Lower Manhattan’s Local News
Cuomo Administration Decides on South Cove for Mother Cabrini Memorial
On Friday, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced that a planned memorial to Mother Cabrini — a 19th-century Italian-American who founded more than 60 organizations to help New York’s needy, and later became the first naturalized U.S. citizen to be canonized a Catholic saint — will be sited in the planting beds south of South Cove, the Battery Park City inlet at the foot of South End Avenue.
“This memorial will honor the legacy of Mother Cabrini — a great New Yorker and Italian-American — and the Commission chose a site that perfectly symbolizes her commitment to helping new Americans settle in the United States,” Mr. Cuomo said in a statement. “We want this memorial to pay tribute to the charity and goodwill she spread to countless others in her lifetime.”
The symbolism Mr. Cuomo was alluded to stems from the fact that South Cove looks out on the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, locations that are deeply resonant for American immigrants. The commission he referred to was a panel the Governor appointed in October to decide on a site for this memorial, and recruit artists to design it. This panel includes no residents from Battery Park City, although George Tsunis, the chairman of the Battery Park City Authority (BPCA) is a member.
Friday’s development followed a discussion earlier in the week at the Battery Park City Committee of Community Board 1 (CB1), in which chair Tammy Meltzer asked Nick Sbordone, the Authority’s vice president of communications and public affairs, whether an upcoming meeting of the BPCA board, “will be confirming final details for either the Mother Cabrini memorial or the Hurricane Maria memorial?”
This was a reference to another monument planned by Mr. Cuomo, commemorating Puerto Rican victims of the 2017 storm that claimed thousands of lives on that island. As with the Mother Cabrini memorial, the Hurricane Maria plan began with a press release, followed by the appointment of a commission to select a location and preside over a design competition. (The panel for the Hurricane Maria shrine does include one Battery Park City resident, Elizabeth Velez.)
Mr. Cuomo appears to have settled on Battery Park City for his recent spurt of memorial building, at least in part, because it is one of the few areas of New York City that, as chief executive of the State government, he controls directly. The Lower Manhattan locations also effectively guarantee significant media coverage and public visibility for both projects.
In the case of the Mother Cabrini Memorial, it also offered Mr. Cuomo the further inducement of snubbing Mayor Bill de Blasio, with whom he has an acrimonious relationship. Mr. Cuomo’s announcement, timed to coincide with the Columbus Day Parade, followed a decision by the de Blasio administration to erect statues to seven women who had made significant contributions to New York’s history. Although many additional statues of memorial to women are planned by City Hall, Mother Cabrini was not included in the first round of honorees.
Mr. Sbordone answered that while some details around timing and final location were still to be determined, “we know that the Maria Memorial will be either at the Chambers Street overlook or at Esplanade Plaza.”
Ms. Meltzer countered by asking, “does the community get to have any kind of say in this conversation, or the chance to weigh in”?
“Always,” Mr. Sbordone replied, in a reference to the BPCA’s concerted effort in recent years to increase transparency, consult with residents on major decisions, and include community leaders in planning. Whether this commitment is shared by the Cuomo administration, however, remains an open question.
“But we did a resolution saying we didn’t want it in Battery Park City,” Ms. Meltzer noted. This measure, enacted last December, observed that, “all public land within Battery Park City has already been designated for uses on which the community relies;” that, “Battery Park City has more memorials per square foot than any other neighborhood in New York City;” and that, “there are numerous locations within the State that could be better suited to locate the Hurricane Maria Memorial than Battery Park City.”
The same resolution called upon Mr. Cuomo to set up, “a process [of] communication and transparency with the community prior to the placement of any new memorials in Battery Park City — or anywhere else in Lower Manhattan.” Neither of the commissions overseeing the planned memorials ever held a single public meeting, invited comment from residents, or liaised in any way with CB1 before the decisions to locate their respective memorials within Battery Park City were announced.
Mr. Sbordone answered, “that resolution asked for representation on the commission and that the BPCA not pay for it.
Ms. Meltzer rejoined that, “the representation on the commission has never bothered to come to a CB1 meeting and is someone who does business with both the City and the State.” This was a reference to the fact that Ms. Velez is trusted confidante of the Governor’s, who served on the board of the Committee to Save New York, a controversial and secretive organization started by Mr. Cuomo in 2010, which was comprised mainly of real estate developers, bankers and lobbyists. The group was the State’s top lobbying spender in 2011 and 2012, but Mr. Cuomo shut it down the following year, after critics pointed to close ties between donors and State government. Ms. Velez also operates a construction contracting company that does business with both City Hall and Albany. According the multiple sources with direct knowledge of the situation, Mr. Cuomo promised Ms. Velez a seat on the board of the Battery Park City Authority in 2016, but her appointment did not go through, for reasons that never became public.
