Under Cover

Silver’s G.O.P. appeal

Democratic Assembly Speaker Shelly Silver told UnderCover he’s optimistic a deal will be reached to avoid the M.T.A’s “doomsday” budget and he’s counting on a few good Senate Republicans to make it happen.

Silver says the State Senate needs three or four more Republican votes which will either come from the city or from Upstate districts, which will be exempt from the proposed payroll tax.

“There’s no reason why there are Republicans from the city who aren’t protecting their constituents from this [budget],” Silver said. “There’s no reason why a couple of Upstate senators in districts where subway cars are made [would oppose an agreement]. If the M.T.A. does not have this plan, people in those districts are going to be out of work. None of these people are going to be subject to any additional taxes.”

Although Gov. David Paterson had said bridge tolls were off the table because they couldn’t pass the Senate, Silver says they are still under discussion. The transit authority will raise fares 25 percent and cut many subway and bus lines with more money from Albany soon.

Beer pier?

UnderCover got an interesting e-mail this week suggesting Heartland Brewery is looking to expand onto the as-yet-unbuilt Pier 15.

Heartland e-mailed us to find out who to contact “for a business interest at Pier 15.”

Heartland already has a location at South Street Seaport, but perhaps they want an outpost in the small cafe the city is planning for the lower level of the new double-decker Pier 15.

Tunnel vision

Something strange is going on with the pedestrian tunnel adjacent to the Goldman Sachs construction.

Tishman Construction Corp. closed the tunnel two weeks ago to widen it at the request of the city Dept. of Transportation. Tishman said they made the path 2 feet wider, an improvement the many people who use the path would have appreciated, since the cyclists who are supposed to walk their bikes through the tunnel often whiz through unheedingly.

That change would have been welcomed, but as it turned out, only a small portion of the tunnel was widened (less than a quarter of it), and none of the people who spoke to UnderCover said they’d seen an improvement.

We figured maybe the rest of the tunnel would get widened soon, but that’s apparently not in the cards. John Gallagher, a Tishman spokesperson, said they had done what the D.O.T. asked. D.O.T. spokesperson Monty Dean concurred, saying D.O.T. just asked Tishman to widen just a portion of the walkway, “to improve visibility for parents pushing carriages and traveling with children.” 

But the sharp angles at the ends of the tunnel have just as poor visibility as ever, so it’s unclear what, if anything, the partial widening accomplished.

Deep thoughts

We were perusing the Port Authority’s wtcprogress.com site the other day and noticed that the only image for the not-yet-designed Performing Arts Center is of a dancer squeezing her head with her hands. It almost looks like she’s thinking, “will this thing ever be built?”

Boardwalk peeling

We thought we’d heard the last about the new boardwalk the Port Authority installed on Liberty St. near the World Trade Center site, but the complaints just keep coming in.

Barry Skolnick, the resident who first complained that the wood was slippery, pointed out this week that the sandpaper-like surface the Port had applied was peeling off. We checked it out, and sure enough, the special surface had all but disappeared, leaving the bare wood just as slippery as before.

Port Authority spokesperson Steve Coleman said the Port was monitoring the situation and plans to do maintenance work in the next two weeks, consisting of cleaning the wood and reapplying the anti-slip surface. Maybe they should add a second coat this time?

New high school

The Baruch College Campus High School may move Downtown in fall 2010. The high school near Gramercy Park will definitely move out of its building this fall to another school several blocks away, but it will need a new home again the following year, Dept. of Education spokesperson Will Havemann confirmed.

Havemann said the 250 extra seats at 26 Broadway are one option for the school in 2010, but no decision has been made. Millennium High School Principal Robert Rhodes first mentioned the move as a likely possibility last month at a community board meeting. It’s unclear how the school could fit in 26 Broadway, since it has more than 400 students.

Several Downtowners described Baruch as an academic pressure-cooker where students have five hours of homework a night and are forced to do nothing but study on weekends.

“It was relentless,” said Renee Kopel, whose daughter graduated several years ago. “It was boot camp. She used to call it, ‘Baruch: all work, no play.’”

Still, Kopel said the education provided solid college preparation for her daughter.

Rebecca Skinner, chairperson of Community Board 1’s Youth and Education Committee, said she wants to make sure the seats in 26 Broadway go to local children. Skinner pointed out that the neighborhood has a great need of middle school seats.

Izzy & Nat’s

There was a bit of confusion Tuesday night when the owners of Izzy & Nat’s, the new deli that opened last Thursday on South End Ave. in Battery Park City, appeared before the Community Board 1 to ask for a beer and wine license.

The problem was not with the license itself — which the board’s B.P.C. Committee approved — but rather with the name of the establishment: 311 Kosher Deli L.L.C. A board member asked if the deli was kosher, assuming the answer would be yes, but owner Jonah Phillips had a different reply.

“It was going to be kosher,” Phillips said. “But there’s nowhere to eat on Saturdays…. People were begging us to be open on Saturdays.”

Kosher restaurants must close for Saturdays, the Jewish Sabbath. That’s a rule Phillips couldn’t get around, so, he said, “It’s kosher style.”