Advocacy Group File Suit to Halt Plan for Homeless Shelter in FiDi
The Radisson New York Wall Street, at 52 William Street, is the site of a planned homeless shelter.
A group of Lower Manhattan residents opposed to the plan recently announced by the administration of Mayor Bill de Blasio to relocate more than 200 homeless men to a vacant hotel in the Financial District filed suit on Wednesday to block the move.
The group, Downtown New Yorkers, Inc., which organized in recent weeks to mobilize against the plan, has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to hire attorneys and bring legal actions. Some of those funds have been used to retain lawyer Ken Fisher, a former member of the New York City Council (where he represented a district in Brooklyn from 1991 through 2001), who later went on to found the New York City Chapter of the New York League of Conservation Voters, and serve as founding chair of the board of the Governors Island Alliance. He is also a past chair of the New York City Bar Association’s Land Use, Planning & Zoning Committee.
On Wednesday, Mr. Fisher filed in New York State Supreme Court an Article 78 petition, which is the legal mechanism via which private-sector parties can seek court-ordered relief from decisions by government agencies. At issue is whether the City has the legal authority to house homeless men at the Radisson New York Wall Street, located at 52 William Street. Sheltering homeless persons there is actually not a new development. The City’s Department of Homeless Services (DHS) has used the building since March as a temporary facility, aiming to limit the spread of the pandemic coronavirus among residents of the shelter system.
But DHS now plans to convert the facility into a longer-term shelter, for clients who are slated to be transferred from Lucerne Hotel, on the Upper West Side, after residents in that community organized, raised funds, and hired lawyers to stop the agency from housing approximately 240 homeless men there. After City officials agreed to vacate the Lucerne, they settled on the Radisson New York Wall Street as a replacement facility.
This aroused a chorus of condemnation from elected officials and Downtown community leaders, who have made a point of noting that they are not opposed in principle to homeless shelters in Lower Manhattan, but have instead decried the de Blasio administration’s apparent attempt to accomplish the move by stealth—notifying residents and their representatives late on a Friday evening, before a three-day weekend, and just days before the transfer was slated to begin. (The date has since been pushed back to the week of October 19.)
The suit filed on Wednesday argues that the City is using the public-health crisis associated with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic to evade legal requirements for community notice and consultation. Specifically, the filings contend that while the de Blasio Administration is using emergency rules enacted for contracts related to COVID-19, the planned move to 52 William Street has no actual connection to the pandemic.
“The residents of Lower Manhattan fully support these homeless individuals and we recognize the homeless crisis facing our city,” said Christopher Brown of Downtown New Yorkers. “However, the City has reacted recklessly and erratically by repeatedly uprooting these individuals, based on political pressure.” He adds that even the non-profit hired by the City to manage the facility, “believes that the homeless men are better served by remaining on the Upper West Side, where they have access to extensive social programs—including a successful jobs program—that are not available in Lower Manhattan.”
The suit additionally alleges the City has no lawful authority to move the men, because its contract with the Hotel Association of New York City, through which it has been placing homeless individuals in hotels, has expired.
A spokesman for the City’s Law Department responded to the lawsuit by saying, “the entire City has a moral and legal obligation to provide safe shelter to all who need it. This shameful attempt to dodge that obligation through a technical procurement challenge will fail in court. Using this hotel to provide shelter during this unprecedented pandemic is not only a justified use of the Mayor’s emergency powers, it is absolutely the right thing to do.”
Patrick Kennell, president of the Financial District Neighborhood Association, reflects that, “it never should have come to this—a lawsuit.” He adds that, “Mayor de Blasio and his administration had plenty of opportunity to inform and engage the 235 men at the Lucerne and the FiDi community about the Mayor’s reported ‘review’ and political ‘decision’ to yet again uproot these men, who are heading for their fourth move in six months. Rather than use that ‘review’ time to work with all those affected, Mayor de Blasio chose to work in secret and only informed the communities involved—and even the shelter’s operator—after the fact and with next to no time to prepare. And even after announcing the decision, the administration has failed to listen or meaningfully engage the Lucerne residents, who don’t want to move, or the FiDi community. The administration’s handling of this move has built deep distrust among all those affected, and it has exacerbated an already stressful situation for the Lucerne men. This was largely avoidable, and the Financial District Neighborhood Association looks forward to the City’s response to our recent FOIL requests, so that we can figure out why this happened, and hopefully shine a light so that this kind of disengaged decision-making doesn’t happen again.”
