Lower Manhattan’s Local News
City Environmental Review of New Ferry Service to Battery Park City Springs a Few Leaks
The City’s Economic Development Corporation (EDC) has released an updated version of the “draft supplemental environmental impact statement” (EIS) for its plan to bring new ferry service from Staten Island to Battery Park City.
This document is meant to gauge the effect of the plan on metrics like noise, air quality, and greenhouse gas emissions that will result from implementing the NYC Ferry expansion planned by the administration of Mayer Bill de Blasio, which is slated to bring to the Battery Park City ferry terminal more than 60 new vessels each day, landing from 6:00 am to midnight, and carrying as many as 2,500 passengers per day.
One salient finding of the report may call into question the viability of the entire plan. The EDC originally planned for passengers embarking at Staten Island to board at a slip inside the Staten Island Ferry terminal at St. George. But, the document notes, the City’s Department of Transportation (DOT), “has identified potential navigational safety issues related to vessel movements and lack of sight lines,” within that terminal. As a result, “the use of this location for the St. George landing has been deemed infeasible for now due to these navigational safety concerns.”
Instead, the EDC now proposes to have passengers board its new ferry at a separate dock, located approximately 3,000 feet (or more than half a mile) away from the slip they originally planned to use. This berth will be located between the Empire Outlets mall and the Staten Island Yankees ballpark. In addition to the extra distance passengers will be required to walk to access the new ferry, this facility will be isolated from mass transit connections, while the Staten Island Ferry terminal at St. George sits atop a dense interchange of bus and rail connections. Further underscoring the contrast, passengers who choose to ride the NYC Ferry from Staten Island to Battery Park City will be charged $2.75, while the Staten Island ferry is free.
The EIS also details multiple changes in how the EDC is approaching the operation of a ferry that will land at the terminal on the Esplanade, near the end of Vesey Street. A previous version of the EIS claimed that, “a pro forma license,” from the Port Authority, the agency that owns and operates the ferry terminal, was the only approval needed to establish new ferry service there, and that this approval would not be subject to the City Environmental Quality Review (CEQR) disclosure process. In the new version of the report, this passage has been deleted, and replaced by a paragraph that says, “approval of a Tenant Alteration Application by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey would be required for the use of the Battery Park City landing.”
The CEQR process also requires detailed transportation screening assessments in cases where a new ferry would result in 200 or more peak hour pedestrian trips. The EIS goes on to note that, “the assessments show that the CEQR… thresholds for pedestrians would be exceeded … at the Battery Park City landing.” This echoes a concern voiced by community leaders at multiple public meetings last year. In June, Community Board 1 (CB1) enacted a resolution noting (among other objections) that, “additional ferry service in Battery Park City will create additional foot traffic to and from Brookfield Place and the PATH station, which will affect the free circulation of residents.”
For air quality, the CEQR process calls for heightened scrutiny in cases where new ferry service would generate carbon monoxide exhaust equivalent to 170 vehicles an hour, or an excessive amount of particulate matter. The EIS says that, “it is anticipated that the proposed project would not exceed the… carbon monoxide mobile screening threshold [or] the applicable fine particulate matter screening thresholds.” But the report goes on to acknowledge that, “the Battery Park City landing option may not be well represented by the representative modeling protocol, due to factors such as existing service, frequency of proposed service, and complex site geometry.” The same passage says that, for this reason, “concentrations… will be assessed using a site-specific analysis,” using protocols mandated by the federal Environmental Protection Agency.”
For noise, the CEQR process, “requires that the noise study address the effects of increased noise due to the introduction or rerouting of transportation sources.” In response, the EIS promises to, “conduct measurements of ferry horn noise levels during operation of representative ferry vessels at the Battery Park City landing in Manhattan, and determine ferry horn event emission levels.” The CB1 resolution from June also noted that, “ferry operation is noisy and the addition of more departure announcements, gunning engines, and departure sounds will further diminish the quality of life of Battery Park City residents who live within a short distance from the pier.”
In the public comment section of the EIS, in which the EDC is required to disclose and respond to concern raised by residents, more than a dozen people who live in Battery Park City weighed in.
