You are here: Home/Uncategorized/ The BroadsheetDAILY ~ 8/31/20 ~ Let There Be Light On-Again, Off-Again Decision about Tribute in Light Revives Calls for National Parks to Manage September 11 Memorial
The BroadsheetDAILY ~ 8/31/20 ~ Let There Be Light On-Again, Off-Again Decision about Tribute in Light Revives Calls for National Parks to Manage September 11 Memorial
On-Again, Off-Again Decision about Tribute in Light Revives Calls for National Parks to Manage September 11 Memorial
The annual Tribute in Light consists of 88 xenon bulbs (each consuming 7,000 watts) arranged into two squares of 44 lights each, and positioned on the roof of the Battery Garage, to evoke the luminous profile of the now-vanished Twin Towers of the former World Trade Center.
The recent controversy over the planned cancellation of the Tribute in Light (the twin beams of illumination that rise skyward from Lower Manhattan on the anniversary of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001) has led to renewed calls by community leaders for the National September 11 Memorial & Museum to be taken over by the federal government, and operated by the National Park Service (NPS).
The most recent dispute arose in August, when the Memorial announced that it was cancelling both the Tribute in Light and the annual reading of names that commemorates each life lost during the attacks. Both of these moves were characterized as public-safety measures, in the response to the ongoing pandemic coronavirus.
This provoked a storm of criticism from advocates for whom continuity in honoring the anniversary is a core value. Within hours, the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation (which hosts an annual run through the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel each September, retracing the final steps of firefighter Stephen Siller) announced that it would hold its own ceremony, adjacent to Ground Zero, at which family members would be able to recite the names of the fallen. The Siller Foundation also announced that it would try to assemble the personnel and funding to create its own version of the Tribute in Light.
At the same time, an advocacy group called 9/11 Parents of Firefighters and World Trade Center Victims issued a condemnation, saying, “with the deadly anniversary only weeks away, the 9/11 Memorial & Museum has found itself in the headlines of media outlets around the world yet again. This time, it’s for shamefully cancelling the annual Tribute in Light display and prohibiting the in-person reading of names at the Memorial on September 11th.”
“They blamed the COVID pandemic for the cancellations,” the group continued. “The public did not buy it—they knew that both essential 9/11 commemorative events could be done safely. They knew money is at the heart of these disgraceful decisions—the most expensive Memorial and Museum ever constructed, at a cost of over $800 million, is also the most expensive to operate. This incredibly embarrassing situation has exposed the absurdity of their $80-million annual budget.”
“The closure of the 9/11 museum has cut off the supply of cash,” the coalition observed, in a reference to the Museum’s controversial $26 admission price, arguing that this caused, “the management to terminate or furlough… employees. And yet, the high-salaried senior leadership remains in place to beg for federal handouts.”
Financial disclosure forms on file with the IRS confirm that more than a dozen senior staff at the Memorial and Museum earn more than $100,000 per year. Similarly, the organization has received a $4.6-million grant from the federal Paycheck Protection Program, and is also slated to get a $2-million bequest from the Department of the Interior later this year, followed by a further $2.5-million allocation next year.
“And yet, the Memorial & Museum Foundation couldn’t find the money to pay for the Tribute in Light,” the coalition of parents said. “They can’t manage to perform their most basic responsibilities for the anniversary of September 11.” The group added that, “it is appropriate and timely for the National Park Service to assume operational control and management of the 9/11 aboveground memorial at Ground Zero. The National Park Service would bring desperately needed professionalism, fiscal controls, patriotism, honor, and respect to the site where nearly 3,000 persons—including our heroic sons and loved ones—lost their lives for our beloved country.”
This argument is difficult to ignore, on multiple levels. Comparable national monuments and parks are operated by the National Park Service for a fraction of the annual cost of the National September 11 Memorial & Museum. The Arlington National Cemetery (with more than 600 acres, containing more than 400,000 graves, plus 7,000 new burials and 3.5 million visitors each year) operates on an annual budget of just over $70 million. Yellowstone National Park (which compasses more than 3,000 square miles of territory) requires a yearly allocation of roughly $35 million. The Gettysburg National Military Park and the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor each get by on approximately $10 million per year. Moreover, admission to all of these facilities (with the exception of Yellowstone) is free of charge.
A near universally shared perception is that America’s national parks, memorials, and monuments (which are staffed entirely by civil servants, earning relatively modest salaries) are managed in an exemplary fashion.
“If the federal government is going to have to bail out the National September 11 Memorial & Museum, why shouldn’t they take control?” asks Todd Fine, an historian and preservationist based in Lower Manhattan.