Ms. Meltzer continued, “they never actually bothered to come to a BPCA or CB1 meeting to get any type of community input. So, from our perspective, there has been little to no engagement.”
“We’re looking at this from a community perspective,” she added. “Can you tell me where in Battery Park City there is a memorial to anybody who lived in Battery Park City and was lost on September 11, 2001? There is nothing here that represents the residents who were here on September 11. And yet, there’s a hurricane memorial coming. It could beautiful, and I’m sure it will be very interesting. But it would be nice if the community got to have some input on the final two selections.”
Justine Cuccia, who serves as co-chair of CB1’s Battery Park City Committee, noted that Esplanade Plaza (along with the Chambers Street overlook, one of two locations proposed for the Hurricane Maria Memorial), “is the location of a volleyball court that the community uses, and is also used for dances and events.”
Mr. Sbordone responded that, “one of the benefits of having BPCA staff involved is that we are constantly reminding folks that this is a residential community.”
Ms. Meltzer pressed, “adding another thing at that location is not ideal. We haven’t seen what it looks like, or the scope and size, and there could be infrastructure changes. The concerns about usage and location are very real. And we’re out of that decision-making loop, or even conversations”
A further concern about both planned memorials is cost. The Cuomo administration has announced budgets of $700,000 for the Hurricane Maria project, and $750,000 for the Mother Cabrini monument. Given that these amounts are a fraction of the cost needed merely to repair several existing pieces of public art and infrastructure within Battery Park City in recent years, whether those budgets are realistic remains an open question. Examples of costlier projects from the BPCA’s 2019 budget include $2.5 million to redesign the Police Memorial, $3 million to repaint the Tribeca Pedestrian Bridge, and $1.6 million for design and installation of way-finding signage. In 2018, the BPCA hired a contractor to repair the Pylons public art piece (alongside North Cove Marina) and the illuminated glass benches surrounding the Irish Hunger Memorial for $595,000, and estimated that restoration of the dozen-plus other public art pieces in the community could cost hundreds of thousands of additional dollars in the near future. (The BPCA recently appraised the value of its entire public art collection at approximately $63 million.)
Battery Park City activists and leaders have a record of opposing plans for additional memorials that they believed conflicted with the interests of the community. These include successfully derailing proposals to locate two relics of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 with the community: the so-called “Survivors Staircase” (a flight of 38 steps that once led from Vesey Street to the World Trade Center plaza above) and the Sphere (a metal globe sculpture originally located on plaza between the Twin Towers, and heavily damaged when they collapsed). Both were initially slated for relocation to sites within Battery Park City. But each was instead incorporated into plans for the new World Trade Center complex when the community objected to these proposals.
But State officials have an equally long record of vetoing these concerns and locating within the community monuments that often seem calculated to curry favor with politically significant constituencies. One illustrative case in point is the Irish Hunger Memorial, which was dedicated in 2002, at the corner of North End Avenue and Vesey Street, in spite of the fact that Battery Park City has little discernible connection to the history of New York’s Irish-American community.
The same template may apply to the planned memorials for Hurricane Maria and Mother Cabrini, in that Battery Park City has scant significance in the narratives of Puerto Rican or Italian-American immigrants to New York. As Ninfa Segarra, a Battery Park City resident who once served as Deputy Mayor, and more recently chaired the Battery Park City Committee of Community Board 1, noted, “as one of the few Puerto Ricans who live in Battery Park City, I think placing a Memorial here is ridiculous. The Governor should identify who in the Puerto Rican community asked that it be placed here.”
Monday the 16th of December
CB1’s Environmental Protection Committee
Community Board 1 – Conference Room 1 Centre Street, Room 2202A-North
1) Rebuild by Design: The History of the BIG U – Presentation by Amy Chester, Managing Director, Rebuild by Design
2) 250 Water Street – Brownfield Cleanup Program Remedial Investigation Work Plan – Discussion and resolution
Other meetings this week >
12/17 Waterfront, Parks & Cultural Committee
12/18 Executive Committee
Cruise Ships in New York Harbor
Arrivals & Departures
Friday, December 20
Anthem of the Seas
Inbound 5:30 am (Bayonne); outbound 3:00 pm
Port Canaveral, FL/Bahamas
Inbound 6:15 am; outbound 3:30 pm
Port Canaveral, FL/Bahamas
Saturday, December 21
Inbound 7:15 am; outbound 4:30 pm
Sunday, December 22
Queen Mary 2
Inbound 6:00 am (Brooklyn); outbound 5:00 pm
Many ships pass Lower Manhattan on their way to and from the Midtown Passenger Ship Terminal. Others may be seen on their way to or from piers in Brooklyn and Bayonne. Stated times, when appropriate, are for passing the Colgate clock in Jersey City, New Jersey, and are based on sighting histories, published schedules and intuition. They are also subject to passenger and propulsion problems, tides, fog, winds, freak waves, hurricanes and the whims of upper management.