Patrizia Amann wrote that, “I already hear the ferries at the Battery Park City terminal and the noise of their horns all the time. Adding to the operation hours is a nightmare. How will my kids be able to sleep if this noise will go on from 6:00 until midnight?”
The EDC answered, “a detailed analysis will be conducted at each new landing using ferry noise emission levels based on measurements conducted at existing landings. The measured noise emission levels include the noise from ferry horns prior to arrivals and departures and noise generated by normal ferry operations such as engine noise.”
Marsha Bentami wrote that, “my family and I live directly in front of the Battery Park City dock where the noise and pollution are already obnoxious. With this new development, it will considerably worsen to an unbearable degree. This will grossly affect our quality of life. To even think of having a daily ferry route from 6:00 am until midnight is ludicrous. How are the residents to get any peace from the ferry noise, especially the ferry horn? It will bring a constant and intolerable barrage of toxic noise and air pollution.”
Fernanda Giacomelli wrote, “I would like to express again my family’s and my discontent with the unnecessary level of pollution and noise generated by the ferries. We understand the regulations that require honking, but we wonder why it has to be as loud as a supertanker. All in society is a trade-off, and the annoyance to our children and ourselves, who lose sleep because of overly exaggerated warnings, seems disproportionate. The pollution caused by very old designs and technology is astounding.”
The EDC responsed to Ms. Bentami and Ms. Giacomelli by referring them to Ms. Amann, while adding that, “for safety reasons, it is a requirement of the United States Coast Guard (per Inland Navigation Rule 34) that all marine vessels blow their horns each time they pull away from the landing. In addition, a detailed air quality analysis will be performed to determine the CFS Expansion’s potential effect in the areas near the new landings that will be constructed, as well as the existing landings that will experience increased ferry operations.”
In another comment, Ms. Amann suggested, “move the ferry dock at Battery Park City to the north where nobody is harmed by it.” The EDC replied, in effect, “no,” saying that, “the Citywide Ferry Service Expansion proposed to utilize the existing ferry terminal at Battery Park City for a new landing, and the project does not propose to build additional infrastructure in the Battery Park City neighborhood.” (This answer appears to ignore the distinction between building a new ferry terminal, as opposed to moving an existing, floating ferry terminal to a slightly different location.)
Brijesh Malkani wrote that, “we have already seen a large growth in foot traffic in Battery Park City with subsequent congestion through the past few years with the development of Brookfield Place and the Oculus.” This concern was echoed by Shreya Patel, who said that, “over the last several years, there have been many more people in the area and most recently foot traffic has spiked again as we see people using the ferries while the PATH [train] undergoes construction. This increased traffic feels like the equivalent of building a major highway in our backyard.”
The EDC responded, “the travel demand screening considers the potential vehicular traffic, transit, pedestrian, bicycle, and parking demands of each ferry landing, as appropriate. The Battery Park City landing will undergo the same travel demand screening assessment as other landings to determine, per the CEQR Technical Manual, if there is the need for further transportation studies to analyze the potential for significant adverse transportation impacts.” This appears to be an assurance that a study will be conducted, to determine whether a second study is needed. But it stops short of raising the possibility that the EDC’s plan will be halted, or even modified, if noise levels are indeed found to be unreasonable.
Felix Scherzer raised the argument that, “the engine noise at Battery Park City terminal is in breach of the New York noise code. The horns might have federal preemption status as a maritime requirement, but the engine noise does not, according to my lawyers. The noise pollution indoors from the ferry engine revving is against the law, specifically Local Law 113/2005. How can you allow not only a breach of local law hundreds of times a day, but add even more noise? Adding more boats needs to comply with law.”
The EDC responded by referring Mr. Scherzer to the answer they gave to Ms. Amann.
To the editor,
The deconstruction of the temporary Rector Street Bridge-upsetting to some in the community-actually has many supporters, and certainly came as no surprise. Members of the community have been discussing the removal of the bridge for years at Community Board 1 meetings, which are open to all.
The removal of the bridge will allow cherished neighborhood amenities to expand, such as Liberty Community Gardens, the well-used basketball courts and the recreational lawn. We write from the community gardens, which will gain 30% more area and allow many families, some of whom have been waiting years, to finally get a garden plot.
