The Broadsheet – Lower Manhattan’s Local Newspaper
Reasoning in the Public Square
Neighborhood Association Will Host Online Meeting to Discuss Urgent Concerns
The Battery Park City Neighborhood Association sprang from last summer’s Pause the Saws protest movement, which successfully blocked a plan by then-Governor Andrew Cuomo to cut down trees in Rockefeller Park, to make way for a planned Essential Workers Monument.
The Battery Park City Neighborhood Association (BPCNA) will host an online meeting Sunday evening (February 6) at which residents can discuss a broad range of issues that have become acute causes of concern for the community.
The grassroots organization sprang up in the wake of last summer’s successful Pause the Saws protest movement, which prevented then-Governor Andrew Cuomo from cutting down trees in Rockefeller Park to make way for a planned Essential Workers Monument.
“It’s incredible that such a fraught moment turned into a bonding experience,” says BPCNA board member Laurie Sheindlin. “It also shed light on the incredible community we have here—passionate, resourceful and sophisticated.”
Among the concerns the meeting will address are the looming increases in ground rent, which threaten to drive many condominium owners from their homes. BPCNA member Barbara Ireland notes that, “our goal is to educate the neighborhood, both renters and owners, about why ground rent is an important factor in affordability and property values. When they see the numbers, it will inspire action.”
Ms. Ireland adds, “since the 1980’s, Battery Park City has been one of the best places to live and raise a family in New York. We believe that pending ground-lease escalations present a threat to keeping the neighborhood attractive and accessible to everyday New Yorkers. We have been working hard with our local, state and community leaders on efforts address this threat and protect the neighborhood.”
Another topic that will be a focus on Sunday evening is governance by the Battery Park City Authority (BPCA), the State agency that oversees the community. Neighborhood Association member Amy Van Buskirk observed that, “Battery Park City governance is largely influenced by an obsolete 50-year-old law. In 1968, when the Authority was formed, it was given a mandate to develop a thriving community from a blighted area that was, literally, nothing but water and dilapidated piers, with not a single resident. More than half a century later, the infrastructure is completed and the goal of a thriving community has been achieved—in large part due to many residents who have lived and worked here for more than 30 years.”
She adds that, “it is time for our Governor and State legislature to update the law and change the Authority’s governance, so that residents constitute a majority of its seven-member board. In the parlance of democracy, we seek fair representation. We want nothing more than representatives who live in the community and understand our values when it comes to education, culture, environment, local businesses and housing. These are the same reasons why New York passed a law granting this right to those who live in a similarly styled community on Roosevelt Island. Over the past half century, the Battery Park City community has earned and deserves the same right.”
BPCNA member Britni Erez reflects that, “2022 is a pivotal election year for Battery Park City, especially with the proposed legislative redistricting plan. We are mobilizing efforts to educate and inform the community, as well as the candidates, on the pressing issues in our neighborhood.”
She also notes that, “the community represents a powerful, organized block of many thousands of voters. The BPCNA will be holding membership drives and is looking for volunteers on a variety of subcommittees, such as governance, resiliency, community-building, and ground rent.”
“The BPCNA was born out of the Pause the Saws grass-roots movement,” Ms. Sheindlin concludes. “We are now planning a one-year anniversary party, for this June 2022. We will surely reminisce about last year’s protest and the big win. But more importantly, we hope to continue the momentum to push for solutions to long standing problems.”
All Battery Park City residents are welcome to participate in Sunday’s online meeting, which begins at 9:00 pm. The session can be accessed by Zoom.us, with meeting ID 944 3031 1514, and passcode 202122. For more information, please browse: BPCNA.org
‘Our Representative Won’t Give A Damn About Us’
CB1 Discusses Harm to Lower Manhattan from Gerrymandered Assembly District Lines
Wednesday evening’s meeting of the Battery Park City Committee of Community Board 1 became the forum for a vehement discussion of the proposed legislative redistricting that will uproot Battery Park City and the western Financial District from Lower Manhattan, and instead relegate representation of these communities in the State Assembly to Staten Island. Downtown community leaders were first alerted to this impending change by Assembly member Yuh-Line Niou, prior to the official announcement of the proposed redistricting on Tuesday.
