The snowy, icy, precipitation-filled winter of 2011 is (thankfully) in the rear view, but the Battery Park City Authority is still mulling over the possibility of putting an ice rink in the region. According to Downtown Express, Community Board 1â€™s Battery Park City Ballfields Task Force met in late March to discuss alternatives.
The problem is where to place the ice rink. The ball fields just north of Murray Street between West Street and North End Avenue were discussed as an option, but the skating season would be limited to a mere eight weeks, as the fields are used for soccer through November and for baseball as soon as March. Additionally, an operator would be required to build and disassemble the rink.
The BPCA does not want to invest in or subsidize an ice rink. Whomever would operate it would need to find a corporate sponsor. Plans were discussed at Community Board 1 Battery Park City Committee meeting, which took place on Tuesday at 1 World Financial Center.
Would you like to see an ice rink in Battery Park City?
Millions of visitors are expected to flood into the September 11th Memorial at the World Trade Center site, many traveling from sizeable distances via a bus. The Tribeca Trib reports that the city has yet to figure out how to handle the influx and volume of bus traffic. The Community Board 1 is looking at a variety of possible plans pertaining to where the buses will drop off their tour groups, where they will park and how many buses the streets of Manhattan can physically handle, but no solutions have been provided nor have problems and concerns been resolved.
The only information provided was that officials said that they were considering several possible drop-off and layover locations. A concrete plan is expected to be hammered out by April, which is next month, so time is of the essence. One suggestion that was bandied about was to have the tour bus companies shuttle passengers between Long Island City or Liberty State Park, where memorial visitors can take the subway, PATH or ferry. Itâ€™s efficient, and those are typical touristy things that visitors like to do and experience while traipsing around the Big Apple.
City officials and Memorial staff are hoping that a timed reservation system, similar to the one used for the Statue of Liberty, will help lighten the load.
What are you planning to do to commemorate September 11th?
The Tribeca Tribreports that Anne Compoccia, the former long-reigning chair of Community Board 1, died February 24th following a long bout with cancer. She was 62-years-old and was fondly regarded for her street-smart, tough-talking â€œNew Yawkerâ€ style.
Compoccia helmed the Community Board 1 for 12 years and helped steer the downtown revitalization agenda, overseeing the transformation of Lower Manhattan from a 9-to-5 business district that was deserted when the sun went down to a residential community and viable neighborhood. Compocciaâ€™s resume is decorated with achievements like helping to bring ball fields to Battery Park City, the public library on Murray Street and the Tribeca street improvement initiative that was dubbed â€œThe Greening of Greenwich Street.â€
The feisty, no-nonsense Compoccia, who went toe-to-toe with suits and politicians, is also credited with helping to bring about the Manhattan Youthâ€™s Downtown ComÂÂmunity Center and fostered the communityâ€™s use of Tribecaâ€™s Pier 25 — thanks to her support of these projects. Compoccia also founded the Little Italy Chamber of Commerce.
Compoccia, who lived alone for much of her life, was not perfect, however. She was arrested in 2000 for embezzling $85,000 in city funds relating to the Mulberry Street Mall. She resigned from her post as the chair of the CB1 when investigations into her dealings began. She served a 10-month sentence relating to these activities in a Brooklyn halfway house and took a community service job in a Manhattan hotel for homeless people afflicted with AIDS. Once she completed her sentence, she remained with the hotel in the role of paid supervisor.
Were you familiar with Compocciaâ€™s colorful life story before she passed?
The elimination of the M9 bus this summer has caused transportation headaches for our area.
Losing the M9 bus line this summer has caused transportation headaches for many residents in our area. Many of our own readers have voiced their concerns over the loss of the M9 line which was a main artery of transportation for the daily life of many residents.
The effects have caught the attention of City Councilmember Margaret Chin and the Community Board to draft a proposal which was recently presented to the MTA.
In that proposal, Battery Park City Committee have offered a resolution which calls for the extension of the M15 bus line into Battery Park City as well as extending the M22 line from Vesey Street into the southernmost tip of our neighborhood at Battery Place and Little West Street.
According to an article in this week’s Downtown Expresss, “The letter states, “due to the elimination of the M9, people traveling between Battery Park City and other areas of New York City are required to make more transfers, and, seniors, the mobility-impaired, and students particularly rely on buses.”
Compounded by the loss of the W line and consistent service closings due to the construction of the Fulton Street Transportation Hub, Lower Manhattan has been adversely affected. A response from the MTA is pending.
Publishing a public statement this morning, Julie Menin, chairperson of Community Board #1 in Manhattan, made a public statement about the Park51 development.
CB#1 has been one of the earliest proponents for the development, but in today’s statement — shows that in light of national discord, the community board may be changing their tune. Julie Menin suggests an interfaith project should replace the original intent of the Park51 development.
The statement published in the NY Daily News reads as follows:
“The lowerÂ Manhattan community board 1 chair, Community Board 1, voted overwhelmingly to support the Islamic cultural center to be built two blocks away from Ground Zero when the project was presented to our board in May.
I stand by my vote.