Another perspective comes from Caitlyn Dooley, one of the founders of a similarly named (but separate) group, the Friends of FiDi, who says, “our focus is on the men.” She adds that, “we take issue with these men being subjected to trauma after trauma,” in a reference to the multiple relocations, from one facility to another, that the homeless men now destined for 52 William Street have faced in recent months. “Now the Mayor’s plan is re-traumatizing them. These men should not be moved, because they do not want to be.”
“But,” Ms. Dooley adds, “if the move does go through, our focus will be to work closely with the men, to make sure they feel welcome and supported as our new neighbors.”
Brookfield Place partners with lululemon for a conversation on sleep and its impact on health, wellness, and success! Actress and fitness guru Bevin Prince delves into the topic with Dr. Rebecca Robbins, a sleep researcher and co-author of Sleep for Success. The two speakers will also answer questions submitted anonymously by the public in advance. The free event will take place on @BFPLNY’s Instagram Live, as part of #BFPLatHome digital programming.
Fall is a special time in BPC: along with the changes in trees and gardens, Monarch Butterflies and many species of unique birds are migrating through. Celebrate this time with art and nature activities. Participants are expected to bring their own general supplies, such as crayons, markers, colored pencils, watercolor paints (bring your own container of water), glue, and scissors. Pick up a “kit bag” with instructions for the project of the day. Free. Program is first come, first served for up to 20 children with accompanying adults. Masks and contact information required upon arrival. Activity is self-guided. Participants must maintain six feet of physical distance between households.
Take a guided tour of The Battery Urban Farm and learn to save seeds from flower plants before the end of the season. This free workshop is geared towards adults, though children ages 13 and up are welcome to attend with a parent or guardian. RSVP is required. The park has developed new safety guidelines to protect visitors from the spread of COVID-19.
Can poetics engage politics? Join three poet-activists in discussing electoral politics, civil unrest, and the intersection of poetry and politics. Patricia Spears Jones, founder of the American Poets Congress, Joey De Jesus, candidate for NY Assembly District 38, and Saymoukda Duangphouxay Vongsay, Minnesota-based spoken word poet and activist, will discuss issues that matter to them in the upcoming election and question the role of the poet and poetry in civic duty. Free and online.
Live digital theatrical experience commissioned by Brookfield that brings together one actor and one audience member featuring eight new micro-plays which speak to these times we are in. Each reservation will last 15-30 minutes and are scheduled between 6 – 7:30pm. You must sign up in advance and will see one of the eight plays. The free performance is completely online. You will need a computer with a working webcam and microphone. Content of micro plays range from a rating of PG to R, based on language.
Improve balance, strength and focus through gentle exercises. The sights and sounds of the river provide a serene background for the ancient flowing postures. Program is first come, first served for up to 12 participants. Masks and contact information required upon arrival. Spatial parameters will be set. Free. Esplanade Plaza.
Learn and practice Mandarin, while engaging with Chinese literature, poetry, history and more with fellow enthusiasts, in this free online program sponsored by the China Institute. Participants will enjoy live, interactive learning sessions with our language and cultural experts from home. Each session will start with a read-aloud in Mandarin of a carefully selected poem which represents both a touchstone to Chinese culture as well as text for practicing Mandarin language and pronunciation.
These virtual visits offer the opportunity to see and learn the history of Schermerhorn Row, at the end of Fulton Street in Manhattan, one of the most significant examples of early 19th century commercial architecture in New York and home of the South Street Seaport Museum. Hear about the buildings’ incredible history and developments, and explore the remains of two 150-year-old hotels made famous by New Yorker writer Joseph Mitchell’s “Up in the Old Hotel.” Part of Archtober.
