Downtown Local


Volume 16 • Issue 39 | February 27 – March 4, 2004

Downtown local

Chipping in

At the Lower East Side Ecology Center’s Fifth Annual WinterParty at the Fireboat House in East River Park on Feb. 15, former Upper West Side Councilmember Stanley Michels, center, was recognized as a special honoree. Manhattan Borough Parks Commissioner Bill Castro, left, helped do the honors along with Christine Datz-Romero of the Ecology Center, right. Michels was chairperson of the City Council’s Committee on the Environment from 1992 to 2002 and an advocate for waste prevention and recycling. Castro also gave awards to community groups who helped out with the department’s MulchFest 2004, in which 127,000 Christmas trees were chipped citywide in neighborhood parks, 16,000 in Manhattan alone.

Vending agreement

Vendors will be banned from selling around the World Trade Center site under an agreement reached late Thursday between the state Assembly and Senate, said a spokesperson for Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno.

A state law regulating vending expired last March, clogging city sidewalks as peddlers flocked to streets where they had once been banned. The new bill is expected to pass the Senate on Monday and the Assembly soon thereafter, said Marcia White, Bruno’s press secretary.

She said lawmakers were pleased to have reached an agreement.

“It’s been a public safety issue, and we deferred to the mayor to get this issue resolved,” White said.

Bruno, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, Mayor Mike Bloomberg and Governor George Pataki all supported the ground zero vending ban. One sticking point, however, had been the issue of fingerprinting vendors, supported by Bruno and opposed by Silver. The agreement reached Thursday does not include a fingerprinting provision, White said.

She was traveling and did not have the precise street boundaries of the agreement.

City Hall also praised the compromise.

“When this law is passed and signed by Governor Pataki, vendors will know where and when they can operate, and pedestrians will find our streets safer and more welcoming,” Bloomberg said in a statement.

Many community members and relatives of 9/11 victims favor the ground zero vending ban, while peddlers argue that it limits their freedom of speech and puts too many restrictions on disabled vendors.

Park Row suit

On Feb. 20, a state judge said he’d take it upon himself to make sure all police vehicles were gone from James Madison Plaza behind One Police Plaza by the mid-April deadline he set.

A group of community members and elected officials sued the city last year over the closing of Park Row, a major artery that connects Chinatown to the rest of Lower Manhattan. The road has been blocked for security reasons since Sept. 11, 2001, and the limited access has seriously hurt Chinatown businesses.

Part of the community group’s claims alleged that police officers used James Madison Plaza, near Park Row in the restricted area, inappropriately as a parking lot for their cars. Walter Tolub, a judge for the New York State Supreme Court, ordered all cars out of the park by April 15, 2004.

The judge ordered both parties back to his courtroom if all cars are not gone by the morning of April 16, a determination he said he’d make by walking past the area.

“I’ll take a look,” Tolub said, according to a transcript of the Feb. 20 hearing. “If there are cars sitting with N.Y.P.D. permits and the like, sitting on that park site on the morning of April the 16th, the day after, then I will expect to see you all here on the morning of the 16th. If, on the other hand, everything is cleared out…I will mark this matter discontinued and I will be a happy camper with respect to that aspect of the case that involves the parking in that area.”

Community members applauded the decision.

“That is a New York City park that belongs to the people,” said Paul Lee, a Mott St. resident who is among those suing the city.

James Madison Plaza has 37 trees in it, Lee said, adding that he hopes to hold a press conference from a beach chair in the plaza on April 16.

No decision has been reached yet on the closing of Park Row.

Qualms on BID bid

Community Board 2 voted a week ago to hold a public hearing, possibly in April, on the proposal to set up a business improvement district in Hudson Sq., after which the board would reconsider its previous resolution approving the BID. In November, the board recommended approval for the BID, but concerns were subsequently raised that there had not been adequate notification of affected property owners. The rough boundaries of the proposed district are the Hudson River and Clarkson, Canal and Varicks Sts. “The question was was the support that initially seemed to be there there?” said Jim Smith, C.B. 2’s chairperson. “It was done properly [by Board 2] in November, but since then, the question arose.”

Carrie or Kerry

Jean Grillo, Downtown Independent Democrats’ district leader, tells us that almost 200 people showed up for a Women for Kerry rally at Tribeca’s Le Zinc restaurant last Sunday, including C. Virginia Fields, Manhattan borough president, and Catherine Abate, Downtown’s former state senator. In addition to pledging to work hard for Sen. John Kerry in the March 2 Democratic presidential primary and the November general election, the leaders of D.I.D. and the Village Reform Democratic Club made and kept another promise: that everyone would be home in time to see the final episode of “Sex and the City.”

Exclusive definition

Faithful Downtown Express readers might have arched an eyebrow at the New York Post’s liberal use of the word “exclusive,” splashed as it was over a Feb. 18 story on the new private school that’s coming to the Wall St. area in 2005. The Express reported on the school last July, and on Dec. 30, we reported that the Claremont Preparatory School had chosen 41 Broad St. as the location for its K-8 academy.

School sign-up

Registration is coming up for local elementary schools.

At P.S. 234 in Tribeca, registration is March 11 and 12 for pre-K and March 15 to 19 for K-5, from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. all days. Parents must bring their child, record of the child’s immunizations, the child’s original birth certificate or passport and a current Con Edison bill. Call (212) 233-6034 for more information.

At P.S. 150 in Tribeca, parents interested in registering their child must call the school from March 8 to12 to set up an appointment. Registration is March 15 for pre-K and March 16, 17 and 18 for K-5. Call the school at (212) 732-4392 to make an appointment.

At P.S. 89 in Battery Park City, registration is March 11 and 12 for pre-K and March 15 to 19 for K-5, from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. all days. Parents must bring their child, record of the child’s immunizations, the child’s birth certificate, proof of address (those who can’t supply a recent Con Edison bill must bring a copy of their lease). Call (212) 571-5659 for more information.

Registration is for new students only.

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