That said, the project has now become a symbol of discord and dissidence, the white hot emotional center of a volcanic shouting match. Raw nerves have been exposed on both sides of an ugly religious and ethnic divide – and the gulf between supporters and opponents has only grown with each protest, each argument, each accusation.
Both sides claim the moral high ground – sustained on the one side by religious freedom and the other by preserving the sanctity of hallowed ground.
What started out as largely a local issue has now been overtaken by national partisan politics, with national politicians, many with their own agendas, weighing in on what is best for this community.
Now it is very clear that something must be done to address this dissension and to move to heal, not divide. I believe it is still possible to bridge the gap without compromising the core principles of what this project is about – not by moving the mosque further away from the site of the attacks, but by bringing other faiths in.
The mosque and community center near Ground Zero should not be enshrined as a battleground of discord, but rather be transformed into an inter-faith center for reconciliation and peace-containing nondenominational houses of worship to be shared by Muslims, Christians and Jews. Its purpose – to bring us closer together, not split us further apart – could be reaffirmed in modified plans.
Under this idea, there could be, as currently planned, two floors for the mosque – but there could also be a floor dedicated to an inter-faith, nondenominational space. In addition, a major national or local organization dedicated to spreading religious tolerance could establish a meaningful presence there. There are many such reputable groups that would surely welcome the opportunity to help heal.
The project, open to all, would celebrate all faiths and inter-faith understanding.
Government, of course, has no role, and should have no role, in determining the use of an as-of-right project (meaning, a project such as this that requires no city zoning approvals to be built.) This is particularly true when a religious use is involved. Only the developer of the project can and should decide what the use of the project will be.
With that said, the dissension surrounding this issue is simply not productive. We need to try to overcome the divide on this issue and teach the next generation howÂ New York andÂ America unified after 9/11 and how this country was founded on respect for all religions, freedom of religion and the right and ability for religions to peacefully co-exist in the melting pot that characterizes New York and America.
It may be hard for many to imagine in the wake of 9/11 that we can rise above gut feelings of pain and retribution. But we can take the harrowing horrors of 9/11 and bridge our differences, without erasing them.
There actually already is such a facility dedicated to bringing us all together. It exists on the grounds ofÂ the Pentagon, which was also attacked on 9/11. As part of an effort to heal and recover, an interfaith chapel was built on that hallowed ground. Its construction stirred no controversy. It is a place where Christians, Muslims and Jews can and do worship.
It is a small interfaith chapel, but it shines as a bright beacon.
How inspiring it would be for a similar beacon of hope to shine in lower Manhattan. We are the survivors of two attacks by terrorists. We need to reach out once again to our better selves, find common ground that reasserts our commonality of purpose and that unifies our community, our city and our nation.
The proposedÂ Park51 cultural center offers many benefits, including recreational, cultural, educational and meeting facilities that our growing lower Manhattan community needs. And a floor or two devoted to celebrate Jewish, Christian and Muslim worship in a nondenominational setting would not simply help to overcome divisions, but serve as a model to the world of the resourcefulness, harmony and strength of this city, and this nation of immigrants we call America.
Menin is chairperson of Community Board 1 in lower Manhattan.”
After clearing a vote against landmark status for 45-47 Park Place, another hurdle has emerged concerning the development of what has been dubbed “The Ground Zero Mosque” or the Park51 Mosque.
The mosque which is slated to be located at 45-51 Park Place, built on two parcels of land, is only half owned by the developers spearheading the project according to the NY Post which first broke the report over the weekend. The building at 45-47 Park Place, which had been undergoing landmark status hearings is owned by Soho Properties, the developers of Park51 — whilst the building at 49-51 Park Place is not. Park51 is named after the address 51 Park Place, the address in scrutiny.
More surprisingly, the owner of the other parcel of land is actually Con Edison. This information took even Community Board 1 proponents by surprise who had not heard of this revelation through its own hearings.
According to the article, “Sharif El-Gamal, the head of Soho Properties, first came forward in 2006 seeking to buy the empty building at 45-47 Park Place, said Melvin Pomerantz, whose family owned the property.
Pomerantz said El-Gamal eventually raised $4.8 million cash for 45-47 Park Place. El- Gamal paid an extra $700,000 to take over the lease with Con Ed for the building next door. The lease expires in 2071.”
The discrepancy emerged because the two buildings were connected years ago, as it housed a former Burlington Coat Factory and was generally assumed ownership for that entire parcel was under one ownership, without the Community Board #1’s knowledge that Soho Properties would be developing half of the site under paying a $33K a month lease to Con Ed.
Con Ed is appraising the property for a potential sale, “The utility is now doing an appraisal to determine the property value, and it would be up to El-Gamal to decide whether to accept the price, the utility said. The price is estimated at $10 million to $20 million.
â€œWe are following our legal obligations under the lease. We will not allow other considerations to enter into this transaction,â€ Con Ed said.
The sale proposal will go to the Public Service Commission, where it could possibly face a vote by a five-member board controlled by Gov. Paterson,” according to the same article.
Do you think that this will be a significant hurdle for the Park51 Mosque?