Seaport Report

BY JANEL BLADOW  |  Despite the financial crisis currently curtailing South Street Seaport events and activities, there are still plenty of reasons to get out and enjoy the ‘hood now that summer is here. Just be careful where you walk at night (and carry a large stick)…

Rats attack…
Nearly a year ago, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver went on a rampage against rats in Lower Manhattan. He held a meeting with city agencies and Downtown residents about the problem. Everyone promised to do something about the gnawing gray pests who were no longer just overrunning the Seventh Avenue and A and C subway stations, but also casually darting down Fulton Street. The many construction projects were to blame and the Department of Health promised more bait boxes.

Well, guess what? There are plenty of those ugly black plastic triangles throughout South Street Seaport and the Financial District but it looks as if the rodents are having the last laugh, having outsmarted everyone once again.

Walking through Southbridge Towers at night, dozens of the furry things scurry around the industrial trash containers parked west of St. Margaret’s off of Fulton Street. Stroll along Water, Dover, Front and Peck Slip after dark and you can encounter nearly a hundred of these varmints racing to and from the Brooklyn Bridge construction curtains and other construction sites. Meander along the East River walkway when the sun goes down and you are as likely to encounter as many gnawing beasts as you are cyclists and skateboarders.

Local residents have commented often to SR in recent weeks about the problem. That old wives’ tale of one rat per person in NYC seems lost on Seaport residents. Time to kick up the complaints. To report a rat, call 311.

River magic…
The 2011 River To River Festival kicked off a few weeks ago with dance, arts, music and movies. The free festival marks its 10th anniversary this year. A couple upcoming events worth noting: Outdoor screenings and rock on the pier. Watch The Godfather Part 2 on the Elevated Acre at 55 Water St., Sunday, June 26. The movie begins at 8 p.m. but doors open at 6 p.m. when DJ Ben Carlin (The Beyonder) will start the fun by spinning some tunes. To get a free ticket, go to www.rivertorivernyc.com.

Friday night, July 1, hear Lower Dens of Baltimore with signer-songwriter Jana Hunter. The group has a fuzzy, magic hour vibe. Opening act Dirty Beaches is described as being like “a half-remembered dream infected by an oldies station drifting on the breeze of a desert motel.” Okay.

The following Friday, July 8, 80s indie band The Wake (from Glasgow) kicks up the dance action. Also performing is the San Francisco trio Weekend, a post-punk party outfit. Both concerts begin at 7 p.m. on Pier 17.

Woof on the Waterfront…
SR has also been stopped frequently over the last few weeks and asked, “When is the new dog park opening on the river?”

The new East River Waterfront project began construction in April 2009 with $137 million in funding from the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation. Everyone raved when they read about the planned esplanade and another place for pooches to play.

Now everyone watches and waits. Word was the construction was to be finished in February, then spring, and then, by the end of May. It’s nearly July and the construction fences are still up, the workers are still milling about and proposals for use of the new Pier 15 maritime education center, including one from the now-defunct South Street Seaport Museum, were rejected. Now, there’s a glassy new structure on the pier with no scheduled use, a promenade that can only be walked while dodging construction scaffolding thus cutting off any view of the waterway and a 4,300 square foot dog park with still no bark.

SR contacted the L.M.D.C., which passed us along to City Economic Development Corporation and its project head, Nicole Dooskin. She was quoted on the Lower Manhattan Construction Command Center web site two weeks ago: “The whimsical elements of the dog run — a giant squirrel and a bronze tree — are on the site, as are more traditional elements like the paving.”

Yet still, no definitive opening date was mentioned. Ms. Dooskin bounced us to public relations. No answer. So our best guess is still mid-July. Maybe.