All posts by Seth Werkheiser

Statue of Liberty Security Procedures Could be Changing

Current safety protocols at the Statue of Liberty are under review

Since the September 11th attacks, visiting the Statue of Liberty has been quite the hassle, thanks to security concerns. Visitors are screened at Battery Park and are forced to toil and wait in long, slow lines. If tourists and visitors want a “two-fer” and plan to visit both Ellis Island and Liberty Island, they were forced to go through a second security screening process at Liberty Island in order to enter the statue’s pedestal or crown. The headache is enough to make visitors and out-of-towners want to find something else to do while in Manhattan.

The talks to create a new, streamlined security process have been resurrected after various state, local and federal agencies had reached a standstill. They have yet to come up with a new plan. It’ll come down to the amount of checkpoints necessary and required for the safety of all visitors.

“The U.S. Park Police, New York City Police Department, the mayor’s office and Interior Secretary (Ken) Salazar’s office are all sitting down, going through the proposal by detail,” said Oliver Spellman, the Northeast senior program manager for the National Parks Conservation Association. “They’ve reopened the conversation with more agencies involved.” While there was a suggestion to bring the security operation to Ellis Island, Park Police do not want visitors to board ferries to Ellis Island without a security check to begin with.

“They’re trying to see if they can find a way that works out for everyone, even if they could find a location outside of Battery Park,” the NPCA representative said. “They’d rather err on the side of security, and that’s really the question: how many checkpoints do you really need.”

9/11 Memorial at the World Trade Center Site

September 11th Memorial Will Offer Limited Access After Opening

9/11 Memorial at the World Trade Center Site
Illustration of the 9/11 Memorial at the World Trade Center site. (Credit:

According to AP/CBS New York, while the September 11th memorial will be open and ready for visitors this year as we remember the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks, the memorial won’t be easily accessible for years to come. Joe Daniels, the president of the National September 11 Memorial & Museum, said that years will pass before the millions of people who want to pay their respects and visit the center will have easy access to the site due to ongoing construction.

Visitors will be given the opportunity to view the memorial from all sides, but they will be hampered by construction noise as skyscrapers are being erected; the transit hub will also create noise, as construction workers toils to complete the job. Visitors will only be able to use a single entrance and at certain points will be required to wear a hard hat due to safety concerns.

Also, visitors will be required to make a reservation for a pass in order to obtain access. Reservations will be made online and will be free and for specific dates and times, Daniels said.

Additionally, relatives of victims of the attacks will be given special consideration for visitation rights.

If the thought of surrounding noise and limited access sours your desire to visit the memorial, consider that the earliest visitors will be able to enjoy historic, one-of-a-kind views of the rebuilding process. Daniels effectively summed it up, telling The Associated Press that “It’s the front-row seat of seeing the tallest building in the United States built.”

Are you planning to visit a restricted September 11th memorial this year?

River to River Festival

10th Annual River to River Festival Set For June

River to River Festival
There are 1,000 free reasons to stick around NYC this summer.

The New York Press reports that the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council is taking over as the lead partner on the River to River Festival, the free summer arts extravaganza that will celebrate its 10th anniversary this summer! The programming schedule and exact dates for the event will be announced in April.

The RTR festival was launched back in 2002 as a means and a method to revitalize and stimulate the economy of the Lower Manhattan region after the attacks of September 11th. The festival has thrived in its decade-long existence, with 100,000 people pouring into various locations and venues downtown to enjoy the arts -music, movies, dance and other assorted family events- for free.

BPC Has City’s Second Most Restaurant Health Code Violations

13 percent of local restaurants earn a “C” grade

The 10006 zip code in Battery Park City/Lower Manhattan came in second in an undesirable category. The area had the second highest percentage of restaurant health code violations in the Big Apple, with 13 percent of food establishments earning a “C” grade, reports AM New York, which studied recent reports of the Health Department. A “C” grade is the lowest a restaurant can receive. Therefore, the only good thing about this rating is that there is nowhere to go but up.