The Rector Street Bridge was erected in haste after 9/11 to provide access to Battery Park City at a time when West Street being reconstructed, the pedestrian bridge at Liberty Street was closed, and access to the neighborhood was very limited. The bridge was designed to be temporary. Siting a new permanent bridge took years. When ground was broken for the West Thames Bridge in 2015, CB1 sought assurances that the Rector Street Bridge would remain only until the new bridge was completed.
All this while, the Steering Committee of Liberty Community Gardens and other neighborhood groups were working with BPCA, EDC and DOT to plan and design the public space regained when the Rector Street Bridge finally came down.
We look forward to the rapid removal of the Rector Street Bridge and the expansion of community amenities in its place, and we respect and appreciate all of the thought and effort that went into this project by agencies and community members.
Susan Brady, Lucy Kuhn, Michael McCormack, Leslie Nowinski, Alison Simko
Liberty Community Gardens
Beginning this Friday, February 7th at 6pm, Church Street School for Music and Art located in partnership with Keyed Up! and International Contemporary Ensemble will begin a weekly concert series featuring renowned jazz musicians in the performance space at Church Street School.
February 7th – Tadataka Unno, piano; Phillip Harper, trumpet; and more!
Starting February 7th through mid June.
41 White Street 212-571-7290 churchstreetschool.org
Eyes to the Sky
February 4 – 16, 2020
Planet Venus dazzles, New York stargazers defy light pollution
While we were looking the other way, the dazzle of starry skies that we thought would always be there has been dimmed by a hazy scrim: when encountered, we feel as if a disease has overtaken our eyes. But the haze is accumulated wasted light from each of our trillions of outdoor lights – private and public – that are poorly designed and, in many instances, too bright for the purpose. The result is that the light scatters around and up to the sky, known as “light trespass” and “light pollution.” Excessive light is also wasted light and it is not only a wasted resource. While quick to light up our world, we have not only been oblivious to polluting our skies, but are discovering that light pollution is having deleterious affects on human health and the health of our environment. See https://wattsupwiththat.com/2016/06/27/ama-issues-warning-about-energy-efficient-led-streetlights/
Each of us can act to reverse this blight by being vigilant about lighting decisions in our communities and exercising discretion when making lighting choices and turning on the switch. Consider covering windows with shades, blinds or curtains at night. Join in the work of the International Dark Sky Association https://www.darksky.org.
The Amateur Astronomers Association of New York https://www.aaa.org/ is committed to promoting awareness of the night sky through year around programs, including the gift of stargazing beginning in April.
Far from letting life under some of the world’s most light-polluted skies deter us from actively viewing the night sky, we in the AAA are dedicated to not only observing the heavens ourselves but also introducing the public to the wonders of astronomy. In cooperation with the New York City Department of Parks, the United States National Park Service, and other organizations, the Amateur Astronomers Association holds observing sessions at several locations in and around New York City.
Meanwhile, enjoy planet Venus’ star-like dazzle rather high above the southwest horizon in evening twilight until she sets in the west shortly after 8pm.
‘A Complete Free-for-All’
CB1 Raises Concerns about Wave of New Event and Entertainment Venues Planned for Downtown
Members of Community Board 1 are expressing reservations about multiple new party and performance spaces slated to open in Lower Manhattan this year.
At the January 28 monthly meeting of the Board, Mariama James, who co-chairs CB1’s Quality of Life & Service Delivery Committee, described a production planned for a new theater space now being created within 20 Exchange Place, near the corner of William Street.
“It’s by a group called Emursive,” noted Ms. James, “and the show is called ‘Sleep No More,'” which draw ironic laughs from members who CB1, because the title neatly evokes their concerns for the surrounding neighborhood.
Panegyric to Paul
Veteran Community Leader Honored for Decades of Service
State Assembly member Deborah Glick has issued a proclamation recognizing Paul Hovitz, who stepped down as vice chair of Community Board 1 last June, for 27 years of effort and achievement on behalf of the Lower Manhattan community. In a pronouncement issued recently, Ms. Glick said, “Paul gained a reputation for being a powerful advocate for special education services, the allocation of funding for new school seats in Lower Manhattan, and the distribution of balanced educational programming.” To read more…
Plan for Lower Manhattan’s Highest Residential Tower Put on Hold
In what may be a harbinger of the decades-long Lower Manhattan real estate boom coming to an end, the planned “super-tall” residential tower at 45 Broad Street, in the Financial District, has been put on hold.
