Welfare of Residents Should by BPCA’s Top Priority, Says Homeowner’s Coalition President
Pat Smith, president of the Battery Park City Homeowner’s Coalition: “There are people in City Hall and Albany who would like to get even more. They work in the shadows and pressure the BPCA to act more like a commercial landlord than a government agency protecting the welfare of the people.”
(Editor’s Note: The author, Pat Smith, is the president of the Battery Park City Homeowner’s Coalition, and the president of the Battery Pointe condominium board. He writes here in reply to a recent opinion piece by Battery Park City Authority president and chief executive officer B.J. Jones, which was published in the Broadsheet Daily on June 23, and can be found HERE.)
Battery Park City Authority (BPCA) president Benjamin Jones lays out an articulate explanation of the ground rent situation in this community. There is one area, however, on which we might have disagreement. In discussing how the BPCA is addressing the issue of increasing ground rents, Mr. Jones writes:
“As a result, we are proposing payment structures for condominiums that consider both the Authority’s fiduciary responsibilities as stewards of public land and the cost impact on homeowners and building owners (and are doing the same for commercial and rental buildings).”
Homeowners must understand the BPCA’s “fiduciary responsibility.” But everyone must understand that the BPCA’s top priority as a government agency must be the welfare of the people who live here. The people who live here willingly pay more to maintain this most beautiful, most successful development in New York City. We pay our real estate taxes, taxes that support schools, sanitation, social services, police and other city services, in the form of a PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes).
Then we pay ground rent and facilities fees to maintain our riverfront Esplanade and our parks. There is an unwritten covenant: These beautiful public spaces are maintained by payments from us and from the businesses in this community, not by New York City taxpayers. Yet everyone may enjoy this beautiful space maintained by us. There are no gates, no curfews. This is our gift to New Yorkers and visitors to our city.
We pay our taxes, like other New Yorkers. We pay more to maintain our beautiful public spaces. And then we pay still more to the City to support affordable housing. Mr. Jones says this added payment was $45 million last year. That’s $45 million in additional taxes paid by us and the businesses here.
There are people in City Hall and Albany who would like to get even more, and in the past they have. They work in the shadows and pressure the BPCA to act more like a commercial landlord than a government agency protecting the welfare of the people.
The homeowners in Battery Park City must fight that pressure. We must urge our elected officials to join us, to urge the BPCA to put the welfare of residents first. We must insist that City Hall and Albany accept something less than $45 million a year in additional taxes paid by us. That is how we will protect the affordability of Battery Park City, this most beautiful, most successful place, for decades to come.
By Pat Smith
Protests to Save Rockefeller Park Continue as Bulldozers Back Away, For Now
Opposition to the plan by Governor Andrew Cuomo to seize more than 10,000 square feet of Rockefeller Park for an Essential Workers Monument grew more intense on Monday, as 100-plus concerned residents (dozens of them children, accompanied by parents) arrived at the site before 7:00 am and literally laid down in the path of bulldozers, to prevent the demolition and tree-felling needed to begin the work.
Shortly after 7:30 am, frustrated contractors called the NYPD, which dispatched multiple officers from the First Precinct.
Residents Rally for a Voice in Decision about Locating Planned Memorial in Rockefeller Park
More than 150 local residents, many of them young children, gathered in Rockefeller Park on Saturday afternoon to protest plans by the administration of Governor Andrew Cuomo to impose there a 29,000-square-foot monument to essential workers who served the public during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Tristan Snell, a Battery Park City resident, and father of a 30-month-old daughter, Katherine, said, “this lawn they are about to tear up is the largest green space in Manhattan south of Central Park. The location they plan to use is where my daughter crawled for the first time. This park is a destination for everybody, not just those of us who live here. And now they want to cut down trees that have been growing here for decades. To read more…
The Graduates 2021
A roundup of Lower Manhattan’s Class of 2021 graduates
Ethan Wallis received a bachelor of arts degree from Hamilton College on Saturday, May 22, in a Commencement ceremony concluding the college’s 209th year.
Jillian Kimberling Named to Dean’s List at Bucknell University during the spring semester of the 2020-21 academic year.
Zoe Morrison was named to The University of Alabama President’s List for Spring Semester 2021
Vanessa Block earned a Bachelor of Arts degree and William Steere, Bachelor of Science degree degree from the University of Vermont
Jingyi Wang, of Beijing and Lower Manhattan, graduated from Georgia State University during the Spring 2021 semester. Wang earned a Master of Science In Analytics degree with a concentration in Data Science in Business.
