Scoopy’s, Week of Nov. 14, 2013

A design rendering of the Norwegian wooden reindeer footbridge commissioned by Jean-Louis Bourgeois that would span the West Side Highway at W. 10th St.

A design rendering of the Norwegian wooden reindeer footbridge commissioned by Jean-Louis Bourgeois that would span the West Side Highway at W. 10th St.

Jean-Louis Bourgeois with his puppet, which we thought was a hat.  PHOTO BY SCOOPY

Jean-Louis Bourgeois with his puppet, which we thought was a hat. PHOTO BY SCOOPY

Bridge over troubled water(front): Village activist Jean-Louis Bourgeois has quite a lot to report. First off, he told us he intends to file a lawsuit to block the Hudson River Park Trust from transferring 1.6 million square feet or more of unused development rights one block inland from the park, which is now allowable after Governor Cuomo approved the necessary legislation on Wednesday. The son of famed sculptor Louise Bourgeois said he has already retained a lawyer for the suit. “I’m getting the best — Norman Siegel,” he told us. Next, Bourgeois told us about his recent troubling interaction with another local publication, Westview. As Bourgeios and several of his supporters related to us at our office last week, Bourgeois tried to place an ad in Westview attacking Steven Witkoff’s new luxury high-rise residential project, 150 Charles St., which Bourgeois lives right across from, and which he and neighbors have sued to try to stop. In August, Bourgeois and some of his brothers in arms met George Capsis, Westview’s publisher, at a rooftop party at which Bourgeois asked the publisher if he would run the ad. Capsis at that time, said yes, according to Bourgeois and his sidekicks. He subsequently also “verbally agreed” to running it in a follow-up phone call. A few weeks ago, the ad was all mocked-up and ready to submit to the monthly paper, and Bourgeois and his cohorts brought it over to Capsis at his home, but Capsis then abruptly turned around and rejected it. “So you are a liar and you are dishonest,” Bourgeois told us he accused Capsis to his face, to which the latter reportedly replied, in a loud, declarative voice, repeating several times, “Yes, I am a liar. Yes, I am dishonest.” “We were there,” averred Stefan Schneider, one of Bourgeois’s allies. It bears mentioning that Capsis’s paper has run full-page advertisements by Witkoff for his Charles St. luxury project. “They run many ads in his paper, including the back page,” remarked Schneider. Capsis also supports the idea that part or all of the St. John’s Center site across from Pier 40 be redeveloped as a hospital. And, according to Westview, Witkoff has even pledged money toward this goal. However, one has to wonder how realistic that is — since, amid all the Hudson River Park air-rights hoopla — the main thing people seem to be eyeing the St. John’s site for is residential use, which, as Witkoff well knows, is regarded as the “highest use” among developers since it’s the most lucrative. Bourgeois agrees that Witkoff should commit to helping provide a new hospital — namely, by making half of his own 150 Charles St. project into one. For his part, Capsis did not respond to a request for comment. By the way, The Villager ran Bourgeois’s ad in our issue last week. In other, waterfront-related Bourgeois doings, he has also commissioned “Norwegian footbridge architects” to design a footbridge over the West Side Highway at W. 10th St., which is near both Bourgeois’s small building on Weehawken St. and Witkoff’s new megaproject. “I’m not selling my air rights to a developer. You can count on it,” Bourgeois declared. He told The Villager he is offering the bridge for free to the city. “The bridge is already designed,” he said. “It’s currently in a bridge contest in Las Vegas. Let’s see if it wins an award.” It sports a large oyster shell in the middle, an homage to the days when the Hudson River’s once-plentiful oysters were New York’s equivalent of fast food. These type of spans are used in Norway to allow reindeer to cross over waterways and pipelines, one of his colleagues explained. But this one would be for pedestrians and not bicyclists, Bourgeois stated, adding he supports “a pedestrian waterfront.” As for his Weehawken building, Bourgeois said he wants to gut it and reinforce the sides, and remove the floor, so that people can stand on “Manhattan soil” and look up through its skylight and “see the moon and stars,” as opposed to an air-rights enhanced monstrosity. Finally, despite his many and varied projects, Bourgeois’s life is still not complete. “I’m looking for a woman,” he told us. “I’m looking for a mate — someone who’s kind and very liberal.”  And, we’re guessing — not a developer. … In related matters, at the N.Y.U. Faculty Against the Sexton Plan fundraiser at The Standard, East Village hotel a few weeks ago, we introduced Bourgeois to Georgette Fleischer, who has been passionately leading the fight against the Citi Bike station in Petrosino Square, which sits on the square’s former public art space. “Oh, I would love to get one of your mother’s spiders to put there!” Fleischer excitedly told Bourgeois. However, he responded that the spiders are, first, very expensive and, second, all already spoken for for the next two or three years. So, for the time being, at least, a giant steel spider will not suddenly swoop down to crush the Petrosino Citi Bike station. … But, hey, maybe there will at least be a reindeer bridge.

