Town Hall Meeting on Wednesday Morning Will Review Controversial Plan
The BPCA’s plan calls for demolition of the Wagner Park pavilion, and its replacement with a large structure, set atop a new hill—with both designs to hold back storm surge and rising sea levels.
City Council member Christopher Marte (at right) will host a Battery Park City Resiliency Town Hall meeting tomorrow (Wednesday, June 15) at the Museum of Jewish Heritage (36 Battery Place, near First Place), starting at 9am. (Those cannot attend in person are encouraged to participate via Zoom at this link: bit.ly/martebpc.) This meeting will focus on plans by the Battery Park City Authority (BPCA) to complete the South Battery Park City Resiliency Project (SBPCR). That project will require BPCA to close Wagner Park, starting after Labor Day, for at least two years, in order to construct resiliency measures that are intended to make the space resistant to rising sea levels and storm surges associated with climate change that will be more severe than Hurricane Sandy.
(The BPCA’s Draft Environmental Impact Statement describes in detail the new design for Wagner Park and the expected impacts from construction, which will begin next month. For a sense of the design of the future Wagner Park, see this short animated video.)
A BPCA spokesman describes these measures as “an integral part of the overall Lower Manhattan Coastal Resiliency initiative, which will link to similar protective measures nearby, in the Financial District and along Battery Park City’s Esplanade,” and points out that the Authority “worked closely with the City to develop the design.”
On May 27, Tammy Meltzer, chair of Community Board 1 (CB1) and Alice Blank (CB1’s co-chair, who also presides over the Board’s Environmental Protection Committee) wrote to BPCA president B.J. Jones, outlining multiple ongoing concerns about this plan, which will tear down the existing pavilion, with its arch that forms a frame through which to view the harbor and Statue of Liberty. “While we support the need for resiliency in Lower Manhattan, CB1 has repeatedly questioned the need to raze the park and pavilion and is on record opposing this approach,” Ms. Meltzer and Ms. Blank wrote.
The planned new pavilion is slated to include a similar frame through which to view the harbor, public restrooms, a restaurant (significantly larger than the current eatery), and a publicly accessible roof. A BPCA spokesman points out that, “the new building will also be carbon neutral and include a community room and green roof. Since it is placed on an elevated lawn, the building will have an additional floor below ground, which will be used for horticulture, maintenance, and programming needs, as well as additional space for the restaurant. The BPCA argues that this additional commercial space will eliminate the need for the current large tent on Wagner’s public lawn, which creates additional dining space for the restaurant. “All spaces will be universally accessible, including the entrance to the park through reconstructed allees,” the BPCA representative says.
This schematic illustrates the construction area for the planned work, which will close Wagner Park for approximately two years.
“It is crucial that the public has a full understanding of the SBPCR plan, the implications for its implementation, and impacts during phases of construction,” Ms. Meltzer and Ms. Blank (at right) continued. They also urged the BPCA to supply “a plan showing the pedestrian, bike and car traffic flow to better understand exactly what will, and will not, be available to the public for the next two years,” while noting that the CB1 requested this information in April.
Ms. Meltzer additionally requested clarity about whether an elevator will be available to provide handicapped guests, details on soil sampling at the site (with an emphasis on any environmental toxins detected in the ground), and verification that the pavilion slated for demolition contains no lead, asbestos, or other hazardous materials. She likewise pushed for further assurance about maintaining cycling and pedestrian easements during construction.
BPCA President B.J. Jones replied to Ms. Meltzer’s letter on June 8, offering a more than a dozen clarifications and assurances.
Wednesday morning’s session will be the latest in dozens of public meetings about SBPCR, a process that began in 2016. Even with this level of outreach, however, the plan remains controversial. Many local residents are unconvinced of the need to demolish the existing pavilion.
The BPCA solicited public comment on its Draft Environmental Impact Statement for a period of several weeks, which ended last Friday. Justine Cuccia, who chairs CB1’s Battery Park City Committee (and is also a candidate for the State Assembly), submitted a comment that said (in part), “The Wagner Park Site Assessment Project does NOT significantly take into account the feedback from the Battery Park City community or CB1, who have consistently stated that money, attention and effort have been focused on demolition of the present, award-winning structure—rather than focusing primarily on what is MINIMALLY REQUIRED to enhance the resiliency of Wagner Park. The BPCA has stubbornly persisted with their plan to increase revenue-generating assets within Wagner Park, at the expense of greenspace and open parks. Therefore, I call upon the BPCA to cease and desist with the current plan and radically SIMPLIFY the Wagner Park Design, which will limit the area of construction, reduce the cost of the project, and likely mean that Wagner Park is closed for a shorter period of time.”