Studio BFPL: Encounters transforms the unique indoor spaces of Brookfield Place with intimate, one-of-a-kind live musical performances that are socially distant and 20-minutes in duration. Up to six people who have traveled together can expect to be transported and entertained by these captivating experiences, featuring some of Arts Brookfield’s long-standing partners including New York Guitar Festival, Knickerbocker Chamber Orchestra, Live Sounds and more. Your group of up to 6 will be captivated by a surprise musical performer – an encounter you won’t forget! Each reservation will last 20 minutes and are scheduled between 5- 9 pm.
Join this webinar from the New York Academy of Sciences to learn from the experts how your internal clock works and how it affects your health, mood, and productivity. Topics for discussion will include the effects of daylight – saving time, jet-lag, healthy sleeping habits, timing of meals and medication, the role of your genes in your early-bird or night-owl habits, and developmental aspects of biological rhythms — such as teenagers’ preference to stay up past midnight while toddlers burst with energy at sunrise. We will illuminate practical applications of research in circadian medicine, like the impact of circadian disrupters such as blue light, caffeine and 24/7 snacking on your health; and we will examine whether current school and work hours align with the latest scientific findings in chronobiology. $10k suggested donation.
What’s Up, Dock?
Pier A Restaurant and Bar Shuts Down
The Harbor House Restaurant on Pier A has shut down, with no definite plan to reopen. A spokesman for the Battery Park City Authority says that agency, “is working with all relevant parties to determine a path forward.”
This distress (which predates the restaurant-industry woes triggered by the pandemic coronavirus and the economic slowdown that followed) was highlighted in December, 2018. To read more…
Mother of Exiles
Remembering the Woman Who Said: “the World Is Poisoned with Erroneous Theories and Needs to be Taught Sane Doctrines”
On Monday, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo observed Columbus Day by presiding over a ceremony at South Cove, along the Battery Park City Esplanade, to dedicate the Mother Cabrini Memorial—commemorating the 19th-century Italian-American nun who founded more than 60 orphanages, hospitals, and schools to help New York’s needy, and later became (in 1946) the first naturalized U.S. citizen to be canonized a Catholic saint.
“Last year, on this very day,” Mr. Cuomo said, “we announced that we build a statue to Mother Cabrini. There was no doubt that she deserved it, that Mother Cabrini had not received the proper recognition that she deserved. And New Yorkers wanted to memorialize her. We did it in one year. We formed a commission, found a location, identified the funding, and the sculptors brought it to life and did a magnificent job.” To read more…
Democratic Group Endorses Young Activist for City Council
The Downtown Independent Democrats (DID), an influential political club based in Lower Manhattan, has endorsed Christopher Marte in his campaign for the City Council seat that will be vacated by Margaret Chin next year, as a result of term limits.
Mr. Marte has a long track record of engagement, starting in the Lower East Side neighborhood where he grew up, and culminating in a City Council run in 2017, which he lost by only a few hundred votes.
Losses and Closures Mount Among Downtown Dining Spots
A new report from State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli documents the impact of the ongoing pandemic coronavirus on the restaurant industry in Lower Manhattan.
In this report, Mr. DiNapoli finds, there were 1,981 operating restaurants and bars before the pandemic began, which places Lower Manhattan behind only the Chelsea/Clinton/Midtown Business District PUMA area, with 2,661 such establishments. (Together, these two areas account for nearly 40 percent of the City’s restaurant jobs.) To read more…
‘This Is about Pitting One Community Against Another’
Packed Meeting Airs Concerns about Plan for Homeless Shelter on William Street
A special meeting of Community Board 1 (CB1), called to gather information and air concerns about a de Blasio administration plan to locate a shelter for homeless men in the Financial District, drew more than 1,000 online participants on October 1.
The hotel, known as the Radisson New York Wall Street, is located at 52 William Street. Housing homeless persons there is actually not a new development. The City’s Department of Homeless Services (DHS) has used the building since March as a temporary facility, aiming to limit the spread of the pandemic coronavirus among residents of the shelter system. To read more…
Quay to Success
Pier 26 Opens with Amenities Galore
The tally of great public spaces in Lower Manhattan has increased by one. Last Wednesday, the Hudson River Park Trust officially opened Pier 26 in Tribeca (near Hubert Street), the product of a decade-plus of planning and construction, and a $37-million budget.