‘SWAMP’ plan sinking fast? Last week, The Villager reported on the uncertainty over Mayor Bloomberg’s Solid Waste Management Plan, a.k.a. SWAMP, specifically, how it pertains to Gansevoort Peninsula on the Lower West Side. Under the outgoing mayor’s scheme, part of the peninsula, which is located in the angle between Little W. 12th and Gansevoort Sts., was to have been retrofitted for a marine waste transfer station to barge all of Manhattan’s residential recyclable waste — paper, plastic, metal and glass — to a new recycling plant in Sunset Park. Up to 60 garbage trucks a day were to ply a new road on Gansevoort — occupying almost one-quarter of the peninsula — en route to the M.W.T.S. at the peninsula’s western edge to dump their loads into barges. The Brooklyn recycling plant sounds like it’s almost completed — if not already in operation, we’re not exactly sure — but the rest of SWAMP seems, well, mired in a swamp, so to speak, and sinking fast. The issue is that the mayor, governor and heads of the Assembly and state Senate all must sign off on an M.O.U. (memorandum of understanding) to allow the “alienation” of the 1.36 acres of parkland needed for the road leading to the transfer station. A key condition of the M.O.U. is “compensation,” as in, the amount of money the Hudson River Park Trust, the park’s operating agency, would receive for relinquishing the parkland. Madelyn Wils, the Trust’s C.E.O., confided to us that this figure is $50 million. Trying to gain some clarity on the situation, we reached out to the Bloomberg administration, asking what’s the hold-up and will the plan ultimately go forward, either under Bloomberg or new mayor Bill de Blasio? The plan has already sat in limbo for six years since the Assembly and state Senate approved it. Jake Goldman, a Bloomberg spokesperson, responded, “The Solid Waste Management Plan is changing the way we transport waste and achieve our goal of environmental responsibility, and by reducing reliance on trucking we are saving money and making our air cleaner than it has ever been.” In fact, we hear the city is prepared and ready to sign the M.O.U. and has budgeted the money, but is waiting for the state to come on board. Last week, though, Assemblmember Richard Gottfried told us he hasn’t seen or heard talk of the M.O.U. for several years. Gottfried said, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver would not rush things, since he “would want a fair and public review. … I don’t know that Silver would be interested in taking that up in the closing days of the [Bloomberg] administration,” Gottfried stated. “I haven’t asked him about it because I haven’t heard anything about it for a very long time.” Silver declined comment. But from what we’re hearing, there’s nothing to indicate that Gottfried’s statement is inaccurate. Meanwhile, the former Sanitation District 1 garbage truck garage, at Canal and West Sts., has been demolished. As part of the process of freeing Gansevoort to be redeveloped into a park, a new, cutting-edge-design building for road salt will be constructed at Canal and West Sts., and the salt pile now on Gansevoort will instead be housed there. And once the megagarage at Spring and West Sts. is completed, the garbage trucks currently on Gansevoort will relocate there.

Photo by Sarah Neilson

Photo by Sarah Neilson

Doris does it again! It just wouldn’t and couldn’t be Scoopy’s Notebook without a “Doris Photo of the Week.” Sarah Neilson, Washington Square Park’s administrator, recently sent us this shot of Doris Diether, the legendary Community Board 2 activist. “This was quite possibly the coolest thing in Greenwich Village on Halloween,” Neilson said. Of course, it shows a masked Diether with “Little Doris,” the marionette of her made by Ricky Syers. Along with the twerk-happy Mr. Stix, the two have “blown up” big time thanks to being featured in Brandon Stanton’s Humans of New York blog.

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One Response to Scoopy’s, Week of Nov. 14, 2013

  1. It should be noted that St John Building is now owned by Fortress Investment Group who's president Mike Novogratz was a Park Trust Board member and then became Chair of Friends of Hudson River Park Trust as Fortress closed the deal on assuming complete control. They were the ones that lobbied for the air rights transfer which now will be the lucrative residential deal that Mr. Novogratz, as President of Fortress stand to make an enormous return.
    Can we stop having developers and the real estate industry sit on this Board?
    How about some real diversity on the Trust Board not just political sops who catered to Bloomberg's girlfriend who chairs it.

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