(Editor’s Note: Ms. Cuccia is related to the reporter who wrote this story.)
To the editor,
[Re: Rent Goes Up Downtown, June 13, 2022]
Practice what you preach is what NYC needs to think. If you want a city that is not segregated and is socio economically diverse, all neighborhoods have options with a variety of affordable housing! Building more 80/20 housing is not the answer—it is a drop in the bucket and ensures segregation in the schools, adds burden on the subways and trains as families are pushed out of Lower Manhattan. It has been 2000 years and we have yet to learn…
“An imbalance between rich and poor is the oldest and most fatal ailment of all republics.”
Rent Goes Up Downtown
Monthly Cost of Local Apartments Jumps by More Than 25 Percent Since Last Year
A new analysis by real estate brokerage firm Douglas Elliman indicates that in May, Lower Manhattan apartment rentals have reached their highest-ever median level, at $4,495. This plateau represents at 28.6 percent increase from May of last year, when the median rental price for a Downtown apartment was $3,495.
The Summer Triangle, ascending in the east on June evenings. Chart via Chelynne Campion, Courtesy EarthSky.org. Look for the three bright stars high in the east at midnight and at zenith in the south-southeast at dawn.
In early evening twilight, near the top of an azure sky, a singular golden point of light appears to the inquisitive sky gazer. It is Arcturus (-0.07magnitude), the brightest star in the summer sky, high in the southeast at about 9:10pm.
Gazing in a northerly direction, one other ray of starlight penetrates Earth’s dimming blue atmosphere: it is the second brightest star, bluish-white Vega (0.00m), not quite as high, in the east-northeast. Mark the astronomical beginning of summer in the night sky by finding the Summer Triangle of stars (see illustration), visible in the east to northeast at nightfall and traveling the sky all night. Altair (0.75m), the last vertex of the Triangle to come into view, clears the eastern horizon by 9pm this evening.
Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn… that’s their order outward from the sun, and it’s the order you’ll see June’s planetary lineup, stretched across our morning sky, beginning around June 10. And don’t forget the sixth planet, the one you are standing on: Earth. You’ll be able to see all five planets with the unaided eye until Mercury slips away in the morning twilight in early July. Chart via John Jardine Goss. Courtesy of EarthSky.org.
Tonight, Tuesday the 14th, the Full Strawberry Moon, a super moon, rises at 9:16pm in the southeast. Super moons occur when the moon swings close to Earth in its orbit, making it seem larger and brighter than the typical full moon. This is the second super moon of 2022; the next one will occur in July.
Summer Solstice, June 21, marks the Sun’s northernmost and highest point in our sky. The latest sunsets of the year in our locale, within about a minute of 8:31pm, take place from June 18 through July 6. Civil twilight begins half an hour after sunset; astronomical twilight, genuine darkness, roughly two hours after sunset.
Earliest sunrises of the year, within a minute of 5:25am, began on June 11 and continue through June 23. The longest days of the year, which we are basking in right now, culminate next week when, from the 20th through the 23rd, there are 15 hours and 6 minutes from sunrise to sunset. The remaining 8 hours and 54 minutes includes morning and evening twilight.
In closing, for early morning (4:15am) astronomy enthusiasts, I am including an illustration of the current five planet extravaganza, offered courtesy of EarthSky.org.
Judy Isacoff, naturesturn.org
This Week’s Calendar
Tuesday, June 14
World Trade Center Greenmarket at the Oculus Reopens
Every Tuesday through the fall. Expected today:
1857 Handcrafted potato vodka from Schoharie County, NY
Francesca’s Bakery goods from Passaic County, NJ
Meredith’s Country Bakery goods from Ulster County, NY
Riverine Ranch water buffalo meat, beef and dairy from Warren County, NJ
Samascott Orchards & Nine Pin Ciderworks Orchard fruit, strawberries, cider, vegetables, baked goods, hard cider from Columbia County, NY
Holocaust survivors can have a difficult time talking about what they experienced during World War II. This can leave their descendants wondering what happened to their relatives and how it impacted them. This is what happened to Jessica Shaw. She had been told that her father Henri had escaped France as a child by climbing over the Pyrenees Mountains with his mother and younger sister into Spain, where he reunited with his father. The family journeyed through Spain, Portugal, and Cuba before they ended up in the United States. During the COVID-19 lockdown, Shaw made the decision to recreate her father’s journey, which she wrote about in The New York Times. Along the way, Jessica discovered that most of what she knew of her father’s escape from France was wrong. Join the Museum for a program exploring Shaw’s journey. Free; suggested $10 donation.
