Volume 75, Number 46 | April 5 - 11 2006

Scoopy's Notebook

Park lawsuit: The lawsuit to annul the Art Commission decision to permit the Washington Square Park fountain, Garibaldi statue and Holley monument to be moved is now before a Supreme Court justice, Emily Jane Goodman. Ronald Podolsky, the attorney for ECO (Emergency Coalition Organization to Save Washington Square Park), reports that a date for oral argument has not yet been set. In a best-case scenario in ECO’s view, the judge could order the Art Commission to hold a new hearing “to allow for meaningful presentation from all sides,” which, because of the city’s refusal to make public access to the plans available, ECO claims was not permitted at the Jan. 9 hearing. On April 10 Goodman will look at the papers from both sides and decide if and when there will be oral arguments or if she will base her decision solely on the papers.

Mystery man: Joshua Albertson, editor-at-large (we love that title) of Curbed.com told us he was cleaning out his e-mail inbox the other day and found the mystery Web posting by Dakota Realty that had offered the First Roumanian-American Synagogue property at 89 Rivington St. for $15.3 million, pitching it as a “prime development site,” only to disappear after one day. We called the number on the listing and had a lengthy conversation with a gentlemen named Eric, who, in a heavy accent, explained what’s going on with the property. “It’s off the market. It was not on the market,” he explained. “We tried to sell it and then we figured out, it doesn’t pay to sell it. We try to do something ourself there. Maybe we would build. We have three or four projects [possible for the site], but we don’t know yet. It’s up to me and a couple of other people. The synagogue, it will be there. Call in one or one and a half months — I’ll tell you what is going to be there.” Eric said he’s a member of the congregation and lives on the Lower East Side. We relayed all this to Joshua Shainberg, the synagogue’s vice president, who last week told us that the fleeting listing was a mystery to him. “All I can tell you is I’m going to give this guy a call. I’m going to find out what’s going on,” he said, telling us he’d fill us in when he found out.

Negotiation information: In another secretive real estate story, Matt Feldman of Douglaston Development, the owner of the lot where the Bendinder & Schlesinger blood labs used to be at Third Ave. and 10th St., confirmed that New York University had indeed recently been negotiating for the site, before recently calling off negotiations. “Something like that,” he told us. “N.Y.U.’s not negotiating at this time…. It’s going to be a six-story building with apartments in it,” he said, adding whether it will be a dorm or something else will be determined by what fetches the most money. Because of its size, the building will definitely be rental. He wouldn’t confirm rumors that School of Visual Arts is now gunning for the property. “Nothing’s over until the lease is signed,” he noted.

Assembly rumblings: Steve Kaufman, who was recently upset by Sylvia Friedman in the Democratic County Committee vote to pick a candidate for the special election for the 74th Assembly District, was upset by Scoopy last week. No, no, we didn’t beat him in a race, but a Scoopy item incorrectly reported Friedman had introduced seven bills on her first day in Albany, when, in fact, she had only co-sponsored — or signed onto — them. What, was Friedman already “campaigning,” Kaufman wanted to know? For his part, he said he’ll decide by May at the latest if he’s going to challenge Friedman in the September primary. Well, he was right: Friedman had provided the correct information saying she had co-sponsored the bills, and Scoopy garbled it. (Also, the bill requiring the State Liquor Authority to consult with the community on including binding stipulations on liquor licenses, Bill A. 3625, was introduced by Richard Gottfried, not Friedman.) But Kaufman didn’t stop there. He pointed out that Friedman’s new district office, which Scoopy also referred to last week, will actually be located about a block outside of her district — and is, in fact, in Assemblymember Deborah Glick’s district. Whether there is an actual rule about this is unclear, but it’s a bit unusual, Kaufman noted. But Friedman noted that former Assemblymember Steve Sanders’s office wasn’t handicapped accessible and that the new office location, at 14th St. and First Ave., is convenient to transportation from both ends of the district. “Well, that’s fine, but it’s not a district office if it’s not in the district,” noted Kaufman. But Friedman said she checked it with Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, who said it was no problem, as long as it’s O.K. with the person whose district it’s in. “Glick said it was fine,” Friedman said. Friedman, in turn, retorted she wants to know if it’s true Kaufman is now working for Silver. “It’s a perfect job for him. It’s exactly what he’s been doing all these years,” she said of Sanders’s longtime chief of staff. Kaufman confirmed to Scoopy he did work for Silver during March, but is now “free.” (All of this apparently is very significant in Lower East Side political circles.) Kaufman meanwhile fired back that he’s heard that Friedman, in order to get the backing of Coalition for a District Alternative in the County Committee vote, had to apologize for running against Miriam Friedlander in 1993. “I don’t think it was a quid pro quo at all. They endorsed me because we were in agreement on the issues,” Friedman told us. Friedman said CoDA members were interviewing her before the County Committee vote and that there was some disagreement whether Friedman’s making it a three-way Democratic primary race had thrown the election to CoDA’s nemesis, Antonio Pagan. Friedman — who won 17 percent of the vote in ’93 — hadn’t been convinced, but she said Lisa Kaplan brought out a printout of the certified election figures that showed it was “statistically possible” that Friedlander could have won had Friedman not run. “Her numbers showed that, assuming everyone who voted for me, or almost everyone — her numbers showed that it was not impossible,” Friedman conceded. “If that is the case, I am tremendously sorry that I ran.... This was 15 years ago,” she noted. “People in politics have long memories.” Asked if Friedman had apologized, Kaplan said, “Yeah, I think she did.”

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