The average rating for a zip code was 8 percent of restaurants being slapped with violations.

The 10026 zip code, which serves Morningside Heights/West Harlem, had the largest percentage of restaurant violations, with 20 percent of eateries receiving a “C” grade.

The letter grade system went into effect last July.

How much does a restaurants letter grade effect your decision to eat there?

NYC Half Marathon to Take Over Large Portion of BPC Next Month

The Road Runners plan to commandeer much of the area (Photo: New York Road Runners,

The Sixth Annual New York City Half Marathon is slated for Sunday, March 20th and the event, from the runners to the media to the volunteers, should cause more than a few headaches for Battery Park City residents. According to the Tribeca Trib, The New York Road Runners, who are organizing the event, plan to commandeer both Chambers Street and River Terrace, which are two of the major thoroughfares in the northern section of BPC, as the “walk off path” for 10,000 runners expected to compete in the 13.1 mile run. Even worse, North End Avenue, which is the area’s only two-way, north-south road, will be partially closed to accommodate TV trucks, generators and medical tents. Non-blocked streets like Murray and Warren will boast 25-30 portable toilets.

The race’s finish line is located on West Street above Chambers and runners will then be lead around Stuyvesant High School to Chambers and then onto River Terrace. The walk-off leads to a reception area on Winter Garden Plaza on North Cove. There, vendors and volunteers would be stationed, handing out amenities like juice and foil blankets to the winded runners trying to catch their breath.

The Road Runners and local residents will continue to discuss better options and other possibilities to make the event livable for the participants and the locals. One suggestion was to move staging and reception to either Pier 40 in Greenwich Village or Pier 25 in Tribeca.

Could you live with the headaches imposed by the half-marathon since it’s one day or are you opposed to all the closures and interruptions in daily life?

Parks Enforcement Patrol Attacks Battery Park City Resident

A BPC resident is handcuffed and put into an ambulance after a scuffle with Parks Enforcement (Photo courtesy: Jay Fine)

Two weeks ago, Battery Park City resident Adam Pratt was attacked by a Parks Enforcement Patrol officer when walking his dog on South End Avenue, reports Downtown Express. The patrolwoman approached him on a golf cart and requested ID. He didn’t have it on him and she then struck him in the face not one, not two, but three times with her walkie talkie. A bystander corroborated the account.

The Parks Department, which oversees the PEP, issued the following statement about the incident: “On Saturday, January 29, a man in Battery Park City was issued a summons for disorderly conduct and brought to Bellevue Hospital for evaluation after behaving irrationally and striking a female Parks Enforcement Officer. Conflicting reports state that the Parks Enforcement Officer initiated the confrontation. We will therefore take further steps to look into this.”

Clearly, Pratt and the PEP have differing accounts of what happened. Pratt, who has photographed PEP officers dozing off in the vehicles and thinks this incident was their way of getting back at him for causing trouble, was eventually handcuffed and placed in an ambulance and taken to a psych ward at Bellevue. He was eventually charged with ‘disorderly behavior,’ which was the only charge they could place on him. A later X-ray revealed rib contusions for Pratt. He plans to sue.

What do you think of Pratt vs. the PEP?

New Downtown Skyline by Day (Courtesy: Silverstein Properties)

Lower Manhattan Becoming Media Hot Spot

New Downtown Skyline by Day (Courtesy: Silverstein Properties)
New Downtown Skyline by Day (Courtesy: Silverstein Properties)

A recent New York Times report has shined a spotlight on the fact that Lower Manhattan is now considered a media hub. While Park Row was the media center in the 19th century, the digital age has allowed downtown to become a hot spot for the ever-evolving and changing media. Lower Manhattan is no longer reserved for financial types.