Unconscious bias is a “normal,” omnipresent tendency we all possess. It’s also something we have the capacity to identify and rewire. Not only is it an ethical business imperative to be aware of and counteract bias to welcome diversity and strive for inclusion, but it’s also an opportunity to strengthen our relationships and increase collaboration. In this interactive workshop, GoldJam Creative founder Jen Jamula will walk participants through these important processes. Free.
Play the popular strategy game while getting pointers and advice from an expert. Chess improves concentration, problem solving, and strategic planning — plus it’s fun! For ages 5 and up (adults welcome).
The reimagined Gibney Company presents the first iteration of its new series, Up Close, featuring world premieres by internationally recognized choreographers Rena Butler, Gustavo Ramírez Sansano, and Yin Yue. The program reflects a range of contemporary choreographic styles and explores present-day concerns around reconfiguring and maintaining identity, while navigating personal and shared spaces. Get an intimate look at Gibney Company’s newest commissions and don’t miss a special post-performance reception with the Company on opening night! Check website for times. $35-$75.
Wednesday, June 15
Battery Park City Resiliency Town Hall
Museum of Jewish Heritage (36 Battery Place) and livestreamed
See lead story above. New York City Council Member Christopher Marte hosts a community meeting, open to all, to discuss the Battery Park City Authority’s South Battery Park City Resiliency Project, which will close Wagner Park for two years. Zoom participants may register here.
Observe and sketch the human figure. Each week a model will strike short and long poses for participants to draw. An artist/educator will offer constructive suggestions and critique. Drawing materials provided. Free.
Thirty-five years before the battles of Lexington and Concord, the British colonies in North America raised a regiment to serve in the British Army for an expedition to seize control of the Spanish West Indies. The expedition marked the first time American soldiers deployed overseas. In this lecture hosted by Fraunces Tavern Museum, Craig Chapman will discuss the Americans’ role in the conflict, their terrible suffering, and the awful results of the expedition. Free.
In today’s renaissance of Chinese cooking, the food of Chinatown is often overlooked. Tonight, Chris Cheung, owner of East Wind Snack Shop, joins China Institute to discuss his newly published book, Damn Good Chinese Food, where he shares 50 recipes inspired by life in Chinatown, including the technique for making his renowned dumplings. From take-out orders at tiny hole-in-the wall teahouses to the lush green vegetables piled high at the markets, celebration dinners at colossal banquet halls to authentic home-cooked meals, Chinatown’s culinary treasures and culture laid the groundwork for chef Cheung’s career as a chef. Free.
Celebrate Pride Month with a silent disco dance party featuring Gotham Cheer and queer DJ’s from QuietEvents. Breath-taking sunset views and Lady Liberty will serve as our backdrop as we dance to the hottest beats pumped through light-up headphones. Headphones are free; deposit is required.
With Can We Dance Here?, three storytellers offer percussive conversation. Celebrating and elevating their survival amidst the barriers that diminish collective liberation, Soles has bottled this synergy into an enticing evening of rhythmic exchange. Also Friday and Saturday. $15-$20.
Take a self guided tour of the tall ship Wavertree, and visit the 12 Fulton Street galleries to view the exhibitions “South Street and the Rise of New York” and “Millions: Migrants and Millionares aboard the Great Liners.” Free. Also Saturday and Sunday.
Singer/songwriter Terre Roche leads this weekly singing program with the beautiful backdrop of the setting sun in NY Harbor. Open to all. Free.
Between the Waters
River to River Festival Offers Free Dance, Music, Theater, and Open-Door Museums
The 21st annual River to River Festival, Lower Manhattan’s annual, free summer arts celebration, began Sunday, June 12, and will continue through Sunday, June 26. The 15 days of live dance, music, theater and visual arts will present nine separate performances and events, at venues spread across the length and breadth of Lower Manhattan venues, to an audience of tens of thousands spectators.
Newly Formed Union Stages Walkout at Private School in Seaport
Teachers and staff at a prestigious private school in Lower Manhattan, the Blue School, mounted a one-day strike on May 24, to protest what they see as the school’s “unlawful refusal to recognize and bargain with our union.”
Gender Requirements for Some Elected Offices Sparks Calls for Reform
Ever wonder why New York State has legal quotas limiting how many women can be elected as district leaders? Blame Eleanor Roosevelt. Some background: A district leader is an unsalaried, elected official who represents an Assembly District, and essentially ensures that a political party is being governed democratically. Usually, there is one district leader for every Assembly District. But the Democratic party mandates two district leaders per Assembly District: one male and one female. To read more…
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