Downtown local


A new group, Lower East Side Consortium for LMDC Equity, held a forum over the weekend at Seward Park High School. Victor Papa, one of the group’s organizers, criticized the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation for not doing anything to promote low income housing and for not giving residential grants to people living up to 14th St. The L.M.D.C. asserts that it is only allowed to fund projects up to Houston St. It recently announced it would spend $50 million to build 315 apartment for middle-income people, but Papa said most people on the Lower East Side would not be able to afford the new apartments.

Board gets a Pearl

Pearl Scher didn’t have to sit on the sidelines last Tuesday when she attended a committee meeting for Community Board 1. Recently appointed to the board, the Battery Park City resident enjoyed the privileges of membership for the first time.

“I’m so pleased I can’t tell you,” Scher said. “What tickles me is I’ve been here less than three years, I’m 88 years old, and they appoint me to the community board.”

Scher’s appointment was a long time coming, though. The neighborhood activist applied to Community Board 1 last year and was turned down. She couldn’t believe it when her second bid to join the board was rejected last spring.

“I was a very surprised cookie when the newspapers published the names and mine was not among them,” Scher said.

Scher began a one-woman lobbying campaign to reverse the decision, which appeared to be the result of a miscommunication between Scher and the office of the Manhattan borough president, C. Virginia Fields, who has final say over all board appointments. Scher was named to the board last month, taking the place of one of the two original appointees whose bids had been rescinded.

Her board member status will not change the way she serves her neighborhood, Scher said. The energetic octogenarian has been active in her Battery Park City community since she moved back to the city from Westchester County three years ago.

Scher will still lobby for a bus stop shelter across the street from the Hallmark, where she lives. She will continue to attend meetings and keep after neighborhood businesses to contain their trash.

“I like to feel that things can be better if people really decide they need a change,” said Scher, a New York City native who spent much of her career as an educator.

Now that she’s officially on the board, Scher said, “There’s not going to be any change, except they’ll have to hear me talk more, poor things.”

Seaport rescue

A boat hired for a cruise on Saturday night Sept. 6 struck Pier 17 in the South St. Seaport early Sunday and sank but all 11 passengers and the captain were rescued or swam to the shore, police said.

The 28-foot power boat, owned an operated by James Perez, 36, from Liberty Marina in Hoboken, was reversing direction in the East River as an unusually high tide was turning at 4 a.m. when the bow struck Pier 17. Water rushed into the boat’s lavatory, which was being used by one of the passengers at the time, and the vessel sank quickly, according to reports.

Police harbor and helicopter units and an Emergency Service Unit responded to the call. Rescuers threw life rings to people in the water and helped an inflatable raft with three passengers to land, police said. The victims, six men and six women ranging in ages from 16 to 36, were treated for hypothermia, eight at Bellevue and four at NYU Downtown Hospital. Police said on Monday that the harbor unit tried but failed to locate the sunken boat.

Rat response

The Battery Park City Parks Conservancy is alert to the rising rat population in the neighborhood, Vince McGowan, the conservancy’s assistant director, said last week at a Community Board 1 committee meeting.

McGowan stressed that the best way to combat the problem is to eliminate the rats’ food source by not littering, feeding squirrels, or leaving trash on the curb too long before pickup.

“Really, the poisons are more dangerous to your kids and your dogs than they are to the rats,” McGowan said, adding that rats learn to avoid the poison.

The conservancy has changed the planters around some buildings from dense shrubs to low, wide-leafed plants that cannot hide food that would attract rats, McGowan said. In addition, it is encouraging buildings to put their trash out just before pickup.

The Department of Sanitation imposes fines on buildings if trash is placed on the curb before 5 p.m. the day before collection, said Kathy Dawkins, an agency spokesperson. But that window of time is too long, community members said at last week’s meeting.

Pedestrian injured

A car struck and seriously injured a 73-year-old pedestrian at 6:37 a.m. Fri. Sept 5 as he was crossing Gold St. at the corner of Frankfort St. near the Brooklyn Bridge, police said. Thomas Fiero, the victim, was taken to Bellevue Hospital where his condition on Mon. Sept. 8 was described as critical. Police did not issue a summons against the driver, but said they were still investigating the case.