The Alliance for Downtown New York counts 60 media outlets occupying space below Chambers Street. Among other companies planning to migrate south from Midtown to the Financial District and the World Trade Center hood are Conde Nast, The Daily News, US News & World Report, Newsweek, The Daily Beast and that bastion of gossip The National Enquirer, which is the print pre-cursor of TMZ and Perez Hilton. Men’s Fitness is already enjoying downtown space. The Alliance for Downtown New York also indicates that nearly 5,500 media types will eventually be working downtown, excluding Conde Nast employees.

Another reason that downtown offices are appealing to journalists and bloggers? Their proximity to Brooklyn, which are affordable locations for those with media salaries.

What do you think of Lower Manhattan’s new reputation as a media hot spot?

Deutsche Bank 130 Liberty Street Deconstruction

Deutsche Bank Building is Finally Gone

Deutsche Bank 130 Liberty Street Deconstruction
The Deconstruction of the former Deutsche Bank building.

After nearly a decade cloaked in black netting and causing general health concerns due to its condition, the former Deutsche Bank Building in Lower Manhattan has been dismantled with the crane being removed from the site. The first floor and the foundation are the only parts remaining and are in the process of being removed. The building, which once stood 41-stories tall, was lanced by debris from the World Trade Center during the terrorist attacks of 2001, as it stood opposite of the WTC on Liberty Street.

9/11 wasn’t the only tragic event that occurred at the site. It was further damaged in 2007 after a fire blazed through several floors and claimed the lives of two firefighters. The site is now managed by the Port Authority, which will use it as a staging area for vehicle security sweeps.

How do you feel now that this painful, visual reminder of the 9/11 terrorist attacks is no longer visible?

A visual depiction of the world trade center site

673 Officers to be Assigned to New World Trade Center

All of the officers will be placed once buildings are complete
An illustration of the WTC site

The new World Trade Center site is scheduled to open with a 9/11 memorial planned for September 11, 2011, which is the tenth anniversary of the terror attacks. The site will eventually have 673 officers assigned to patrol it and keep it safe.

The Washington Post reports that New York Police Department Commissioner Raymond Kelly revealed the news on Tuesday when he spoke about the security needs for the 9/11 memorial and the new buildings that are slated to open after the fact. The full 673 officers won’t be in place until all the buildings on the site are completely erected. Kelly also acknowledged that the memorial and the site require special attention and even more security detail because they remain terrorist targets.

Do you think 673 offices is enough to keep the site safe?

Imam Feisal Abdul Raif is leading the Ground Zero mosque building efforts

Ground Zero Mosque Gets New Imam

Imam Feisal Abdul Raif is leading the Ground Zero mosque building efforts
Imam Feisal Abdul Raif is taking a reduced role in the Park 51 "Ground Zero Mosque"

The New York Times reports that there are some new issues surrounding the hot-button issues that is the planned “Ground Zero Mosque” AKA Park 51. Feisal Abdul Rauf, the mosque’s Imam, which is the prayer leader, will remain on the board of the Islamic Community Center and the mosque. But his role will be greatly reduced as a result; Abdul Rauf, who has gone on international and domestic speaking tours, will no longer raise funds for the project nor will he speak on its behalf.

Sharif el-Gamal, who is Abdul Rauf’s partner in the project and who owns the former coat store where the community center and mosque are planned, announced the split late last week.  It appears that Abdul Rauf was not “Lower Manhattan” enough for the project. “While Imam Feisal’s vision has a global scope and his ideals for the Cordoba movement are truly exceptional, our community in Lower Manhattan is local,” said Gamal in a statement. “Our focus is and must remain the residents of Lower Manhattan and the Muslim American community in the greater New York area.”

However, other sources have indicated that Abdul Rauf and Gamal also have opposing opinions on the size, scope, commerciality and the interfaith nature of the planned center. They even refer to the project by different names; Abdul Rauf called it “The Cordoba House” while Gamal referred to it as “Park 51,” which is also how most New Yorkers recognize it.

What are your thoughts on the Ground Zero Mosque/Park 51 in 2011?