of Wall and Broad Streets, in Lower Manhattan’s First Major Terrorist Attack
As the noon hour approached on a fall Thursday morning in 1920, a horse-drawn wagon slowly made its way west down Wall Street toward “the Corner,” the high-powered intersection of Wall and Broad. Its driver came to a gentle stop in front of the Assay Office, where stockpiles of gold and silver were stored and tested for purity. But theft was not his motive.
Cass Gilbert and the Evolution of the New York Skyscraper
by John Simko
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