EYES TO THE SKY
December 9-22, 2019
Venus and Saturn, Full Cold Moon Winter Solstice
Yesterday’s sunset, earliest of the year, down to the second, is at 4:28:30pm. Sunset time is seconds later beginning tomorrow, until it is nearly one minute later, 4:29:27 on December 15. Afternoons will be noticeably lighter by month’s end. Sunrise today, 7:08:02, is 12 minutes earlier than the latest sunrise, 7:20:13 on January 6. To read more…
Today in History
1431 – King Henry VI of England crowned king of France
1631 – Mount Vesuvius erupts and destroys 6 villages and kills 4,000
1707 – Last recorded eruption of Mount Fuji in Japan.
1773 – Big tea party in Boston harbor-indians welcome (Boston Tea Party)
1811 – Earthquake hits New Madrid, Missouri, causing widespread damage
1835 – Fire consumes over 600 buildings in New York City
1857 – Earthquake in Naples, Italy
1897 – First submarine with an internal combustion engine demonstrated
1912 – First US postage stamp picturing an airplane, 20 cent parcel post, issued
1913 – Charlie Chaplin began his film career at Keystone for $150 a week
1915 – Albert Einstein publishes his “General Theory of Relativity”
1920 – 8.5 earthquake rocks the Gansu province in China, killing an estimated 200,000
1940 – British air raid on Mannheim
1950 – Harry Truman proclaims state of emergency against “Communist imperialism”
1953 – First White House press conference, Eisenhower and 161 reporters
1953 – Charles E Yeager fly > 2,575 kph in Bell X-1A
1960 – TWA 266 and United 826 collide over Staten Island, kills 134
1966 – Jimi Hendrix Experience releases its 1st single, “Hey Joe,” in the UK
1969 – “War is Over! If You Want It, Happy Christmas from John & Yoko” posters begin appearing
1970 – First successful landing on Venus (USSR)
1973 – O J Simpson becomes 1st NFLer to rush 2,000 yard in a season
1978 – Ronald Reagan denounces President Jimmy Carter’s recognition of China PR
1998 – Iraq disarmament crisis: Operation Desert Fox – The United States and United Kingdom bomb targets in Iraq.
CLASSIFIEDS & PERSONALS
Swaps & Trades ~ Respectable Employment ~ Lost & Found
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Available for weeknight and weekend baby-sitting and tutoring middle-schoolers in Math or Science.
Please contact Emmett at 917.733.3572
CERTIFIED HOME HEALTH AIDE SEEKING
Full-Time Live-In Elder Care
I am loving, caring and hardworking with 12 years experience. References available. Marcia 347-737-5037 email@example.com
ELDER CARE NURSE AIDE
with 17 years experience seeks PT/FT work. Refs available Call or text 718 496 6232 Dian
DO YOU NEED A PERSONAL ASSISTANT?
I am experienced, reliable, knowledgeable and able to work flexible hours.
CHINESE AIDE/CAREGIVER FOR ELDERLY
Cantonese/Mandarin-speaking and Excellent Cook for Battery Park City.
SEEKING FREE-LANCE PUBLIC RELATIONS PROFESSIONAL OR SMALL PR FIRM
Work with well-reviewed author of five E-books, developing and implementing outreach strategies. Includes writing, placement, research, new outlets and on-line advertising. Savvy social media skills a must. Downtown location.
Please send resume and fee schedule to: Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Available starting September for PT/FT.
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Available for PT/FT elder care. Experienced. References Angella
DITCH THE DIETS & LOSE WEIGHT FOR GOOD
Call Janine to find out how with hypnosis.
EXPERIENCED ELDER CARE
Able to prepare nutritious meals and light housekeeping
Excellent references 12yrs experienced 347-898-5804
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NOTARY PUBLIC IN BPC
$2 per notarized signature Text Paula at 917-836-8802
IT AND SECURITY SUPPORT
Experienced IT technician. Expertise in 1-on-1 tutoring for all ages.Computer upgrading & troubleshooting. Knowledgeable in all software programs.
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OLD WATCHES SOUGHT, PREFER NON-WORKING
Mechanical pocket and wristwatches sought and sometimes repaired
If you would like to place a listing, please contact email@example.com
The Train to the Plane
A Convenient Connection to the Airport Visible from Lower Manhattan Rooftops May Be Less Than Ten Years Away
The Regional Plan Association (RPA) recently partnered with the Downtown-Lower Manhattan Association (DLMA) to build support for a proposed rail connection between Lower Manhattan and Newark Airport. A report the two organizations produced together, “Taking the PATH to Newark Airport,” summarizes the potential and the prospects for such a link, which local leaders have long pushed for.