Monica Jeon has earned a Master of Science in Human-Computer Interactionfrom the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta.
The University of Mississippi: Sea Louise Bensimon, was among the more than 5,000 candidates for graduation in the Class of 2021. Bensimon, a Sport and Recreation Admin major, was a candidate for a B.A. in Sport and Recreation Admin degree in the School of Applied Sciences.
Akram Abiskaroon at Fordham University and John Hensley also at Fordham University were initiated into the Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi.
Antonio Ducrot, a member of the Colgate University Class of 2023, has earned the fall 2020 Dean’s Award for Academic Excellence. Ducrot is a English major and a graduate of Fieldston School, from New York, NY (10013).
Hallie Hayne was named to the dean’s list at Bates College for the fall semester ending in December 2020.
Hayne, the daughter of Patrick W. Hayne and Barrie L. Schwartz, is a 2020 graduate of Berkeley Carroll School.
‘This Project Will Forever Be a Symbol of Failure’
Community Leaders React to Cuomo Plan for Yet Another Monument in Battery Park City
Governor Andrew Cuomo announced on Wednesday that he plans to erect in Battery Park City an Essential Workers Monument to those who served during the COVID-19 pandemic. “In the beginning of the pandemic, when people were told to stay home, essential workers went into work day after day, making sure their fellow New Yorkers were safe, fed and cared for,” Mr. Cuomo said.
The Governor attributed the decision to locate this monument in Battery Park City to his Essential Workers Monument Advisory Committee, which was announced in April. This panel consisted of 23 union presidents, and not a single resident of Battery Park City. There is no record of this Committee having held any public meetings, or having solicited any advice or feedback from the community. To read more…
To the editor:
Governor Cuomo was so on pitch during the early days of the pandemic.
A sane sound voice both here in NYC, and to hear my faraway friends, throughout the country. This plan to “usurp” land in our community is the second (after writing the book and not donating the proceeds to our State) where he’s gotten it wrong; hit a bad note. I thought he wanted to be Governor again.
And more importantly what is his mother going to say?
To the editor:
Yes, monumental. Nice play on words, but not a playful situation. Not seeking community input is further eroding my opinion of the Governor for whom I once had great respect.
Statement from Lindsey Boylan, a career urban planner, former Deputy Secretary of Economic Development and Housing for the State of New York, and Manhattan Borough President candidate.
From Governors Island to East River Park to Battery Park, New York City’s green space is under attack. Masters of the universe like Mayor de Blasio and Governor Cuomo have no concept between the lack of respect for our environment and the climate crisis. They do not understand that parks are for the people, especially in urban centers like New York City where access to green space is a matter of environmental justice.
Now the governor is forcing yet another monument to his precious ego under the guise of honoring our essential workers. But the governor does not care about our essential workers any more than he cares about the families of the nursing home residents whose deaths he covered up. If the governor truly cared about the heroes of the pandemic, he would work with city leaders and local residents to build a community-driven monument, rather than simply showing up with earth-moving equipment.
The governor keeps putting monuments in Battery Park City to exert unilateral control with empty gestures. His only objectives are to stay in power and to line his pockets at the expense of COVID victims. I stand with the Battery Park community and urge the next borough president to find the courage to stand up to Albany and City Hall in order to protect our communities’ beloved green space.
To the editor:
I wish to thank and applaud Ms. Meltzer and Ms. Cuccia for their profound conveyance of the sentiments of the Lower Manhattan community and to add that placement of such a monument in BPC, a largely affluent, majority White neighborhood, at least by comparison to those most greatly impacted by COVID, is not only the wrong thing to do in terms of location for many reasons, but is also racially and socially unjust and harmful, a real slap in the face to the many essential workers who traveled here and elsewhere, in the midst of disaster, putting their lives at risk, sometimes for minimum wage jobs, from the outer boroughs… the same people many of whom were on a hunger strike mere months ago fighting for their share in COVID relief…and to the disproportionate number of people of color and/or low incomes who fell ill or died from the virus.
This monument belongs in the Bronx or Queens and could serve to bring those communities desperately needed tourism in addition to the respect and honor they deserve for supporting NY through this tragedy.
The governor did the right thing in signing the NY Heroes Act and allocating $2.1B of the State’s budget to the Excluded Worker Fund. It makes no sense for him to now, just two months later, tell the recipients to go fly a kite.
