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They Plan to Pave Paradise and Put Up a Parking Lot
Highly Regarded Park on Lower East Side Awaits Demolition, as Protestors Push for New Plan
Alina Shen, an organizer with the Committee Against Anti-Asian Violence (with microphone), leads a May 23 protest against the pending demolition of Rutgers Park, in the Two Bridges neighborhood.
A coalition of Lower Manhattan residents is mobilizing to fight the planned destruction of a much-loved local park. In the Two Bridges community on the Lower East Side, Rutgers Park (bounded by South Street, Cherry Slip, and Rutgers Slip, in the shadow of the FDR Drive) is slated to be demolished and repurposed as a parking lot, for up to five years, while construction for a pair of controversial, super-tall high rises proceeds nearby. Rutgers Park is a treasured local amenity containing within its 20,000 square feet a playground, a full-sized basketball court (rare in Manhattan’s cramped environment), more than a dozen old-growth trees, and plentiful seating that is much prized by seniors who live nearby.
Under ordinary circumstances, it would not be legally possible to eliminate a park in this way. But Rutgers Park falls into a nebulous category known as “privately owned public spaces” (POPS), which means that the facility is operated for the public benefit by a commercial owner.
That noted, such POPS amenities are often legally required of their private operators, usually because an agreement with the City has conferred some other benefit on the developer. Rutgers Park is no exception to this pattern. The Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the two high rises adjacent to the park enshrines promises that facility will be “enlarged and reconstructed and dedicated as publicly accessible open space.” This document makes no mention of Rutgers Park being demolished and used as a parking lot. Nor does it disclose that such as use might endure for up to five years, the time that the developer of the high rises projects it may take to complete construction.
Residents gathered at Rutgers Park on May 23, the day that demolition was originally slated to begin, to protest the closure of their park. The demonstration was organized by a local advocacy group, the Committee Against Anti-Asian Violence (CAAAV).
Alina Shen, the lead organizer for CAAAV, says, “there has been no community input, and the planning documents never disclosed that park would be closed and demolished. The kids of billionaire developers are not going to grow up here, so why should they be allowed to take this away from our kids. These developers are taking resources away from our community to facilitate their drive to maximum profit. And they are doing so on the backs of the working-class people who live in Two Bridges.”
Another protest leader, Trever Holland (a co-founder Tenants United Fighting for the Lower East Side, or TUFF-LES), says, “it seems absurd to take this park away from our kids, who will be too old to use it by the time it comes back—if it ever comes back.”
He also sees a subtler agenda at work, beyond the land’s use as a parking lot. “For zoning and planning purposes, a park is not the same thing as ‘open space,’” Mr. Holland (who is also an attorney) explains. “Open spaces are a broader category, and these developers are required by the zoning code to provide it, because of the number of new residents their towers will bring here. But the use of open space can be very different from that of a park. Open spaces usually don’t have fences or operating hours, for example, although parks generally do. And removing the fence around Rutgers Park to make this an open space, with no opening or closing hours, is a mistake in this neighborhood—especially given the recent rise in crime.”
“The Two Bridges community did not want their park converted to open space when City Planning was considering this plan several years ago,” he adds. “We need it to remain a park.”
After the May 23 protest, bulldozers did not arrive as originally scheduled, and Rutgers Park remains open—at least for now. “Because of the public outcry,” Ms. Shen believes, “officials appear to be considering the possibility of not demolishing the Rutgers Park and not building a parking lot there. We have successfully delayed demolition for two weeks.”
“Right now, we’re at a standstill,” Mr. Holland observes. “So we are cautiously optimistic. But this looks like it’s going to be challenging. The developer is still saying they want to begin work as soon as tomorrow.”
‘Stop Abusing the Legal Process’
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.”
Not for a Lack of Interest
Trinity Underwrites Benevo-Lending Initiative for Public-Service Groups
Trinity Church’s grant program has funded a Lower Manhattan public service organization that provides zero-interest loans and consulting services to other not-for-profits, as they continue to struggle with pandemic-related resource deficits.
Public Comment Period for BPCA’s Plans to Build Flood Walls and Elevated Landscaping
Extended to Friday, June 10, 2022
For several years, the Battery Park City Authority (BPCA) has been working on a plan to rebuild and elevate Wagner Park and the areas to its north and south, from First Place and the Museum of Jewish Heritage to Pier A Plaza. This is the South Battery Park City Resiliency Project, currently in its Draft Environmental Impact Statement
(DEIS) phase. Now through June 10, the public may submit comments on the design. To read more…
National Museum of the American Indian, Diker Pavilion
Join contemporary artist Keith BraveHeart (Oglala Lakota) as he discusses Oscar Howe and his influence on both his journey as an artist as well as his art, which draws strongly from his Lakota background. This talk is related to the exhibition Dakota Modern: The Art of Oscar Howe. Sketch pads and pencils will be available for sketch-along opportunities led by Keith. Also at 1pm. Free.
