Silver protests plans for P.S. 276: In a strongly worded letter to New York City Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott, New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver asked that the Department of Education reconsider its plan to add more kindergarten classes at P.S. 276.
“By increasing the number of kindergarten classes next year, the D.O.E. would force the school to take away classroom space now being used for art, music, science, middle school and pre-kindergarten,” Silver said in his letter, dated Jan. 18, 2013.
He said that this would be “unfair” and constitute “a step back for our community.”
Silver said that the neighborhood urgently needs more new schools. “It is unacceptable to pack students into schools that are not equipped to handle them and it is unacceptable to send our young students to schools outside the community,” he said in his letter.
Silver said that he and his school overcrowding task force were prepared to work with the chancellor to find potential sites for new schools as they did not long ago when they facilitated a new school at Peck Slip. The Peck Slip School is slated to be finished in 2015.
South End Avenue traffic signals: On Jan. 15, Community Board 1’s Battery Park City Committee revisited the recurring question of whether pedestrian hazards on South End Ave. at the Rector Pl. and West Thames St. crossings are sufficient to merit traffic lights or stop signs.
Despite several accidents at these crossings, Jonathan Kraus of the New York City Department of Transportation said that a previous D.O.T. study in April 2011 had not shown enough traffic to merit intervention.
For the D.O.T. to erect a traffic light or a stop sign, federal criteria have to be met, Kraus explained. Among other things, the D.O.T. looks at vehicle and pedestrian volume, gaps in traffic, the presence or absence of a designated school crosswalk and speeding. Kraus said that if any one of these criteria exceeded the federally mandated threshold, it would trigger the need for a signal.
He said that as a general rule, the D.O.T. doesn’t publicize the results of its surveys, but “South End and Rector is not at all close.” He said that the West Thames St. crossing was “closer but not all that close.”
Considering that Battery Park City has been growing and changing, the D.O.T. proposed to do a new survey in the spring. However, D.O.T. surveys can only be done at 18-month intervals. With this in mind, the committee asked that the survey be done in the fall after a new pre-school near West Thames St. opens and after the city bike-sharing program starts, which will entail bike racks on West Thames between South End Ave. and Battery Pl.
Kraus suggested that even if the survey again indicated that there was no basis for stop signs or traffic signals at the Rector Place and West Thames St. intersections, traffic calming measures could be installed. He mentioned plantings in the existing medians, providing areas for pedestrian refuge and changing the roadway geometry on South End Ave. as ideas to be explored.
Winter Garden light show: That prism in the middle of Battery Park City glowing in the winter darkness with jewel-like colors is the Winter Garden as transformed by Anne Militello. Her distinguished career as a lighting designer has included Broadway and off-Broadway shows and operas as well as four previous commissions in Manhattan to transform architectural exteriors with light. She was the resident lighting designer at the Brooklyn Academy of Music and worked extensively with playwright Sam Shepherd for two decades. Now, she heads the lighting design department at CalArts in Los Angeles.
For the Winter Garden, Militello used mirrored discs embedded with LED lights that have been hung in the window facing North Cove marina. Militello has programmed them in color sequences of approximately 20 minutes each — a different one for each day of the week.
This project is not Militello’s first in Battery Park City. She designed the blue, cascading lights that were affixed to trees on the plaza next to North Cove marina before the current renovation of 2 World Financial Center began. Those lights were part of a more extensive lighting plan that Militello had proposed for the Winter Garden and the plaza outside it. Originally, she had wanted to light the entire steel frame of the Winter Garden with a wash of color.
Because of budget issues, she was only able to do that with a small area, “but it makes such a difference,” she said. “You feel the majesty of the space at night.” She said that she wanted to “bring a little more life, a little more excitement, a little more warmth to the Winter Garden” — an objective with which Arts Brookfield, which commissioned the project, agreed.
Militello started programming the light show around a week before it opened, working from a Winnebago trailer that had been parked on the World Financial Center plaza so that she could see what she was doing as she worked.
“I’m so happy with it,” she said of the light show. “It’s more than I expected. I feared that the discs wouldn’t be bright enough or that the reflections on the mirrors would be distracting on the interior or this wouldn’t look like it filled the space at all. You never know until you put something up whether or not it really matched what you expected. This did and it’s so much more vivid and brighter than I imagined.”
Militello’s “Light Cycles” will be in place until March 30, visible from sunset to midnight.
Andy Warhol lectures: Under the auspices of the Battery Park City Parks Conservancy, art historian Dorothea Basile is giving two free lectures about Andy Warhol this month. In the past, Basile has lectured about art history topics for the Conservancy and in the warm months, frequently leads tours of Battery Park City’s extensive public art collection.
“I chose Andy Warhol as the subject of my talk because I’m interested in the idea put forth in the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s recent exhibition, “Regarding Warhol, Sixty Artists, Fifty Years”, that Warhol is the most impactful artist of the second half of the 20th century,” Basile said. “What I find most compelling about Andy Warhol is how broad and deep his influence is.”
She views her talks as “a great opportunity to share Warhol’s groundbreaking work” and hopes that her B.P.C. audience will come away with a greater understanding of Warhol’s influence on contemporary art work.
The lectures take place on Thurs., Jan. 24 and Thurs., Jan. 31 at 1 p.m. at 6 River Terrace.
Breakfast at SouthWest NY: “Battery Park City lacks places for full-service breakfast,” said Abraham Merchant, of Merchants Hospitality in an email. “Hence Southwest NY will be opening for breakfast starting Mon., Feb. 4.” The breakfast menu features such items as quiche Florentine (pastry with eggs, spinach, ham and mixed greens, $13.50), scrambled eggs with lox, toasted bagel and sliced tomatoes ($15.50), eggs Benedict ($14) and huevos rancheros (three fried eggs with tomato salsa, a corn tortilla and refried black beans, $12.50). French toast is $12, buttermilk pancakes with caramelized bananas and dark rum syrup, $11.50. The hours for breakfast are 7:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., Monday to Friday, and 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. for Saturday and Sunday brunch.
By Terese Loeb Kreuzer To comment on Battery Park City Beat or to suggest article ideas, email TereseLoeb10@gmail.com