Category Archives: Op-Ed

Former World Trade Center Site

10 Years.

Former World Trade Center Site
Former World Trade Center Site

The fireworks set me off tonight.

For an eve that I’m sure most of us have reserved for quiet contemplation, arising with the dissonance of speedboats and now the thunderous boom of fireworks before we rest our heads. The commemoration seems a bit excessive.

It  has been voiced today that for most of us who have lived through the attacks on the World Trade Center – the spectacle is not necessary as much as the ability to have calm reflection with ourselves and our family.

Every year since the attacks — and now 10 years later — our neighborhood transforms into a media spectacle. Satellite trucks beaming the signal into the stars – the echos of the reading of names. Each syllable tears open old wounds. Yes, a decade old but surprisingly fresh – the way we celebrate and mourn is almost like pressing a rewind button back to 2002.

In 2002, for the first anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, the Red Cross was on hand – deploying an army of volunteers to simply hand out pocket tissues. They have not returned since, but in someway it probably wouldn’t hurt for them to come back tomorrow.

This year, will mark the launch of the 9/11 Memorial. Here is to the hope that  with this unveiling the commemoration events will change. Our neighborhood has been slow to recover — but inevitably the renaissance is around the bend. Would it be wrong to also call for a renaissance of the way we commemorate?

We should never forgetbut does that mean we have to relive?  The increased terror alerts, the carrying ID in and out of the neighborhood, the shutdown of access to the area, the reading of the names, the images, the interviews, the documentaries – to be parsed out every minute on 9/11 — for the rest of our lives? What will happen when the generation born today, will be the media makers of tomorrow? Will they be able to strike the balance and present to us the images and stories in a way that won’t offend the sensitivities of the generation that has lived it? To balance the equation of sensationalism, media, commemoration, ratings and patriotism – currently has no solution.

Tonight I will fall asleep and I will dream that tomorrow we will turn a corner in the way we remember – for a 9/11 commemoration that helps to heal more than hurt.

Speedboat Race?! 9am?! For September 11th Victims?! Really?

Speedboats racing in Hudson River
Speedboats racing in Hudson River

Our neighborhood is on virtual lockdown and our defenses are up due to the heightened terror alert. That didn’t stop a disconcerting dissonance from erupting on New York Harbor.
At 9am this morning, loud roaring noises could be heard at virtually every point of Battery Park City — with most residents not having any forewarning to the commotion.

Apparently Super Boat International want to disrupt any sense of calm and safety before the anniversary of 9/11 by holding the 21st Annual New York Super Boat Grand Prix right outside our windows. For those of you who are not right on the water’s edge, it sounds like you’re on the sidelines of an Indy 500 racetrack.

Ostensibly, the event is being held to commemorate 9/11. The race gives off-duty Coasties a chance to race around New York Harbor with gross indifference to the thousands of those who live in our area.

According to the press release, “Boats will start arriving Thursday September 8th to Liberty Landing Marina in Liberty State Park in New Jersey. Fans can see their favorite boats up close Thursday September 8th and Friday September 9th. There will be one race on Saturday morning starting at 9:00 am. Race teams are scheduled to race 17 and 3/4 laps totaling 84 miles on a rectangular course just under 5 miles around. Fans can watch from both the New York and New Jersey shorelines.”

Gee, thanks Super Boat International.

September 11th Anniversary Rituals

OpEd: To Stay or To Go? The 9/11 Conundrum.

September 11th Anniversary Rituals
The September 11th Anniversary Rituals (Credit: Cleveland.com)

Every year, the thought of September 11th, leaves me a little stunned.

Stunned in the sense that I’m a little too reluctant to leave my apartment to deal with the deluge of news trucks parked in our neighborhood, the restrictions and the reading of the names. A little unwilling to be around a television from 8:45 AM for exactly 102 minutes. Every year, I expect the Red Cross to be around the corner handing out small facial tissue packages to wipe away public tears.

The Red Cross is long gone, but the ritual has remained.

Although I am for the reading of the all of the victim’s name catharsis for 9/11 families — it still stings a bit much for me to endure all the names. The air in our area can be a gloriously crisp autumn day, but the air is always heavy.