“When the project was first being organized, almost a decade ago, the National Park Service was reluctant to take on responsibility for a non-profit they didn’t control, located on land they didn’t own,” Mr. Fine continues.
“But the argument for this arrangement to run the Memorial assumed there would always be enough tourist money to keep the lights on,” he observes. “And who can say this is being run effectively when it costs $26 per person to get in, and multiple executives are making salaries approaching half a million dollars per year?”
“If the Port Authority,” which owns the World Trade Center site, “and the feds wanted the National Park Service to take it over, they would probably go along. And they would almost certainly do a better job,” he argues.
Mr. Fine has sent a formal request to the National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands Subcommittee of the House of Representatives, asking for a hearing and arguing that, “the institution’s desperate need for government subsidy emphasizes why the Memorial site should be a permanent and stable part of the National Park Service.”
He continues, “the Memorial was built with around a billion dollars of taxpayer money from the Department of Housing and Urban Development and other sources. It should belong to the American people.”
The Fate of a Neighborhood
Appeals Panel Overturns Lower Court Decision Blocking Two Bridges Developments
Opponents of three massive real estate developments planned for the Lower East Side were dealt a setback on Thursday when the Appellate Division of the New York State Supreme Court reversed a ruling from last year that said the projects were required to undergo a more rigorous form of public review before final approval. The Appellate Division, in a unanimous decision, ruled that the administration of Mayor Bill de Blasio had legal authority to approve the plans. To read more…
To the editor:
It has been a challenging time for Battery Park City and the world. Mercifully, the neighborhood’s infection rates have been comparatively low and our team at the Authority is healthy. But few, if any, have been truly spared from the pandemic – be it the loss of a loved one, economic suffering, or both. And we’ve been reminded once again of all of the work still required as a nation to achieve equal economic, political, and social rights and opportunities.
But Battery Park City is New York Tough. And we’ll not only survive but bounce back and thrive, as Battery Park City and Lower Manhattan have done many times before.
Our work is cut out for us. As outlined in the Authority’s first-ever strategic plan, stewardship of this neighborhood means seizing the present while preparing for the future. That’s why, in addition to maintaining world-class parks, our work ranges from restoring playgrounds and providing diverse family programming to pioneering resiliency designs and developing a roadmap for a carbon neutral future. Perhaps most importantly, it means addressing housing concerns, both in terms of dwindling affordability and uncertainty due to rent reset provisions that have long been a fixture of ground leases.
Any one of these endeavors alone requires significant effort; together they’re a genuine challenge. It’s why I’m glad the Authority has such a dedicated, talented, and passionate team led by thoughtful and supportive Board members, all of whom embrace their duty to serve the public.
President & CEO
Battery Park City Authority
Earlier this week, a local bank teller asked me if I were moving. She told me: “I see the line of moving trucks every morning. It seems as if everyone is leaving this place.”
Plainly, much of this is pandemic related, but Battery Park City’s problems lie deeper than that. My wife and I have lived in this neighborhood for 26 years. When we first arrived, it was like a kind of paradise. In recent years, however, we have watched as the neighborhood, under the mismanagement and neglect of BPCA President B.J. Jones, has rapidly deteriorated. Our once lovely manicured gardens are now overcome with weeds, and graffiti is turning up everywhere. The ban on construction ended two months ago, yet the Authority has yet to start work on the trash lot left over from the removal of the Rector Street bridge. During the current pandemic, the Authority has ignored basic hygiene measures that would have inhibited disease transmission, focusing instead on actions ranging from useless (all those annoying banners) to counter-productive (removing hoops so kids cannot play basketball). Instead, it is expending its energies on its demented plan to destroy Wagner Park, one of the City’s supreme public spaces. Meanwhile, the ground rent and “facilities fee” payments extracted by the Authority from local homeowners continue to skyrocket.
Admittedly, the Authority has always been a giant slush fund for the Governor to direct cushy no-show jobs and lucrative pork barrel contracts to campaign contributors. That much has not changed. But the Authority at least used to be good at its job. No longer.
It doesn’t have to be this way. These folks did not earn these positions through hereditary title; they are here solely by fiat of the Governor. With the stroke of a pen, they can be reassigned to someplace like the Thruway Authority or the NYC Water Board, where they can do less harm. As New Yorkers, we deserve better—perhaps, someday, even the ability to manage our own affairs. All tyrants eventually topple. The question is—will any of us still be here to witness it?
Longtime Battery Park City Resident
Grotto Restaurant and Pizzeria FiDi’s hidden gem for over 35 years.
The large and diverse menu will please anyone. From Italian specialties to Hand Spun Pizza, Gourmet Salads and more,
let Grotto feed you and your family tonight.
Grotto sits between
The New York Stock Exchange and Bowling Green on New Street, steps from from the Bull at Bowling Green.