Committee member Jeff Galloway began by noting, “it is manifestly absurd to have an Assembly district shaped this way. The New York State Assembly is the legislative body that is meant to be most closely tied to the people it represents. That’s why there are many more Assembly members than State Senators, and why each Assembly seat represents a smaller district, with a smaller population,” than in the State Senate.
“Communities defined by commonalities of interest,” he continued. “That is why, for years and years, we have been tied with neighbors in Manhattan, who shared priorities like mass transit, affordable housing, and resiliency. We will now be only 20 to 25 percent of our own Assembly district, with roughly 80 percent of the population in Staten Island. I’m sure they are fine people, but they will have their own interests. And our interests are quite different. This is a bad idea.” To read more…
Albany to Lower Manhattan: Drop Dead
Redistricting Grafts Downtown Assembly District Onto Staten Island
In a move that has stupefied and outraged local leaders, the legislature in Albany has proposed to redraw lines for the State Assembly that will divide Lower Manhattan, and transfer its representation to a district on Staten Island.
The current boundaries are slated for change because the 2020 Census has the legal effect of automatically triggering a recalibration of all election district boundaries within the State. This task has fallen to the New York State Legislative Task Force on Demographic Research and Reapportionment (LATFOR), which has operated largely in secret for several weeks. To read more…
We the People
To the Editor,
In 30 years, I never experienced or expected a voting rights problem in this community. But here we are, right now! And our Community has apparently become orphaned from its government.
It is unbelievable that the Battery Park City and FiDi communities could have their Assembly 65 District severed from Community Board 1 and paired by Democratic gerrymandering with Northern Staten Island to render our gathering CB1 community strength into rubble and stifling our voices. It also cedes Liberty and Governor’s Island to co-jurisdiction with Staten Island and conjoins two New York cultures that could not be more different.
But who in government ever listens to anyone who respects and follows customary rules and offers opponents all the time they need to succeed in what they intend?
The Battery Park City leasehold has been a fatal encumbrance to resident owners and renters for many years. Now we are facing a crescendo of threatening financial and community changes based on our original 1969 covenant, which have created a de facto gated community and impose cleansing financial arrangements that guarantee long-term gentrification and staying power for only the upper class in our neighborhood.
We need to meet the crying Downtown need for housing affordability for all, and forever establish a living form of respect for the professional responders and civilian survivors of the World Trade Center tragedy and their families by granting them preferential accommodation into permanent, 100% affordable housing at World Trade Center. We must demand this from our government as a united community.
If we want to invoke governmental action, we need, all of us, to act as our own Minutemen. We need to follow Thoreau, Gandhi, and Martin Luther King into civil disobedience. We need to be heard and served by the government which is we ourselves, The People and our representatives together.
We need to package these issues into a unified demand: challenging and reversing the redistricting of the Downtown community; conclusively addressing the Battery Park City leasehold issue; and meeting the fundamental need for 100% affordability at World Trade Center 5.
We need to organize a massive tax strike on the basis of these issues to prove our community resolve well before the primary election so our new and aspiring governor and primary decision-maker in these matters hears us and actually learns that We the People are here to be heard.
To the Editor,
I am mystified by the decision to excise Battery Park City and the Financial District from the 65th Assembly District. I can think of no good policy reason to join these two communities with Staten Island.
Districts are supposed to be comprised by “communities of interest.” To join these two Lower Manhattan communities with northern Staten Island, seems to defy that goal. Both Battery Park City and the Financial District are very densely populated. Both are completely reliant on public transportation, most of which is managed by either the Port Authority or the MTA, each a state agency. In addition, Battery Park City is also managed by a New York State authority. Having local representation in the Assembly is critical to the functioning of these communities.
While I am pleased that Battery Park City will be represented in a single Assembly district, the community is very closely linked to Tribeca, the community just to the north, and Greenwich Village, just north of that. We share many resources including the Hudson River waterfront, Hudson River Park, elementary, middle and high schools, children’s softball, football and soccer, in addition to multiple public transportation entities.
The Financial District and Battery Park City have been working closely with adjacent communities on coastal resiliency, a tremendous undertaking, dependent on local, state and federal funding. The coordination of the pieces of this plan is reliant on the close relationship between these communities.
