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Occu-blocked: Police are really making sure that Occupy Wall Street protesters don’t camp out in Union Square. When we walked by last Thursday around 2 a.m., the park’s southern steps were completely cordoned off with a ring of metal police gates and there were about two dozen officers posted around the plaza keeping watch, as well as police vans and cars positioned around the park with their headlights on. A group of four young O.W.S.’ers were hunkered down in front of the gates at one point — but they weren’t lying down or sleeping. An officer at the scene explained that if they did, it would be considered “sleeping in the park,” which is illegal. The park actually extends all the way to the curb on 14th St., according to him. But the sidewalk is being kept open at night, because he explained, “It’s a sidewalk.” One of the protesters gave his name as Nappyand said he was 24 and from Wisconsin. He said they still hope to have a new encampment at Union Square — or at least he does. “This is our fight now,” he said, tiredly. “This is a park for protesting. Everyone’s just sick of the cops.” Pointing at the red, glowing sign of a Bank of America branch across the street, he said, “And these are our enemies — and people you can’t see.” No offense, but Nappy was smelling pretty funky and really needed to occupy a shower. Meanwhile, down at Trinity Real Estate’s vacant lot at Duarte Square, at Canal St. and Sixth Ave. — which Occupy tried to occupy a couple of times last year — signs have been posted saying that sleeping and tents, among other things, are not allowed.
It’s on! Charging that Margaret Chin is “playing politics with community board appointments,” Sean Sweeney is livid that the councilmember declined to reappoint him to Community Board 2. Sweeney, who is a leader in the powerful Downtown Independent Democrats political club (talk about politics), said he was happy he was reappointed to C.B. 2 for his 11th term — but not, as has happened every time before, by the local councilmember representing the district. This time, because Chin didn’t reappoint him, Borough President Scott Stringer had to step in and “pick up” Sweeney, as it’s termed, reappointing him to the board as one of his own personal appointees. Sweeney said he was surprised because, according to him, he and Chin have enjoyed a “very cordial relationship, agreeing on basically everything except the proposed Broadway Soho Business Improvement District.” Added Sweeney, “I cannot ever recall a Manhattan elected official not renewing their appointee based on a single issue that they happen to disagree on. Sends a rather chilling message.” He continued, “I wonder how the councilmember feels her draconian decision will affect her other appointees who choose to speak out against other developer-driven proposals in her district, like the N.Y.U. 2031 Plan?” Kelly Magee, Chin’s communications director, said, “Sean was never ‘off’ the community board. I don’t know where that rumor started. Also, the B.P. makes all appointments, Margaret just makes recommendations. She had limited recommendations — only four seats — this year and she wanted to give an active public member the chance to serve.” The woman appointed by Chin in Sweeney’s place is Coral Dawson, also a Soho resident, according to the spokesperson. A “public member” means Dawson has been serving on one of Board 2’s committees, though not as an officially appointed community board member. “It was always our understanding that Sean would remain on the community board — which he is,” Magee said. Whereas Dawson has been “active” on the board, Magee pointedly noted, “Sean also had a significant number of excused and unexcused absences, which is a determining factor for the councilmember for all boards and members when they seek reappointment.”
Fireworks flap: State Senator Daniel Squadron and Councilmember Stephen Levin, other elected officials and local community leaders held a rally on Monday, calling for the Fourth of July fireworks to be moved back to the East River this summer. In 2009, Macy’s shifted the fanfare to the Hudson River to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Henry Hudson’s journey up the West Side waterway, and since then it has continued to be held there. But Squadron and Levin say this is limiting the number of New Yorkers who can enjoy the show, while “sending visitors and business to New Jersey.” Squadron represents Lower Manhattan and the Lower East Side, plus parts of Brooklyn, including Brooklyn Heights, Greenpoint, Williamsburg, DUMBO and Downtown Brooklyn. Levin’s district includes Brooklyn Heights, Greenpoint and parts of Williamsburg. Also, the East River Park esplanade has been all fixed up, so the throngs of Lower East Side spectators would have a perfect viewing platform.
Correction: An article in last week’s issue on Trinity Real Estate’s proposed rezoning for Hudson Square stated that, with the change, the district would eventually become 75 percent residential. In fact, the expectation is the area’s residential use would increase to 25 percent.