Covering Battery Park City, Nov. 7, 2013 | amNewYork

Covering Battery Park City, Nov. 7, 2013

Battery Park  City surprises:
Anyone who has rambled around Battery Park City over the last year or so has probably come across a sinkhole. At the Battery Park City Authority Board of Directors meeting on Oct. 22, Gwen Dawson, senior vice president of asset management, confirmed that sinkholes “have been becoming more frequent over the past few years.”

She mentioned “an area of significant settlement around the NYMEX building” for which the B.P.C.A. is responsible. She also mentioned settlement in West Thames Park.

Other notable sinkholes in Battery Park City occurred within the last year in Wagner Park and in South Cove.

As Dawson pointed out to the board, “Some of our infrastructure is up to 40 years old. In some cases, it has not been replaced or updated.”

She said that the B.P.C.A. would be doing a study to determine areas “that may be vulnerable or may be at risk of failure so that we can come up with a plan for how to spend our monies for the next several years.”

Dawson also said that the authority would be doing a survey of the entire landmass of Battery Park City. Over the years, she said, “there have been numerous transfers of parcels that have become layered upon each other, so in many instances, there are segments of Battery Park City that it’s not clear which document governs and who is the actual owner or the responsible party for certain spots.”

She said that the B.P.C.A. would be doing a complete title investigation report and survey of Battery Park City.

This has the potential for yielding some surprises if someone suddenly discovers that they don’t own what they thought they owned — or conversely, that they own something they didn’t think they owned, which hopefully, would not need any major repairs.

Gateway Plaza emergency safety:
With more than 1,700 apartments, Gateway Plaza is the largest residential complex in Battery Park City. The Gateway Plaza Tenants Association feels that its storm protection measures are not up to snuff.

“Tenant safety is the top priority of any tenants association, “ said Glenn Plaskin, Tenants Association president, “and that’s why we’re concerned should another super-storm occur.”

He said there was no power transfer switch that would allow management to tie in a generator in the event of a power failure. That would mean that there would be no way to power an elevator, emergency lighting and domestic water pumps.

“We would find ourselves in a blackout once the emergency lights in the stairwells and hallways dim after six hours or so,” he said. “In a 35-story-building, how are elderly or disabled people going to evacuate the building? The stairwells don’t have luminescent strips, and even if they did, it would be extremely difficult for such tenants to get down to the lobby.”

He said that the restoration of power after four or five days just wouldn’t cut it and that a new generator system should be installed at once.

“We have been informed that management is going to solve this problem long-term by installing new equipment by spring of 2014,” he said. “In the meantime, we do hope they will do whatever they can to protect tenants. One essential mandate would be to create a list of those tenants who are most physically vulnerable and have staff members knock on each of those doors, in conjunction with the Fire Department when possible, so that these tenants will get the help they need to evacuate the building.”

Downtown Express photo by Terese Loeb Kreuzer Jackie Paniagua, a stylist at Vince Smith, was dressed as a mermaid at the hair salon’s fundraising event on Halloween.
Downtown Express photo by Terese Loeb Kreuzer
Jackie Paniagua, a stylist at Vince Smith, was dressed as a mermaid at the hair salon’s fundraising event on Halloween.

Halloween fundraiser:
Vince Smith’s hair salon at 300 Rector Place was abuzz on Halloween. Almost non-stop from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m., kids, their families and several dogs came through the open door where boxes of cookies and bowls of candy awaited them along with apple cider and sangria.

Some people came to have their hair and make-up done before they departed for Halloween parties. Others came to have their picture taken.

For a donation of $25, a professional photographer created portraits in front of a backdrop of bats and skeletons arrayed against a red sky. The salon raised $1,000, all of which will be donated to Save The Children, a charity that aids children in 120 countries, including the United States.

Sponsors adopt a specific child who corresponds with them, but the money goes to help that child’s entire village with food, education, and medical care.

The money that Vince Smith raised on Halloween will be enough to help children in three villages.

The entire staff was dressed in costume. Smith was unrecognizable except for his blue eyes behind a monster mask that he created — though he said he wasn’t a monster, just a “dark angel come to do God’s work in the world.”

Jackie Paniagua, the salon’s senior stylist, was resplendent in a mermaid costume that she made. Others on the staff dressed as Superman, a harem girl, a Playboy bunny, a devil and a cat.

Smith said that Oct. 29 marked not only the one-year anniversary of Superstorm Sandy, but the 23rd anniversary of his salon on South End Avenue in Battery Park City. He’s been through a lot in those 23 years — 9/11, when he lost many of his customers, something that still haunts him, as well as the most recent storm.

“Perseverance,” he said, when asked to explain his longevity. His little salon has become an oasis of warmth in the neighborhood, where customers wave when they walk by and sometimes stop in just to say hello.

He knew most of the people who streamed through his door on Halloween. Most were customers but many had also become friends.


To comment on Battery Park City Beat or to suggest article ideas, email TereseLoeb10@gmail.com.

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