As far as I can see, the only thing that Lower Manhattan and Staten Island have in common are the terminus points for the Staten Island Ferry. This is not a good enough reason to break up Lower Manhattan from its neighbors and adjoining communities.
CLASSIFIEDS & PERSONALS
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Analysis By Housing Group Cites Declining Affordability in Lower Manhattan
A leading housing advocacy organization has completed an exhaustive look at threats to affordability in every community in the five boroughs, and has found that Lower Manhattan ranks among the ten most at-risk neighborhoods by one key metric, while also placing in the 20 most-endangered by another.
The Association for Neighborhood and Housing Development (ANHD), an umbrella organization of 100 non-profit affordable housing and economic development groups that serve low- and moderate-income residents in all five boroughs of the City, has published the 2021 edition of its annual roundup, “How Is Affordable Housing Threatened In Your Neighborhood.” For this report, Lower Manhattan was defined as the catchment of Community Board 1, a collection of neighborhoods encompassing 1.5 square miles, bounded roughly by Canal, Baxter, and Pearl Streets, and the Brooklyn Bridge.
The Battery Park City Authority kicked off its Annual Art Exhibition on Sunday, January 30, at the community space in Six River Terrace (next to the Bluestone Lane Cafe and across from the Irish Hunger Memorial).
All are welcome to view the paintings created by participants at Authority’s art programs. Admission is free, but proof of vaccination required.
Light up your best “après-ski” look and strut your stuff at our cold weather family-friendly silent dance party. Three live DJs from QuietEvents will illuminate the night as they pump beats through illuminated headphones to get you moving. Headphones are free, ID required, RSVP highly recommended. Free
The Queen Mary 2 tied up in Brooklyn
Lower Manhattan Rentals Increase in Price, While Condo Sales Drift
A new study from the online real estate database company, StreetEasy, shows that the cost for renting an apartment in three Lower Manhattan neighborhoods spiraled during the fourth quarter of 2021, while the fluctuation in purchase prices was more complicated.
For tenants, median asking rents jumped (relative to the same period one year earlier) by 38.7 percent in the Financial District (to $4,300), 20.8 percent in Tribeca (to $7,700) and 13.1 percent in Battery Park City (to $4,441) per month.
For those wishing to purchase a condominium or cooperative, the picture was more mixed. In Tribeca, the median asking price climbed by 12.5 percent (to $4.49 million), but the median closing prices rose by a more modest 6.6 percent ($3.3 million). In FiDi, the median ask rose by 7.2 percent (to $1.28 million), but median closing prices actually fell by 0.2 percent, to $1.27 million. And in Battery Park City, the median asking price dropped by 8.8 percent (to $1 million), while the median closing price dipped by 13.8 percent (to $844,500).
Hundreds of Local Storefronts Remain Rented to Corporate Brands, While Small Businesses Struggle, and Landlords Warehouse Empty Space
A new report from the Center for an Urban Future (CUF), a public policy think tank that uses data-driven research to bring attention to overlooked issues, documents that the proliferation of chain stores in Lower Manhattan has decreased slightly during the past 12 months, while the same tally for the City as whole ticked upward.
For small businesses, the outlook appears to be bleaker. To read more…
City Bestows Richer Subsidies and a Longer Contract on Passenger Boat Service
City Hall is poised to increase its already-lavish support of the NYC Ferry service by tens of millions of dollars. In a story first reported by the City, a nonprofit, digital news platform, the board of the Economic Development Corporation (EDC) on December 14 approved up to $62 million in additional subsidies for the ferry service, which the administration of then-Mayor Bill de Blasio launched in 2017 as one of its signature initiatives.
NYC Ferry is the company designated by the EDC (a non-profit entity that negotiates strategic partnerships on behalf of City Hall, designed to harness private-sector resources to public projects, and thus foster economic growth) to operate the system, which includes eight routes, connecting all five boroughs, for the same price as a subway or bus ride. To read more…
Annual Food Fest Puts Lavish Meals within Reach of Thrifty Epicures
New York’s annual food celebration, Restaurant Week continues for five weeks, until Saturday (February 13).
For those disinclined to venture above Canal Street, the goods news is that of all the 481 establishments participating throughout the City this year, more than five percent are located in Lower Manhattan.