The visual cues of the news trucks, the bagpipes, and the sounds from the loudspeakers transport me to yesterday. It can be a bit overwhelming sometimes.

Which leads me to wonder…

The environment and landscape in which we have bred this kind of grieving is quickly changing. In a few years, we will no longer have the construction site or the former Deutsche Bank building as a reminder of the injustice and terror will be long gone. What will happen to the rituals? Should they continue as they have for the past 9 years? Or will they evolve?

I was surprised after reading some status’ on our Facebook page, that some of you share these same sentiments. Unsure if it’s right to escape the neighborhood or stay.

It’s definitely food for thought and would love to know yours as we approach the anniversary of 9/11.

Rachel Uchitel visits Ground Zero

Rachel Uchitel Exploits 9/11 & Ground Zero for Fame

Rachel Uchitel visits Ground Zero
Rachel Uchitel visits Ground Zero

Rachel Uchitel’s visit to Ground Zero is too suspicious for me for two reasons:

Was it before or after she found out Tiger Woods had moved to our area that she decided it would be a good idea to exploit Ground Zero for her own fame and fortune?

…and right before the 9th anniversary of 9/11? Why not show support and go with the family of your almost in-laws on the day of?

In an effort to defend her actions, Rachel Uchitel, the now infamous Tiger Woods mistress and former paramour who broke up probably the cutest family I’ve ever seen released a statement:

“Who the f— are people to be talking about me?” Uchitel told the New York Post. “Until they go through what I went through, living with a guy and being engaged to him and having that person dead an hour after waking up next to him. “If people think I’m milking something for the benefit of getting on TV or getting more well-known, I’m already well-known.”

Except that dear Rachel, your 15 minutes were up long ago.

Is this an attempt at public relations triage for us to forget your What is with your timing? Visiting the site right before 9/11? Your almost father-in-law had said during the Tiger Woods debacle that he had not even heard from you since your fiance was buried.

Actions speak louder than words, and your actions sound like nails on a chalkboard.

Exposing yourself to a national audience in your healing process is tantamount to placing shards of glass on an open wound.

Dr. Drew is also to blame.

According to reports, this idea came to them during a pre-taping interview with the Oprah Winfrey show. Thank goodness Harpo Productions had the right mind frame to leave that segment on the cutting room floor.

Just doesn’t feel right. The whole thing. Maybe my sensitivities are up because it is September.

Tiger Woods moves to downtown New York

Welcome To The Neighborhood Tiger Woods!

Tiger Woods moves to downtown New York
Tiger Woods moves to New York City

Dear Tiger Woods,

This weekend, I saw someone moving into this ridiculous apartment on Reade Street. Peeking into the place I wondered who was the lucky person who moved into our neighborhood.

Considering we count Tyra Banks, Leonardo DiCaprio and John Stewart as our neighbors — I am now completely convinced and imagining you are our new friendly neighbor that the NY Post speaks so highly of.

If so, that’s great! Welcome!

I’m sure you’ve heard a lot about the challenging course of Park51, but we’re pretty sure New York became your “hole in one” once you heard about our even more infamous “Ground Zero Strip Clubs!”

There is the Pussycat Lounge on Greenwich or the New York Dolls on Murray Street!

Oh! I’m also sure that since New Yorkers don’t need cars — you won’t have to worry about crashing them in this part of the woods city! There’s always a cab around here somewhere.

Otherwise, we at BatteryParkCity.com offer you a warm welcome (if you are actually our neighbor) and would love to bump into you at the Whole Foods sometime.

Sincerely,
Your speculative Battery Park City and Tribeca neighbors

Former World Trade Center Site

9/11: 9 Years Later – Share your stories

Former World Trade Center Site
Former World Trade Center Site

It’s quite unbelievable that we are embarking on the 9th anniversary of 9/11.

For years after the attacks, I refused to face Ground Zero while passing south on the West Side Highway.

Partially because it pained me to see the area, but also because I wanted to remember everything that I loved so much about the Twin Towers. Simple memories, like tasting my first Krispy Kreme donut to meeting my high school sweetheart at the Path station.

This time, the road to the anniversary has been paved in controversy surrounding the Park51 center. The political firestorm has overshadowed the progress and positive rebuilding of our area that so many of us are looking forward to.

