Covering Battery Park

[media-credit name=”Downtown Express photos by Terese Loeb Kreuzer” align=”aligncenter” width=”600″][/media-credit]

Francois Payard Bakery in Battery Park City’s Goldman Sachs alley was still closed on Oct. 25, eight days after it was supposed to open.

François Payard Bakery not yet open:
The front door of the François Payard Bakery in Goldman Sachs alley still said “closed” on Tuesday, Oct. 25, eight days after the bakery was supposed to open. “We’re ready,” said Fanin Checo, general manager, “but Goldman Sachs won’t let us open. The phone lines haven’t been installed and we don’t have a working fire alarm system.” Checo blamed Goldman Sachs for the delays. She said the work was supposed to have been done weeks ago.  The bakery has seven people on staff, all of whom have been paid since what was supposed to be opening day — Oct. 17. “I’m frustrated and tired,” Checo said. “We get ready to open over and over, and then it’s ‘not today, not today.’” One customer, she said, had insisted on buying a panettone, even though the bakery was officially closed. Ruefully, Checo held up the $20 bill that she had received in payment. “Our first income,” she said, “from a closed bakery.”

Chef Payard said via telephone that it takes a couple of days to prepare the pastries to stock the bakery. He has had to bake every day as though the bakery were going to open. He said he didn’t know what had caused the delays. “You’ll have to ask Goldman Sachs,” he said.

A spokesman for Goldman Sachs said, “We’re actively working with our tenant to sort out the issues.” She would not comment on when the bakery would open.

[media-credit name=”Downtown Express photos by Terese Loeb Kreuzer” align=”alignleft” width=”600″][/media-credit]

The dazzling purple flowers blooming in Wagner Park’s hot garden (on the northern side of the park) are in the aster family, which has around 500 species. Aster novae-angliae ‘Purple Dome’ goes by the common name “Michaelmas Daisy.”

Battery Park City in bloom:
In Wagner Park’s “hot” garden, so called because of its color scheme of mostly red, orange and yellow flowers, a mound of deeply hued purple flowers stands out. The star-shaped blooms suggest the plant’s name: “Aster” is Latin for “star.” Aster novae-angliae ‘Purple Dome’ is one of around 500 aster species that can be found in all parts of the world except Australia and its related islands. This particular cultivar was developed in the late 1980’s from two species native to the eastern United States by Dr. Richard Lighty, former director of the famous Mt. Cuba Center in Greenville, Del.

If Battery Park City’s Aster novae-angliae whets the appetite for more, a visit to the Mount Cuba Center, founded by members of the du Pont family, would make a nice fall excursion. The 630-acre botanical garden is near Wilmington, Del. with pastures and fields, forests in autumn splendor, formal landscapes and some of the most spectacular displays of wildflowers in the mid-Atlantic. The Mt. Cuba Center specializes in studying the flora of the Delaware Piedmont region, with tours available from Thursdays through Sundays. Go to www.mtcubacenter.org/ for more information.

Community evenings at the 9/11: Memorial: Since the National September 11 Memorial opened to the public on Sept. 12, 2011, more than a quarter of a million people have visited. According to Sarah Lippman, a spokesperson for the memorial, visitors have included “the first lady of Japan, the prime minister of Canada, the president of Austria and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Others who have visited include the U.S. Men’s National Soccer Team and Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, who is a former N.B.A. player.”

The first Sunday of each month from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. has been reserved for the Lower Manhattan community. Community residents can obtain passes for the next community evening — Nov. 6 — by going to the 9/11 Memorial Preview Site (20 Vesey St.) and presenting identification. The Preview Center is open Mon.-Sat., 9 a.m.-7 p.m. and Sundays, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Admission to the September 11 Memorial is free.

Asphalt Green opening delayed:
The Asphalt Green Battery Park City community center at 212 North End Ave. was supposed to open in November, but now a soft opening has been pushed back to January. According to a sales manager in Asphalt Green’s membership office at 211 North End Ave., the delays were due to changes in construction plans and the need for new permits.

Charter memberships are still available at reduced rates, good for the first year. The initiation fee is currently $49 instead of $199, and monthly dues for an individual are $95 instead of $105, which will be the rate when the facility opens. Those who sign up now will have their credit cards charged immediately, however.

Asphalt Green has a five-year contract from the Battery Park City Authority to run the community center.

Gayle Horwitz, president of the Battery Park City Authority, said at the B.P.C.A.’s monthly board meeting on Oct. 25 that the Authority is spending $975,000 to provide furniture, equipment and fixtures for the community center. She indicated that the Precor exercise equipment for the gym had to be ordered well in advance of opening day, so that purchase couldn’t be delayed regardless of when the community center actually opens.

To comment on Battery Park City Beat or to suggest article ideas, email TereseLoeb@mac.com