Volume 76, Number 34 | January 17 - 23, 2007

Scoopy’s Notebook

Messy garbage feud: Last week’s article on the proposed Hudson Square high-rise garbage truck garage incorrectly stated that Community Board 2 recently reversed its late 1990s resolution in support of siting a Department of Sanitation garage on the U.P.S. parking lot at Spring and Washington Sts. In fact, Arthur Schwartz, C.B. 2 Waterfront and Parks Committee chairperson, a year ago, had proposed a resolution supporting the lawsuit by Friends of Hudson River Park to force the city to get its garbage trucks off Gansevoort Peninsula, allowing a park to be built on Gansevoort as part of the Hudson River Park. But Schwartz’s resolution failed after a discussion by the board, mainly because some newer members didn’t take kindly to the idea of the garbage trucks being relocated to the U.P.S. lot. Noting he grew up in Hudson Square back when “rats were as big as cats,” Phil Mouquinho, who owns the nearby P.J. Charlton restaurant on Greenwich St., said at the time, “The area is just starting to gentrify,” and that an influx of garbage trucks could threaten further upscaling. The earlier C.B. 2 resolution supporting just one Department of Sanitation garage at the site still remains on the books, however. But the latest proposal by the city — for a garage for, not one, but three garbage truck districts, plus the U.P.S. trucks, and a jumbo fuel storage depot and salt shed on two other sites to boot — is likely to provoke even more opposition from the 50-member board, only about five members of which remain from the late 1990s. Meanwhile, Schwartz and David Reck, who sparred over the initial resolution on the U.P.S. lot, are, eight years later, once again on opposing sides of the new proposal for a 150-foot-tall, mega-garage. Reck is leading a coalition against the garage plan, including his group — Friends of Hudson Square — along with the Tribeca Community Association, the new Urban Glass House condo tower, the Ear Inn and other local restaurants and businesses and the area’s “major landlords.” “I am a park supporter,” Reck said. “I just don’t feel that dumping it all [the garbage trucks and facilities] in one neighborhood is fair. They want to move three garbage truck garages down here — plus a salt pile. We’re going to become like the garbage center.” Reck added the fuel depot, located near the Holland Tunnel airshaft, would also be a juicy terrorist target. “There’s 29,000 gallons of flammable stuff there,” he said. They will be filing a lawsuit, he vowed. Schwartz countered that the only residents negatively impacted would be those in the Urban Glass House just south of the site. “If David Reck wants to defend luxury housing Downtown — this is super-luxury housing — that’s fine,” Schwartz said, adding he’s sure Reck’s lawsuit will be well funded by developers’ money. “What’s David’s alternative — using the [U.P.S.] lot to build luxury housing?” he added. “The Urban Glass House people are very upset about this,” Reck assured. Speaking of developers, Reck can also count Donald Trump in his corner. On Tuesday, the New York Post reported that Trump, who’s trying to develop a condo-hotel a few blocks away on Varick St., said he’d offer the community his help in fighting the massive garage. Reck said he hasn’t personally talked to The Donald about it yet. As for Schwartz’s statements about real estate money behind his lawsuit, he said, “Arthur’s not relevant here. He doesn’t live in the neighborhood, and we’re going to do our own lawsuit.” Coincidentally, Schwartz, who’s thinking of moving, said that six months ago he looked at a unit at the Urban Glass House and the broker claimed to know nothing about the garage when Schwartz queried him about it. “Either he didn’t know or wasn’t telling,” Schwartz said.

Liquor loser: The State Liquor Authority recently rejected a wine-and-beer license application for a bar planned at the site of a former vintage clothing shop at 174 Avenue B at E. 11th St. According to Susan Stetzer, Community Board 3 district manager, neighbors pointed out a slew of “discrepancies” on the application. Previously, the S.L.A. rejected a full liquor license for the bar because the spot’s within 200 feet of a church. Stetzer said the applicant denied that they knew the church — Father’s Heart Ministries, which sports a large, illuminated white cross projecting over 11th St. — was there.

Better with BID: According to Diane Condon, vice president of the East 11th Street Block Association, the association has received several calls and comments from neighbors and businesses on the immediate improvements in sanitation and graffiti removal on University Pl. following the Village Alliance business improvement district’s extension. In November, Mayor Bloomberg signed legislation extending the BID’s coverage area, and the Village Alliance began providing some services — including sending out their sanitation workers and “graffiti patrol” — on Jan. 2.

“What a difference!” Condon said. “Neighbors are thrilled. Instead of overflowing trash bins on every corner and litter up and down neighborhood streets, we now have tidy white BID bags lining the trash receptacles, and the bags are tied up and new ones put in at intervals during the day. Kudos to the Village Alliance BID and its executive director, Honi Klein.”

Local leaders: Before you know it, June will roll around, meaning it will be time for community board elections. At Board 2, covering Greenwich Village, Noho, Soho and Hudson Square, we hear Brad Hoylman is interested in running for chairperson, and we haven’t heard yet of anyone interested opposing him. At Board 3, covering the East Village and Lower East Side, David McWater, now in his third year as chairperson, says he could well run for re-election for another year. “I haven’t decided,” he said. “I wanted to stay chairperson until we were done with the rezoning. I’ll probably make an announcement in April.” On a personal note, McWater said he’s been trying to sell off Opaline, his bar/club on Avenue A, for the past year but that the recent S.L.A. moratorium on new liquor licenses may be scaring off buyers. However, Opaline is grandfathered, in that there has been a liquor license there for about 25 years, predating the 500-foot rule, he said. Whoever buys it, it will have to become a real restaurant, McWater said, noting he made this agreement with the building’s landlord.

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