The result is 2.5 acres of woodland forest, coastal grassland, maritime scrub, and a rocky tidal zone—all culminating in a breathtaking view of the Hudson River. Additionally included in the design are a multi-use recreation field and a spacious sunning lawn, as well as boardwalks and seating areas. To read more…
Eyes to the Sky
October 6 – 18, 2020
Planet Mars Will Surprise You
A rusty-gold star-like celestial body shines suspended above the eastern skyline at nightfall. It is heaven’s celebrity of the month. Even though I knew that planet Mars is predicted to be at that location after sunset, a rush of surprise overcame me when, approaching a clear view to the east, the planet’s brilliant light pierced the darkness. Mars is brightest for the year in Earth’s skies. On the 6th, it will orbit closest to our planet since 2018 and arrive at “opposition” on the 13th.
Words Come to Life Amid New Installation in Battery Park City
Poets House—a library, creative space, and meeting place that invites poets and the public to step into the living tradition of poetry, while cultivating a wider audience for the art—will celebrate its tenth anniversary in Battery Park City by launching the Poetry Path, an immersive public art installation running the northern length of Battery Park City, from Rockefeller and Teardrop Parks to the North Cove Marina. To read more…
Rice and Beans
They are better
Me and Jayden
We are better
Josh, PS1 student
TODAY IN HISTORY
1878 – The Edison Electric Light Company begins operation
1529 – The Siege of Vienna ends when Austria routs the invading Ottoman forces, ending its European expansion.
1582 – Adoption of the Gregorian calendar begins, eventually leading to near-universal adoption.
1783 – The Montgolfier brothers’ hot air balloon makes the first human ascent, piloted by Jean-Franзois Pilвtre de Rozier.
1793 – Queen Marie Antoinette of France is tried and convicted, and condemned to death the following day.
1863 – American Civil War: The H. L. Hunley, the first submarine to sink a ship, sinks, killing its inventor.
1878 – The Edison Electric Light Company begins operation.
1928 – The airship, Graf Zeppelin completes its first trans-Atlantic flight, landing at Lakehurst, New Jersey, United States.
1939 – The New York Municipal Airport (later renamed LaGuardia Airport) is dedicated.
1945 – The former premier of Vichy France, Pierre Laval, is executed for treason.
1956 – FORTRAN, the first modern computer language, is first shared with the coding community.
1990 – Soviet Union leader Mikhail Gorbachev is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to lessen Cold War tensions and open up his nation.
1991 – The “Oh-My-God particle”, an ultra-high-energy cosmic ray measured at 40,000,000 times that of the highest energy protons produced in a particle accelerator is observed at the University of Utah HiRes observatory in Dugway Proving Ground, Utah.
1994 – The Clinton administration returns Haiti’s first democratically elected president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, to the island.
2001 – NASA’s Galileo spacecraft passes within 112 miles of Jupiter’s moon Io.
2008 – The Dow Jones Industrial Average closes down 733.08 points, or 7.87%, the second worst percentage drop in the Dow’s history.
2016 – One hundred ninety-seven nations amend the Montreal Protocol to include a phase-out of hydrofluorocarbons.
1990 – Soviet Union leader Mikhail Gorbachev is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to lessen Cold War tensions and open up his nation.
70 BC – Virgil, Roman poet (d. 19 BC)
1599 – Cornelis de Graeff, Dutch mayor and regent of Amsterdam (d. 1664)
1762 – Samuel Adams Holyoke, American composer and educator (d. 1820)
1836 – James Tissot, French painter and illustrator (d. 1902)
1881 – P. G. Wodehouse, English novelist and playwright (d. 1975)
1908 – John Kenneth Galbraith, Canadian-American economist and diplomat, 7th United States Ambassador to India (d. 20
1917 – Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr., American historian and critic (d. 2007)
1938 – Brice Marden, American painter
412 – Theophilus, Patriarch of Alexandria
1385 – Dionysius I, Metropolitan of Moscow
1917 – Mata Hari, Dutch dancer and spy (b. 1876)
1976 – Carlo Gambino, Italian-American mob boss (b. 1902)
1978 – W. Eugene Smith, American photojournalist (b. 1918)
Credits include wikipedia and other internet sources