So, in light of the anniversaries — We’d like for you to share your memories, pre and post 9/11, thoughts and hopes for our neighborhood as we are moving through its metamorphosis.

We’re looking for pictures and stories from our neighbors and community members in our area. We will post as many as we get! Even if it’s only 1 or 2!

This site is as much yours as it is ours here at BatteryParkCity.com and it would be an honor to help share some of your stories with all our readers on the site.

To submit your shared stories, pictures and thoughts please reach out to us:

On our site:
http://batteryparkcity.com/contact

By email:
contribute@batteryparkcity.com

By Facebook:
http://www.facebook.com/batterypark

We really look forward to hearing from you and to sharing your stories!

Park51 Mosque Protest Image

The Heart of the Mosque Debate: Community Safety

It has been extremely challenging to cover the deluge of news surrounding our neighborhood in the past few months.

When we started this site, we intended for it to be a community-building place online: a place where we could discuss with pride the rebuilding of the new World Trade Center and the metamorphosis it will surely bring to our area.

However, we could not have anticipated the national response towards the development of the Park51 mosque, a development connected — in ways other than geography — to the greater rebuilding of Lower Manhattan. Issues of ‘fundamental rights’ and ‘racism’ have sprung up, and our readers (and the nation as a whole) remain divided.

Ideological debates aside, some troubling events from this weekend leave us with another important question: How can we be protected and made safe from opponents targeting the mosque in our area?

In the video above (shared with us via Facebook), protesters lambast a person they wrongly believe is a Muslim.

Racial profiling and police profiling in our area has been recorded in negligible amounts. A recent New York Times article published a map of police stops in the city; stops in our area were nearly non-existent.

How will the environment and political tension surrounding the mosque change our neighborhood’s safety? Sure, we don’t live on Ground Zero, but this is an area where we walk for our groceries, for our subways and in September, this is the route some of us take to bring our children to school.

I’m not sure if all in the community share the same concerns as some. If the plans for Park51 go through — and they are as iconic as the developers plan — will this mean we as a community should start to get used to constant protests? If so, how long will they last? Who will help to protect residents of Lower Manhattan from the national scrutiny?

These are questions I feel are not being asked enough. I hope that someone out there is concerned not with the political, or the religious, but the safety ramifications this might cause our community.

Defining Ground Zero beyond the footprints of the Twin Towers

Defining and Redefining Ground Zero

Defining Ground Zero beyond the footprints of the Twin Towers
What is the definition of Ground Zero (Credit: FEMA)

What does Ground Zero mean?

Should the boundaries of 9/11 devastation be solely contained within a single continuous chain link fence in Lower Manhattan?

ground zero

— n

1. a point on the surface of land or water at or directly above or below the center of a nuclear explosion

2. a scene of great devastation

Before Ground Zero earned its capital letters and became the defacto term for the area of the NYC terrorist attacks on 9/11, it simply meant “a scene of great devastation.”

Throughout their existence, the Twin Towers were one of the most revered architectural skyscrapers of their time. Millions flocked to the 110-story observation deck to take pictures, buy t-shirts and mementos. Post 9/11, tourists still flocked to the area: a grotesquely different view that could no longer be called the Twin Towers. “Ground Zero” was a different word for a much-changed, different place.

There has been a lot of discussion about what should be considered “Ground Zero.” Putting definitive boundaries is a slippery slope. Here is a list of buildings that were affected by the terrorist attacks on 9/11.

The World Trade Center and its buildings:
1 World Trade Center
2 World Trade Center
3 World Trade Center – Marriott (Former Vista Hotel)
4 World Trade Center
5 World Trade Center
6 World Trade Center
7 World Trade Center

Borough of Manhattan Community College Fitterman Hall
Borough of Manhattan Community College Fitterman Hall after 9/11

Other buildings/structures destroyed or damaged on 9/11:
90 West Street
St. Nicholas Orthodox Greek Church
1 Liberty Plaza Building
Millenium Hotel
Old Post Office Building
BMCC/CUNY Fitterman Hall
Verizon Building
Bankers Trust Building
World Financial Center Bridge
World Financial Center Winter Garden
American Express Building
Merill Lynch Building
Gateway Plaza Complex

The building which endured damage furthest North of the Twin Towers footprints is the Borough of Manhattan Community College’s Fitterman Hall. The building at 30 West Broadway was destroyed by the collapse of 7 World Trade Center on 9/11. Today, the boundaries of the now demolished building, is not considered “Ground Zero.” Although, from the site of the proposed Park51 center, you can look West at the site where the building used to be. Is it that we implicitly feel the destruction of the CUNY building isn’t part of the boundaries of devastation?

