Scoopy’s Notebook, Nov. 10, 2016

Incubation situation: The opening of the eagerly awaited new middle school at 75 Morton St. has been pushed back a year to September 2018 due to construction issues. For the coming 2017-18 school year, 75 Morton may possibly “incubate” its first sixth-grade class at the Clinton School for Writers and Artists, at 10 E. 15th St. Bonnie Laboy, the Community School District 2 superintendent, recently sent out a letter to break the news to the community. “Contractors are working diligently to complete the [75 Morton] project, but due to unforeseen structural steel conditions that could present significant safety concerns, the opening is being pushed back,” she said. “The Department of Education intends to propose the incubation of M.S. 297 in building M868…until construction on the school’s permanent space at 75 Morton St. is completed.” The Union Square-area school has space for the sixth graders, Laboy assured. Meanwhile, students and families are invited to a “Meet the Principal” event on Tues., Nov. 15, at 6:30 p.m. in the spacious gym of the aforementioned Clinton School (between Fifth Ave. and Union Square West), to meet Jacqui Getz, the leader of the 75 Morton school. Getz will share her exciting vision for the new Village middle school.

Etan trial II: Stan and Julie Patz, the parents of Etan Patz, generally have seldom spoken to the press over the years. But after we saw Stan at a rally to save the Elizabeth St. Garden in September, we reached out to him about Pedro Hernandez’s retrial in Etan’s disappearance, and he shared his feelings, albeit briefly. In short, he’s hoping this time there will finally be a conviction. “Last year, at the end of the first trial, I made my views very clear — Hernandez is guilty beyond any reasonable doubt,” he told us. “Now that we are in…trial number two, I think it would be inappropriate to make any substantive comments. What you can write is that, after almost 38 years, my family and I will be glad when it is over.” Patz also added that continued references to Jose Ramos — the previous prime suspect in the 6-year-old Soho boy’s unsolved 1979 disappearance — as the boyfriend of Etan’s babysitter are inaccurate. “In future reporting,” Patz said, “please do not apply the word ‘babysitter’ to Susan Harrington. She was hired by a few parents to walk children home from school during the school bus driver strike. ‘Babysitter’ implies a level of intimacy; she was never alone in our loft with our children. That is an important distinction considering her relationship with Jose Ramos.” The last trial of Hernandez — a former Soho bodega worker — went on for months, and the same is expected this time around. Hernandez initially had confessed that he killed Etan, but later recanted. His defense attorneys continue to argue that he is mentally challenged and hallucinates.

Landmark moment: As anticipated, the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission last week voted to calendar the third and final phase of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation’s proposed South Village Historic District. The hearing for the area under consideration will be held Nov. 29. If this proposed area is designated, it will bring to 1,300 the number of buildings G.V.S.H.P. has helped get landmarked since 2003. This includes 10 historic districts and historic district extensions, as well as more than a dozen sites designated as individual landmarks. Wow! Hats off to Andrew Berman, the society’s tireless executive director, and the rest of the G.V.S.H.P. staff. Truly extraordinary!

Westbeth flea has our vote: As if this Election Day didn’t already hold enough excitement, it also, as usual, marked the start of the Westbeth Fall Flea Market. It’s the 32nd year for the annual affair, sponsored by the Westbeth Artists Beautification Committee. “We are an old-school flea market,” organizer Gina Shamus said, “with unusual and unique items coming from artist collectors and artist producers. We also have vintage items. We have almost everything you can think of: housewares, clothing, lots of books, electronics, sporting goods. This season we have a huge amount of art books, and we always have original art. Great prices and a great experience. ” There are four more days of the flea market craze: Fri., Nov. 11, to Sun., Nov. 13, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., plus Sun., Nov. 20 — a.k.a. the big “Bag ’N’ Box Sale” — from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., when you can buy a cardboard box or big black plastic bag from the Westbeth folks for $5 and fill it with stuff. It all happens at the Village’s renowned artists’ enclave, at 55 Bethune St. (elevator access) and 137 Bank St. (stairs), both near the corner of Washington St. For more information, go to westbeth.org or e-mail [email protected] or call 212-691-1574.

Poet Ilsa Gilbert, outside the 20 Washington Square North senior center, where she lunches, is one of three artists featured in the documentary “Winter at Westbeth.”  Photo by Tequila Minsky
Poet Ilsa Gilbert, outside the 20 Washington Square North senior center, where she lunches, is one of three artists featured in the documentary “Winter at Westbeth.” Photo by Tequila Minsky

Art is ageless: Speaking of Westbeth, “Winter at Westbeth,” a new documentary by Rohan Spong, will premiere at the DOC NYC film festival at the IFC Center on Wed., Nov. 16, at 5 p.m., and Thurs., Nov. 17, at 10:15 p.m. Done over the course of one year, the film profiles video artist Edith Stephen, 95, who hopes to complete an experimental film for her birthday; contemporary dancer Dudley Williams, 75, who rehearses for a triumphant return to the stage; and poet Ilsa Gilbert, 82, who faces her mortality through her revealing verse. The movie has been described as “An inspirational story about community, aging and the need to keep creating.”

Village View election to-do: Things are heating up at Village View, where a battle over the possible privatization of the East Village complex could be looming. The Mitchell-Lama affordable co-op, with 1,200 apartments, will hold its election for board of directors on Nov. 16. Watchdogs are calling for transparency in the election, and were recently backed up by local elected officials, who sent a joint letter to the board to that effect. The board, in turn, responded to Assemblymember Brian Kavanagh, one of the letter’s signers, but we’re told he called their response “inadequate.” The board’s composition is critical, a source stressed to us, because it will vote early next year on the possibility of doing a feasibility study, the first step toward a vote on whether to leave the affordable-housing program. Currently, tenants can’t resale their affordable units. The apartments simply go back to the co-op and there is a waiting list to fill them. You get on the waiting list by lottery. Even if the co-op’s members were to vote to leave the Mitchell-Lama program, the profit from selling units would not be that high, our stressed source, who supports the complex staying in the Mitchell-Lama program, told us. “If the sale price is $500,000, 45 percent goes back to Village View, and then there are real estate taxes,” she said. “You’ll be left with $200,000, and you can’t buy anything around here with that.” Indeed, it doesn’t look like you can get anything in the East Village right now for under $400,000. And, hey, what about the principle of leaving a stock of affordable housing for future generations of New Yorkers to enjoy?

Correction: Last week’s article on Merchant’s House Museum’s 80th anniversary incorrectly stated that it is only open three days a week. In fact, the museum is open to visitors five days a week, from Friday to Monday, noon to 5 p.m., and Thursday, noon to 8 p.m.

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