Under Cover

Phone Outage

Folks who noticed a sudden increase in police patrols last Thursday needn’t have been alarmed. There was no crime spree in Downtown’s normally quiet neighborhoods. Rather, a number of phone lines went dead after software at Verizon developed a glitch and had to be restarted.

The reboot temporarily booted many Downtown customers, including One Police Plaza, off the service. Although 911 and 311 remained in operation, police sent extra patrols through the neighborhoods just in case.

Trump updates

After a brief respite following the unearthing of historic bones a few weeks ago at the Donald Trump’s contractors on the Trump Soho condo-hotel site, went back to pile driving Tuesday. There will now ensue a month of heavy-duty pile driving, we are told. Doris Diether, Community Board 2 Zoning Committee chairperson, said she and Maria Passannante Derr, C.B. 2 chairperson, recently met with construction managers working on the 45-story tower’s foundation to discuss the project and see if the work can somehow be made less disruptive.

Diether said Chelsea Vocational High School, located across from the Spring and Varick Sts. site, has expressed concern over the effect the pile driving’s noise will have on its students’ ability to learn. Julius Schwarz, executive vice president of the Bayrock Group, a partner in the project, did not return a call for comment.

Meanwhile, the remains — reportedly from a graveyard connected to the former Spring Street Church, which was razed in the early 1960s — are being protected under a white geodesic-type tent structure in the middle of the construction area.

Nadler’s pull

Federal security officers tried to prevent a Downtown Express photographer from taking a picture of U.S. Rep. Jerry Nadler in his Varick St. district office Tuesday. The obstinate guards did not relent when a Nadler aide came down to help and only backed down after Nadler himself made the trip down to the lobby.

The excuse given was the federal holiday declared to mourn former President Jerry Ford. Was it that, or were the guards, who ultimately report to the Commander in Chief, worried about press attention for a frequent critic of President Bush?

Thanks for the help Jerry and even though you are taking over the Judiciary’s Subcommittee on the Constitution, First Amendment issues aside, we know you have bigger things to worry about than us.

Pricey do-over

Take two on the city’s search for human remains in and around the World Trade Center site finally has a price tag: $30 million.

After weeks of telling the public that “it’ll cost what it’ll cost” — a statement meant to convey the mayor’s commitment to doing the job right — the city released the cost estimate on Dec. 29 in a memo from Deputy Mayor Ed Skylar.

Thirty million may sound like significant coin. It certainly throws the Environmental Protection Agency’s $7 million test and clean program into sharp relief. But if the new search can overcome past obstacles and achieve its goals — peace of mind for family members and a rebuilding free of future gruesome surprises — well, that would be priceless.

Almost Whole

Tribecans hungry for the Whole Foods Market to open at the Ed Minskoff development site will be able to head east in a few months to shop in the Houston St. W.F., said Fred Harris of AvalonBay, which is developing Avalon Chrystie Place nearby. Avalon Bowery Place will have five to seven commercial tenants, including two restaurants, Harris said, adding he’ll have information on this in about two months. Not having to cope with subway rails below or a garden next door, AvalonBay’s third, smaller, 90-unit building, between Second Ave. and Extra Place, should be finished by this summer, according to Harris.

Trapeze swings away

By Tuesday night, the twinkle lights were out, the mats stowed away. By Wednesday afternoon, a crew had begun to fully dismantle the Trapeze School of New York’s signature white tent, its home along the Hudson for the past five years.

But never fear, high-flying enthusiasts. The school will not be closed forever. Though the tent had to be removed to make way for the Hudson River Park’s Tribeca section renovations, the school is busy building a permanent location a few blocks north at Pier 40. In the meantime, the school is looking for a temporary space and classes could begin again as soon as the end of January.

For folks who can’t wait that long to show of their aerial acrobatics, Trapeze School New York now has locations in Baltimore and Boston, as well.