Volume 75, Number 26 | November 16 -22, 2005


Protecting the rezoning

The community, local politicians and City Planning worked long and hard to achieve the new downzoning for the Far West Village that was implemented on Oct. 11. To preserve the intent of the new zoning, large development projects that were not vested — didn’t have their foundations in the ground — by Oct. 11, must conform to the new, not the old, zoning rules.

Local preservationists and neighbors charge that artist Julian Schnabel was racing to get the foundation for a 110-foot-tall tower addition to his three-story W. 11th St. building in before the cutoff date, and that his workers were doing construction during unpermitted hours. The Department of Buildings has put a temporary stop-work order on the project while determining whether Schnabel did try to illegally skirt the new restrictions.

The opponents claim the evidence — including dated videotapes, 311 calls — show conclusively that Schnabel was trying to pull a fast one. Plus, as he was rushing to meet the deadline, he may have taken shortcuts in the construction of his foundation and what he built may not be up to legal code and consistent with his filed plans.

We sincerely hope D.O.B. does its due diligence and doesn’t let Schnabel off the hook. The opponents say they have caught the artist-developer red-handed, and the onus is now on Schnabel — and Buildings — to prove them wrong. Certainly, out of respect for all the effort the community and City Planning did in creating this splendid new rezoning, every effort must be made to protect the new district’s integrity. D.O.B.’s ruling that this planned monster tower must confirm to the new zoning would be an excellent first step in that protection.

Patrolling the PEP’s

While other New York City parks may lack for adequate security, that can’t be said of Hudson River Park.

The 5-mile-long park, which stretches from Battery Pl. to W. 59th St. and is run by a state-city authority, is heavily policed by Park Enforcement Patrol officers who are contracted from the city Parks Department.

While most are glad the park has good security, concerns have been raised about overzealous enforcement by the officers for what are frequently only minor infractions, if even that. Dog walkers and gays, in particular, have complained of heavy-handed treatment.

Connie Fishman, the Trust’s president, has said the Trust will start giving the officers supplemental training — a good idea. The Trust could also outline in a handout sheet the basic park rules PEP’s should know.

From what we hear about the Trust’s new PEP Working Group, things are moving ahead with getting the officers to learn new approaches, such as not “bunching” — swooping down in a group — when confronting a park user.

This situation can be solved. Some supplemental training and some more respect — on both sides — are all that’s needed.

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