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NEW FRIENDS FUNDRAISING CHIEF: We hear from A.J. Pietrantone, the former executive director of the Friends of Hudson River Park, that his replacement at Friends is Gregory Boroff. Boroff’s most recent position has been as vice president and director of development for amfAR, the Foundation for AIDS Research, where it sounds like he was definitely a stellar fundraiser, which is just what Friends and the park are looking for. According to his profile on amfAR’s Web site, Boroff has been in fundraising and marketing for 20 years, including institutional and individual giving, capital campaigns and special events. In 2010, he oversaw the creation of the “Inspiration” series, which fundraises for amfAR while celebrating mens’ fashion in New York City, Los Angeles, Sao Paulo and Paris. Last year, BizBash magazine named him as one of the 66 most innovative people in the event industry. Prior to amfAR, Boroff was at the Food Bank For New York City as senior V.P. of external relations, where he raised more than $60 million to help fight hunger in New York City. He also created the Food Bank’s nationally recognized campaigns and events, including, “Mario Batali: Roasted, Battered & Fried” and the Food Network New York City Wine & Food Festival, plus “The Lunchbox Auction.” Earlier in his career, he spent stints at Planned Parenthood Federation of America, City Harvest and Gay Men’s Health Crisis. A magna cum laude City College graduate, he also spent 10 years planning high-profile special events in the private sector. Friends of Hudson River Park has recently transformed itself from the park’s watchdog into its main private fundraising arm, and it certainly sounds like Boroff is the guy to take them to the next level.
CHILLIN’ AS USUAL: On the glorious, first day of summer last Friday, Ronnie Rossi was soaking up the sun in Washington Square Park — which is exactly what he’s usually doing. “Every day, I come from the Bronx,” the 73-year-old said contentedly as he lounged back on his portable recliner. A former trucker, he once also worked in an all-nude strip club in Queens. No, he wasn’t one of the dancers. But his current claim to fame, per his profile on the Humans of New York site, is for being the guy who never gets angry. You just cannot make him mad. “I haven’t raised my voice for 40 years — no reason for it,” he told us. “When you scream at someone, you know who hears it the loudest? You do! … My goal is to get to 100 — 27 to go. You can’t stress me out. If you did, you’d be looking at the back of my head — I’d be walking away… . I’ve been coming here since the ’60s,” he said, “since the bus came through the arch.” He’s a critic of all the acts in the park, such as, The Piano Guy, for one. “He’s up and down the keyboard constantly. Aw, please…it’s like bad sex.” And then there’s the “Free Hugs” dude. “Oh, here’s this guy,” Rossi said, espying the man across the way holding up his sign. “Another nut… ‘Free Hugs,’ a total pervert.” … O.K., so maybe you can annoy him a little, but you simply cannot stress him out.
CRONUT MONOPOLY CRUMBLES: C’est la vie. Yes, the Village’s first cronut knockoff has arrived. Of course, it’s not actually called a cronut, but rather a French donut. (Maybe this will eventually be shortened to “Fronut”?) Its first day of sale was Saturday at Mille-feuille bakery and cafe, 552 LaGuardia Place, between W. Third and Bleecker Sts. — a mere five blocks away from the birthplace of the now-famed cronut, Dominique Ansel Bakery, at 189 Spring St. The flavors at Mille-feuille are chocolate, vanilla beans and raspberry. A price war hasn’t broken out just yet, as the going rate for both a cronut and a French donut is the same, $5. And similar to the cronut craze that is seeing cronut nuts line up on Spring St. as early as 3 a.m., there was a line outside Mille-feuille when it opened at 7 a.m. They were sold out of French donuts by around 3 p.m. According to New York magazine, Dominique Ansel, the owner of the Spring St. bakery, has smartly trademarked the word “cronut.” Although the LaGuardia Place French donuts are the first local imitators, cronut knockoffs reportedly have, in fact, already cropped as far away as Australia and the Philippines. In one place they’re being called “cronots.” New York magazine advises Ansel immediately to start churning out solely cronuts and drop production of his other pastries and sandwiches.
BYE-BYE NYCHA BOARD? Governor Cuomo has about a week to sign a bill that would replace the New York City Housing Authority’s three board of directors members with volunteers who will get modest per-diem fees. The current board members each make $187,000 a year and the job comes with drivers. The Legislature has already passed the bill and upon Cuomo’s signature, it would take effect immediately. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said, “This measure will bring more accountability and increased tenant representation on the NYCHA board and empower residents to have more of a voice when it comes to decisions that affect their lives.” Former East Village City Councilmember Margarita Lopez, due to her close relationship with Mayor Bloomberg, landed one of the NYCHA director spots after she had to leave office due to term limits. But now it looks like she might have to find a new gig. The agency has been under fire for its foot-dragging on installation of security cameras and other maintenance issues. Lopez even recently lost her cool at one of the outreach meetings about NYCHA’s controversial “infill” plan, when, at Campos Plaza, she grew indignant at tenants who were protesting the plan. Asking the tenants if they really didn’t want the money for their complexes that a new “80/20” building would generate, Lopez incredulously said, and we’re paraphrasing, “You don’t want all this money? Shut up!” We’re definitely not paraphrasing the “shut up” part, though.
GO, DOGS GO! There don’t seem to be any bones of contention about the new, 24-hour dog run in Washington Square Park. Iris Elton was giving her pooch Phoebe, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, and a bunch of other dogs, a ball-fetching workout last Friday. “I think it’s great,” said Elton, a local actress. “All the dogs seem a lot happier here.” The bench structure around a tree, similar to the one in the Tompkins Square run, is a hit with the canines, who like to climb on it. “This feature is really cool,” she said. “It’s like a little jungle gym.” John Wrann, who was walking his dachshund, Bernie, near the park’s water feature, is also a fan. “It’s new, it’s clean,” he said. An alum of Our Lady of Pompeii School, he’s attending dental school in Buffalo.
A HALL OF A GUY: Congratulations to Andrew Berman for being nominated for Vanity Fair’s Hall of Fame in the magazine’s July issue. We asked the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation director how he felt about receiving the honor. He modestly replied, “It is of course always great to be recognized for your work, though in this case, I feel the recognition belongs to the entire G.V.S.H.P. organization and its members, since it’s really about the work we have collectively done together, and that I am just fortunate enough to be the public face of. It does come at a particularly good time, though, as years and years of our collective hard work has resulted in movement finally on landmarking the South Village. But of course we’ve still got a lot more work to do.”