Scoopy’s Notebook, Week of November 16, 2017

Brad Gerstman, above, who played a key role for Donald Trump’s campaign, is now working for Gregg Singer, too.

Singer and ‘Trump firm’: Harry Bubbins, the director of East Village and special projects for the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, has sleuthed out some unsettling information about the owner of the old P.S. 64 (the former CHARAS / El Bohio Cultural and Community Center), at 605 E. E. Ninth St. Namely, Bubbins reports, public records show that Gregg Singer, of 9th and 10th Street LLC, has retained the services of Gotham Government Relations, best known for engineering the announcement of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, complete with cheering paid actors. Singer and Co. have had a contract with Gotham as of this July for $12,000 a month. Since Trump’s victory, Gotham has opened offices in Washington, D.C., and principals of the firm are regulars on Fox News. Gotham founder Brad Gerstman is frequently shown hobnobbing with the likes of Kellyanne Conway, Eric Trump, Bill O’Reilly and The Donald himself on his Instagram page. Since 2014, Singer has also paid top lobbyist James Capalino $260,666. However, Singer may have cut ties to Capalino, who was linked to Rivington House — the former Lower East Side healthcare facility with a deed restriction that was removed by the city and then flipped for tens of millions of dollars and sold for luxury condos. Last month, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that the city was “interested in reacquiring” the old P.S. 64. Singer bought the building at auction two decades ago for around $3 million and has alternately allowed it to rot and sought to develop with uses deemed illegal. The center was a nexus of organizing activities critical of then-Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s policies, and its sale was perceived as a punitive measure. Singer has been sued by his partners and in 2016 borrowed $44 million from Madison Realty Capital. Madison has also lent to Raphael Toledano, another loathed East Village landlord. Before the Democratic primary election for City Council District 2 in September, Singer himself was photographed campaigning for three opponents of Carlina Rivera (Mary Silver, Jasmine Sanchez and Jorge Vazquez). Rivera, of course, went on to win the primary, as well as the general election earlier this month. He was distributing fliers with the name “Friends of the Lower Eastside,” which does not seem to be a registered political action committee. Now he has thrown in his lot with a firm that helped engineer Trump’s still-shocking victory.

Water worries: A prominent watchdog of New York University’s South Village mega-expansion plan tipped us off last week that suspiciously large pools of water have been spotted at the construction site at N.Y.U.’s 181 Mercer St. project, on the spot of the university’s former Coles Gym. Did the construction workers actually breach the long-since-buried Minetta Brook? he wondered with alarm. However, an N.Y.U. spokesperson said that’s not the case at all. “There is no water gushing out at the 181 Mercer site,” John Beckman assured. “We did not hit Minetta Brook. The site is nowhere near Minetta Brook, which ran well west of the site. We have received inquiries from 88 Bleecker St. residents about what appeared to them to be standing pools of water,” he acknowledged. “In fact, those were not standing pools of water; rather they were areas the contractors were conducting something called soil mixing or soil grouting, a process of adding grout to the soil by introducing water and mixing to a slurry consistency. These areas harden, and the firmer ground that results is more stable and easier to excavate. We conveyed the same information to the residents in response to their inquiries.” Beckman also sent us a link to an 1865 map of Minetta Brook on Wikipedia, showing that the underground stream is actually eight blocks to the west at that point — not surprisingly, right at Minetta St.

Barrier grief: So now that the new antiterrorist safety “blockers” have all been properly straightened out and aligned on the Hudson River bikeway between W. 59th St. and the Battery, what are cyclists thinking of it all? Asked his thoughts, bike attorney Steve Vaccaro, for one, offered, “I don’t know. It doesn’t allow people to pass each other at each of the many pinch points. In the high [biking] season, this will definitely cause crashes. This is not a permanent solution and should be remedied no later than March.” At least he does like the yellow construction-style lights at the end of the new Jersey barriers, for riding safety, to make the structures visible at night. “They work (light up), and they help,” he said.

Westbeth residents’ original artwork won’t be for sale anymore on Nov. 18, but there will be lots of other stuff. Photos by The Villager

In the bag: It’s been three wild days (Nov. 11-13) of bargains and amazing finds at the annual Westbeth Flea Market. Think: Coach leather bags and Lands’ End and Ralph Lauren Polo coats and jackets all for just $5. But, alas, all good things must come to an end. Now in its 32nd year, the flea market at the famed West Village artists’ affordable-housing complex will go out with a bang — and a bevy of bulging bags — on Sat., Nov. 18, with its signature “Bag ’n’ Box Sale,” from noon to 2 p.m. Basically, you get a box or a big black bag for $5 and fill it with everything you can physically stuff into it. The last day to buy art at the flea market was Nov. 13. But there are still plenty of clothes, including vintage duds, novels and nonfiction books, art books, kitchen appliances, tableware, board games, kids’ stuff, assorted knickknacks and more. All proceeds go to projects that beautify Westbeth and the public areas around the building. Building entrances are at 55 Bethune St., with elevator access to the basement sale, and 137 Bank St., with stairway access (both at the corner of Washington St.)

You’ll find all kinds of stuff.
Books, books and more books at the Westbeth Flea Market.

Call for artists: The Tompkins Square Library, at 331 E. 10th St., will be hosting an all-day East Village Arts Festival on Wed., Dec. 13. They’re looking for performers interested in showcasing their work and teaching artists who would like to lead a mini-workshop, as well as local businesses who might want to help. Send inquiries to Library Manager Corinne Neary at CorinneNeary@nypl.org .