In a story first reported by the online architecture and design journal, Dezeen, developer Madison Equities acknowledged that, “due to short-term conditions in the Lower Manhattan market, we have decided to delay on constructing the building in the near future.”
This comes after years of delays in clearing the lot, which was acquired by Madison Equitietal worth (with more than 250 apartments, and some 13,000 square feet of retail space at its base) to be somewhere between $850 million and $1 billion, but realizing such a valuation may prove to be an elusive goal. And with fixed costs and debt topping out at more than $800 million, the margin for error on such a project is slim.
A Pooling of Interests
Would Floating Filtration System That Doubles as a Swim Facility Be a Net Plus?
A decade of grassroots advocacy may be gradually bearing fruit, as community leaders prod the administration of Bill de Blasio into serious consideration of a proposal to create a floating pool in the East River.
The idea, styled as “+ Pool” (and verbalized as “Plus Pool”) began in the summer of 2010, when three friends — designers Jeffrey Franklin and Archie Coates, along with architect Dong-Ping Wong — wondered why there was no facility that would allow the public to swim in the Hudson or East Rivers.
Researching the idea, they realized that 150 years ago, New York had more than a dozen such accommodations. To read more…
You Won’t Have John Catsimatidis to Kick Around Anymore
Gristedes Shuts Southern Battery Park City Location Amid General Retrenchment in Supermarkets
The number of grocery stores in Battery Park City is shrinking by one. In a story first reported by the Tribeca Citizen website, Gristedes Supermarket, a fixture at the corner of South End Avenue and West Thames Street for decades, is slated to shut down today.
Two Gristedes employees told the Broadsheet that they believe the store will reopen in several months, after an extensive modernization. But this narrative is contradicted by multiple reports that John Catsimatidis, the billionaire owner of the grocery chain, wants to put the 10,000-square-foot space to more lucrative use. To read more…
Stretching the Canvas Exhibition Tour
National Museum of the American Indian
A 45-minute tour of Stretching the Canvas: Eight Decades of Native Painting. Drawing from the National Museum of the American Indian’s rich permanent collection, the exhibition presents nearly 40 paintings that transcend, represent or subvert conventional ideas of authenticity. One Bowling Green. Free
National Museum of the American Indian
Transportation & Street Activity Permits Committee –
Community Board 1 – Conference Room 1 Centre Street, Room 2202A-North
The Cactus League: A Novel
Book reading. An explosive, character-driven odyssey through the world of baseball from Emily Nemens (the editor of The Paris Review) and David Duchovney. 4 Fulton Street.
Ars Gratia Communitas
Battery Park City’s Annual Art Exhibit
Battery Park City’s annual art exhibition opened on Sunday, January 26.
The art will be on view at
75 Battery Place, weekdays,
January 27 to March 27,
2PM to 4PM (no viewing on 2/17).
People visiting should check in with our security desk on the ground floor, where they will be directed to the elevators to the 4th floor. The receptionist will direct them to the show.
Today in History
Tuesday February 4
1169 – A strong earthquake strikes the Ionian coast of Sicily.
1555 – John Rogers is burned at the stake, becoming the first English Protestant martyr under Mary I of England.
1789 – George Washington is unanimously elected as the first President of the United States by the U.S. Electoral College.
1801 – John Marshall is sworn in as Chief Justice of the United States.
1846 – The first Mormon pioneers make their exodus from Nauvoo, Illinois, westward towards Salt Lake Valley.
1859 – The Codex Sinaiticus is discovered in Egypt.
1938 – Adolf Hitler appoints himself as head of the Armed Forces High Command.
1945 – World War II: The Yalta Conference between the “Big Three” (Churchill, Roosevelt, and Stalin) opens at the Livadia Palace in the Crimea.
1967 – Lunar Orbiter program: Lunar Orbiter 3 lifts off from Cape Canaveral’s Launch Complex 13 on its mission to identify possible landing sites for the Surveyor and Apollo spacecraft.
1974 – The Symbionese Liberation Army kidnaps Patty Hearst in Berkeley, California.