To the editor:
The BPC community is up in arms about Governor Cuomo’s planned Essential Worker Memorial to be placed in the valued Rockefeller Park. Petition circulating, support needed. As an essential worker (social worker at NYU Langone) I can say that green space and parks are the best way to maintain mental health and cope with the stress of the pandemic. Save our park. Click here to sign the petition.
Spread the word.
To the editor:
Please move the Essential Worker Monument to another location in the state and stop taking away our children’s open play areas.
Battery Park City has been through much turmoil over the years and the littering of monuments across once green space in our residential neighborhood brings daily reminders of sadness to us and to our children who are already struggling emotionally. From the attacks on the World Trade Center, to the East Coast Memorial, to the Irish Hunger, to the Hurricane in Puerto Rico, and the American Merchant Mariners, among countless others, we already have too many reminders.
PLEASE move this monument to another location in the state. Let us continue to enjoy running free in the grass of Rockefeller Park, and please let us keep this park as green and beautiful as it was intended and without the constant reminders of sadness and hard times.
All of us, regardless of our age, want to run free in the vast field of Rockefeller Park green, amongst the trees, bushes and beautiful gardens. We want to continue to enjoy the migrating birds, play soccer, baseball, picnic, fly kites, sunbathe, build snow forts and snow people.
The park is constantly very crowded with friends sharing the beautiful escape. Each of us wants to find solitude as we create our own escape in the current world we live in. We want to provide freedoms to our children, without having to worry about the risk of an eternal flame burning them.
Just stop by and you will see the bustling enjoyment each person feels as they take in the beauty of the grass and the open space and now the heart breaking sorrow and anger as they see the trucks and workers preparing to break ground.
To the editor:
I read the paper almost every day and wonder how these people get elected. I have been expecting a backlash with each election but it doesn’t seem to happen. But it will.
250 Water Street Testimony
To the editor:
Save our Seaport was created to save our Seaport Museum.
The South Street Seaport Museum is the lynchpin of the Seaport Historic District. Casting it by the wayside flies in the face of Save our Seaport.
I was part of the Southbridge Board of Directors when we initiated the effort to down zone 250 Water Street to stop Milstein from building a 23-story edifice on the lot. 250 Water was never part of the historic district until we included it as a ploy to insure the down zoning.
For over 10 years there have been efforts to help fund the museum that failed. The City said that it has given the Seaport Museum more than it gave any other such institution and cannot continue to do so alone, and it is done. HHC has propped up the museum for the last 4 years to help keep it open at over a quarter of a million dollars annually.
We have pressed the City to allow Historic Air Rights to be applied outside the Historic District. For over 2 years the City has refused stating not wishing to establish a precedent. Newcomers along with well-intentioned old timers have suggested that already tried and failed plans to save the museum be re instituted. Some of those old timers said that the museum is not an important part of the Historic District and should be allowed to die. Shame on them.
If the approved HHC plan, which Landsmarks has approved doesn’t go forward, we shall have a 160ft development as of right. Zoning allows 120ft and 40 ft additional due to flood zone. If we go with ‘as of right’ we lose the Museum, 70 affordable housing units, and any hope to rebuild the New Market Pier, which will fall into the river. Those nearby can look out at what was their view of the Brooklyn Bridge and see the ghost town Seaport. Either way, whether as of right or Landmarks Approval Plan their view of the Bridge is gone!
If we allow the development as Landmarks approved, the Museum will get millions as an endowment to bring it into the digital age and continues as the invaluable lynchpin of the district. EDC is already removing the decrepit New Market building and clearly the pier should be next. 70 affordable housing units would be a welcome addition to the community particularly since 1,650 such units were lost when Southbridge Towers went private. Incidentally, many SBT residents have learned to regret that decision.
So, we allow a partial application of Historic air rights, within the Historic District, gain affordable housing, save the Seaport Museum and allow it to become a brand new digital age Seaport Museum, and rebuild the New Market Pier with the possibility of a Community Center on that site.
Retired Vice Chair CB#1,
Board member NY Downtown Hospital,
Board member Manhattan Youth,
Board member DOH 9/11 Advisory Committee
Goodbye, Mrs. Chips
Valediction for a Local Legend
Multiple generations of local residents gathered yesterday afternoon (Thursday, June 24) outside the Battery Park City Day Nursery to toast the retirement of Janet Lovell, known for decades to kids who enrolled there as, “Ms. Janet.”
