Volume 74, Number 53 | May 11 - 17 , 2005

Scoopy's Notebook

Aviator (almost) in the house: Yes, we also heard, as did Curbed Web site, that Leo DiCaprio has purchased a new apartment in the planned Hudson Blue sliver tower between Perry and W. 11th Sts. It doesn’t look like much right now, though. A bulldozer has sat in a puddle at the excavation site for more than a year. A contractor there last week told us a serious water problem has finally been fixed — the Hudson River seeping into the landfill and all that — so maybe construction will soon start at last. What Curbed failed to mention, though, is that Leo and his Brazilian model girlfriend, Giselle Bundchen, are, according to local sources, already in an apartment right next door to their sleek future home, in the far more humble building on the corner of W. 11th St.

Mounds of confusion: Tobi Bergman, former P3 president, picked up on a comment from Margie Feinberg, the Department of Education spokesperson, in last week’s article on the Pier 40 portable mound controversy. Feinberg said that public school baseball teams wouldn’t play on Pier 40 “because it’s not our property.” But Begman noted that only two Manhattan public high schools — Murry Bergtraum and George Washington — have their own baseball diamonds. Most baseball teams from public schools play in New York City parks, the last time we looked. Pier 40 is in a state-city park, Hudson River Park, so....

Take that, and that! In the latest on Community Board 2’s internecine war, Sean Sweeney tells us he heard a “senior member” of the board’s Zoning Committee was recently lobbied by none other than Bob Rinaolo. Rinaolo allegedly told the member that a variance application by Village Care for its planned new senior facility on W. Houston St. on a property Rinaolo owns “has to pass the committee.” Sweeney said he did a little Internet research confirming Rinaolo does indeed own the Metro Park parking garage — across the street from the Film Forum — where Village Care hopes to build. However, to be able to use the community-facility zoning bonus to build larger than otherwise permissible, Village Care needs a Board of Standards and Appeals variance, and prior to that will seek approval of C.B. 2 this month. Rinaolo didn’t deny he owns the property. However, he said, “I haven’t said a word, publicly or privately, to anyone about it,” and added he thinks Sweeney is just getting desperate after Maria Passannante Derr’s recent romp in the board’s nominating committee vote, seen as a gauge of strength in the upcoming June board chairperson race. Rinaolo is backing Derr for chairperson; Sweeney is backing Don MacPherson. Sweeney seized on Rinaolo’s allegedly having lobbied a board member regarding a property of his, because when Rinaolo chaired the board’s Business Committee, he came under fire for his overt involvement in two issues in which he had a conflict of interest, one involving a former business partner’s liquor license application, the other, his own application for a rooftop cafe. Meanwhile, someone from C.B. 2, said to be trying to get Sweeney kicked off the board altogether, reportedly recently called Borough President C. Virginia Fields to impugn the Downtown Independent Democrats president and Soho Alliance director. “In all my years on the board, I’ve never seen such dirty tricks!” Sweeney seethed, declining to elaborate on what his enemy told Fields.

We, um, think we get it: By the way, the C.B. 2 nominating committee includes Melissa Sklarz, Paul Maggio, Judy Paul, Don Lee, Shirley Smith, Ed Gold and Shirley Secunda. The first five members were apparently pledged to Derr, with Gold and Secunda for MacPherson. Word has it Sklarz is “not thrilled” to be on the Derr team, even though they elected her. Sklarz got 23 votes, Secunda 20. It’s clear the nominating committee will report out a majority for Derr at this month’s full board meeting. When there is a contest for chairperson, the winner chosen by the nominating committee has usually won. But not two years ago, when Brad Hoylman won easily on the nominating committee, but then Fields knocked off a few of Hoylman’s supporters by not reappointing them, and filled slots with people who would vote for Jim Smith. Councilmember Alan Gerson also knocked a Hoylman supporter off the board right before the vote. Smith wound up winning.

Park curfew falls: Speaking of Smith, he tells us Aubrey Lees, after having helmed the C.B. 2 Parks Committee for the last two years, is resigning as the committee’s chairperson at the end of June. “I think it’s appropriate for me to leave the naming of her successor to the new board chairperson, who will take over on July 1,” Smith said. Lees said she doesn’t want to be Parks Committee chairperson anymore and thinks it’s good the committee will have a new chairperson. “It’s not a life sentence,” she said. “I wanted to be chairperson specifically to help the renovation of Washington Sq. Park. But now that it seems like it’s going to be renovated, I want to move on to other stuff. I feel like I’ve fulfilled what I wanted to do.” She’ll now focus her energies on the creation of a Christopher St. business improvement district, she said. She’ll be working closely with George Forbes, director of the Lucille Lortel Theater, and others in the area who feel a BID would help revive the street, which is dominated by adult-video shops, head shops and closed storefronts. “It’s getting worse and worse,” Lees said of the famous Village thoroughfare. “There’s no political leadership on the issue.” On the bright side, she said it was “really great” that Kim’s Video is reopening on Christopher St., adding, “We have to encourage other businesses to stay and not move away.”

Fed up with graduation: Doris Diether of C.B. 2 noted that, as usual, three days prior to its commencement, on Monday, N.Y.U. closed off a third of the park for setup. “That’s why I always vote against it,” she noted.

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