1976 – Guatemala and Honduras earthquake kills more than 20,000.
1999 – Unarmed West African immigrant Amadou Diallo is shot 41 times by four plainclothes New York City police officers on an unrelated stake-out, inflaming race relations in the city.
1447 – Lodovico Lazzarelli, Italian poet (d. 1500)
211 – Septimius Severus, Roman emperor (b. 145)
1555 – John Rogers, English clergyman and translator (b. 1505)
Photos and information culled from Wikipedia and other internet sources
Asking for the Millennium
City Announces Agreement to Expand FiDi’s Millennium High School
On January 15, jubilant elected officials, community leaders, and education officials toured the new space into which the Financial District’s Millennium High School will expand over the next two years. This was the culmination of a multi-year campaign to win approval and funding for the school’s growth.
CLASSIFIEDS & PERSONALS
Swaps & Trades ~ Respectable Employment ~ Lost & Found
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Went to PS 234, Lab Middle School and currently attending Millennium HS. This summer was a Councilor at Pierce Country Day Camp. Excellent references.Very experienced with kids under 10.
Available for weeknight and weekend baby-sitting and tutoring middle-schoolers in Math or Science. Please contact Emmett at 917.733.3572
IT AND SECURITY SUPPORT
Experienced IT technician. Expertise in 1-on-1 tutoring for all ages.Computer upgrading & troubleshooting. Knowledgeable in all software programs.
James Keirstead email@example.com
347-933-1362 References available
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
NOTARY PUBLIC IN BPC
$2 per notarized signature Text Paula at 917-836-8802
ELDER CARE NURSE AIDE
with 17 years experience seeks PT/FT work. Refs available Call or text 718 496 6232 Dian
Available starting September for PT/FT.
Wonderful person, who is a great worker. Reference Available
Available for PT/FT elder care. Experienced. References Angella
EXPERIENCED ELDER CARE
Able to prepare nutritious meals and light housekeeping
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If you would like to place a listing, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
The Greek Calends
After Two-Year Hiatus, Work to Resume at St. Nicholas Church
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced on January 2 that a newly formed non-profit organization will raise funds and underwrite the completion of the St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, within the World Trade Center Complex.
The building, designed by renowned architect Santiago Calatrava (who additionally created the nearby Oculus, also in the World Trade Center) is slated to replace the histo precious parish church that fell among the victims of September 11. To read more…
Vicinage with Vigor
Lower Manhattan Ranked Among Healthiest Districts in New York
Two Lower Manhattan neighborhoods rank among the healthiest communities anywhere in the five boroughs of New York City, according to new research by RentHop, an online listings database.
The analysis gauged overall healthy by three criteria: the proportion of overall space within each community set aside for parks, the number of gyms (and other fitness facilities) in each neighborhood, and the tally of vegetarian restaurants in each area (relative to its number of households).
They Didn’t Get the Memo…
Much-Touted Crackdown on Placard Parking Not All It Was Cracked Up to Be
Amid much fanfare, multiple City agencies recently announced that they would take part in a crackdown on illegal parking by government employees, whose personal vehicles bear placards that allow them to leave their cars blocking bus stops, crosswalks, fire hydrants, bike lanes, and lanes needed for use by fire trucks and ambulances.
By Tuesday, it appeared that dozens of law enforcement personnel who work in Battery Park City hadn’t heard, or perhaps knew better.
Recalling Five Points
Epicenter of a Notorious Slum Proposed for Commemoration
In 1831, the City government considered a petition that warned, “that the place known as “Five points” has long been notorious… as being the nursery where every species of vice is conceived and matured; that it is infested by a class of the most abandoned and desperate character.”
A decade later, Charles Dickens, visiting New York, wrote of the same Lower Manhattan neighborhood that had inspired the petition, “what place is this, to which the squalid street conducts us? A kind of square of leprous houses, some of which are attainable only by crazy wooden stairs without. What lies behind this tottering flight of steps? Let us go on again, and plunge into the Five Points…. To read more…
Cruise Ships in New York Harbor
Arrivals & Departures
10:00 ~ 16:00
07:00 ~ 17:00
07:00 ~ 17:00
10:00 ~ 16:00
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.
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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