Lower Manhattan Principals and Teachers Sound Alarm about Fall Semester
Multiple principals and teachers in Lower Manhattan public schools are voicing grave concerns about the plan to reopen education facilities on September 10.
They are also raising objections to the “blended learning model” that the City’s Department of Education (DOE) plans to implement this fall, with students going to school buildings one to three days per week, while learning remotely (from home) for the remainder of each week.
A coalition of 14 principals who run elementary and middle schools in the DOE’s District Two wrote to Mayor Bill de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza on August 19, calling upon them to, “delay the launch of in-person learning until we can adequately plan for a safe and instructionally sound return to school buildings.” To read more…
The Weight of Water
Discussion about Development Highlights Local Infrastructure Challenges
At what point does a water and sewer system designed after the Civil War to support a community of five-story buildings buckle under a district of 50- and 100-story buildings?
This was the question raised by Fern Cunningham at the June 17 meeting of the Quality of Life Committee of Community Board 1 (CB1). The Committee was reviewing a presentation by Humberto Galarza, a public affairs representative with the City’s Department of Environmental Protection.
Ms. Cunningham asked, “what is the impact of CB1’s increased density on our sewage treatment and access [to drinking water]?” This was a reference to the headlong pace of real estate development in Lower Manhattan in recent years.
“Every now and then we hear about water main breaks,” Ms. Cunningham continued, “and we are the oldest part of the City. To read more…
Some Downtowners knew Marijo Russell O’Grady from Liberty Community Gardens, where she tended her herbs and roses almost daily and always shared fragrant sprigs with fellow gardeners. Some knew her from Downtown Little League, where she served on the Board of Directors for many years and focused on the Challengers division for participants with special needs. Many knew her as the warm and energetic Dean for Students at Pace University, a role that she filled with gusto for more than 20 years.
Marijo Russell O’Grady passed away on August 8 after a short battle with an aggressive recurrence of breast cancer. Her husband of 29 years, Mark O’Grady, and her son, James Russell O’Grady, were at her side. She was 59.
Dr. Russell O’Grady was named as one of the “Top 100 Irish Educators” by the Irish Voice. In 2017, she received Pace University’s Jefferson Award for Public Service. Dr. O’Grady co-authored a book with Katie L. Treadwell, published in March 2019, titled “Crisis, Compassion and Resiliency in Student Affairs: Using Triage Practices to Foster Well-Being,” about the experiences of student affairs professionals who encounter crisis on college and university campuses. She served on the New York City World Trade Center Health Registry Board as the former chair of its Community Advisory Board, and until her death, she served on the World Trade Center Health Registry Scientific Review Board.
Marijo Russell O’Grady was a vital member of the Lower Manhattan community, and will be missed.
Welcome to the Velodrome
Visionary Plans for Getting Around Downtown Focus on Two Wheels and Two Feet
A pair of new studies outlines a future for Lower Manhattan that is highly cyclical. The first of these, a report from the Downtown Alliance titled, “Bicycle Infrastructure & Commuting in Lower Manhattan,” notes that more than 20 percent of people who are employed Downtown currently walk or bike to work, while nearly one-third of people who live here get to and from their places of business in the same way.
These hardy souls are among some 49,000 New York City commuters (concentrated mainly in Manhattan and Brooklyn) who get to the office and back under the power of their own legs each day — a figure that has jumped 55 percent since 2012, and is growing by roughly nine percent each year.
City Health Data Show That Slightly More Than 13 Percent of Downtown Residents Test Positive for Coronavirus
One out of every seven people in Lower Manhattan is either infected with, or has been exposed to, the pandemic coronavirus. That is the conclusion gleaned from data, made available for the first time by City public health officials earlier this week. These metrics break down overall numbers of tests (along with numbers of positive results) by zip code.
The reassuring news is that Downtown’s eight residential zip codes rank among the lowest anywhere in the five boroughs, with the rate of positive test results in each hovering between 12 and 16 percent. (For comparison, in the zip code for the Corona section of Queens, slightly more than half of everybody tested showed positive results for infection or exposure.)
According to the City’s Department of Health data, the local totals for testing, and positive rates for test results (outlined by zip code) break down as follows:
To read more…
Putting the ‘Down’ in
Downtown Real Estate
Local Apartment Rents and Sales Prices Tumbled in the Second Quarter
A trio of reports quantifies the extent to which property prices in Lower Manhattan crumbled in the three months ending June 30.
A pair of analyses from Platinum Properties, a brokerage firm headquartered in the Financial District, looks in detail at Battery Park City and the Financial District.