Here is a Google Map look on the corner of West Broadway and Park Place. From a simple turn on the corner you can see the former Fitterman Hall and the former Burlington Coat Factory.

Corner of West Broadway at Park Place
Google Maps capture the corner of West Broadway and Park Place (Credit: Google)

To limit the term “Ground Zero” to the footprints of the Twin Towers automatically diminishes any destruction suffered on 9/11 beyond the chain linked fence that exists today.

To set boundaries means that insensitivities can be easily hurled from both sides of the Park51 debate. Like a game of tag, using the term Ground Zero is tantamount to having a “base” or “being safe.” Is it though?

The term “Ground Zero” should not be leveraged on either side to discuss who is right and who is wrong.

Residents of Battery Park City who were displaced and had to flee the neighborhood because of air and water concerns are also victims of the events that occurred at Ground Zero — although hardly recognized as such.  Many residents did not have homes to return to that day, could not return until their buildings were deemed safe. Devastation of businesses, houses of worship and homes were widespread in areas not colloquially considered “Ground Zero.” Does that make their experience post 9/11 any less important or less part of that scene?

To limit “Ground Zero” — which generically means “a scene of great devastation” — to just the footprints of the Twin Towers is a great disheartenment and disservice to the survivors of the attacks: the residents, businesses, schools and those who have endured to rebuild this community. Just ask anyone who lived in Battery Park City at that time. If the Cordoba Initiative wants to be part of the rebuilding, acknowledging instead of denying they are a community center at “Ground Zero” would be a first step in a good direction. Wouldn’t it be an honor to be part of rebuilding Ground Zero? After 9 years of almost inaction at the site, anyone who wants to improve on our community should be welcomed.

Perhaps the next step is to teach America and beyond that “Islam,””Muslims” and “mosque” are not dirty words.

Battery Park City has a lot of Community Centers

Community Centers Galore in Battery Park City

Battery Park City has a lot of Community Centers
Battery Park City has access to tons of community centers

As the commotion of the Park51 Mosque/Community Center broils on. I can’t help but count how many many community centers we have in our area.

Our area has an abundance of Community Centers. I guess my question is — is there enough community to go around for all these centers?! We are one lucky community!

Here is the roll call and summaries from their official sites:

1. Stuyvesant High School Community Center

The Community Center at Stuyvesant High School is the result of a unique partnership created by the City of New York, Stuyvesant High School and the Battery Park City Authority. The Community Center offers recreation, classes and events for people of all ages and interests.
The Community Center is open to the public evenings and weekends when school is not in session. Because the Center is shared by students, faculty and community members, certain safety regulations must be followed. Join us in making the Center a vital downtown resource.

Battery Park City Parks Conservancy (BPCPC) manages the Community Center at Stuyvesant High School. BPCPC’s recreational, sports and arts programming in the parks, gardens and playing fields of Battery Park City has provided positive experiences for people of all ages and diverse interests. BPCPC is similarly committed to making the Community Center at Stuyvesant High School a vital place for good health, life-long learning and pleasure.

The Community Center offers expanded membership categories as well as additional fitness and recreational activities (led by sports, fitness and dance specialists) and seminars on subjects related to happy and healthy living. You can participate either through membership or on a class by class basis.

2. Asphalt Green Battery Park

Asphalt Green Battery Park City is a state-of-the-art community center located in Battery Park City’s Liberty Luxe and Liberty Green residential towers. Scheduled to open in fall 2011, this brand new 52,000 square-foot facility will be operated by Asphalt Green, recognized as the city’s premier sports and fitness center with a wide variety of sports, swimming, and fitness programs for every age and ability. Loaded with modern amenities, the center will serve all age groups and provide cultural, educational, and recreational activities, as well as free programs for underserved members of the Downtown community.