A Friend of the Court
Landmarks Agency Says Justice Complex May Merit Protection
The City’s Landmarks Preservation Commission has responded to a resolution enacted by Community Board 1, calling for legal protection for the criminal courts building at 100 Centre Street.
CB1’s resolution noted, “the surprising and unfortunate fact that many of the Civic Center’s important historic buildings lie outside the existing neighboring historic districts and are not yet landmarked.
These include 80 Centre Street, 137 Centre Street, 139 Centre Street, and the Manhattan Criminal Court Building at 100 Centre Street.”
What If All This Is Not Enough?
Pondering Whether $300 Million and 16.5 Feet of Protection Will Matter
At the October 29 meeting of the Battery Park City Authority board, Catherine McVay Hughes raised a potentially troubling question. As BPCA management reviewed plans to spend some $300 million on resiliency measures designed to protect the community against future sea-level rise, extreme-weather events, and climate change, she questioned one of the key assumptions upon which these plans are predicated.
“I think a lot of folks are looking at the depth-to-design elevation flood line,” Ms. McVay Hughes began. “And there was a report that was recently issued… [in which] this technical expert suggested that the 16.5 feet needs to be raised another two to three feet. So I just wanted to make sure that what the Battery Park City will be planning to do will be adequate, as well.”
The metric to which Ms. McVay Hughes was referring comes from the lower end of the mid-range of predicted coastal flood heights for Lower Manhattan by the 2080s. A 2014 report by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, entitled “Climate Change in New York State,” noted that middle range for such predictions at the Battery was 16.5 to 18.3 feet. (The lowest bracket was 16.1 feet or less, while the most extreme scenarios ranged up to 19.9 feet.)
Back to the Drawing Board
City Landmarks Agency Agrees with CB1 about “Disaster and Affront”
The City’s Landmarks Preservation Commission has concurred with Community Board 1 about a builder’s proposed plan for a new mansion at Hubert and Collister Streets, within the Tribeca West Historic District.
At its December 3 meeting, the LPC’s commissioners listened to a presentation from the builder and his team of architects.
When the presentation was done, the commissioners were unanimous in their disapproval. To read more…
Doing Good While Doing Well
Howard Hughes Practices Corporate Citizenship in the Seaport
If the giving season is an appropriate time to take stock of local philanthropy, one Lower Manhattan stakeholder has amassed an impressive record of thinking globally and acting locally. To read more…
Plan Floated to Span East River with Arch Containing Thousands of Apartments and New Transit Portal
To those who claim that the age of monumental public works and historic pieces of civic infrastructure has ended in New York, Scott Baker has a succinct answer: “Not if I have anything to say about it.”
Mr. Baker is the brains and the propulsive force behind an audacious new proposal to span the East River with a hybrid structure that would be part building, part bridge, and part mass transit conveyance, connecting the Dumbo/Vinegar Hill section of Brooklyn to the Manhattan neighborhood of Two Bridges.
Mr. Baker calls his plan, “RiverArch,” and describes it as, “a way to transform the skyline and the City with a structure like no other in the world, while also housing thousands of people and generating hundreds of millions of dollars per year in new tax revenue.”
CB1 to Consider Cutbacks in Number of Stops on Free Bus Service
Tonight (Tuesday, December 3) the Transportation Committee of Community Board 1 (CB1) will hear a presentation from the Downtown Alliance about planned cutbacks to the number of stops on its free Downtown Connection shuttle bus.
The plans include the elimination of six stops within Battery Park City.
How a Nazi Sympathizer’s Tribeca Garage Could Become a Luxe Mansion
Community Board 1 is pushing back, in unusually emphatic terms, against a builder’s plans for a new mansion in Tribeca. The property in question is located at 11 Hubert Street, near the corner of Collister Street.
The existing structure at 11 Hubert Street has a tangled pedigree. It was built in 1946 by Dietrich Wortman, who was born in Leipzig, Germany, in 1884, and emigrated to the United States, where he studied architecture at Columbia University.
A Tale of Two Museums
Community-Focused Cultural Center Faces Uncertain Future, as Tourism Magnet Thrives
The 9/11 Tribute Museum, a highly regarded local cultural institution, is grappling with a precarious outlook, according to a story first published in Crain’s New York Business, which says that the space housing the facility, located at Greenwich and Rector Streets, may be sold out from under the organization by its landlord.
Death Came Calling at the Corner of Wall and Broad Streets, in Lower Manhattan’s First Major Terrorist Attack
As the noon hour approached on a fall Thursday morning in 1920, a horse-drawn wagon slowly made its way west down Wall Street toward “the Corner,” the high-powered intersection of Wall and Broad. Its driver came to a gentle stop in front of the Assay Office, where stockpiles of gold and silver were stored and tested for purity. But theft was not his motive.
Cass Gilbert and the Evolution of the New York Skyscraper
by John Simko
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