The company’s report about Battery Park City documents that the average sales price for a condominium in the community dropped by 24.81 percent, relative to the second quarter of 2019, to $1.16 million. This aggregate figure varies by apartment size, with the worst pain reserved for sellers of two-bedroom units, which dropped by 42.4 percent from the first quarter of this year. The number of units sold fell by more than half, to just nine apartments.
Kavanagh and Niou Aim to Protect Small Businesses by Offering Tax Incentives to Landlords
Two State legislators representing Lower Manhattan are proposing to rescue small businesses with a plan that would trade tax credits to landlords for rent breaks to commercial tenants.
Inspired by the acute financial distress that small businesses are experiencing in the wake of the pandemic coronavirus (and the economic cataclysm that it has unleashed), the “COVID-19 Small Business Recovery Lease Act,” sponsored in the State Senate by Brian Kavanagh and the Assembly by Yuh-Line Niou, aims to entice property owners to renegotiate leases and offer long-term, affordable rents to small business owners.
To read more…
Following a six-month closure due to the COVID-19, the New Museum announced that it will reopen to the public on September 15, 2020. Admission will be free through September 27 as a welcoming gesture.
Upon reopening, the Museum will resume its normal days and hours of operation, 11am – 6PM every day except Thursday where the Museum is open until 9pm. It is closed on Monday.
Admission will be through timed ticketing and visitorship will be limited to less than 25% of capacity. All visitors will be required to reserve tickets in advance online at newmuseum.org, beginning August 31, 2020.
In the Galleries:ning, the New Museum’s acclaimed exhibitions will remain on view, “Peter Saul: Crime and Punishment,” “Jordan Casteel: Within Reach,” and “Daiga Grantina: What Eats Around Itself.” The Peter Saul and Jordan Casteel exhibitions opened on February 11 and 19 respectively, just weeks before the COVID-19 closure. The exhibitions will remain on view through the end of the year.
Whitney Museum to Reopen
The Whitney will reopen on September 3 for members and a few days later for the general public.
1. Affordability and Housing Security for 80/20 Tenants at 225 Rector Place – Discussion & Possible Resolution
2. West Thames Park, Basketball Court, & the Illumination of the Pedestrian Path Between Albany and West Thames Streets – Update by Julia Melzer, Vice President, Capital Program, Economic Development Corporation
3. Oval Lawn Construction – Updates & Discussion
4. BPCA Report – Nicholas Sbordone, Vice President of Communications & Public Affairs, Battery Park City Authority
5. BPC Security Update – Patrick Murphy, Director of Security, Allied Universal
6. Creative Ways to Encourage Census Completion in BPC – Discussion
Recently Reopened Businesses Downtown
Get Out on the Water
from North Cove
Need a safe and breezy break from your apartment? Several cruise operators have reopened in North Cove and are offering opportunities to get out on the water, including Tribeca Sailing, Ventura, and Classic Harbor Line. All cruise operators are adhering to social distancing guidelines; check individual websites for details.
1997 – Diana, Princess of Wales, her companion Dodi Fayed and driver Henri Paul die in a car crash in Paris.
1422 – King Henry V of England dies of dysentery while in France. His son, Henry VI becomes King of England at the age of nine months.
1776 – William Livingston, the first Governor of New Jersey, begins serving his first term.
1864 – During the American Civil War, Union forces led by General William T. Sherman launch an assault on Atlanta.
1895 – German Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin patents his navigable balloon.
1897 – Thomas Edison patents the Kinetoscope, the first movie projector.
1907 – Russia and the United Kingdom sign the Anglo-Russian Convention, by which the UK recognizes Russian preeminence in northern Persia, while Russia recognizes British preeminence in southeastern Persia and Afghanistan. Both powers pledge not to interfere in Tibet.
1939 – Nazi Germany mounts a false flag attack on the Gleiwitz radio station, creating an excuse to attack Poland the following day, thus starting World War II in Europe.
1991 – Kyrgyzstan declares its independence from the Soviet Union.
1997 – Diana, Princess of Wales, her companion Dodi Fayed and driver Henri Paul die in a car crash in Paris.
2006 – Edvard Munch’s famous painting The Scream, stolen on August 22, 2004, is recovered in a raid by Norwegian police.
2016 – Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff is impeached and removed from office.
AD 12 – Caligula, Roman emperor (d. 41)
161 – Commodus, Roman emperor (d. 192)
1542 – Isabella de’ Medici, Italian princess (d. 1576)
1880 – Wilhelmina, queen of the Netherlands (d. 1962)
1056 – Theodora, Empress of the Eastern Roman Empire (b. 981)
2002 – Lionel Hampton, American pianist, composer, and bandleader (b. 1908)
Edited from various sources including Wikipedia,and other media outlets