Reshaping Our Cities and Our Lives
This tour explores Battery Park City’s southern district, which is home to the Skyscraper Museum and includes some of BPC’s earliest landscapes and infrastructure, including the residential enclaves built in the 1990s that followed the 1979 Cooper Eckstut Master Plan. We will visit historic Pier A, Wagner Park, and South Cove, as well as the green spaces that connect to the Esplanade, the first waterfront park in New York since the Brooklyn Heights Esplanade in 1951. We will also learn about the developing Resilience Action Plan of the Battery Park City Authority. The tour will be repeated on June 24. Free.
Many of us have reached a critical phase of burnout, one in which just showing up for work zaps the energy we previously devoted to innovative thinking and inventive solutions. But no matter what field of work you’re in, you need to generate ideas. And to generate those ideas, you have to get creative. Join RedBox Innovation consultant Edwin Garcia to learn an actionable method to bring creativity to any practice. Participants will explore strategies to create original ideas for any challenge and any industry. After generating your ideas, you’ll figure out how to choose the most appropriate creative solution and walk away inspired to do some serious out-of-the box thinking.
National Museum of the American Indian, Diker Pavilion
Join contemporary artist Keith BraveHeart (Oglala Lakota) as he discusses Oscar Howe and his influence on both his journey as an artist as well as his art, which draws strongly from his Lakota background. This talk is related to the exhibition Dakota Modern: The Art of Oscar Howe. Sketch pads and pencils will be available for sketch-along opportunities let by Keith. Also at 1pm. Free.
Singer/songwriter Terre Roche leads this weekly singing program with the beautiful backdrop of the setting sun in NY Harbor. Open to all.
6 River Terrace
Based on a Hungarian folktale, Son of the White Mare (Marcell Jankovics,1981), is a swirling, color-mad epic journey to save the universe. Reminiscent of the hallucinatory palette of “Yellow Submarine” and the rich visual storytelling of “Fantasia,” critics have deemed it one of the greatest psychedelic animated movies ever made. Free popcorn will be served, and a discussion will follow the screenings. This film is rated PG 13.
An End to Binary Ballots?
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…
Entry for the Gentry; Heave-Ho for the Hoi Polloi
Analysis By Housing Group Cites Threats to Affordability in Lower Manhattan
A leading housing advocacy organization has conducted an exhaustive look at threats to affordability in every community in the five boroughs, and has found that Lower Manhattan ranks among the top ten most at-risk neighborhoods by three pivotal metrics.
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 2022 edition of its annual roundup, “How Is Affordable Housing Threatened In Your Neighborhood?” To read more…
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Lower Manhattan Greenmarkets
Greenwich Street & Chambers Street
Wednesdays and Saturdays, 8am-3pm (compost program: Saturdays, 8am-1pm)
Bowling Green Greenmarket
Broadway & Whitehall St
Tuesdays and Thursdays, 8am-5pm (compost program: 8am-11am)
The Outdoor Fulton Stall Market
91 South Street, between Fulton & John Streets
Indoor market: Monday through Saturday,11:30am-5pm
CSA pick-up: Thursday, 4pm-6pm; Friday, 11:30-5pm
Outdoor market: Saturday 11:30am-5pm, May through Thanksgiving
68 – Roman Emperor Nero commits suicide.
1310 – Duccio’s Maestà Altarpiece, a seminal artwork of the early Italian Renaissance, is unveiled and installed in the Siena Cathedral in Siena, Italy.
1534 – Jacques Cartier sails into mouth of St Lawrence River
1650 – The Harvard Corporation, the more powerful of the two administrative boards of Harvard, is established. It is the first legal corporation in the Americas.
1772 – First naval attack of Revolutionary War takes place in Providence, RI
1790 – Philadelphia Spelling Book is first book copyrighted under constitution
1802 – US Academy at West Point founded
1822 – Charles Graham patents false teeth
1891 – Gauguin arrives in Papeete, Tahiti
1909 – Alice Huyler Ramsey, a 22-year-old housewife and mother from Hackensack, NJ, becomes the first woman to drive across the United States.
1910 – Passenger on SS Arawatta throws bottle with note overboard (found June 6, 1983 in Queensland)
1930 – Chicago Tribune reporter Jake Lingle is killed during rush hour at the Illinois Central train station by the Leo Vincent Brothers, allegedly over a $100,000 USD gambling debt owed to Al Capone.
1931 – First rocket-powered aircraft design patented (Robert Goddard)
1954 – Joseph Welch asks US Senator Joseph McCarthy “Have you no sense of decency, sir?” during Senate-Army hearings
1672 – Peter the Great [Pyotr Alexeyevich Romanov], tsar of Russia (1682-1725)
1891 – Cole Porter, composer/lyricist (Anything Goes, Kiss Me Kate)
1915 – Les Paul (Lester William Polsfuss) Waukesha Wisconsin, American musician and inventor
1916 – Robert S McNamara, US Sec of Defense (1961-68)
1931 – Jackie Mason, comedian
1934 – Donald Duck, famous fowl
1944 – 23 puppies, (record litter) born to Lena, a foxhound, Ambler Penn
62 – Claudia Octavia, wife of Nero (b. 40)
68 – Claudius Nero, Roman emperor (54-68), commits suicide at 31
1870 – Charles Dickens, English writer (David Copperfield), dies at 58
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