Covering Battery Park City

BY TERESE LOEB KREUZER  |  B.P.C.A. adopts severance policy: At its Board of Directors meeting on Jan. 31, the Battery Park City Authority formally ratified a severance policy that will apply to the 19 people who were summarily fired on Nov. 9, 2011. It will also apply going forward should workforce reductions be necessary from time to time, however, the Authority reserves the right to change its policies in the future if employees are notified.

When the Battery Park City 19, as they called themselves, were let go, there was no formal severance policy in place. They were paid for unused vacation and sick time and received three weeks’ salary. Some of the terminated employees had worked for the Authority for 20 years or more and were within a few months of being able to retire with full benefits.

The new policy provides for one week of severance pay for every year of service, not to exceed 12 years. Employees with two years or less of service are not eligible for severance pay, under the policy. Accrued and unused leave time would be paid in accordance with the terms in the Authority’s Employee Personnel Handbook.

To be eligible, an employee must have worked for the Authority full time and be in good standing and must be willing to sign a waiver releasing the B.P.C.A. from any further claims related to termination.

[media-credit name=”Downtown Express photos by Terese Loeb Kreuzer ” align=”aligncenter” width=”600″][/media-credit]
At its Jan. 31 Board of Directors meeting, the B.P.C.A. amended its contract with Stalco, the general contractor on Pier A, to cover the repair of timber rot that was recently discovered and to repair the foundation to the plaza.
Pier A change orders: Another item that came up at the Battery Park City Authority Board of Directors meeting on Jan. 31 had to do with cost overruns at Pier A, the 19th-century pier just south of Battery Park City that the Authority is rehabilitating. The board learned that there were significant structural problems with Pier A that had not yet been addressed and it was asked to approve change orders to the contract for Stalco, the general contractor.

“We continue to find timber rot,” said Gayle Horwitz, B.P.C.A. president, “and at the end of December we found several other areas of timber rot.” She said the Authority had sent divers into the Hudson River to investigate. “That was on Jan. 13, 2012,” she said. “There was a recommendation that we replace three additional columns, one beam and 21 arches along with the repair of one column, one beam and one arch. The change order requests $624,325. The second item is something we had discussed previously, the Head House remediation foundation. A piece of the plaza abutting the pier was actually pulled away exposing a piece at the southeast corner of the Head House. There is absolutely no foundation. The change order is $305,065. The contract with Stalco would be increased by $929,390 for the two change orders. This money would come from the contingency.”

Gwen Dawson, senior vice president of asset management and the manager of the Pier A project, said that the Authority had anticipated the Head House foundation problem but that the additional timber rot was something that “we did not anticipate.”

She said that a couple of the columns that had to be dealt with recently had been installed in a prior attempt at renovation. “They have split,” she said.

Previous renovation attempts “did a lot of damage to the actual structure,” Horwitz added.

Board member Robert Mueller was not satisfied with the explanation for the overruns. He said that when the Authority first got involved with Pier A around three and a half years ago, board members had raised the question of the pier’s condition “five or six times, and I’m really surprised that all of a sudden we’re discovering more timber rot. Everybody knows that there’s a possibility of timber rot under there, and I’m a little disappointed, frankly. I think it’s something we should have anticipated. Also, it’s my understanding that we’re over budget on this project.”

“We discussed this at great length,” Horwitz responded. “I think there were a couple of meetings that you unfortunately were not a part of. This project is over budget and we were very clear about that. We told the City of New York that we thought it was a $35 million or $36 million budget. They funded $30 million. I agree with you. It’s extremely disappointing that many of these things were not uncovered earlier.”

“Why did we get into this in the first place?” Mueller wondered.

Board member Frank Branchini replied, “It’s a major enhancement to Battery Park. Would you want to leave it there, the way it was before?”

“The exciting news,” said Horwitz, “is that this building will end up being an incredible asset for the community that will pay returns for many, many years to come and for the city over all.”

The change orders were approved.

On Jan. 29, Mary Nettleton, Linda Lewensohn and Nancy Rosing, students in the B.P.C. Parks Conservancy’s drawing programs, attended the opening reception of an exhibit at 75 Battery Place that displayed work created over the summer.

B.P.C. Parks Conservancy art exhibit: The Battery Park City Parks Conservancy’s art classes are so well regarded that even people who have been trained as artists and who have had careers in the arts find them worthwhile. Every winter around this time, the Conservancy mounts an exhibit of drawings from the summer classes. This year’s exhibit opened at 75 Battery Place on Jan. 29 and will close on March 9. It is viewable Monday to Friday, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

One student, Mary Nettleton, a retired bookkeeper who has been taking classes at the Conservancy for around 10 years, said that she lives on Staten Island and that it takes her around an hour and a half each way to get to Battery Park City. “In the summer, I usually come in the morning and stay all day,” she said. She mentioned her high regard for her figure drawing teacher, Enid Braun, but added, “There are a lot of talented people in the classes. You learn from other people.” She has a landscape and a figure drawing in the show.

Another student, Effie Serlis, who graduated from the School of Visual Arts, said that she comes to the classes because they combine two things she loves — art and being outdoors. “Enid is a great drawing teacher,” she said.

Summer drawing classes are free. The winter session of figure drawing with Braun runs on Wednesdays from Feb. 1 to March 28 and costs $230. The fee includes materials. Classes are held from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. at 6 River Terrace (off North End Avenue). To register, call (212) 267-9700, ext. 366 or 348.

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