The Bowling Green Greenmarket brings fresh offerings from local farms to Lower Manhattan’s historic Bowling Green plaza. Twice a week year-round stop by to load up on the season’s freshest fruit, crisp vegetables, beautiful plants, and freshly baked loaves of bread, quiches, and pot pies.
Fulton Street cobblestones between South and Front Sts. across from McNally Jackson Bookstore.
Locally grown produce from Rogowski Farm, Breezy Hill Orchard, and other farmers and small-batch specialty food products, sold directly by their producers. Producers vary from week to week.
SNAP/EBT/P-EBT, Debit/Credit, and Farmers Market Nutrition Program checks accepted at all farmers markets.
TODAY IN HISTORY
Codex Sinaiticus, a manuscript of the Christian Bible written in the middle of the fourth century, contains the earliest complete copy of the Christian New Testament.
1169 – A strong earthquake struck the Ionian coast of Sicily, causing tens of thousands of injuries and deaths, especially in Catania.
1555 – John Rogers is burned at the stake, becoming the first English Protestant martyr under Mary I of England.
1789 – George Washington is unanimously elected as the first President of the United States by the U.S. Electoral College.
1797 – The Riobamba earthquake strikes Ecuador, causing up to 40,000 casualties.
1801 – John Marshall is sworn in as Chief Justice of the United States.
1846 – The first Mormon pioneers make their exodus from Nauvoo, Illinois, westward towards Salt Lake Valley.
1859 – The Codex Sinaiticus is discovered in Egypt.
On this day in 1859, the Codex Sinaiticus was discovered in Egypt, in the Monastery of Saint Catherine, by the Leipzig archaeologist Constantin von Tischendorf.
The Codex Sinaiticus is an ancient handwritten copy of the Greek Bible, and alongside the Codex Vaticanus, it is the finest Greek text of the New Testament.The codex is an Alexandrian text-type manuscript written in uncial letters (rounded unjoined letters which is found in European manuscripts of the 4th–8th centuries and from which modern capital letters are derived) on parchment in the 4th century. (wikipedia)
1938 – Adolf Hitler appoints himself as head of the Armed Forces High Command.
1945 – World War II: The Yalta Conference between the “Big Three” (Churchill, Roosevelt, and Stalin) opens at the Livadia Palace in the Crimea.
1967 – Lunar Orbiter program: Lunar Orbiter 3 lifts off from Cape Canaveral’s Launch Complex 13 on its mission to identify possible landing sites for the Surveyor and Apollo spacecraft.
1974 – The Symbionese Liberation Army kidnaps Patty Hearst in Berkeley, California.
1976 – In Guatemala and Honduras an earthquake kills more than 22,000.
1999 – Unarmed West African immigrant Amadou Diallo is shot 41 times by four plainclothes New York City police officers on an unrelated stake-out, inflaming race relations in the city.
2004 – Facebook, a mainstream online social networking site, is founded by Mark Zuckerberg.
1447 – Lodovico Lazzarelli, Italian poet (d. 1500)
1676 – Giacomo Facco, Italian violinist and composer (d. 1753)
1677 – Johann Ludwig Bach, German violinist and composer (d. 1731)
1818 – Emperor Norton, San Francisco eccentric and visionary (d. 1880)
1902 – Charles Lindbergh, American pilot and explorer (d. 1974)
1906 – Clyde Tombaugh, American astronomer and academic, discovered Pluto (d. 1997)
1913 – Rosa Parks, American civil rights activist (d. 2005)
1921 – Betty Friedan, American author and feminist (d. 2006)
1943 – Ken Thompson, American computer scientist and programmer, co-developed the B programming language
1947 – Dan Quayle, American sergeant, lawyer, and politician, 44th Vice President of the United States
211 – Septimius Severus, Roman emperor (b. 145)
1555 – John Rogers, English clergyman and translator (b. 1505)
1905 – Louis-Ernest Barrias, French sculptor and academic (b. 1841)
2000 – Carl Albert, 54th Speaker of the United States House of Representatives (b. 1908)
2006 – Betty Friedan, American author and activist (b. 1921)
2007 – Jules Olitski, Ukrainian-American painter and sculptor (b. 1922)
Credit: Wikipedia and other internet and non-internet sources