B.P.C. Beat, Dec. 12, 2012

West Thames bridge
A bridge across West Street at West Thames is well on its way to getting built. The money is in the bank — ($20 million from the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation and $7 million from the Battery Park City Authority.) The New York City Economic Development Corp. has issued R.F.P.s (Request for Proposals) for a design team and a consultant or consultant team to provide construction management and related services for the replacement of the existing Rector Street pedestrian bridge, which was only supposed to be a stopgap after 9/11. As anyone who has crossed the Rector Street bridge recently has undoubtedly noticed, it is getting quite rusty, especially on the west side.

Design proposals for the West Thames bridge have already been submitted and are currently being reviewed, said Matt Best of the Mayor’s Office, during a presentation about the bridge to Community Board 1’s Battery Park City Committee on Dec. 4. SHoP Architects created a working design for the new bridge, but will not necessarily be the ones to bring it to completion, Best said.

There is no roof on the bridge as currently designed, but the B.P.C. Committee had previously requested a roof, and that possibility is being examined. That crossing can be “windy, cold, icy and wet,” said C.B. 1 committee member Tammy Meltzer, who traverses it frequently with her children. “If the bridge isn’t covered, it will be a safety hazard,” she said.

The West Thames bridge will connect Joseph P. Ward Street on the east side with Little West Street between West Thames Street and Third Place on the west side. Construction is scheduled to begin before the end of 2013 and to be completed by the fall of 2015.

Battery Park City’s ice-skating rink opened on Dec. 8 in Wagner Park. It will be there until March 15. Downtown Express photos by Terese Loeb Kreuzer

Ice rink opens
Nothing could keep Battery Park City from having its own ice-skating rink again — not Superstorm Sandy, not unusually warm weather, not rain. Ice was wanted by the B.P.C. community and after a few unexpected delays, ice is back.

On Dec. 8, the Liberty View ice-skating rink opened at Wagner Park under a one-year contract between George Haviland and the Battery Park City Authority that can be renewed for an additional five years. Haviland owns Howell Ice World in Farmingdale, N.J. the Northford Ice Pavilion in Connecticut and the Middletown Sports Complex in Delaware. He manages six other facilities.

The Battery Park City ice rink is open daily.  Haviland said that he will adjust the hours based on attendance, but right now, he said, it looks as though the rink will be open Mondays to Thursdays, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Fridays, 10 a.m. to 11 p.m., Saturdays, 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sundays, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.

The admission fee is $10 per person (adults and children). The fee for seniors is $6. Skates can be rented for an additional $5.

There are no discounted fees for families, however, Haviland is offering a season pass with unlimited public skating time and skate rentals for $250 per person.

The 60 foot by 120 foot rink is scheduled to be open through March 15.

Beginning in January, the rink will offer a “Learn to Skate” program for a fee of $250 for seven weekly sessions of 30 minutes each including seven passes for public skating sessions. The coaches will be members of the U.S. Figure Skating Association (U.S.F.S.A.).

On Tuesdays and Thursdays at 5:30 p.m. and on Saturdays and Sundays at 9 a.m., Liberty View will offer “Learn to Play Hockey” sessions for kids 10 and younger. The fee will be $250 for seven one-hour classes.

In order to install the ice-skating rink in Wagner Park, Haviland had to build a substructure to level the lawn, which slopes nine inches toward the Hudson River.  On opening day, there was no music and limited lighting for nighttime use, but Haviland said he is “working on that now.” He is also working on having a concession stand at the rink.

The ice-skating rink can be rented for private parties. For more information about the rink, go to www.libertyviewicerink.com/.

Sandy snarls Connection bus route
Superstorm Sandy took a nip out of the Downtown Alliance’s free Connection bus service, which runs between the South Street Seaport and the Civic Center district abutting City Hall. The operator of the buses had a garage in Red Hook that was severely damaged along with the seven Downtown Connection buses inside. Connection buses used to run every 10 minutes during the week and every 15 minutes on weekends, making 37 stops along the way, including several in Battery Park City. Now the buses are around 20 minutes apart, depending on traffic.

The Nextbus signs along the route, which formerly told when the next bus would arrive, can no longer supply that information because the substitute Connection buses don’t have GPS systems.

Connection buses run seven days a week, except Thanksgiving, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. Service begins at 10 a.m. and ends with a final run at 7:30 p.m.

Santa redux
There were a proliferation of Santas in Battery Park City during the first few days of December. First, he showed up on Dec. 2 at Vince Smith’s Hair Experience, 300 Rector Place, where he talked with kids and posed for photos at $25 a pop to benefit the Stockings With Care charity founded by B.P.C. resident Rosalie Joseph. Santa’s visit to Vince Smith’s salon raised almost $1,000 for Stockings With Care, which provides children in homeless shelters and other kids in crisis with the presents that they most wanted for the holiday.

Next, on Dec. 6, Santa appeared at the annual Battery Park City Parks Conservancy tree-lighting ceremony in South Cove where cocoa and hot cider warmed cold hands. The Accidentals sang Christmas carols and Hanukah melodies while the crowd of several hundred people waited for Santa. He arrived in time to give the directive to throw the switch lighting up a cedar tree overlooking South Cove, and then he reached into his red velvet sack for an apparently inexhaustible supply of candy canes, which he distributed to the kids.

The next day, he was back again, this time in the Winter Garden of the World Financial Center, where he sat on his sleigh, surrounded by Christmas trees and a few elves, and posed for photos to benefit New York Theatre Ballet. Though it’s not easy being Santa (some kids squalled when they were put on his lap), he liked the Winter Garden so much that he stayed for three days. Then he had to get back to the North Pole, where he had a lot to do before Christmas.

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— by Terese Loeb Kreuzer

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