Ms. Lovell was one of the first employees at what was then called Joy McCormack’s All Day Nursery, when it opened on South End Avenue in 1986. “I had been working at a childcare center on the Upper East Side, where Joy was one of the directors,” she recalls. “And then Joy wanted to open a new place in Battery Park City, where she saw unlimited potential. Her partners weren’t interested, so Joy struck out on her own, and I came with her.” To read more…
Wagner Park, with its amazing gardens and views of the Hudson River and New York Bay, is the perfect setting to practice your art. Participants are expected to bring their own drawing and painting supplies, including drawing boards and containers of water if they are planning to paint. BPCA will supply drawing paper and watercolor paper only. Masks required. Participants must maintain six feet of physical distance between households. All programs will be held in accordance with New York State reopening guidance. Free Battery Park City Authority
Get moving with a series of classes aimed to help you build strength, relax, and unwind. All cardio classes are 45 minutes long, with a focus on high-intensity rhythmic cardio. Classes also feature sprint intervals, sculpting, and a stretch cool down. Free
Namaste! Unwind from the day with outdoor yoga. Immerse yourself in this meditative practice- surrounded by the Hudson’s peaceful aura. Strengthen the body and cultivate awareness in a relaxed environment as your instructor guides you through alignments and poses. All levels are welcome. Participants are expected to bring their own equipment: yoga mat, yoga blocks, water, etc. Masks required. Participants must maintain six feet of physical distance between households. All programs will be held in accordance with New York State reopening guidance. Free Battery Park City Authority
CLASSIFIEDS & PERSONALS
Swaps & Trades, Respectable Employment, Lost and Found
The Battery Park City Authority asks that the public not interact with or feed the urban wildlife in the neighborhood’s parks and green spaces, and at the waterfront.
News Analysis & Opinion
Housing Costs and Predictability in Battery Park City: A Statement from Benjamin Jones, President and CEO of the Battery Park City Authority
At the Battery Park City Authority, we make it a point to regularly communicate with our community’s residents—renters and owners alike—about our role in managing, maintaining, and improving this world-class neighborhood.
We do so at Community Board meetings and public events, during public board meetings, in our regular community newsletters, and via our Strategic Plan—and even as we encounter each other during our daily routines (as we hope to be doing more of soon).
In this letter, I’d like to talk to you about our role in addressing a concern we hear frequently—housing costs and predictability—and what we’re doing about it.
More Survivors than Responders Now are Submitting Claims
The September 11th Victim Compensation Fund (VCF) has released its annual report for 2020, which documents some significant developments.
Over the course of its ten years of operation thus far, the VCF has awarded $7.76 billion to more than 34,400 individuals who have suffered death or personal injury as a result of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 and their aftermath. The vast majority of these injuries take the form of illness caused by exposure to toxic materials that were released by the destruction of the World Trade Center.
1860 – The 1860 Oxford evolution debate at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History takes place.
1864 – President Abraham Lincoln grants Yosemite Valley to California for “public use, resort and recreation”.
1882 – Charles J. Guiteau is hanged in Washington, D.C. for the assassination of President James Garfield.
1905 – Albert Einstein sends the article On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies, in which he introduces special relativity, for publication in Annalen der Physik.
1922 – In Washington D.C., Secretary of State Charles Evans Hughes and Dominican Ambassador Francisco J. Peynado sign the Hughes–Peynado agreement, which ends the US occupation of the Dominican Republic.
1934 – The Night of the Long Knives, Adolf Hitler’s violent purge of his political rivals in Germany, takes place.
1936 – Emperor Haile Selassie of Abyssinia appeals for aid to the League of Nations against Italy’s invasion of his country.
1937 – The world’s first emergency telephone number, 999, is introduced in London
1953 – The first Chevrolet Corvette rolls off the assembly line in Flint, Michigan.
1960 – Congo gains independence from Belgium.
1971 – The crew of the Soviet Soyuz 11 spacecraft are killed when their air supply escapes through a faulty valve.
2013 – Nineteen firefighters die controlling a wildfire in Yarnell, Arizona.
1889 – Archibald Frazer-Nash, English motor car designer, engineer and founder of Frazer Nash (d. 1965)
1917 – Lena Horne, American actress, singer, and dancer (d. 2010)
1926 – Paul Berg, American biochemist and academic, Nobel Prize laureate
1944 – Ron Swoboda, American baseball player and sportscaster
1785 – James Oglethorpe, English general and politician, 1st Colonial Governor of Georgia (b. 1696)
2001 – Chet Atkins, American singer-songwriter, guitarist, and producer (b. 1924)
2003 – Buddy Hackett, American actor and comedian (b. 1924)