Facility Features 25-yard lap pool and a warm-water teaching/exercise pool, Fitness center with state-of-the-art cardio and strength equipment, Gymnasium equipped for basketball, indoor soccer, and other sports, 6 multi-purpose studios and classrooms, Culinary center and test kitchen for classes and other activities, 156-seat theater for lectures, film screenings, and other performances, Coffee/juice bar accessible by the public.

3. Downtown Community Center
The Downtown Community Center is a new branch of Manhattan Youth, an organization founded over twenty years ago to provide childcare, academic, recreational and cultural activities to Lower Manhattan community members. Until now, we have provided services to thousands of children and adults every year in space rented and borrowed from schools and parks. Now, for the first time, our neighborhood has a dedicated community center of its own.

The Downtown Community Center is envisioned to be a place where our community’s parents can confidently bring their children, knowing that we are all part of an extended family that cares as much as they do; a place where our community’s seniors can meet to share stories, see friends, and take classes with their children and grandchildren; where adults can come to learn and be inspired; a place where we can all come together as a community.

4. 92YTribeca

92YTribeca, downtown center located at 200 Hudson Street, helps 92Y carry on its mission to serve the community and the world in a remarkable way by providing exceptional programs across the spectrum—in the arts and culture, Jewish life and education, health and fitness and personal growth and travel. As part of the 92nd Street Y, our mission downtown is to bring together and inspire a diverse community of people from New York City and beyond.

5. Park51

It’s not just about the mind and the heart.  Park51 believes in fully engaging all of us.  It’s not just that we’ll offer amazing athletic facilities, fun fitness classes for all abilities and interests, sports and swimming and other health opportunities — Park51 will go further to partner with local institutions to provide medical education and wellness programs.

South End Avenue Cab Line

Battery Park City’s Taxi Culture

South End Avenue Cab Line
South End Avenue Cab Line: We are so civilized!

5PM is like the flute that charms our neighborhood cab line that snakes along South End Avenue at Liberty Street.

This cab line never ceases to amaze me. It’s an interesting and distinct example of how Battery Park City is a special community. Is there another area in NYC that would relent to such self policed organization when participating in hailing a taxi — where in New York can be a full contact sport?

Only at airports does such a cab line exist — but even those lines are policed by airport dispatchers.

As a Battery Park resident, I will be the first to admit — I sort of appreciate the line.

But —

Nothing makes me crazier when I’ve been waiting on that line and  someone “steals my cab.” Two parts fury and  one part guilt overcomes me when I feel that way because I often find myself asking, “Why am I even waiting on this line?”

Some of my favorite methods of “BPC Cab Theft” include:
“The Liberty Street Stealth Attack” – When your happy to see a free taxi gliding onto Liberty Street when it pulls up to the stop sign – with a shadowy figure closing the cab door.

“The I’m Overtly Stealing Your Cab Run” – When a person knows there is a line but runs to steal it anyways.

“The Gateway Plaza Abyss” – When a cab enters Gateway Plaza and someone runs into the apartment complex to steal it.

These are just a few examples.

The history of the cab line is relatively unknown, but yet we as a neighborhood abide by this unspoken law. Sure, one could reasonably walk south where no such law and taxi order exists or revert to traditional hailing standards on West Street — yet I look for the line and stand on it whenever I need to leave the neighborhood.

Granted that there is no written Constitution for this line —  I’ve added some personal bylaws to it throughout the years. For example, if there are people waiting on the line — or if its raining/snowing, I ask the driver to drop me off at the line. If not in a terrible rush, I let a pregnant woman or a mother with several youngsters take the cab first. If I see neighbors with lots of luggage and I’m about to take a SUV taxi — I offer it up to them.

While I have waited  in line last week I noticed a trend of office mates who presumably work at the World Financial Center asked to share cabs and make drop offs. For executives waiting/sharing a cab becomes an extension of politics and the continuation of wheeling (pun intended) and dealing. In my mind goes to further explain how is this line is policed by employees who want to see other friends on the line. This has changed the way I see this line — as if waiting on the line itself becomes the activity.

New York City is a highly competitive town. We compete for everything – jobs, dates, homes and yes, taxis. I guess what I’m seeking are some thoughts, personal stories or theories why this section of Battery Park City proliferates the taxi stand line … would love to hear them!