The Battery Park City Authority Board of Directors meeting on Oct. 22 began with applause for Gladys Pearlman and James Miner, Battery Park City Parks Conservancy staff members who had thwarted a would-be predator at the neighborhood ball fields with actions that led to his arrest.
According to an account of the incident released by the B.P.C.A., the man “seemed to have an inappropriate interest in playing with children. Some of the adults noticed and were uncomfortable with what they saw. They notified James Miner, the Parks Conservancy on-site Ball Fields Coordinator. He observed the activity and when the individual walked toward Rockefeller Park, he alerted Gladys Pearlman, the Park House attendant. She, in turn, was in constant contact with her Conservancy supervisors as this situation unfolded.”
The Parks Enforcement Patrol was alerted, followed by the N.Y.P.D., whose officers took the man to the First Precinct for questioning. He was found to have an outstanding arrest warrant and was booked.
The awards presented to Pearlman and Miner said the authority and conservancy “recognize with pride your exemplary conduct and professional dedication to ensure the safety of the public during an unusual occurrence on Friday, Sept. 27, 2013.”
It emerged at the Oct. 22 B.P.C.A. board meeting that Battery Park City Authority employees have not had a raise or a cost-of-living increase in five years.
“We’re estimating actual operating budget expenses [for the B.P.C.A.] as $125,000 less than the prior year,” said the authority’s interim president, Robert Serpico, at the meeting Tuesday. He said it was the 11th year in a row that the budget was lower than the previous year.
These savings have been partially accomplished by freezing salaries. Some well-regarded employees have left the Authority because they can no longer afford to work there.
Board member Martha Gallo said every New York State authority “was in the same boat,” but, “I would just ask us to ask the chairman [Dennis Mehiel] to approach Albany to say after five years — no cost of living, no salary increases — what are we thinking about our employees? I think we have to be sensitive to that.”
Serpico said that there were provisions in the budget for compensation increases if they were authorized by the state.
Gallo pointed out that even if that were to happen, there was a cumulative effect of not having given salary increases for years.
When the time came for the board to approve the 2014 budget, Gallo was the only one to vote no. “I don’t feel good about this,” she said.
Battery Park City Parks Conservancy personnel had hoped that most of the trees along the esplanade between North Cove Marina and the Museum of Jewish Heritage would rebound after having been flooded with salt water during Superstorm Sandy, but now it appears that around 25 trees didn’t make it.
A professional contractor will begin cutting down the dead trees within the next few weeks. In the meantime, Battery Park City Parks Conservancy workers removed a tree stump near the Museum of Jewish Heritage on Oct. 21. This was one of the trees destroyed by Superstorm Sandy. Other Battery Park City trees were further damaged by a heavy storm May 11.
Tessa Huxley, executive director of the Conservancy, said that new trees will be planted in the spring after necessary electrical work on the esplanade has been completed. She said that the B.P.C. Parks Conservancy is part of a consortium of all the parks in New York City that were affected by flooding. They are sharing information about what trees and plants proved resilient.
“We’re looking at tree replacement and perennials that will be salt tolerant,” she said. “We’ll also be looking for trees that present a little less dense leaf cover so they won’t be so affected by high winds.”
Arts Brookfield at 25:
Arts Brookfield has been presenting free cultural programming for the last 25 years and decided to celebrate this anniversary by launching a global art showcase called “Art Set Free” for established, emerging and amateur artists. All are invited to submit their work for possible inclusion on a website called ArtsBrookfield25.com. It will also be shown at Brookfield’s premier office properties in New York, Los Angeles, Denver, Houston, Toronto, Perth and Sydney.
Works should be submitted as a photo, video or audio recording via Facebook, Twitter and/or Instagram with the hashtag #artsetfree. Entries are welcome from any genre, including dance/movement, music/sound, painting, sculpture, photography and street art. Arts Brookfield will review submissions on a rolling basis and select those it deems most innovative and thought provoking.
A curatorial team of three people will be based in New York.
The artists whose work is selected will not be paid, however, the program will provide an international showcase.
Over the past quarter century, Arts Brookfield has presented hundreds of internationally acclaimed artists, including B.B. King, Jesse Norman, Laurie Anderson, Fountains of Wayne, Los Lobos, David Byrne, Nam June Paik, Martha Graham Dance Company and Wynton Marsalis.
Some were well known at the time, but many were just getting started.
Art Set Free does not have a mechanism for members of the public to contact artists whose work they like but according to a spokesman for the project, “The initiative will run through the end of 2014 so this is definitely something that will be considered.”
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