Photo by Scoopy
ACE’s Vernon Warren said incredulously of Soho residents, “You don’t want to pay $1 for clean streets?”
SOHO BID SHOWDOWN: Well, the day is finally coming. The City Council’s Finance Committee will hold a second — and final — public hearing on the proposed Broadway Soho Business Improvement District on Wed., March 13, at 10 a.m., at City Hall, in the Council Committee Room, which is located adjacent to the main Council Chambers. The next step will then be for the full City Council to vote on the controversial plan, but, as usual, the public won’t be allowed to testify before that vote, so March 13 will be the last chance to do so. Meanwhile, ACE — the recovery and job-training program that formerly helped clean up all the tourist trash — we mean, tourists’ trash — on Broadway — has been progressively pushing west. Henry Buhl, ACE’s founder, is a strong supporter of the BID, feeling it’s the best way to create a well-funded organization to keep Broadway looking good. As the BID initiative has been being advanced, ACE stopped sweeping Broadway in Soho at the end of June 2011. On Tuesday, we spotted an ACE worker wheeling a garbage barrel along the sidewalk all the way over on Spring St. west of Varick St., and he told us they go as far west as Greenwich St. So, Soho’s loss has been Hudson Square’s gain, at least in terms of supplemental sanitation services. We did recently spot one ACE worker on Broadway, at Spring St., but he wasn’t cleaning — he was handing out information guides. “Free maps here! Free map and shopping guide!” Vernon Warren was calling out in his mellifluous baritone. Asked about his smooth voice, he said, “I think presentation is important no matter what you do.” As the logo on his left shoulder said, he’s a “Community Ambassador” for ACE. Asked about his experience with the organization, he said it’s been positive. Due to addiction and other problems, he hasn’t worked since 1991, but now said he is “eager to get back into the workforce.” He was at the first Finance Committee hearing on the proposed BID, last November, down at City Hall and was dumbfounded at local residents’ opposition to the plan. “You don’t want to pay $1 for clean streets?” he asked incredulously. The BID would assess property owners a special tax — just $1 per year for residential co-op buildings and individual condo owners — that would be used to fund the organization and its efforts. Told that residents, however, simply hate how commercial Soho has become and long for the days when it was a sleepy artists’ enclave, he said, “Some things will never go back. This will never go back. Once you have tourists — forget about it. Plus, this is bringing money,” he added, of the droves of shoppers streaming by. Speaking of big money, while the Soho BID Steering Committee always has publicly stated that the initiative wasn’t being pushed by any single business entity, one of our Soho super-sleuths has uncovered new info showing that Joe Sitt of Thor Equities — the big player in Coney Island’s redevelopment — is now the prime property holder on Broadway in Soho, with real estate investments of nearly $400 million along Broadway over the past few years.
DORIS IN DISTRESS, PART II: We checked in again with Doris Diether to see how she’s doing, but could barely understand her on the phone due to her severe, ongoing laryngitis, which has already lasted for two months. We think she said her broken shoulder is feeling better. As for her laryngitis, she said she recently saw her doctor, who just told her, “Come back in three months.” Someone, please get this woman some cough drops! Do something! On Community Board 2 since 1964, Diether, 83, is the longest-serving member of any Manhattan community board, with a citywide reputation as a font of zoning wisdom and a fighter for neighborhood preservation.
WHERE’S HOT DOG? Gearing up for his monthlong campout outside New York University, during which he’ll call for N.Y.U. to build or provide a large building for the homeless and low-income people, John Penley phoned us earlier this week about a well-known East Village homeless woman. Raz Drastic, a Mohawked punk musician who does a mean cover of Iggy Pop’s “Search and Destroy,” posted on Facebook that Marlene Bailey, a.k.a. “Hot Dog,” may be feared dead. “There were no details on it,” Penley told us. “He didn’t know for sure.” Then again, Penley, noted, “These things happen around Tompkins — people disappear and everyone thinks they’re dead, and then they show up.” A pint-sized ball of energy, Bailey is a well-liked figure, but sometimes when she drinks, gets a bit rowdy. Ray of Ray’s Candy Store has felt her wrath, like when he didn’t get her what she wanted fast enough and she slashed his arm with a fluorescent tube, or the time she slammed the Avenue A store’s sidewalk vault doors shut on his head, knocking him out cold. We checked with the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, and gave Bailey’s name, alias and a description of her. Spokesperson Grace Burgess told us Bailey’s name wasn’t reported to them, and they don’t have anyone fitting that description under “unknowns.” Similarly, Detective Jaime Hernandez, Ninth Precinct community affairs officer, said he couldn’t find any information about Hot Dog being dead. … Getting back to Penley, speakers have been set for the kickoff of his campout, which starts at 4 p.m. They include performance artist Penny Arcade; mayoral candidate / standup comic Randy Credico; squatter Frank Morales, who works closely with the group Picture the Homeless; and Joan Moossy, who co-hosts WBAI’s “Let Them Talk” with her husband, Paul DeRienzo.
CORRECTION: An article in the Feb. 14 issue of The Villager, “Two plans, many questions: Pier 40 forum coming up,” incorrectly gave the name of the vice chairperson of the Friends of Hudson River Park Trust as Scott Lawton. His name is Scott Lawin, and he is the managing director of Moore Capital Management, as well as a Tribeca resident. We apologize for the error.